Whilst many of the riders have described Ian Stark’s cross country course at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 at Blair Castle not one of the biggest dimensionally, they still feel it will have some influence on the competition. Eventing Worldwide caught up with some of the riders to get their thoughts on the course.

Izzy Taylor (GBR): “It looks like a good track. It’s not as dimensionally big as a lot of us were expecting. But it is at Blair with the terrain and he has been very clever with his placement of fences, especially towards the end, so I think it will be a very exciting day. We all knew coming to Blair it was going to be hilly. Ian has really made the most of what he has got which is great.”

Oliver Townend (GBR): “I think it is a serious course for every horse. The terrain is tough, we’ve got a forecast of rain which will change the whole competition, and the jumps are not dimensionally massive but at the same time it’s a really tricky course. I think if horses and riders get mentally tired from the hills and from the constant questions, that’s when mistakes will creep in.

Bettina Hoy (GER): “I’m sure the cross country will have a very big influence on the outcome. It will be interesting to how Saturday goes. You need to leave enough fuel in the tank for the last big questions which come up. Once you have done the hill work the horses will be tired. There are some big fences and technical questions which come at the end. I think that will be a big task for the horses.”

Padraig McCarthy (IRE): “It rode a very tough track last year and I’m sure it will be the same. The terrain is difficult and there are plenty of questions out there. It depends whether they come down the hill fresh enough to stay focused. I think that’s the big question here. There are difficult combinations towards the end that will test the riders as well as the horses concentration and fitness.”

Dirk Schrade (GER): “It is like we expected. I think you need a fit horse and a horse which trusts the rider 100% because there a many questions where they have to trust the rider and jump into nowhere. It’s big enough and it costs energy and there is a lot to jump. On the technical side there are a few questions but for me the one which is serious and you have to pay a lot of attention to is the last corner after the water. I’m pretty sure the competition is not finished after dressage.

Laura Collett (GBR): “Blair is always tough. It doesn’t walk dimensionally big but we have to take into account the terrain. It will cause a lot of problems.”

Pippa Funnell (GBR): “There is a lot out there to jump. I think Ian has been very clever. The terrain is going to be a test on the horse and it stays big until the end. The second last – the angled fences – you really need to concentrate.

Niklas Lindback (SWE): “It’s a very big cross country. It looks very fair but demanding on the horses fitness. There are a lot of big jumps all the way through to the end.”

Tim Lips (NED): “I think it will be a tough course, especially with the hills, so you will need a very fit horse. The fences are very upright so you have to pull back every time so it’s going to be difficult to keep a rhythm and the last part of the course is very technical.”

Sarah Carless

Photography courtesy of Dave Cameron

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