Pierre Michelet started work on his Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games cross-country course in Normandy two years ago. Find out what he has used for inspiration.
Have you ever designed a World Equestrian Games cross-country course before?
No, but I have done two European Championship courses, in Pau and Fontainebleau, and I design at events all over France. I was also responsible for the track at the Test Event at this venue last year.
What have you used for inspiration this time?
I’ve used many things that you commonly find in Normandy, such as churns that represent the milk that is used in the famous Camembert cheese. The owl fence is the crest of a local saddlery/farrier school, while an obstacle with a castle and narrow Norman shields pay tribute to the area’s early history.
Where does your course start to get difficult?
From fence four, so early on, which will test those horses who haven’t settled or those lacking confidence. Fences four and five consist of a combination of two left-handed corners. The beginning of the track is very intense and there is a difficult water at fence 7/8 [Le Deversoir Nointel, consisting of a steep drop into water over a log with two arrowhead brushes in the water itself].
What is the optimum time?
The horses will have to negotiate 44 jumping efforts in 11min 30sec. There were originally 45 efforts but the ground jury decided to take out one sheep shelter element at the penultimate obstacle believing that 44 jumps was actually enough.
Has it been easy designing on the terrain at Le Pin?
The terrain is fantastic. It is undulating like Burghley which makes my job so much easier. I have sited a lot of fences in the middle of fields, though, to make it a great viewing course for the public.
What feedback have you had so far?
Everyone, from riders to chefs d’équipes, has been very positive. They have told me that they think it is wonderful.