The course follows the same basic route and direction as the 2015 course and shares many similarities on both courses.
Competitors can download a copy of the digital interactive course maps to their phone using the CrossCountry App for free or otherwise can view them on their website. The courses include photos of all fences in addition to notes from course designer James Willis. Audio from Yogi Breisner and dressed photos will be added May 2nd as well. Competitors viewing the course on their phone app also have the added benefit of the minute markers being shown, although we always recommend that rider’s measure their own minute markers once at the event as they may choose a different line to that which was walked when mapping the course.
BE90 Championship course
The 3075m course with an optimum time of 6minutes 50 starts with the familiar BE flower box fence at 1 followed by the Huntsmans roll top fence at 2 which as topped with brush although looking up to height is inviting and will encourage combinations to jump forward and open to prepare themselves for the approaching questions.
3 sees the first combination on the course a double of Park logs which with a gentle right hand bend between the elements and will ensure horses and riders are correctly focused whilst also being relatively forgiving early in the course. 4 the ASX Cross Question is actually one of the most inviting fences on the course, the fence should encourage horses to jump in a good shape which will be ideal as it is the perfect photo opportunity fence with Badminton house in the background.
5 the Wadworths at the Lake sees the first major question on the course. The direct route involves jumping directly into the water with a falling away groundline into the water which could come as a shock to some combinations especially those who are maybe overawed by the atmosphere and may result in some penalties being picked up. There is though a time wasting alternative of a house for those not wanting to risk the direct route. Once in the water there is a right hand turn to the B element which is a boat fence sitting on an angle to the shoe line.
The lake is immediately followed by another combination 6 the World Horse Welfare Garden Fence which sees the familiar wishing well fence then an upright skinny log (which undoubtedly will be dressed with numerous plants underneath) on a long 90 degree left hand turn. Although a combination there is plenty of time between the fences and a central tower to make the turn round to help ensure it should cause minimal problems. Riders can potentially risk jumping the first element at an angle to cut inside the central tower to save a few seconds but how sensible this option is will depend on final fence dressing.
7 the Woodside table and 8 the Danco Shooting Butt although both substantial should be good let up fences. The shooting butt built with brush is normally up to maximum height (1m10 with brush for BE90) but every year looks to jump well and the stretch down from the lake here normally allows horses who may have had some stage fright at earlier fences to get into a good rhythm.
9 the Devoucoux Brushes is the next serious question and is where 12 combinations picked up penalties in 2015. This year there is a different choice of lines with options seemingly being a straight related distance on the right hand side or a curving line on the left. Riders are sensible to decide in advance which will suit their horse best especially if they have a tendency to run out to the left or right especially as the second element looks to have a smaller jumpable section to the first at current.
A good galloping section follows with 10 the Spillers Horse Beam and 11 the PHEV Brush both of which will allow combinations a chance to rebuild confidence if necessary.
12, 13 and 14, the Irish Horse Gateway combination then follows with all on related distances, although separately numbered to allow riders to make additional choices as to their approach. Two hanging logs on a curving right bend are followed moving across uneven terrain by the substantial left open corner returning from last year which does have a black flag alternative.
There is no let up before the next fence 15ABC the Shogun Hollow. Again as per 2015 is jumps right to left which only saw 5 riders pick up penalties last year unlike in 2014 jumping left to right where 24 fell foul! The ground has a kinder slope in this direction giving horses longer to evaluate the question and when ridden in a good ‘coffin canter’ actually jumps very well. The fences in and out are slimmer in construction giving more room below the fence so dependant on fence dressing could again give horses a clear view of what faces them after the A element.
16 the CrossCountry App House gives a brief respite and a gallop to the next collection of combination fences. 17AB sees riders jump the four star wall before moving riding uphill to a roll top fence at the top, only a few strides rest before 18AB a sizeable step down with a left hand bend across uneven ground to a narrow brush fence. Combinations will soon have the finish in sight as they gallop up to fence 19 the Outlander Haywagon which sits at the top of the slope of the quarry. They then will drop down to the bottom of the Careers in Racing Quarry to 20A a roll top before moving uphill to a second toll top at the top of the slope out. Although relatively simple with the option of either a straight or curving line horses will have been on the course for over six and a half minutes at this point a good minute longer than the average BE90 course and tiredness may come to the fore with horses running out of petrol to the B element. Once past the quarry only one fence remains fence 21 James’s Book. It is unlikely to cause any issues and once negotiated will allow riders if they didn’t already to have a grin spread across their face with the realisation they have successfully completed the 2016 championship course.
