WEG 2014 Cross Country Venue at Haras du Pin

National Stud Haras du Pin Normandy France

        Haras du Pin © CRBN                   

Although the dressage and showjumping phases of the eventing will take place in the D’Ornano Stadium in Caen, the cross country phase will be held at the National Stud farm of Haras du Pin, just over an hour south of Caen (Note: since the publication of this article, the dressage phase has now also moved to Le Pin; more details HERE)

The FEI CIC 3* World Cup event, Le Grand Complet, which attracts approximately 20,000 spectators, has been held here for the past three years and has grown in favour with the competitors. Clayton Fredericks is a regular competitor (not sure he will be now that he has upped sticks to the USA) and Michael Jung headed here straight after his Olympic victory.

The event is held on the grounds of the impressive National Stud, Haras du Pin whose main Chateau overlooks the cross country course. The course is undulating and several of the competitors commented that it was quite tough for their younger horses competing this year; this natural terrain will give 2014 Cross Country Course Designer Pierre Michelet plenty to work with. This is a man not afraid to build a big course when it is required, having designed tough courses at Saumur 3* and Pau 4*. This year he worked with Sue benson at Greenwich as the Consultant Course Designer for London 2012 but the course to be created for the WEG 2014 is likely to be very different to that at Greenwich Park. Here are two short videos taken during the CIC 3* World Cup to give some idea of the terrain

As you’ll hear in these videos the sound system already used on course is excellent and the commentary (also excellent, in French and English) can be heard at every point of the course. I found that this was one of the poorer points at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky when it wasn't easy to hear the commentary everywhere on course



Work is already underway on the ground to start creating a new top level track for the 4* course and so will be well established for the WEG. This will be welcomed by the competitors as some of them felt that the slipperiness of the Greenwich track was mainly due to the grass being comparatively recently laid.



            The natural ampitheatre provides a great view

There is a natural amphitheatre-type bowl where, for the World Cup event, the showjumping was held and the Start and the Finish of the cross country was located. Just above this area there is a far-reaching view out over many of the fences which will hopefully be used to advantage in the design of the WEG course. We’ll be hearing more about Pierre Michelet's 4* course as time goes by but it certainly seems to be a promising venue for riders and spectators.

The countryside around Le Pin is lovely with plenty of unique places to stay and visit.

      We stayed at Le Chateau de Sarceaux. Lovely outside..........

      .................. and inside

For those preferring to locate themselves outside of the town of Caen for the WEG, this area has a lot to offer. This region of Normandy is dotted with small villages and horse studs, chateaux and manor houses which are definitely worth putting on your 'must see' list. There are rolling green hills, forested areas, orchards and open agricultural fields; all of this adds up to a great rural location for your WEG holiday. We found a chateau to stay at for a few nights only 20 minutes from the venue (CLICK HERE for Deb’s blog about our stay here) but, if you are thinking of staying around here in one of the privately owned chateaux, manor houses or B&B, I would suggest that you start looking now

The 2013 event at Haras Le Pin will very popular with riders wanting to check out the venue and get a feel for the ground and facilities – by 2014 it will no doubt be transformed to cope with the many thousands of spectators but hopefully the countryside surroundings will not be changed. Here are some photos to give you a small taste of what awaits you in the area

     Carriage driving at the National Stud, Haras le Pin           Photo: Xavier Boudon, Pixizone


      Le Chateau d'O - a fairytale castle we discovered driving from Le Pin to Caen

      Lush pastures provide a great place to breed horses.............                 Photo: J.E. Rubio

      ..... and grow apples. After all, the area is famous for its local brew - Calvados    Photo(c) F. De Chassey

       Photo: (c)J.F.LEFEVRE

CLICK HERE for our full reports from the 2012 World Cup at Le Pin and more information about the venue