Course Designer Makes His Debut In Conty

Driving World Championship in Conty (Picardie), August 24th -28th, 2011 - From 24 to 28 August, the village of Conty in the French rural region of Picardie will host the 15th edition of the FEI World Pair Driving Championship. The course design of this prestigious event is in the hands of Great Britain’s Barry Hunter, who will make his debut as a World Championship course designer.

Hunter can rely on the capable assistance of Alain Houard from Conty and Philippe Bloisier. Although Hunter has been designing courses since the late 90’s and was promoted to O-course designer in 2010, his name is not yet widely known in the Driving World. This will however change quickly as the World Championship approaches very fast.

The 62-year old former manager at a Further Education College and lecturer in Mathematics was pleasantly surprised when he was asked by the FEI to become the course designer in Conty. Barry has been an international course designer since 2004 and his work has been in the UK and the USA, including Lowther, Sandringham, Royal Windsor, Erddig, British National Championships, Live Oak, Sunshine State and Katydid events. Since his retirement, Barry spends the summer months in Europe and the winter months in Florida, USA.

Existing Obstacles
Conty has hosted the FEI World Single Driving Championship in 2002 and has welcomed international drivers for more than ten years at their yearly international driving competition. Houard and his team will extend and alter the existing eight obstacles to prepare them for the very fast pair drivers at the World Championship. Barry first visited the competition site in March and will return at the start of June to check on the progress and to make sure the works take place according to the schedule.

Many Options
“The object of my designs is to provide as many options as possible so that the drivers have a test of their judgement as well as driving skills. There will be options for flowing routes and technical turns; it will be a true test of the driver’s knowledge of their horses’ capabilities. My designs also bear in mind the enjoyment for the spectators so there will be the opportunity for some exciting driving,” explains Barry.

The Cones course will test the suppleness of the horses and the driver’s accuracy, there will be plenty of turns but here will be a flow so that the drivers can maintain a good pace. There will be options for taking shorter or longer routes. “My goal in Conty is for all drivers and horses to finish safely but at the same time know that they have been in a true test of their abilities and the spectators have witnessed an exciting spectacle.”

World Championship in Conty
The high-level sporting center in Conty is carried by the Ateliers du Val de Selle, an establishment that helps and supports handicapped adults and is cherished by its founder Alain Houard, who is an international course designer himself. The World Championship also holds a festivity program such as a circus and equestrian shows, other competitions like national blacksmith contest and a draft horse competition and events for the disabled.