We have arrived at week 6 and the $134,000 CabanaCoast Grand Prix CSI3*. This class is held on Friday night in the dressage arena. It will be under the lights and combines three different venues in which we will see major grand prix classes held during the winter season at WEF. I cannot stress enough the value these venues bring to the development of young horses and to young riders. If you add into the mix that just next door during this same week the nations cup for the senior team and children’s, junior and young rider team competitions at Deeridge Farms you can see why South Florida and Wellington stands alone in the horse world during the winter season.
In the WEF qualifier on Wednesday on the grass there were 63 starters and I believe 13 clear rounds. Tonight we will 44 rides that qualified (1 scratch). The field of riders will see many of the familiar riders but we will also see some new names and new horses moving up to the 3* level. Catsy Cruz (MEX) is the course designer this week and you all know that see is one of my favorites. The mind and imagination of the course designer must shift from outdoor to thinking and planning for an indoor competition and an appropriate course. The riders must also make this adjustment. The height and width of this 3* class does not change much from indoor to outdoor as the course must reflect the standards set down for a 3* event. The riders, not seeing an indoor style ring and course for a couple of months or longer along with their mounts may have trouble adjusting.
The course tonight will include a triple and double combination, plank vertical, 2 liverpools, triple bar and a short pole vertical. There will be no water (indoor). There was wall. The TA will be set at 73 seconds and will remain there. There are 45 entered and 44 will start. The weather is a little humid but comfortable and there is a really good crowd on hand. Now for the walk of the CSI 3* $134,000 CabanaCoast Grand Prix. On the course we show 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts.
#1 oxer 1.48/1.45m or 4.11/1.9ft and this oxer ended the night for 5 riders. There was nothing unusual about this oxer.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #1 in a straight line with a distance of 32m or 104.9ft and was 1 of only 2 fences not faulted on the course tonight.
#3 triple bar 1.50/1.90m or 5/6.3ft comes from #2 on the left rein away from the in-gate and the back rail was punched from the safety cups 2 times. We also had 1 refusal here.
#4 oxer 1.48/1.50m or 4.11/5ft comes from #3 on a soft right bend with a distance of 23.50m or 77ft. There was a question here of the 6 strides or the more forward 5 strides. This was a horse specific distance and we saw maybe an equal number of both. There were 2 refusals and 1 rail on the ground at this obstacle.
#5 short pole vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #4 in a straight line with a distance of 15.30m or 50ft and we saw 1 refusal and 8 poles ejected from the top cups. This distance became short if the rider did 5 forward from the previous jump.
#6 the plank vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on a full rollback turn on the left rein and was the bogy fence tonight with the plank departing the flat cups 15 times. The TA played a role in the difficulty of this careful construction as a rollback turn and approach can be time costly in the time taken to get there properly.
#7 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #6 on a right turn and rein with no given distance and met mother earth 6 times.
#8a vertical 1.5om or 5ft comes from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 18.30m or 60ft and touched down 6 times.
#8b oxer 1.50/1.50m or 5/5ft comes from #8a with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft and touched down another 8 times.
#9 the WALL was the second of 2 jumps not to be torn down on the evening but did its job in setting up the ride to the next jump.
#10 closed Liverpool 1.60m or 5.3ft vertical comes from #9 on the soft right rein with a distance of 28.30m or 92.9ft and the top pole was baptised 6 times.
#11 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #10 on a bending left rein with a distance of 33m or 108ft and in its location at the far end of the ring we saw 1 refusal and 4 rails fall to the floor.
#12a oxer 1.48/1 60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #11 on the left turn and created 4 dismissals of the top rail.
#12b vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes from #12a with a distance of 11.30m or 37ft and created some problems for 8 riders and we saw 1 refusal.
#12c vertical 1.54m or 5.1ft comes from #12b with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and dashed the hopes for a trip to the jump off for 8 competitors.
#13 liverpool oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.5ft and as the last fence in the first round we saw 9 splash downs and 1 refusal.
That ends the first round and we will now have the results. We will show that 2 clear rounds were achieved, none with time faults, 11 with 4 faults, 1 with 5 faults and 6 with 8 faults and 3 with 9 faults. There was 1 elimination (refusals) and there were 5 VW’S. The remaining competitors will have gained experience in this class and will compete another day. The question that will be asked “was the course too tough?” The answer from me would be “NO”. When I walked the course I felt that the course was exactly correct for a 3* grand prix. Catsy has a reputation at WEF for being a CD that reads the field extremely well and sets accordingly. We are quick to say that a course designer was too soft when there are more than expected clean rounds and we are quick to criticize when there are very few clean. The finger is almost always pointed at the CD. Tonight I think that the riders and the horses let the CD down. This is not a finger pointing but when younger and less experienced horses and riders move up into a 3* and the venue is so different from what both have been doing all season there are adjustments that will have to be made. A few made the adjustment and many did not. Our course designer gave the competitors a fair 3* course and she remains one of my favorite CD’s at WEF.
The weather was warm and a little humid but it did not keep a good crowd from attending the class tonight. I will spend a moment and say a few words about the week at Deeridge and the CSIO 5* Nations Cup week. The weather forecast for the week was not encouraging and things did not look good for both WEF and Deeridge as these were weeks where the grass footing was in play for both venues. Mother Nature teased a lot but relented and the competitions on both grass fields went off as planned. There were 3 nations cup competitions planned.There were children’s, junior and young rider levels. It is difficult to fill the children’s and junior sections at this time of year and the children’s and junior levels did not fill so the nations cup designation was dropped (the FEI does not recognize combining countries for nations cup competition) and friendly teams were introduced. This was a great decision because the team concept is so important in our sport.
The young rider level did field teams and riders from 4 countries were able to jump a recognized Nations Cup. It was a lot of fun for everyone and I was assistant chef (Canada) to Beth Underhill so this week was a full week for me. This was the first time for this event at Deeridge and while it may have been a slow start I hope they will continue with this concept. Our youth riders (children’s, junior and young riders) need more team competitions. On the other side of the pavilion we had the big teams compete in a Longines 5* nations cup. This class is the Nations Cup that gives points for qualifying for the final in Barcelona. This class was terrific with Mexico winning the gold, Israel taking the silver and the USA the bronze. Alan Wade (IRL) was the course designer and continued his extremely consistent work on the grass at Deeridge. I do not cover the actual course in Nations Cup competitions as I find the concept of two rounds hard to fit the format that I use to bring you the results.
I will say that it is an honor for a course designer to design a Nations Cup and will say that a vast number of recognized course designers never get the opportunity to design one. In the case of Olympic Games it is the norm for the course designer to be from the host country if there is a CD from that has the ability to do the courses. When a country does not have a skilled CD at the Olympic level then the FEI will appoint one. In closing this walk I will once again point out that we are fortunate to have the choice for a couple of weeks to compete at two world class show grounds within a mile of each other and have major grass footing (weather permitting) arenas to compete on. Next week we are at WEF in the international ring Saturday night for the CSI 5* Rolex Grand Prix ($391,000) and will see Anthony D’Ambrosio/Andy Christiansen Jr. setting the courses. I am a day late with this walk but it was a long week for me but until next week I am Dave Ballard.