After a one-year hiatus, Red Hills, one of the USA’s most renowned events returns to action this weekend. Please enjoy this Red Hills preview, and scroll down for our traditional links for all of this weekend’s competitions.
(1) Two A-listed horses (Ballynoecastle RM, and Tru Luck), and three B-listers (Arthur, Mandiba, Kheops du Quesnay) are entered to run, and Canada has top horses Madison Park and Colombo entered. All of these horses are set to go in the CIC3*W, which will give us a great comparison.
(2) The weekend’s weather forecast is perfect for eventing; sunny with highs in the 60’s.
(3) Approximately 132 horses are set to run, and, using just the eyeball test, the Red Hills field looks less stacked than Pine Top entries, but Red Hills wins the horse-name contest with names like Rolex (talk about calling your shot), Clifton Pikachu (fun to say), Top Gun (great movie), Over My Head (not where you want the horse to be), Wonderful Will (nice ring to it), and Applause (clap now please).
(4) One of the characteristics that I, and other riders, enjoy most about Red Hills is that the organizers do a wonderful job of making it look and feel like a big time event. From the great trade fair, to fences around the stables, to the free donuts, orange juice and massages for the riders, to awesome competitor parties, even the prelim competitors get the feel of being at a world class compeition.
(5) From everything I hear, the new course, designed by Hugh Lochore, is less menacing than in previous years. Hugh has experience designing events from the CIC* to CCI3* level, and, for what it’s worth, has not designed a 4*.
(6) However, the single characteristic that makes Red Hills so challenging, and the one thing that a course designer can’t make easier is the overall topography of the venue. The Red Hills XC and show jumping (to a lesser extent) is basically built on the side of a very large hill, and horses and riders have to fight the terrain throughout. We will know more about the courses as riders start to walk them today.
(7) As long as there are no skinny vertical dolphins parked in small ponds at the bottom of hills with flags on either side, I think we will have a better event than a lot of people. Heck, simple regression to the mean suggests that things will go better.
(8) Red Hills organizers have, as always, really rallied the local media and hopefully a big crowd will show up for Saturday. Hopefully the spectators will be rewarded with a fun and safe weekend. If you live near Tallahasse and have never been to Red Hills (which is no one reading this) then I definitely suggest you check it out.
(9) I will probably not be on scene at Red Hills due to responsibilities here in Aiken, although, looking at it, I could probably make the entire drive down to see the XC and back in about 30 hours. Of course, we have lots of friends who will be there and we will keep you fully updated throughout the weekend either way. Hopefully the only news will be some great rides and key wins. Go eventing.