Welcome to week 3 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival. Tonight we will walk the $134,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3*. Our course designer for week 3 has been Peter Grant (CAN) and for the third week in a row we have received excellent course design. At the beginning of this season I predicted another great season of course design and when we get great courses we should get great competition. It is still early in the season but the competition has been excellent and I expect it to get better as the weeks carry on. I have been paying more attention to the Thursday WEF qualifiers this year and I find that they have produced results that will reflect the quality of competition on Saturday night. Last week there were 104 in the qualifier and this week we saw 91 start in the WEF.
The weather this week has been bad. Rain caused the WEF to be run on both Thursday and Friday and the jump off also on Friday. The rain could have affected tonight’s class but we dodged the bullet and the rain came at the start of the jump off and was not really a factor. The class began at 6 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. and proved to the right call. We should move on the $134,000 CSI 3* Adequan Grand prix.
The course tonight will feature 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. The time allowed is set at 85 seconds and will remain there. Within the course we will see 1 triple combination, 1 double combination, a wall, 2 liverpools with water and banked with the footing to give a better impression of natural being in-ground rather than just a mat on the surface. There is a plank vertical and a short pole (8ft) vertical and a triple bar. There are 45 entries and all will cross the start line. On to the course.
#1 oxer 1.40/1.45/1.40m or 4.6/4.9/4.6ft finds us at the far end of the ring and as this is a soft start it was never faulted on the night.
#2 vertical 1.48m or 4.11ft comes on the right rein and a change of direction and was also a fence that received no damage on the evening however there was 1 refusal.
#3 triple bar 1.49/1.90m or 5/6.3ft comes from #2 on the left rein with no given distance and was the 3rd fence of 4 that were never faulted tonight. This obstacle is what I call a setup fence and is used to bring into play the next series of jumps.
#4 short pole vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #3 in a straight line with a distance of 24.5m or 80.6ft and found the damp footing 5 times. There was an option of sorts here with a flat 5 or the short 6 strides and the triple bar was a factor in the choice not only for this fence but also for jump #5.
#5 vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #4 in a straight line with a distance of 18.5m or 60.6ft and found mother earth 3 times. The 4 strides here were short and so the choice of the 6 strides from #3 to #4 was the most popular decision.
#6 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes on the left turn away from the in-gate and received damage 3 times.
#7 plank vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 15.5m or 50.9ft and was pushed from the flat cups 7 times. This jump construction was used last week in a stand alone situation and was never faulted. The plank is very thin and very black and difficult to focus on.
#8a oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft comes from #7 on the right bending rein with a distance of 29.5m or 96.6ft (7 strides) and was punished only 1 time.
#8b oxer 1.50/1.55m or 5/5.1ft comes from #8a with a distance of 11m or 36ft. This oxer was the boggy fence on the course tonight and was dashed to the floor 19 times. This was the middle part of the triple combination and using a color change from striped poles in and striped poles out the CD used solid white in the middle frame. Using oxer-oxer in combination is always a scope test and the change in color adds a little to the test. The distances in this triple were normal and did not lead to this number of faults but the back rail of #8b (white) was very square with the front rail and some of the younger or less experienced horses lost sight of the back pole. I personally liked the change of color in a combination as a CD and think that it is a fair test.
#8c vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #8b with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and kissed the ground only 2 times with 1 refusal. There was 1 elimination at #8b after this refusal on the retry.
#9 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #8c on a full turn right and fell from the top cups 2 times.
#10 liverpool oxer comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 21.5m or 70.6ft. This short 5 strides from #9 caused 9 splash downs and 1 elimination (2 refusals).
#11 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #10 on the soft bend left towards the in-gate with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and saw 2 rails fall to the floor and it recorded 3 refusals and 1 elimination. The refusals were more the rider pulling up rather than an actual refusal.
#12 the wall. It was 1.53m or 5.1ft and was placed on a roll back turn right and away from the in-gate. It ended the night for 1 competitor.
#13a vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #12 on the left rein with a distance of 36m or 118ft and was never faulted on the night. This was a small surprise to me.
#13b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #13a with a distance of 7.8m or 25.6ft saw 6 competitors fall from grace.
#14 closed Liverpool vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes in a straight line from #13b with a distance of 32m or 105ft. There was an option of 7 forward or 8 fairly normal strides and there were maybe an equal number of options taken. This was the final fence in the first round and there were no fatalities here to end the first round.
The final tally of the first round will show 10 clean rounds to advance to the jump off. There was 1 round of 1 time fault, 5 rounds of 4 faults, 3 rounds with 5 faults, 1 with 6 faults and 5 with 8 faults. That is 50% of the starting field and the rest will return another day. We had 2 VW’s and 3 eliminations for refusals. There were no falls. The first round results of the $134,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI3* follow the first 2 weeks of the winter season with great results.
Peter Grant(CAN) was spot on with the degree of difficulty use of the primary jumps and the time allowed. The technical aspect of the course was based on the use of lines involving 3 test lines. The ride forward and the short ride relying on the obedience of the horse was the main focus of this course. The time allowed was very fair and also a factor early in the draw order. The draw order was based on the seeding factor and so we saw that 5 of the 10 clean rounds came in the last 7 rides.
This was a 3* and the CD was able to use trade craft in his knowledge bag to achieve great results. My observation of this class leads me to believe that when we move to the 4* classes and above the CD needs to use the ring in a more creative way. There will be many more horse rider combinations that will find these lines of 3 or 4 efforts in a row to be too easy. If you research the last few years of course discourse you will find that the simple and not complex use of this ring and the vertical lines have proven to be courses that have ridden easy. These courses have been built later in the season and in the 4* and 5* level.
In no way do I discount the great competition and course that was the class tonight but moving forward I believe that the CD will need to have more complex changes of direction and more inventive use of the ring. The seeding of the class has never been something that I felt was good for the spectator but that is modern day competition in many sports. I have changed my format to include more of my personal opinions and to encourage some friendly or maybe counter opinions about my take on the WEF Grand Prix’s. My thanks to fellow Canadian Peter Grant for a really great class and look forward to your return next year.
Next week we return with the$209,000 Marshall & Sterling Grand Prix CSI4* to be held on the Derby field at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Please take note. The other event taking place will be the 4* events at Deeridge Farm and they both will take place on the grass fields. This is my favorite way to watch show jumping. The grass is also at the mercy of Mother Nature and the forecast is not good but we will keep our fingers crossed. Next week with 2 venues in play it should be a great week. Until then I am Dave Ballard.