BE100 Championship Course
The BE100 course is marginally longer than the BE90 coming in at 3127m with an optimum time of 6 minutes 35 seconds. The first two fences the BE Flower Box and the Huntsman Rolltop are larger versions of the BE90 and should both get combinations forward and jumping.
The Park Logs at 3ab are a bit tougher for the BE100 as although again a gentle curving line, this time left hand, a large tree will block the view of the second element and encourage horses to drift right so riders will have to be sure to maintain their horse’s concentration whilst riding their line. Riders will then move on to 4 the ASX Cross Question again for their Badminton House photo opportunity.
The Wadsworth At the Lake 5AB shares element A with the BE90 but the height as previously mentioned will not be the issue here as horses are sure to boggle at the substantial stretch of water ahead of them, though the area will be roped off to prevent anyone going swimming! An alternative is again available at A for those who are riding horses perhaps a bit shy of water. The BE100 riders though have a sharper right hand turn to B which sits on the edge of the water out. Those who overshoot their turn in over the direct route may find themselves approaching B at a notable angle and will have to be careful to avoid a run out.
The World Horse Welfare Garden 6AB follows. Those jumping well to this point and feeling ambitious may decide to angle the Wishing well in to cut inside the central tower to take a more direct line rather than the right hand bend round the central tower.
As per the BE90 7 the Woodside table and 8 the Danco Shooting Butt should be good let up fences. The up to height Shooting Butt always jump well from a good forward rhythm and the stretch down from the lake here normally allows horses to gain confidence.
The Devoucoux brushes at 9 looks unchanged and they are likely to be influential, 21 picked up penalties here in 2015. Left and right routes are very similar although a few last year took the very large central route over the second element! Riders can then make up some time and build some confidence on the galloping section including 10 the Spillers Horse Beam and 11 the PHEV Brush.
The most intense part of the course is without doubt now awaiting combinations starting with 12, 13 and 14 the Irish Horse Gateway combination. Riders must negotiate two hanging logs on a right hand bend before turning right again to the up to height open left handed corner. The approach to the corner is across varying terrain but if riders plan their route accordingly they can use this to their advantage to get the best line to the corner. Immediately riders move of to the Shogun Hollow at 15ABC which is very similar to 2015 and then when approached in a good ‘coffin canter’ overall made the fence very jumpable although 14 combinations did pick up penalties last year.
Again there is no let up with the CrossCountry App House combination 16AB following on. Riders have an option of a direct left hand route needing to angle the house or a longer but easier right hand route. It would likely be sensible for anyone experiencing a less than perfect jump at the hollow to take the longer route to build back up some confidence as two combinations are next on the agenda. There is a fair gallop generally downhill to 17AB the Four star wall which will most likely be best approached on an angle to turn left up the slope to a roll top at the slope.
Riders will now face what we suspect will turn out to be the biggest new question on the course, 18AB the Mirage step. The direct route looks not hugely dissimilar to a scaled down previous incarnation of the 4* Vicarage Vee and will require a bold horse and a good line from the rider accompanied with positive riding. A tiring horse will easily duck out when faced by such a big accuracy question, so many riders may decide to take the long alternative route down the step to a brush rather than risk picking up an unnecessary 20 penalties.
A long stretch uphill to the gallop and riders will find themselves just three from home but the questions haven’t finished just yet. The Outland Haywagon at 19 is simple enough although decently wide and sits near the edge of the quarry which riders will ride down into and back up the other side to the double of angled brushes that make up 20AB the Careers In Racing Quarry combination. Due to the slope horses won’t see the second element until very late on so riders will have to be careful to stick to their line. Those struggling for petrol in the tank could find the distance tricky and pick up a run out at the second element. Last year the distance rode well but the positioning and distance could well have changed this time round so will need careful walking.
Fence 21 James’s Book will be a very welcome sight for rider’s as it is the last fence and means clearing it they are home safe.
Both tracks are true championship courses which should ensure that neither section is a dressage competition. There are though sufficient alternatives to the trickier questions which should mean with sensible riding the vast majority of competitors (if not all) can safely and confidently complete and pick up that prized Badminton completion rosette.
There are not many events where riders can simply be happy to complete but a clear over either Mitsubishi Motors Cup 2016 Championship track should be a mark of achievement for a rider. With the ground likely to still be on the soft side even if we get two weeks of dry weater, (sun and drying wind dances for the remaining run up time wouldn’t go amiss!) and the lengthy alternative options it is likely clears inside the time will be few and far between, so such a clear could see a combination notably climbing up the leaderboard after the dressage and showjumping. We can’t wait to see the course in the flesh in two weeks time, and fully expect it to be a fantastic competition.
Photos used with permission from CrossCountry App