The eventing community has been eagerly anticipating the debut of Captain Mark Phillips’ cross-country course for the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina. There have been sneak peeks here and there at what is in store for the 83 WEG eventing competitors, and now we have a more detailed look at the different elements of the course.
The cross-country track, which wraps around the lake across the undulating terrain of the White Oak portion of the property at TIEC, is 5,700 meters long and encompasses 26 numbered fences and 42 jumping efforts. After taking a looping tour around what was previously the White Oak Golf Course, riders have a substantial pull up the hill towards the main complex at TIEC, finishing in the newly-constructed U.S. Trust Arena.
The start box. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Competitors will leave the start box and gallop east along the northern bank of the Green River, establishing their rhythm over fence 1, the WEG Oxer, and fence 2, the Cleghorn Golf & Gun. Riders reach their first minute marker between fences 2 and 3 as they cross over the first of three bridges on course. Fence 3, the Wellington Stable, and fence 4, the SAP Platform, bring riders to the first combination on course, situated along the northern bank of the lake.
Fence 5C of the Mars Matrix. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Fence 5, the Mars Matrix, has two path options for riders to choose from. Both options include the A element, an imposing ditch and brush, and then riders either take the left-hand path over 5B, a wagon, to 5C, a triple brush, or the right-hand path, which encompasses 5B, a brush coop, to 5C, a wagon, followed by 5D, a narrow brush coop. Riders gallop away and loop south, coming to their second minute marker as they reach the far end of the lake.
Fence 7A and B, the docks, on the right. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
The first water hazard on course comprises fences 6 and 7AB, the Hearth Stone Sluice and the Meydan Marina. Similar to water complexes in Europe, riders will gallop into the shallows of the lake, come up onto dry land for fence 6, and then gallop back into the lake to pick up either the right-hand option, two docks, or the left-hand option, a single sailboat at 7AB.
The view of the BC and black flag B options from fence 9A. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Riders proceed out of the lake and turn south, galloping up a short, steep slope to fence 8, Chimney Rock, and continuing on to fence 9ABC, Worlds Best Bank, as they pass their third minute marker. Here Phillips has made good use of the terrain, as riders must loop up the slope to correctly angle back downhill to the brush wall at fence 9A and then hold the line to the skinny triple brush at fence 9BC for the direct route. If riders miss out on the direct line, they can continue further downhill to another skinny triple brush and then loop to the left for a second triple brush to complete the combination.
Mars Sustainability Bay, Fence 10ABCDEFG. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
World Best Bank is followed quickly by the second water jump on course, Mars Sustainability Bay. This combination comprises four efforts for the direct route: the drop into the water at fence 10AB, the boat in the water at fence 10C, the bank out at fence 10D, and the wedge at fence 10EFG. There are two other paths that riders can take with a variety of element combinations. Riders can choose to jump the left-hand option at fence 10A, which remains on dry land before horses gallop into the water, followed by a boat in the water fence 10B, and then can choose from two different step options which lead to different combinations of stumps, roll tops, and cabins.
Bzzzzz! USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Riders gallop away from the water and continue south, picking up fence 11, the Bee Trakehner and fence 12, Over Mountain Victory Trail Wall, before turning left across the second of three bridges on course and passing their fourth minute marker. Riders then come to fence 13AB, Apple Country, where they can take their pick between two different bending lines from large table to large table.
CSX Junction. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
CSX Junction at fence 14ABCD is a series of corners which again present riders with several options. They can jump the cabin at 14A and then proceed on bending lines to two more left-hand corners at 14BC and 14D. Or, they can select the right-hand coop at fence 14A which then proceeds to three corners, both left- and right-hand, at fence 14B, 14C, and 14D.
Time to stop for a little liquid courage! USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Riders pass the fifth minute marker as they proceed north along the easternmost edge of the property to fence 15, Two Rivers Hay Farm, and fence 16, Moonshine Still. The last fence before riders turn west and begin to head for home is fence 17ABC, the M&M Mounds. Riders proceed up a slope to the right and jump the cabin at 17A, then take a sharp left turn downhill to the mushroom brush box at 17BC.
The squirrels at the Land Rover Turn. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Riders then cross the third bridge and pass their sixth minute marker as they head for fence 18ABC, the Land Rover Turn. Riders have their choice of oxers at fence 18A before continuing on to the angled squirrels at fences 18B and 18C.
The Longines Water. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Fences 19 and 20ABC at The Longines Water are the final fences riders will tackle on the golf course before beginning the long pull up the hill heading for home. Riders have their choice of open oxers at fence 19 which will then set them up for the direct route at 20ABC, two round top fountains in the water, or the option route that includes another open oxer at 20A, a brush on the top of the bridge at fence 20B, and another brush down the bridge and to the left at fence 20C.
John Deere Double Brushes. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Riders reach the seventh minute marker at the bottom of the hill heading west back towards the main complex at TIEC. There are two fences on the long pull up the hill: fence 21AB, the John Deere Double Brush, and fence 22, the Turtles. Rider pass the eighth minute marker as they reach the top of the hill and come to fence 23ABC, the Polaris Brush. Here riders jump 23A and 23B, brush round tops on an angle, and have their choice of skinny brushes at fence 23C.
Just one fence left to go, no time to stop for a refreshment. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
With just three fences to go now, riders come to fence 24AB, the Hendersonville Apple Festival and NY Apple, which some will recognize from the Central Park Arena Eventing competition last fall, and proceed along the edge of the derby field behind the U.S. Trust Arena to fence 25, the Coca-Cola Roll. Finally, riders loop around and enter the U.S. Trust Arena and jump the final fence, the NASCAR Finish Line, in front of the crowds gathered in the stadium.
The first horse inspection takes place this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. after which team and individual riders will be announced and ride times will be released. Cross-country is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 15, beginning at 11:00 a.m.