Mike Etherington-Smith returns as the cross country course designer once again at the Brook Ledge Great Meadow International, presented by Adequan. Now in its third year as an FEI Nations Cup leg, this venue in The Plains, Virginia features rolling terrain that typically makes the optimum time a challenge for horses and riders.
About 10% of the field managed to beat the clock in the last two runnings of the CICO3*, so we are looking for four to five combinations to catch the optimum time of 6 minutes, 34 seconds. The removal of the dressage coefficient means scores are much more tightly bunched going into the final phase, and we can expect a thrilling cross country finale tomorrow morning.
The first major question on course comes at fence 5 with the O’Connor Equestrian Coffin. Horses and riders will jump in over a hanging rail, over the ditch and out over a triple brush, which requires the riders to have accuracy dialed in early on the course.
Last year the Beverly Equestrian Brush Corners in the main arena shook up the leaderboard, and this year Mike has them placed much earlier on the course at fence 9. The second water at fence 11, the Adequan Water Complex, is always a popular spot for spectators to gather and features two beautiful brushes constructed by course builders Travers Schick, Jamie Gornall and Joe Stylos.
Fence 16, the Netjets Flyover, will also demand accuracy, as the drop fence at A leads down the hill to two sharply angled brushes at B and C. The next combination at fence 19, the Salamander Creek Crossing, features a beautifully carved log at A and an open oxer at B. The final combination on course, the Charles Owen Offset Cabins, keeps horses and riders on their toes until the very end.
Scroll down for a full fence-by-fence preview of the course courtesy of MyCourseWalk.com. Cross country starts at 9:30 a.m. EST tomorrow and will be streamed live on USEF Network. Stay tuned for much more from #GMI2018. Go Eventing.