This will be the second week in a row that we will walk a course that is the work of a newcomer to the International Arena. Peter Grant (CAN) has been at work all week and tonight his course will on the big stage at WEF. Peter has years of experience across North America but I think that this week will be his toughest test to date. His WEF Challenge on Thursday was a good test at 1.45m with a time allowed that was maybe a little too generous.
Last week we had a CSI 2* and this week we move up to the first 3* of the season. This class has been the domain of Luc Musset (BEL) for the last several years and his approach to this 3* has been very aggressive. The course for the last two years has featured 3 combinations 1 of which has been a triple and I have stated that this was too aggressive for a 3* so early in the season. Also the heights have also been on the aggressive side. We may have come to expect this class will be the same every year. Every course designer has his own approach to these major classes and so tonight we will get a different opinion. The results that Luc achieved were very good and I do not suggest that he was wrong in his approach to this event but he was very aggressive with the tools that were available to him. Once again I will say that this venue has so many great horses and so much talent in the riders that the job of the course designer is not an easy one.
Tonight we have 45 entered and all 45 will compete. The course has 14 numbered obstacles with 17 efforts. The course will show 1 double combination and 1 triple. There are 2 liverpools, 1 triple bar, 1 short pole vertical. There will be no water (what a surprise) and there will be no plank jump. The material count will give us 52 poles, 11 planks, 2 liverpools, a wall and 2 jumps with filler. The time allowed (TA) is set at 82 seconds and will not be changed.
I believe the time has come to begin the walk of the $132,000 Adequan CSI 3*Grand Prix.
#1 oxer 1.42/1.45/1.40m or 4.6/4.7/4.6ft and this oxer ended the evening very quickly for 1 rider.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #1 on a very slight left rein with a distance of 32m or 104.9ft and also sent 1 rider to the showers early.
#3 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes on the right rein away from the in-gate and here we had 4 failures to execute.
#4a oxer 1.47/1.65m or 4.10/5.4ft comes from #3 in a straight line with a distance of 25.3m or 83ft and tumbled to the sand 3 times.
#4b closed Liverpool vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on a distance of 11.4m or 37.3ft and fell to earth 2 times. (I do not think this vertical reached the 1.50m or 5ft height).
#5 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #4b on the right rein (long gallop) and was faulted only 1 time.
#6 vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes on the left rein at the far end of the stadium and kissed mother earth 3 times.
#7 the wall 1.51m or 5.1ft with a bending left rein and a distance of 33m or 108ft. The top blocks were slid from the top shelf 2 times.
#8 oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.10/5.4ft comes from #7 in a straight line and on a distance of 19.4m or 63.6ft and was the only obstacle never faulted on the evening.
#9 vertical 1.51m or 5ft comes from #8 with a distance of 21.9m or 71.9ft and in a straight line. This jump was removed from the top pole position 1 time.
#10 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on the right rein and across the mouth of the in-gate with no given distance and was punished 2 times.
#11 triple bar 1.48/ 1.90m or 4.10/6.3ft comes on the full right turn and back across the in-gate and 4 horses found the back pole.
#12 short pole vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #11 in a straight line with a distance of 14.4m or 47.3ft and lightly touched down 8 times.
#13a vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #12 away from the in-gate and on the left rein and with no given distance. This vertical fell from the sky 6 times.
#13b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft from #13a and was also punished 5 times.
#13c vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #13b with a distanced of 7.8m or 25.6ft and was slapped down 1 time.
#14 oxer Liverpool 1.50/1.75m or 5/5.7ft comes from #13c on the bending left line and with a distance of 31.5m or 103.3ft the last fence in the first round tonight saw 8 splash downs.
The final tally of the first round of the $132,000 Adequan 3* Grand Prix are as follows: There were 15 clean rounds, 10 rounds of 4 faults, 9 rounds of 8 faults and 4 rounds of 12 faults. The rest will fight another day. We had 1 voluntary withdrawal and 1 elimination (2 refusals).
I have a few final thoughts about tonight’s class: The past couple of years this class may have been too aggressive for a 3* (maybe not) but I would like to hear from our readers on this point. I believe that Peter would have preferred a few less clean but he should not be too upset with the number clean because the jump off was very exciting and might stand up as one of the best of the season. A jump off can only be this exciting if there are enough competitors in the jump off. The response from the crowd was proof enough. The crowd again filled the stands and although a little windy, it was a great night. The course was what I believe a 3* should be. Some will say it was soft and maybe it was a little soft but I think that is what the riders are looking for in week 3. The time allowed was where it had to stay because the first horse went clean and was 1.5 seconds under the 82 seconds so the change if made could only be 1 second down so the 82 seconds remained. To come to WEF in the winter for the first time is a big challenge and if a course designer can get his or her feet wet in that first year and come back the next year it usually gets easier (I think). Peter, you did a good job in your first year and I look forward to your courses next year.
Next week we go to my favorite venue and that is the derby field. We have another newcomer to the big stage and that will be Anderson Lima (BRA). We will be on the grass for the $205,000 Netjets CSI 4* Grand Prix. This will be a Saturday morning class (11am start) and if the weather holds I think we may see the water. The U25 team competition will also be held Friday afternoon in the dressage stadium and will be an event that must be seen because there is nothing more exciting than team sport.
Week 3 is now in the past and until week 4 I am Dave Ballard.