Pan American Games Cross Country Course Preview

Fence 26: Peru Celebration. Photo by Jenni Autry. Fence 26: Peru Celebration. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Hello from the Pan American Games! It was a bustling morning at Will O’ Wind Farm in Mono, Ontario, as riders got their first look at Wayne Copping’s cross country course. Team USA walked the course twice this morning before heading back to the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, which is about 25 minutes away in Palgrave, to prepare for this afternoon’s first horse inspection.

Coach David O’Connor kindly shared his first impressions of the course: “It’s a good course — presented well with a lot of little terrain, like golf course terrain. Knowing where those humps are will be important to go around. It’s plenty difficult enough, and it builds and gets more and more technical toward the end in the last two minutes.”

The course definitely has a technical feel to it, and there is plenty of room for error with skinnies and tight corners throughout the track. As to which spots on course David thinks could catch out Team USA, he said trouble can come at any fence. “You can’t underestimate any course,” he said. “It doesn’t walk the biggest, but it walks quite technical. Keeping your head in the game and in the moment will be important.”

USA! USA! USA! Photo by Jenni Autry.

USA! USA! USA! Photo by Jenni Autry.

The track features 26 fences set across 4,757 meters with an optimum time of 8 minutes, 39 seconds, which David thinks is definitely doable. “But you’ll have to stay on your game the whole way around,” he said. “I think they’ve done a great job preparing the track. Hopefully we’ll get a little rain tomorrow, and that will only make it better.”

Toronto has seen beautiful warm weather and little rain for the past few days, but that’s set to change tomorrow with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms that could make for a soggy day of dressage. Will O’ Wind Farm has an excellent gravel base that drains well even under heavy rains, so if we do see a downpour, it will only contribute to better cross country conditions for the horses and riders.

We’re about an hour away from the start of the first horse inspection here at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park. The jog is closed to the public, but I’ll be live tweeting all the action on @eventingnation and will have a full report and photos up just as soon as things wrap up, so keep checking back to EN.

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