We are about to begin the journey into week 10 of WEF. This week the feature class is the CSI 3* Horseware Ireland grand Prix. Our course designer for the week has been Michel Vaillancourt (CAN). Michel is a frequent visitor to the grand prix ring in Wellington and will set the tests for the class tonight.
Before we begin the walk tonight I want to discuss the class that will bring forward the riders into tonight’s competition. The WEF Challenge takes place on Thursday afternoon and the top 45 from this class will qualify for tonight’s class. This class carries FEI rider points and there is really good prize money. The course designer will evaluate the level of rider and horse in this class to conceive the tests for the Saturday night grand prix. The hard part for the course designer is to set the heights and widths that will reflect the prize money offered and remain within the guidelines of a 3* event. We have seen close to 90 entries in this class over the season and on Thursday there were 87 entries in this class. This is a week where there will be a million dollar class in California as well as a major class in Ocala. There will be competitors from Wellington at HITS Ocala seeking entry into the Ocala Million next week.
The WEF classic will feature a completely different set of competitors from previous weeks. Many are new to this level and will be moving up in difficulty and others who are regulars will be competing on different mounts. This is also week 10 and a course designer will expect the best from the entries. When I walked the course my impression was that this was a serious test. When the first round was over there were 9 clean and multiple rounds of 4 faults. The TA was very fair and this did give the rider and horse time to complete this hard course. If the course designer evaluated this class we would see a course tonight that was in line with the test of the WEF classic. With some tests altered but remaining consistent with the tests of the Thursday class the course designer will create a very fair test for tonight.
The grand prix tonight is the $132,000 Horseware Ireland CSI 3* competition. The course will consist of 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. The course will show 1 triple combination and 1 double. There will be 2 liverpools, a triple bar, plank vertical and a short pole vertical. There will be no wall and no open water. The TA is set at 78 seconds and will not be changed. The weather is perfect and there is our normal large crowd for good weather on a Saturday night. Daylight saving time means the start time is one half of an hour later than usual. There are 45 entries and 44 will compete.
It is now time to begin the walk of the week 10 grand prix.
#1 oxer 1.45-1.47m or 4.9-4.10ft starts on the right rein and abruptly ended the night for 2 riders.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #1 on a distance of 30m or 100ft and dashed the hopes of 2 riders.
#3 triple bar 1.50-6.00m or 5-6.6ft comes from #2 on the right turn and the width was shortened on 1 occasion.
#4a vertical 1.53m or 5ft comes on the left bending rein with a distance of 85ft or 25.9m and touched down 2 times.
#4b oxer 1.50-1.65m or 5-5.4ft comes from #4a with a distance of 26.3ft or 8m from #4a and kissed mother earth 6 times.
#5 oxer 1.50-1.65m or 5-5.4ft comes from #4b in a straight line with a distance of 75ft and fell from grace 1 time.
#6 vertical 1.53m or 5ft comes from #5 on the left bend across the face of the in-gate with a distanced of 87ft 26.6m and was the only fence on the course tonight never to reach the floor.
#7 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes back to the in-gate on the left rein and was pushed from the yellow cups 6 times.
#8 oxer 1.50-1.65m or 5-5.4ft comes from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 64ft or 19.6m and to my surprise found the sand only 1 time.
#9 closed Liverpool vertical comes from #8 on the full turn right and a long gallop and splashed down 1 time.
#10a oxer 1.50-1.60m or 5-5.3ft comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 73ft or 22.3m and at this point in the course we saw 1 refusal that resulted in a fall and elimination. There were also 4 rails that found the sand.
#10b oxer 1.50-1.60m or 5-5.3ft comes from #10a with a distance of 35.6ft or 10.85m and touched down 12 times.
#10c vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #10b with a distance of 26ft or 7.9m and created 1 refusal with 2 poles on the floor.
#11 vertical planks 1.60 or 5.3ft comes from #10c on the bending left rein with a distance of 97ft or 29.6m and was a huge problem for 13 entries.
#12 liverpool oxer 1.50-1.70m or 5-5.6ft comes on the full turn left from #11 and was a serious water hazard and was washed clean 14 times with 1 refusal.
#13 vertical 1.60 or 5.3ft comes from #12 on the left bending rein and with a distance of 85ft or 25.9m and crashed to the ground 13 times.
#14 oxer 1.52-1.75m or 5-5.7ft. The last fence on the course comes from #13 on a distance of 99ft or 30m. This last jump on course was also the last jump in the class for 6 riders.
This ends the walk of the first round in the $132,000 Horseware Ireland CSI 3*Grand Prix. The final results are truly amazing. After 45 rounds there was only 1 clean effort. There were 16 rounds of 4 faults, 1 round of 5 faults, 1 round of 6 faults and 10 rounds of 8 faults. The remainder will fight another day.
A course designer never designs a course that achieves this result (jumping derby may be the exception). The course tonight did not deserve the final results of this class. The course designer never intended this result. These results happen rarely but they happen. We had similar results in the CSI 5* in week 5 with Kelvin Bywater (GBR) when only 2 went clean. That course and the course designer did not deserve the final results of that course.
Following the results of the WEF Classic on Thursday I believe that the course tonight resembles the tests that were set in the Thursday class. There were a couple of tweaks with the heights of 3 verticals and maybe the widths of 2 oxers. With the prize money being about 4 times bigger there needed to be some changes upward for the class tonight. With these changes the TA was more generous and that was very important as this was a class made up of younger and less experienced riders and some of the horses. If the final 4 fences had been built down even a little bit the 16 rounds of 4 faults could have been all clean and then we would have had 17 clean and that would not have been a good result.
Last week we had a course that went beyond the normal with verticals being faulted at a rate of over 2 to 1 over oxers. Tonight we had a more normal result with a count of 45 oxers to 39 verticals. Jumps 11(vertical dark green planks) and 12 (oxer Liverpool) created a lot of difficulty at the end of the ring next to the International Club and I believe this to be the darkest corner of the ring but we have had many jumps in this area for many classes over previous weeks and seasons and not seen these difficulties.
We could spend a lot of time trying to discover reasons for the results achieved tonight but for me I cannot spot the true (if any) reason other than the riders and their mounts failed the tests (and they were fair tests).
Next week some will get another chance to compete in the $205,000 CSI 4* Captive One Grand Prix out on the Derby Field. Our course designer for week 11 will be Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) and we look forward to his work. Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) you gave us great competition for the week and we look forward to seeing your work again next year.
Before I walk away from Week 10, I have a personal message for my 2 daughters. My youngest Amanda whom many do not know works in her own social media business in Vancouver and is very far removed from the horse business. She is extremely successful and I am so proud of her accomplishments and she is a great source of pride. My other daughter is more familiar to you, Erynn, who just went fist in the million dollar class in Thermal, Calif., where she went clean to finish fifth. Both of my daughters make me very proud. To Ilan Ferder I have no words because your trust and support has been beyond words. Until next week I am Dave Ballard.