Week 8 will bring us to the Nations Cup competition along with the WEF qualifier, the U25 classic and the $205,000 Grand Prix CSIO 4* presented by Lugano Diamonds. This week will also see several other major classes presented in the International Arena.
I have stated in the past that the work load for the course designer this week is more than the average week during WEF. We as trainers and riders expect quality courses every time we enter the ring. I believe that the North American course designer (CD) this week, and every week there is a North American CD, are subject to a more critical assessment than a course designer from another country. That is my personal opinion. There is a lot of extra pressure on the North American CD this week with the addition of the Nations Cup. In our sport there is a tradition that has been in play from the beginning of the Nations Cup that the host country provides the course designer (when there is a qualified CD from that country). This is a tradition that this venue has stayed true to and they must be commended for following this tradition.
That being said our course designer for this week has been Ken Krome (USA). Ken filled this role last year and it was his first Nations Cup. The courses last year throughout the week were first class and this week there was excellent work in all the International Ring events. The U25 was first class and the High Jr. was perfect. The WEF qualifier was a speed class and served its purpose. The Nations Cup under the lights Saturday night was a major success. It was not too big or very technical but with a fair time allowed it succeeded in obtaining the best possible results. The open water is a requirement and was not a large factor on the night. The open water was also used under the lights in the U25 classic and was not a factor in the outcome. Ken was spot on with the Nations Cup and did his county proud.
We now move on the class at hand and that is the $205,000 Lugano Grand Prix CSIO 4*. This class is on Sunday afternoon and there are 45 entries and with 2 scratches and with 2 adds we will see 45 compete. There are 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts this afternoon. There will be a triple bar, a plank vertical, a short pole vertical, 2 liverpools and the open water. There is 1 triple combination and 1 double combination. The time allowed is set at 81 seconds and will remain there. The course will consist of 47 poles and 11 planks. As stated earlier there are 2 liverpools and the open water. There are no fillers worth mentioning. Because of the Nations Cup some of the major horses went Saturday night and I feel the starting field is a little softer than in some of the previous weeks and this would create a course that could be considered (correctly) also a little softer than in previous weeks. Let us see! It is now time to walk the course.
#1 triple bar .90/1.47/1.70m or 3/4.10/5.6ft and at this point 2 riders had a short day.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #1 0n the bending right rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and the top rail found the floor 1 time.
#3 liverpool oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.10/5.5ft comes from #2 on the right rein with no given distance created 1 refusal and 3 splashdowns.
#4 plank vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #3 on the left rein with no given distance from #3 and at the in-gate slipped from the flat cups 6 times.
#5 oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.10/5.5ft comes from #4 on the left rein and away from the in-gate with a distance of 25.7m or 84.3ft and touched down 2 times.
#6 open water comes from #5 on the left bending rein with a distance of 34m or 111.6ft and had only 3 toes in the tub.
#7 oxer 1.48/1.64m or 4.10/5.5ft comes from #6 on the left turning rein with no given distance and we saw the top pole leave the comfort of the yellow cups 5 times.
#8 closed Liverpool vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #7 on a distance of 21.5m or 70.6ft and was by far the most difficult fence on the course this afternoon and kissed mother earth 16 times. This comes on the left bending rein.
#9a vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes on a right roll back turn and departed the top cups 2 times.
#9b vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes with a distance of 11.2m or 36.6ft from #9a and found a resting place on the floor5 times.
#9c oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.10/5.3ft with a distance of 8.1m or 36.6ft from #9b and touched down only 1 time.
#10 oxer 1.48/1.70m or 4.11/5.6ft comes from #9a on the bending right rein with a distance of 33.5m or 101.6ft and was the only fence not to be faulted on the day.
#11 short pole vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes on the full turn left at and away from the in-gate and fell from grace 1 time.
#12a oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #11 on the right bending rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and was lowered 2 times.
#12b oxer 1.48/1.20m or 4.11/4ft comes from #12a with a distance of 7.8m or 25.6ft and came to rest on the sand 7 times.
#13 vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes from #12b in a straight line with a distance of 22.5m or 73.9ft and was the last fence in the first round today. The last fence sealed the deal for 3 riders.
The final tally for the first round saw 11 riders go forward into the jump off. There were no clear rounds with time faults. The time allowed was very comfortable for everyone. We had 17 rounds of 4 faults, 5 with 5 faults and 3 with 8 faults. The few remaining will compete another day. There were no falls and we saw 3 VW’s. In a week that includes the Nations Cup I think that we saw a softer group in the grand prix. Not by much but some of the major horses compete in the Cup Saturday night and rest on Sunday. If you compare the specs of the previous 4* events you will see that the oxers today were softer in height generally and the technical distances were based on longer lines except for the line to the closed Liverpool vertical. The distance from #7 to #8 was 21.5m or 70.6ft and should have ridden a comfortable 5 or maybe a little short but #7 was below and before the crown of the ring and #8 the Liverpool was on the other side and also below the crown and the distance was made more difficult and resulted in a forward 5 and caught many riders by surprise. The open was water saw only 3 splashes and was just another jump on the course.
I think that Ken Krome (USA) did a great job all week as he did last year and again this year created a great Nations Cup. Some horses may have been rested for the second time this season as we are heading into the final 4 weeks with a couple of 5* weeks. Next week will be one of those 5* weeks and Alan Wade (IRL) will be with us and his course design experience will be put to the test in the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5*. Until next week I am Dave Ballard.