What Do Riders Think About the Pan Ams Cross Country Course?

Fence 11: Owl Hole Brush. Photo by Jenni Autry. Fence 11: Owl Hole Brush. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park is buzzing with the news that the Toronto area is set to see record heat tomorrow, which seems hard to believe considering what a cold day it’s been today. But temperatures are forecasted to hit the low 90s, with the heat index boosting the real-feel temperature up to 100 degrees.

Cross country starts at 11 a.m. tomorrow, with horses set to be on course until 2 p.m. (click here for ride times), so the riders who have a spot earlier in the order of go will almost certainly have the advantage of tackling the track in cooler temperatures. Regardless, it’s going to be a scorcher of a day.

Wayne Copping’s cross country course definitely has a championship feel to it, with the terrain expected to play an influential role and a number of technical questions ready to keep horses and riders on their toes. (Click here to view a fence-by-fence preview.) Here’s what the U.S. and Canadian team riders are thinking about the course on the eve of cross country:

Phillip Dutton: “Being earlier in the day will suit my horse rather than running in the heat. There’s no live feed TV tomorrow, so it will be an advantage to the team having someone to go out first and then relay back face-to-face what it’s like. It’s quite a flowing course with difficult questions spaced throughout. I think the pressure will be on to make the time and make sure you’re accurate to the jumps. “

Colleen Loach: “Everything looks very doable. For sure you have to be on your game. It’s very nicely presented and kind for the horses. Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather, but my horse is pretty fit (to handle the heat).”

Lauren Kieffer: “She’s a good cross country horse. The course looks beautiful. The ground is beautiful. They did an amazing job. I think it will be a beautiful course to ride around. The technicality stays up the whole way through, so you can’t get sleepy anywhere. The last combination will be tough if your horse is tired.”

Marilyn Little: “There’s plenty to do out there. I don’t think this is going to be a dressage competition. It is a two-star, but we all know that you can make a two-star incredibly difficult. There’s a lot of terrain. The water jumps are beautifully presented, but they are substantial. If you have a ditchy horse, you might not be getting so much sleep tonight. Kitty is quite a courageous and brave horse, but it has my full and undivided attention.”

Boyd Martin: “It’s a good course. It’s not that big for the horses we’re on, but there’s a lot of little traps out there where I think you could have a silly mistake. I think you’ve got to concentrate the whole way around and not go into it with the mindset that it’s just a two-star, because it is a championship course, and I think it’s going to take a lot out of your horse. There are a lot of bumps and twists and turns, which are tiring.”

The U.S. holds the lead in the team standings after dressage on a score of 130.0, followed by Canada in second on 130.7 and Brazil in third on 136.7. Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too lead the individual standings for Brazil on 38.9, with Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee in second for Canada on 39.8 and Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous sitting in third as the highest-placed U.S. pair on 40.3.

Click here to view the final dressage report and here to view the lunchtime report. You can relive all the action from the day and see photos of all the U.S. and Canadian riders by clicking here to scroll through my open thread. It’s a busy weekend on EN with NAJYRC running concurrently, so be sure to click here to read all of Samantha Clark’s coverage from Lexington. Go Eventing.

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