This week we will have two 4* events to walk within a couple of miles of each other. First we will walk the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American CSI4* and the $208,200 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington CSI4*-W. The qualifier for the Marshall & Sterling was held on the derby field on Thursday ($72,000) with 63 starters. The $71,200 qualifier at the CP Palm Beach Masters on Friday started 52.
This week all the major events at these venues will be held on the grass. If Mother Nature is kind the grass footing provides tremendous appeal for the spectators to watch show jumping. However Mother Nature was in a bad mood this week and we had some serious rain that affected the footing to some degree. I thought that the effect of the rain would be more serious but the footing in both arenas held up very well. The problem for the course designer is to decide before the competition begins how if needed to adjust the degree of difficulty of the course.
Our first walk will be the Marshall & Sterling $209,000 CSI4* Grand Prix. The course designer is Anderson Lima (BRA) who is returning for his second season with extremely good results from a year ago. The WEF qualifier had 63 starters and there were 6 clean rounds, 1 time fault and many 4 fault rounds. This was a tough course but very fair. His course this morning will feature a wall, double combination, triple bar and a triple combination. There will be 2 liverpools, 1 closed vertical and a Liverpool oxer. We have a short pole vertical. We will not have a water jump (disappointing) and we will not see a plank jump. Even with the rain the footing is excellent. Anderson had the course built on the second half of this large grass ring so the course for the most part was on new turf. Serious credit must be given to the grounds keepers. The TA is set at 87 seconds and will remain. We have 45 entries and all will start. The weather is good with bright sun and it is getting hot. The humidity is a real factor. It is now time for the course walk.
#1 triple bar 1.49/1.70m or 5/5.6ft and as is quite common the triple bar as the first fence did not find the turf today.
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on the bending left rein with no given distance from #1 but we saw 8-9 and 10 strides here. This vertical tumbled to the turf 1 time.
#3 oxer 1.47/1.50m or 4.10/5ft comes from #2 on a full turn right and ended the day for 1 rider.
#4a vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #3 with a distance of 22.50m or 73.9ft and over the course of the first round found ground zero 5 times.
#4b oxer 1.49/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #4a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and was a twin for #4a with 5 defeats.
#5 liverpool oxer 1.49/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #4b on a long gallop on a soft left bend and we saw 2 splash downs at this jump.
#6 short pole vertical 1.57m or 5.3ft comes on a full turn back on the right rein and was pushed out of the white cups 8 times.
#7 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and 2 entries fumbled the ball here.
#8 the wall 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #7 on a soft right bend with no given distance and I brick slipped from the top but here we also saw a refusal that resulted in a fall and elimination.
#9 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #8 on the left rein with no given distance and is at the in-gate and 3 poles fall from grace.
#10 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9 on the continuing left rein and the top rail found the green grass 4 times.
#11a oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes again on the continuing left rein with a strong turn left and met with disappointment on 4 occasions.
#11b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #11a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and created great disappointment 5 times (personal disappointment).
#11c vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #11b with a distance of 11.10m or 36.4ft and was only the second fence not to be faulted on the course today.
#12 oxer 1.49/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #11c on the soft bend right rein with no given distance and was the second most difficult jump on the course with 7 derailments.
#13 closed Liverpool vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #12 in a straight line with a distance of 21.30m or 69.9ft. The final fence in the first round was also the final fence of the day for 4 competitors.
The final tally for the first round of this 13 numbered 16 effort grand prix will show that there were 13 clean rounds going forward to the jump off phase. There was 1 round with 1 time fault, 12 rounds of 4 faults and 2 with 5 and 8 rounds with 8 faults. There were no VW’s but there was 1 fall resulting in one elimination. With the footing maybe being an issue before the start the TA could have been a serious factor but it was not. The footing held up perfectly. I am disappointed that the water was not used today but possibly the footing was a concern. The water has been used on a regular basis in the past and it is an important factor in show jumping all around the world except here. I think today a bakers dozen in the jump off was a good result. It was a very good track that saw really good horses and very good riders put on a great display of show jumping.
As I have indicated there are 2 FEI 4* competitions this weekend and 1 is now complete. The next is just down the road a Deeridge Farm and the Palm Beach Masters will showcase Alan Wade as the course designer for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup CSI4*-W. The qualifier for the 4* on the derby field was a difficult course but very fair and the qualifier for the World Cup on Friday was maybe a little soft with 19 clean (again the footing was a concern prior to the class). The footing at the stadium at Deeridge was extremely good and again there should be congratulations to the grounds keeping crew for great preparation. I am on my way there now and will walk the $208,200 Longines world Cup with you later today. No one cares but just for your information I am a New England Patriots fan. I am Dave Ballard.