The end has come and gone. We started the 2017 WEF series 12 weeks ago and we have had great course design every week. Many of the best course designers in the world have produced exciting classes and the jump offs have left the spectators wanting more. This is the final walk of the season and the bar has been set very high for the final Grand Prix. Our course designer for the week has been Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) and like most of the CD’s in the international ring he is well known in Wellington. Every CD has their own signature and Olie is no exception. Riders should expect a strong course with strong height and width combined with a strong technical aspect. When I first walked the course all these tools were in play. The one unknown factor will be the time allowed. That will have to wait until the third horse has completed the course without a refusal.
There are 45 entries and all will go through the start line. We will now go to the course and what the riders will have to jump over. The course will not have the water (not needed) the wall will be absent and also the plank vertical. The course will have a triple combination and a double combination. There are 2 liverpools, a triple bar and a short pole vertical. The yellow cups are on 99% of the fences. The weather again is perfect and once again there is a full stadium. The material count for the final evening will show that the course will consist of 52 poles, 7 planks, 2 fillers and 2 liverpools. I think that is time for the walk of the $216,000 The Wanderers Club CSI 4* Grand Prix. The time allowed is set at 77 seconds and after the first three rounds the time was changed to 79 seconds. This was a very good decision. The original time was not silly but with a strong course there was no need to add a strong TA. 4 of the 5 clean rounds were within the original time allowed.
#1 oxer 1.50/1.50m or 5/5ft this oxer very quickly end the evening for 2 riders.
#2 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes on the left rein from #1 and here we saw 1 refusal and 3 poles find the sand.
#3 vertical 1.58m or 5.2ft coming from #2 in a straight line on a distance of 23.80m or 78ft and tumbled from the yellow cups 4 times and also saw 1 refusal.
#4 oxer 1.50/5.6ft comes on the right turn from #3 and found mother earth 2 times.
#5a vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #4 on the right rein no given distance and here we had 1 refusal and 3 poles were removed from the top floor.
#5b oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #5a with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft and here we had 1 fall (elimination) and 9 poles found the sand.
#5c vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft on a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft from #5b and 5 poles fell from grace.
#6 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on a small bend on the right rein from #5c with a distance of 25m or 82ft and was the only fence not faulted tonight.
#7 vertical short poles 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 20m or 65.6ft and was witness to 1 refusal and 2 rails removed from the top cups.
#8 oxer Liverpool 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on the roll back right turn and passes the in-gate and launched 6 rails into the water.
#9a oxer 1.50m/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #8 on the left rein and crashed to the artificial sand 10 times.
#9b vertical 1.58m or 5.2ft comes from #9a with a distance of 10.90m or 35.7ft and here we had 5 splash downs.
#10 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9b with a distance of 34m or 111ft and a small bend on the right rein and we saw 6 mishaps.
#11 triple bar 1.55/2.20m or 5.1/7.3ft comes from #10 on a full turn right and back to the in-gate and created 4 failures to execute.
#12 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #11 in a straight line with a distance of 25.30m or 83ft and was dislodged 3 times.
#13 oxer 1.52/1.80m or 5.1/5.8ft comes from #12 on a small bend left and was right at the in-gate and was a big disappointment on 3 occasions.
This was a tremendous class and the final tally is as follows. There were 5 clean rounds and 1 clean round with 1 time fault. There 19 rounds of 4 faults, 2 with 5 faults and 4 with 8. The rest will look to jump another day. This was the final walk of the 2017 season and I believe this has been the best season of course design since the beginning of the walks and we have been walking for 9 years. It will be hard to assign my stars because the work has been exceptional all season but I would like to give the top award for the season to Guilerme Jorge (BRA) and he will share the gold star with our course designer tonight Olaf Petersen (GER). I have to say that I love the 19 rounds of 4 faults in tonight’s class. In week 2 we saw Catsy Cruz (MEX) and for the second year in a row she also receives a gold star for designing one of the most difficult of the grand prix weeks because of the restrictions of a 2* and the quality of competitors. She also set the standard of the yellow cups being used on all the jumps by being the first ever in Wellington to do so.
The weather all season could not have been better and the full stadium for the Saturday night classes goes to the education of the local non horse people in the rules and the sport in general. This process has taken place over many years and with the support of the many charities that have benefited from this venue we should see growth for many more years. Getting back to the class tonight my thanks to Olie for great sport and will look forward to seeing you next year. This has been the final walk of the 2017 season and I have really had fun bring these classes to my readers.
Many thanks to my partner in crime on getting a riders view of the courses Heather Cristo-Williams and I know that her future is very bright in the grand prix arena. Kenny Kraus my thanks for all the support and patience over the years. Barre Dukes is everything that you said she would be and I thank you for that. Every walk will have your footprint in the sand. Until next year I am Dave Ballard.