Having just walked the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships 2014 Cross Country Course for the first time (ever) today, and posted the full course up on the Grassroots website, here’s a few quick thoughts of my own:
It’s a little stronger than I expected, but fabulous, and a true championship effort for this level. Let’s not forget the competitors have two rounds of qualifying to get here and only the top few from each qualifying round go through. I think it will be a real joy to ride.
The first part of the course runs from the quarry through to the staircase, so the first 8 fences are grouped relatively closely and through undulating ground with plenty of opportunity for horses to drift one way or another.
Once you get to fence 12 the worst is behind you, and you’ve now got opportunity to kick on up Worcester Avenue towards the house and take in the breath-taking view of the house that looms larger than life in front of you, as you make up time. A related distance between some birch rails is probably your biggest task here, and it’s pretty nice, another curving line through the Garden Complex and it’s onto the lake.
The Lake fence itself is not anywhere near as big an effort as the you might image if you’ve never been, but the approach to it from the garden is open and exposed and your heading towards the main focal point of the site with big white tents and the usual hubub of the main shopping thoroughfare so the backdrop in front of you is powerful, and could easily distract a horse.
On over a few simple obstacles and you’re on your way home towards Huntsmans Close, when the biggest surprise comes up – two open corners 3 fences from home! There are several strides between them and on a curving line, which should help. If you’re not feeling like a rockstar at this point you do have a much simpler, but lengthy alternative to choose if you’re of the mind “I just want to finish”.
Hop over a Trakehner and the now famous ‘book’ built by course designer, James Willis, and you’re home and hosed.
I think it’s a great course, and the gallop up Worcester Avenue especially should raise a smile on everyone’s face, plus the footing is as good as you could ever wish for.
It’s a real ‘Mini Badminton’, and ‘flowing’ all the way. If you’re riding have a great time!