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An Olympic XC course designer has the unenviable task of creating a course that’s challenging enough to separate the field but forgiving enough to keep everybody safe. How do you think London’s course rode?
Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI
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I thought the course was well designed and asked very appropriate questions. It was technical, but the technicalities were balanced out by enough “off-the-fly” gallop fences. It’s always nice to see some classical XC elements like that. Jump #3, being the first big technical question, may have come a little early in the course, but it was forgiving enough. All the jumps could be ridden with forgiveness, and that was evident with some of the hairier situations performed today in London that turned out to be a success! The horses were tired at the end, however, and I think that had to do with the slickness in some of the turns on course. Horses were losing shoes. Zara’s horse lost the front two! A lot of the ponies really had to push and balance themselves through their hocks to keep settled and upright. But, those that are fit mentally and physically always succeed, and we saw that today!
I liked the course – it was technically challenging, so you really got to see how the riders needed to make their approach and jump, and of course it was incredible watching the horses – but the designers responded nicely to pressure to make it safer by allowing weaker riders the opportunity to go a safer (but slower) route.
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