Wellington, Fla – Feb. 3, 2020 – Week four is a wrap at WEF, and while the weather was not cooperative, the show must go on! Our first walk of the week was the FEI M&S/ Great American $214,000 CSI 4* grand prix. Originally the class was to take place on the grass derby field, and everyone was hoping for dry weather as the weather last week was very difficult for both the course designer and management.
As it worked out, there was no help from Mother Nature, and the decision was made to move the Grand Prix from the grass to the dressage stadium because of the rain. This was a disappointment for many, but it was the right decision. The grass may have stood up for the first half but could have created some hazards for the second half, and it must be equal for all exhibitors.
There were 45 qualified to jump, but we had five scratches before the start. The course designer (CD) was Anderson Lima (BRA), who is fast becoming one of the best young CDs around. WEF Week 2 also featured a rising young star with the course design of Oscar Soberon (MEX). The dressage stadium is a good size, but the course designer will be thinking and creating a course that is indoors in many aspects.
When coming from a large outdoor venue to an indoor venue and using the same speed (375m/m), the time allowed (TA) will be difficult to arrive at without due care. The TA was set at 77 seconds and remained the same and was a fair TA. The course will show that a water jump was not used (indoor size ring), and there was no triple bar. We will see a plank vertical, two liverpools, a wall, a double combination, and a triple combination and a short pole vertical. The crowd is very small, but given the day of the week and the time of day, this is usual for this event. As this is an FEI ranked 4*, the seeding of the jump order is in effect. There will be more on my thoughts on this topic at the end of the walk. It is now time for the walk of the $214,000 M&S/ Great American Insurance Group CSI 4* Grand Prix.
#1 oxer 1.42/1.45/1.40m or 4.7/4.9ft. This jump unfortunately ended the day before it began for one rider.
#2 oxer comes on the left rein with no given distance and tumbled to the sand four times.
#3 vertical closed liverpool 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #2 in a straight line with a distance of 26.20m or 85.9ft. The top pole played in the water three times.
#4 vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #3 on the right rein and at the in-gate. It received punishment on only one occasion.
#5a oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/53ft comes from #4 on the soft right bending line with a distance of 23m or 75.3ft and fell from grace two times.
#5b vertical 1.55m or 26.3ft with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft. The top pole was removed three times.
#6 oxer 1.50/1.65 or 5/5.4ft comes from #5b on the continuing right bend with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and met Mother Earth four times.
#7 short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on a long gallop on the right rein with no given distance. It nose dived to the sand five times.
#8 oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5.1/5.4ft comes from #7 on the bending left rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and caused havoc twice.
#9a vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes on the left turn away from the in-gate and was the only fence not faulted in the first round.
#9b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #9a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and kissed Mother Earth four times.
#9c vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from 9b with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and only resulted in one jump fault.
#10 oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #9c on the bending left rein with a distance of 33m or 108 ft. This top pole was removed from the top yellow cups two times.
#11 the wall 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #10 on a full turn left and slipped to the floor two times.
#12 liverpool oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5.1/5.6ft comes from #11 with a distance of 30.50m or 100ft. This was the bogey fence on the course that day and splashed down nine times.
#13 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #12 with a distance of 18.10m or 59.3ft and gravity pulled down the top pole seven times. This was the last fence in the first round today and now for the final results.
The final tally will give us 11 clear rounds and one round with only one time fault. There were seven rounds with four faults, six with five faults, two with eight faults and five with nine. The rest will jump another day. There were no falls and no VW’s. We had one drive-by (refusal). I think this was a very good class and it was a shame that we could not use the grass field, but the weather would not cooperate. The Palm Beach Masters also did not use the grass on Saturday but were able to jump on the grass on Sunday, and the footing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Now we will explore the fact of seeding the order of go that we touched on last week. I believe that this class would have been more exciting if there had been a random draw rather than the best go at the end. There were only two clear rounds before the drag at half time, and there were nine clear in the second half. For me, I want to be surprised with the clear rounds, and they should occur throughout the whole first round. I would love some comments on your feelings about the seeding of the order of go if you have the time. This week we are back under the Saturday night lights at WEF. I am now preparing my course discourse for the World Cup Qualifier at The Palm Beach Masters and will bring that walk to you soon, but first, I have the Super Bowl to watch after the World Cup. Until the next walk, I am Dave Ballard.