First Look at Pierre Michelet’s WEG Cross-Country Course

Hello from Haras du Pin! After our epic adventures yesterday, we hit the ground running this morning, with Leslie going on a tour of the venue and me setting off to walk Pierre Michelet’s cross-country course. Though we sent a large contingent of Americans to Pau last year to gain exposure to a Michelet course, David O’Connor has emphasized since that the WEG course would be very different.

After huffing and puffing my way around the monster track, I’m in total agreement. The terrain is very hilly, twisty and turny all the way around, and there’s virtually no time to let up or relax for even a second, as the questions start early at fence 4 and keep coming thick and heavy all the way to the third water complex at fences 30 and 31.

This course could be the poster child of modern design, with few natural fences appearing on course and skinnies and technical questions abounding. The longest hill on course comes just after fence 22, and that’s going to be a turning point in the course as riders look to see how much gas they have left in the tank before tackling the final third of the track.

Expect to see a lot of tired horses, especially if rain keeps coming down. The ground is already very wet, and I squished my way around walking just outside of the ropes for the galloping lanes. There are a number of first-time CCI4* horses here at WEG, and the great thing about Pierre’s course is he relies more on those technical challenges and less on max tables.

On that note, there are a number of options all the way around, so less experienced horses and riders will be able to map out a strategy and go for it. I ran into Canadian stable manager Max Corcoran and Chef d’Equipe Jacky Green on course, and Jacky noted that while some combinations might be out there for 14 minutes, they course is well presented to give them a safe trip.

What do you think of Pierre’s course, EN? Does it look like a course fitting for a world championships? What combinations do you think will be the most tricky? How do you think the first-time four-star pairs will handle it? Stay tuned for much more from Haras du Pin.

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