We are about to begin Week Four of the 2018 season of the Winter Equestrian Festival. This week we will see the course design work of Anderson Lima (BRA). Anderson will be the third rookie (International Arena) in a row. This week the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* will be out at the derby field of the Adequan Global Dressage facility and on the grass.
The field is in perfect shape and when the grass is this good I believe the horses will give the riders their best effort. The class today is being held on Saturday morning and the weather is good but not ideal because the wind is really up and sometimes this can affect the concentration of both horse and rider. Only time will tell.
This week in Wellington we also have the Wellington Masters being held just down CSI4* event. We will be walking that grand prix Sunday afternoon. Our course designer had the WEF challenge class on Thursday and with 64 entries we saw a jump off of 10. I think that without doubt that this class was the best qualifier of the season to date. Anderson has set his priorities and has a great sense of what he needs for the class today.
This is a tough week in the sense that there was also a U25 team competition in the dressage stadium and on the sand in a smaller venue and held under the lights so a course designer must be familiar with a lot of paper work in a short time frame. The course designer must have great ring crew and he does. The ring crew at WEF are as good as it gets and the support group with the course designer are also the best.
I have written about the lack of fill for the jumps in modern course design and with there being many rings in use this week and some distance between them the course today will not feature any interesting jumps but be composed of just poles and planks BUT we will see open water for the first time this year. In the class today we have 45 entries and 44 will compete. The time allowed is set at 86 seconds and will not be changed. The course will feature 13 numbered obstacles with 16 efforts. There will be open water, 1 closed Liverpool vertical, a triple bar, a short pole vertical, a triple combination and a double combination. There will be no wall and no plank jump (the wind was just too strong).
I think that it is time to walk the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4*.
#1 oxer 1.43/1.45/1.40m or 4.8/4.9/4.6ft and the opening jump quickly ended the day for 1 rider.
#2 vertical 1.52 or 5ft comes from #1 on the left rein on no given distance. This long gallop for whatever reason results in 5 rails finding the turf and also 1 refusal. All these poles came in the first half of the class.
#3 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #2 in a straight line with a distance of 23.30m or 76.3ft and tumbled to the turf 2 times.
#4 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #3 on the long gallop on the right rein and fell to the floor 2 times.
#5 short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #4 on the continuing right rein and another long gallop created 1 refusal and we saw 3 poles pushed from the yellow cups.
#6 triple bar 1.55/2.00m or 5.1/6.6ft comes from #5 on the continuing right rein, long gallop, and the top pole fell 2 times and there was 1 refusal.
#7a vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #6 on the left rein and with a distance of 29.70m or 97ft and here we had 3 poles kiss mother earth and also 1 refusal.
#7b vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #7a with a distance of 8.20m or 26.9ft and we had 3 failed attempts here.
#8 oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft comes from #7b on a full turn on the left rein and here we saw 5 poles fall from the sky.
#9 THE OPEN WATER. 4.00m or 13ft. This water jump is very inviting and comes from #8 with a distance of 35m or 114.9ft and we had 6 toes in the tub.
#10 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from the water on no given distance (long gallop) on the right rein and was the most punished obstacle today. This jump kissed the grass 11 times.
#11 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #10 in a straight line with a distance of 18.30m or 60ft and also kissed the grass 6 times.
#12a oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #11 on the right rein no given distance and met mother earth 4 times.
#12b vertical 1.52 or 5ft comes from #12a with a distance of 8.00m or 26.3ft and tumbled from the cups only 1 time.
#12c oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #12b with a distance of 11.30m or 37ft and fell from grace 5 times.
#13 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes in a straight line from #12c with a distance of 31.70m or 104ft and as the last fence in the first round it ended the day for 4 competitors.
That was the end of the first round of the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* and the final tally of the round was: 9 clear rounds; there were 16 rounds of 4 faults, 6 rounds of 8 faults and the rest will compete another day. There were no time faults with a clear round. The time allowed was fair but not a factor. There were 3 voluntary withdrawals and 1 elimination (refusals). There were no falls.
This was an extremely good course and our rookie Anderson Lima (BRA) should be very proud of his course today. There are a couple of interesting facts involved in the course today. The difficulties between oxer and vertical were very even with the verticals being slightly more difficult than the oxers and the combinations playing a minor role in the outcome of the first round. The WATER JUMP was just another jump on the course and all the faults came in the early seeding of the class.
I am not a fan of the seeding system and it is very interesting that the final 7 rounds (the top seeds) all had 4 faults. Every fence on the course was faulted at least once and the TA did not play a role in the outcome. The material count will show that there were 53 poles and 13 planks, 1 liverpool and 1 water jump. There were no fillers of any kind on the course today. There was a reasonable crowd on hand but with the Masters on and the wind being so aggressive the numbers for the derby field may have a little light. Once again I will say that the footing could not have been better.
I will be on my way in the morning to walk with you the Grand Prix at the Masters which will see us once again on the grass and in daylight. Our walk next week will under the lights on Saturday night and will feature the $384,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5* and our course designer will be Kelvin Bywater (GBR) who is no stranger to the international ring at WEF.
I need to express my congratulations to our rookie course designers for this year. There are no more rookies on the calendar this year and so I will say now that the work of Oscar Soberon, Peter Grant and Anderson Lima was beyond what they could have expected in their first shot. In particular the work of Oscar and Anderson was exceptional. I hope that the powers that be will recognize this work and we will see them again next year. The future of anything in life is in the young generation and we need to support and promote them. Great work from all 3 rookies.
Until next week I am Dave Ballard.