Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 25, 2020 – We have arrived at Week 3 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). This was the first 3*CSI grand prix of the season and featured the Adequan $137,000 CSI 3*. The weather all week had been unsettled but on Saturday night the conditions were ideal for show jumping. The stands were full and everyone was looking forward to watching 44 competitors (1 scratch) take on the challenging course of our course designer Kelvin Bywater (GBR).
The WEF qualifying round on Thursday saw 88 take up the challenge over a similar type of course. There was a tight time allowed and the jump heights and widths were right on spec. The jumps came up fast and always in the riders face. The result of this course gave us 17 clean rounds and in my opinion was right on the mark. The course Saturday night gave us the same aggressive time allowed, technical distances and full measure on the heights and widths. The use of extra width on the oxers was a key factor in the end results. The course consisted of 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. We saw two liverpools, a plank vertical, a double and a triple combination, a triple bar and a short pole vertical. There was no water jump and given the degree of difficulty of this course it was not necessary. The time allowed was set at 72 seconds and after three rounds without a refusal it was moved to 74 seconds which I think was necessary.
This was under FEI rules, so the jump order is seeded on rider points. I am not a fan of the seeding order and would rather have a random draw for the jumping order. I understand the reason for this rule and agree but there can be some confusion for the general public in the stands. I will try and elaborate on this at the end of the walk tonight. I believe it is time for the walk of the FEI $137,000 Adequan CSI 3* grand prix.
#1 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.10/5ft comes on the left lead and dashed the hopes for a clean round for 1 rider.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #1 on the left rein with no given distance (9) strides and was pushed to the dirt 2 times.
#3 oxer 1.49/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #2 in a straight line with a distance of 18.30m or 60ft and was damaged only 1 time.
#4 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #3 on the right turning rein across the face of the in-gate with no given distance (9 strides by most) and accounted for 6 fatalities.
#5 plank vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #4 in a straight line of 23.80m or 78ft and across the face of the in-gate and this forward 5 or quiet 6 strides caused the top plank to kiss the mat 2 times.
#6 triple bar 1.50/1.90m or 5/6.3ft comes from #5 on the continuing right turn and at this point on the course we had 1 fall (elimination) and 2 back poles fall from sky.
#7a oxer 1.49/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 28.00m or 92 ft. and was the bogey fence tonight with 12 failures to execute. The triple bar was the setup to the distance question and the popular number was 7 but there were some 6 strides.
#7b vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #7a with a distance of 11.30m or 37ft and was also destroyed 10 times.
#7c oxer 1.50/1.50m or 5/5ft comes from #7b with a distance of 8.05m or 26.6ft and kissed mother earth 3 times.
#8 short pole vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #7c on the bending left rein with no given distance (9 strides) and gravity won 7 times.
#9 closed Liverpool vertical 1.51m or 5ft comes on the full left turn and splashed down 8 times.
#10 oxer 1.50/1.65 or 5/5.4ft comes on a full turn back on the right rein and resulted in 6 rails on the ground and 1 refusal. The ride from #8 thru #10 was a key area where the time allowed played a large factor.
#11 vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes up and down the crown of the arena with a distance of 18m or 59ft and we saw 2 removals of the top rail and 2 refusals (more management issues than refusals).
#12a vertical 1.51m or 5ft comes from #11 on an ugly left hand right angle turn and I think the number was again 9 strides (most popular). This turn was again very important for the time allowed. The top pole was dislodged 2 times.
#12b oxer Liverpool 1.48/1.50m or 4.11/5ft comes from #12a with a distance of 7.90m or 26ft and tumbled to the turf 6 times.
#13 oxer 1.50/1.75m or 5/5.7ft comes from #12b in a straight line with a distance of 23.15m or 76ft and was the last fence in the first round tonight. This oxer met mother earth 3 times.
The final tally of the first round of the FEI $137,000 CSI 3* Adequan Grand Prix will show that 6 riders made it to the jump off with clean rounds. There were 4 rounds with only 1 time fault, 1 with 2 time faults, 5 rounds of 4 faults, 3 with 5 faults, 1 with 6 and 7 with 8 faults. The rest will jump another day. We had 1 fall (elimination) and 5 VW’s. This was a great course and it had the right results and congratulations to Kelvin Bywater (GBR) for a really good week of show jumping. The CD stayed within the rules for a 3* event and used the width of the oxers as his scope tests. He also used an aggressive time allowed and showed good judgement when the time needed to be corrected. The course tonight would not have been in favor of a young inexperienced horse but great experience for a younger rider on an experienced mount.
I will take a moment to pursue my thoughts on the seeding of the jump order. In simple terms it means that based on rider points (FEI) the weakest go at the beginning working our way to the strongest. It can be done by 50% or by 33% and separate draws within their groups. In the class tonight there were 2 clean rounds in the first half and then double (4) in the second half. There were 5 VW’s in the first half and none in the second. The fall came in the first half. I believe that a clean round early in the class can give confidence to a rider that may have had some questions and a clear round may show the way. However 3 VW’s and a tough fall in the first 7 rounds may diminish the confidence of a less experienced rider. The uneducated spectator may get the wrong idea early on that the course is too tough. There are many sides to this question of seeding, but for me I would rather have a random draw for most of the big grand prix. One more observation that I would like to make is that last week more than half the fences on the course were solid colors and the same for the class tonight. At one time we would never see a striped pole (long ago) then we would never see a solid color pole and now we get a good mix. Good trend. Next week we have a double header with feature classes at Deeridge and also at WEF. I look forward to walking both classes with you and until next week, I am Dave Ballard.