Welcome to Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival series. This week we will see several major classes and none will be more important to the course designer than the Nations Cup on Friday night. This week will carry the 4* rating of the FEI and along with the Nations Cup, there will be the WEF 8 series, the continuation of the U25 series, the 1.50m classic on Saturday night and the Lugano $216,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix on a rare Sunday afternoon. Our course designer for the week will be Ken Krome (USA). The important facts here are that the Nations Cup is here in the USA and the CD is American. Tradition has been that the CD of the Nations Cup comes from the host country if there is a qualified CD coming from that country. Ken Krome is well qualified and has earned the right to be the CD this week and course design his first Nations Cup. There are many course designers now and from the past that never got the chance to design a Nations Cup for their country and there was a time when this was the class that put you on top if the mountain. As you can read I am going to spend a little time on the Friday night Nations Cup.
We all know that the course will be jumped twice and so the course will not be as big overall as a Grand Prix but not small. The time allowed will be aggressive but not stupid and because 2 rounds at this level back to back, at the end of 2 rounds the sum of all the tests of the course will not result in a jump off. Friday night the weather was great for jumping and for the spectators but for the first time this season the crowd was a little disappointing. For those in attendance it was a great class. The course proved to be a good test, the TA was aggressive but not silly and in the end there was no jump off. I think it was a tremendous first Nations Cup for Kenny. Late night, early start and a long day on Saturday and we move to Saturday night and the $100,000 1.50m classic. This was another great course and the results were perfect. Another late night and early start on Sunday and we have arrived at the walk for this week, the $216,000 Lugano CSIO 4* Grand Prix.
The grand prix is making a rare start on a Sunday afternoon and is not the first class of the day for the course designer. The start time for the class is 1PM and there was a rush to meet this deadline as there was a course change and a walk with the jury before the competitors and the first horse was a little later than programed. Nothing serious but it helps to point out the rush to start on time. For the CD this rush to finish the build is something we all dread. Unless there is time for a major course change to provide a unique course for the feature class of the show and time to make things exactly what the CD wants I have always felt that in some cases that I have not done my best work. The course will always bear a strong resemblance to the previous courses of the day. The crowd on hand for the Sunday afternoon class has always been poor. I think we will start the course walk for this week.
Ken Krome and his $216,000 Lugano CSIO 4* Grand Prix course
We begin the walk of the $216,000 Lugano CSIO 4* Grand Prix with the following facts. The CD is Ken Krome (USA) and there will be 45 entries and 43 will start. On the course we will have 1 double, 1 triple, 2 liverpools and 1 short pole vertical (the bike). There will be no water, no triple bar and no plank jump. The wind is very strong and a plank would have to be changed anyway. There are 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. The speed is 375m/m and the TA is set at 82 seconds and will not be changed. The yellow cups were used on every jump except #1. My material count gives us 50 poles, 8 planks, 4 fillers and 2 liverpools. We will now begin the walk.
#1 rampy oxer 1.43/1.45/1.45m or 4.7/4.9/4.9ft This very easy start actually saw 1 refusal and 1 pole finding the floor. We have seen far more aggressive starts and the oxer #1 very square most of the season.
#2 vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft on bending line left with a distance of 33m or 108ft and was the only fence not to be faulted today.
#3 oxer 1.50/1.45m or 5/4.9ft comes on a roll back turn right from #2 and was removed from the yellow cups 2 times.
#4 closed Liverpool vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #3 with a distance of 27.40m or 89.9ft with a bend on the left rein and we saw 1 refusal and 3 splashdowns.
#5a oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft comes in a straight line from #4 on a distance of 22.7m or 90.9ft and the height was lowered 6 times.
#5b vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft I do not have the distance from #5a to #5b but an estimate is 7.90m or 26ft. We had 2 dislocations at #5b.
#6 oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft comes on along gallop away from the in-gate on the left rein and produced 3 failures to execute.
#7 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes in a straight line from #6 with a distance of 25m or 82ft and was the second most faulted jump this afternoon and found mother earth 6 times.
#8 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #7 on a soft bend left with a distance of 34m or 111ft. This fence ended the evening for 2 competitors.
#9 oxer Liverpool 1.54/1.40m or 5.1/4.6ft comes on a full turn left from #8 and got a bath 2 times.
#10a vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #9 on a distance of 35m or 114fton the right bend and rein and fell to the sand 3 times.
#10b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and was faulted3 times with 1 refusal.
#10c vertical 1.53m or 5.2ft with a distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft from #10b and kissed the dirt 5 times.
#11 oxer 1.47/1.70m or 4.11/5.6ft no distance from #10c on the right rein past the in-gate and was faulted only 1 time.
#12 vertical (the bike) comes from #11 on a full turn left and was the most faulted fence on course and ended the afternoon for 7 competitors.
#13 oxer 1.50/1.80m or 5/5.9ft comes from #12 across the face of the in-gate on a soft bend left rein with a distance of 26.8m or 87.9ft. The last obstacle in the first round ended the day for 3 riders.
The final tally of the first round saw 17 clean rounds, 9 with 4 faults and 6 with 8. The remainder will jump another day. There were 2 vw’s and we saw 3 refusals. There were no falls.
There will be many comments about this course being too easy and there is no question that the results were not what the course designer had in mind. I will say that if the course designer erred on the side of easy in week 8 with 2 more 5* weeks to come then it was better this way than being too hard. Who out there wants to be a course designer? The number of clean rounds in this class should not overshadow the great work done on every other day this week. There should be no apologies no excuses and none expected. It is a hard lesson learned about the international ring and I know that anyone working in this ring will learn from the experience. We will see Ken Krome on the derby field in week 12 and I look forward to his work out there. Next week will see us back at the 5* level again and Alan Wade (IRE) will be at the helm.
Congratulations to Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z on their win in the $216,000 Grand Prix CSIO4*, presented by Lugano Diamonds on Sunday.
Until next week I am Dave Ballard.