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Rider's and Coach Commentary on Tomorrow's Cross Country Course
US Equestrian Press Release
Several riders and the Canadian Coach today provided their observations on the cross-country course for tomorrow's, August 17th, competition which starts at 9:00 am at the Markopoulo Equestrian Center.
My horse was chosen on his jumping ability for sure. I think it is a very fair course. This modified format and the time will be hard to make in 46. It will be doable, but I would say a lot of people are NOT going to get inside the time.
It just wheels tighter and the heat Ė in Kentucky (April, 2004 Rolex Event) we ran the same distance with probably a little easier terrain and it was 55 degrees or something like that Ė it was so cool. If we have a day like yesterday (referring to Saturday's record tempartures), itís going to be really tough.
Americans have really concentrated on fitness for their horses, and weíll do great. And Iíll just be there as a backup in case we get unlucky with two others. That is why I think they picked my horse. Heís a really good jumper and he is a fairly good triathlete.
On key fences:
Certainly the two waters, the first particular. The corners are arranged so you are cantering at them and they are not completely clear. So, I think the horses are going to have to jump in and figure out what they are doing. Because from my eye, when I walked it the first time, I thought, ďWhere am I going.Ē Whereas at Kentucky, we had a much harder jump in, but the island was sitting there in front of you. Itís gonna be tricky.
And Iíd say the coffin at the end is a pretty serious jump. But the rest of the course should ride great. The footing is perfect. Iím wondering how slick it is going to be. Will there be the right amount of water? But I thnk we will all be in the same boat.
Blyth Tait/New Zealand:
Iíve only walked the course once. But at first appearance it seems extremely kind and very inviting. There are some difficult combinations. Donít get me wrong, but there are a lot of very straight forward fences. Of the Olympics that Iíve done, itís much less technical.
I think water fences 9 and 10 are the most difficult. They look like proper Olympic fences without a doubt.
Itís got related distance problems, line problems and problems with the water. If you jump into the unknowing Ė the first element is just a bit of a question with lots of different problems.
I like it Ė it appears soft but I donít think it actually is. It is kind of deceiving that way. Iím always careful of a course that appears to be soft Ė itís just a safeguard I keep.
The first water jump comes up a bit abruptly, but there hasnít been really anything too serious on the course at that point. And then all of a sudden there is quite an eyeful, that might catch a few.
He [the course designer] asks very similar questions several times in a row which might help us, but then againÖit may not.
It would be to everybodyís advantage if the wind keeps up. Other than that, I know that yesterday I noticed that the wind was blowing the water from the sprinklers away from the course in many cases, so the water isnít getting where it is supposed to. The horses will be refreshed from the wind Ė it feels cooler so it would be great if it did keep up.
I certainly think that the first water jump is significant. And I also think the coffin is very, very serious and it is late in the course.
There are just a lot of accuracy questions. There are a few fences that donít require too much thought, but you have to make sure you pay attention to those at the same time. Itís not all high and itís not all low Ė it definitely does well and you have to think serious about every fence and not just the ones you are worried about.
The weather today is nice as it can get, and thatís pretty darn nice. Iím cooler now than I have been at home a lot of times after my dressage test.
Jim Wofford, former Olympic medalist in Eventing for the United States, now Coach of the Canadian Team:
It's fine, it's just what we need. We don't need too many inponderables with this kind of terrain.