We are so fortunate to have two world class venues within a two mile radius that allow us to compete for major prize money on the same weekend. This week we had two classes that provided almost a half million in prize money and they were both on major grass fields. WEF held a 4* CSI on the derby field and Deeridge held a 3* in the main stadium. Both these venues were grass fields and the grass conditions of both rings were in fantastic shape.
We have walked the 4* at WEF and today we are going to walk the 3* CSI $220,000 Sovaro world cup qualifier. The major change in the two events held this weekend is the fact that this grand prix is a world cup qualifier. For the North American League this is the second to last qualifier to obtain points towards the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals to be held in Paris in April.
Our course designer for this week has been Alan Wade (IRL) and he is no stranger to the ring at Deeridge. Alan is a veteran course designer with the London Olympics on his resume and is considered by many to be the best in the world today. The Friday qualifier for this class was one of the strongest tracks for a qualifier this season. With about 64 entries there were only 6 clean rounds and 2 with a time fault. This was an extremely tough course but fair. The time allowed was aggressive and also the heights and widths with a liberal amount of technical questions. It is my belief that the course today will feature many of the same tests on the course today.
It is nice to see a different set of jumps and this makes a visual difference to the horse and the rider and to the spectator. The setting at this venue is spectacular and provides a very personal atmosphere with the ring being more intimate in size. The weather is perfect with moderate temperatures and a slight breeze. There is a very good crowd on hand and I expect great competition. There are 40 entries and all will compete.
There are 14 numbered obstacles with 17 efforts. The time allowed is set at 87 seconds and will not be changed. There will be no open water as this is a World Cup Qualifier and is not a required obstacle. Within the course we will see a plank vertical, a short pole vertical, a triple bar, 1 double combination and 1 triple combination. There is also 1 on top of the grass Liverpool. We will not see a wall and as stated there is no water. One observation of the course is that there is good use of the 10ft material (Longines is the worldwide sponsor of World Cup Qualifier events and the timing is theirs and the feature combination is the Longines triple combination today and made up of the 10ft material).
They have opened the gate so it is now time for the walk of the Palm Beach Masters Longines CSI3*-W presented by Sovaro.
#1 oxer 1.42/1.40m or 4.4/4.6ft and #1 is just past and going away from the in-gate and we saw the day end very quickly for 5 riders.
#2 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.3ft comes from #1 on the right rein with no given distance and touched the grass only 1 time.
#3 vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #2 in a straight line and on a distance of 28.80m or 94.6ft and tumbled from the yellow cups 2 times.
#4 triple bar 1.50/1.90m or 5.6.3ft comes from #3 on a full turn on the left rein and was only 1 of 2 fences not faulted on the day.
#5a vertical comes from #4 in a straight line with a distance of 21.90m or 71.9ft and was the most faulted jump today. There were 9 failures to execute at this point.
#5b oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes on a distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft and touched the turf 3 times.
#6 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #5b on the left bending rein with no given distance and coming towards the in-gate and was dashed to the floor 4 times.
#7 oxer 1.52/1.40m or 5/4.6ft comes away from the in-gate on the full turn right and was a problem for only 1 rider.
#8 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 18.30m or 60ft and was damaged 1 time.
#9 vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #8 on the bending left rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and found mother earth 7 times.
#10 short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 18.20m or 59.6ft and fell from the sky 8 times.
#11a oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #10 on a long gallop on the right rein and failed to remain in the top cups 4 times.
#11b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #11a with a distance of 10.80m or 35.3ft and gave a dose of disappointment 8 times.
#11c vertical 1.56m or 5.2ft comes from #11b with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft and touched the turf 5 times.
#12 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #11c with a very minor left bend on a distance of 23m or 72ft and was one of only 2 fences not faulted on the day.
#13 plank vertical 1.59m or 5.3ft comes from #12 on a full turn right and away from the in-gate and fell from grace 4 times.
#14 oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5.1/5.6ft with a small bending left rein on a distance from #13 of 32m or 104.9ft. The last fence in the first round was only faulted 2 times on the day.
The final tally of the first round saw 5 clear rounds. There was 1 ride with only 1 time fault. There were 11 rounds of 4 faults, 3 with 5 and 13 with 8 faults. There were no falls, eliminations and no voluntary withdrawals. There were rounds of more than 8 faults but they will compete another day. Almost half the class was within 5 faults of making the jump off. The time allowed was there but was not large factor in the class today.
This was a very good class with very good results. When I watched the first few go I got the impression that even with the height and width and technical aspects that we would see a couple more clean rounds but this was a difficult course to complete with no faults. The difficulty in this course was very subtle and shows in the final result. Alan Wade has become the best in the world because his courses have this ingredient.
In just this week we have seen the young (Anderson Lima at WEF) on the grass and Alan Wade (Palm Beach Masters) the veteran on the grass give the riders and the spectators really good competition all week long. The two grass fields were in perfect condition and helped in the process of giving the horse great jumping conditions. Congratulations to Alan and his crew. I know that we will see Alan again next year.
Next week we are back at WEF and we will be under the lights next Saturday. The international ring will host the first 5* CSI of the season with the Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. Our course designer will be Kelvin Bywater (GBR) and he is no stranger to WEF and the international ring. Riders will be competing for $384,000 in prize money. This was a great week for both venues on both sides of Pierson Road.
Until next week I am Dave Ballard.