No matter what happens, you have to gallop on toward the finish line. The course crosses under itself here by the simple means of going through a tunnel. You galloped over it on your way to #6, and now you pop out of the tunnel to find #29, the Water Trough, just after a left handed turn.
Remember those mirror image problems I mentioned earlier? Remember #18, where the course curved downhill to the right, with a narrow faced jump, and a light to dark factor. Well, here you go... the exact problem, but in the other direction, and two miles later on into the course. Here at #29, you deal with the light to dark first, as you come out of the tunnel, then a turn to the left which will be sharper than it walks because your horse is tired now and a little sluggish in his steering, and the jump is just that little bit more narrow than you remember it was and you are in a hurry because you have a chance to make the time at the World Championships and... "How'd I miss that dang thing?" Winners have medals, and losers have excuses.
The last two fences, #30 and #31 are fly fences, and should pose no problem if you have gotten this far.
So what do I think overall? I think the same thing that I did this spring when I walked Rolex. This course is big, and it is hard, and it is going to get harder as you go along. There are several reasons for this. First of all, modern cross-country course design is frozen right now. There have not been any new developments in design for the past eight or 10 years. The main reason for this is the ever-increasing emphasis on safety. If a designer tries something new or different, and it doesn't work, he gets run out of town on a rail. Look at what happened to Mike Tucker, the designer at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. He designed a very big, old-fashioned, square course, which took judgment, skill and a sober attitude towards the time and speed element. What happened? The riders all tried to make the time, turned their horses over, and blamed the course designer for their short-comings! I don't blame the designers for being conservative at all. If I were still designing courses, I would be doing the same thing.
But the result of this is that when riders walk a course, they are seeing the same sort of fence that they have seen all spring and summer. Familiarity in this context doesn't exactly breed contempt, but it does lead to a certain amount of complacency, an "Oh, yeah, that fence is just like the so-and-so at Badminton" sort of thing. Thus riders tend to forget that while a problem is obvious that doesn't mean it is no longer a problem. You still have to provide the right answer.
In addition, the new short format is not the slam dunk that some of the riders thought it would be. We have merely exchanged one kind of stress for another. It is ironic that the Germans, who were behind the movement to change to the short format, are now scratching their heads and saying "Gottfordammerung" or whatever it is that they say when they get what they asked for, but it isn't what they wanted. Some of the German riders are having some success right now, but they are doing it on Thoroughbreds and Irish Sport Horses, not old-fashioned warmbloods.
Again, the emphasis on safety has led designers to use complicated complexes to try and slow the riders down. This works for as long as it takes for the riders to jump the complex, but then the riders sprint away from this complex because they know they are behind the clock, and they have to make up time on their way to the next complex, and so on and so on until the horse is fatigued. By this time these complexes start to get too complex for the average world class horse, if there is such a creature, and, well, you start to see things unravel. We saw the process at Rolex, and I think we will see the same thing here. I would predict that the entire field will jump the first 10 fences clean, and then the penalties will increase exponentially as we go along in the course.
Finally, this course is hard because it is designed to be hard. It is a very subtle course in many ways, with the endless repetition of mirror image questions, and minor details that are suddenly not so minor when you are going too fast on a tired horse. The one thing you can be sure of is that if your horse has a hole in his education anywhere, this course will search it out and expose it.