Final Thoughts Before WEG Cross Country: ‘A Lot of It Will Come Down to Heart & Desire’

Fence 19 and 20ABC – The Longines Water. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Welcome to cross country day at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games! It’s been a wild past 12 hours here at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, as the FEI announced last night that show jumping will be moved to Monday due to heavy rainfall predicted for Sunday. All WEG events scheduled for Sunday across all disciplines have now been moved to Monday.

Cross country will run today as planned, starting at 11 a.m. EST with horses running at 3-minute intervals and fences 23A and 24B removed from the course. Click here for start times. Click here for all the details on how to watch the action live.

Heavy rain due to Hurricane Florence is expected to begin this afternoon and continue through Sunday night. Total rainfall is expected to be 5-7 inches, with up to 10 inches in some areas. Winds are already picking up here at the venue and are expected to gust at about 20 mph today.

Question marks continue to swirl around how rain, heat and humidity will impact today’s outcome on cross country. Temperatures are expected to rise to 80°F (27°C) today, but with 80% humidity it will feel much hotter.

Capt. Mark Phillips’s has designed a serious test for horses and riders. Click here for EN’s fence-by-fence preview. The course spans 5,700 meters with an optimum time of 10 minutes. EquiRatings confirmed that in the history of WEG, we have never seen more than a 50% clear jumping rate. We are in for a wild ride today.

Less than 20 seconds separate the top 15, and we can expect time penalties to be influential on today’s leaderboard. EquiRatings is predicting that at least six pairs will catch the time. These are the speed horses to watch: Classic Moet, Arctic Soul, Cooley Lands, Billy The Red, Horseware Stellor Rebound and Barraduff.

In chatting to the riders, the overwhelming consensus is that they prepared for a 10-minute course with a true test of fitness in the hill at the end, and teams chose their horses based on those factors. They are ready to go to battle today. Here are a few final thoughts from the riders as we countdown to the start.

Julia Krajewski, 1st: “With rain coming, nobody really knows how this is going to play out. I think Chipmunk is very fit, and he feels very good here. I think the cross country is tough, so the aim from now is to keep my points.”

Ingrid Klimke, 2nd: “We had a very hot summer in Germany, so the horses got used to the heat. We knew there was a hill, so for me I think it will be perfect.”

Ros Canter, 3rd: “Obviously the challenge is going to be the humidity and the potential weather conditions, and as the last member to go (for the British team) I don’t know what weather is going to be thrown at us yet. I have to try and stick to our plan, and hope I can deliver for the team.”

Boyd Martin, 8th: “It’s a tough course just because it’s so twisty and turny and technical at the beginning, and to ride that fast is going to take some real skill and a trained horse. Then you have to leave a bit in the tank for the last two minutes, and that’s going to be the fitness and training we’ve put into the horse over the years. A lot of it will come down to heart and desire, and my guy is a real trier. I’m going to really go for it and give everything we have.”

Phillip Dutton, 12th: “Nobody wants to see exhausted horses, but I think the riders will set out knowing that the hill is at the end and keep that in mind at the beginning of the course as well.”

Lynn Symansky, 17th: “I think it’s a really good course for Donner. It’s not too big, and size doesn’t really matter to him. I think the hardest thing will be at some of the combinations where there’s so much to look at. He’s a horse that gets a little bit distracted by stuff in the distance, so I have to make a plan to really have him on his line. I plan to take most of the direct routes.”

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