COURSE DISCOURSE: $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*

We have arrived at week 12 of the 2019 season of WEF. Again this year we have been witness to some truly great show jumping. We have also seen some excellent and consistent course design from many of the best course designers in the world today. This final week gives us another CSI5* grand prix and the prize money get to $500,000 US for the final Rolex WEF event. Our course designer has been Guilherme Jorge (BRA) and has been one of the WEF technical advisors for all events in the international ring for the last few years. Anthony D’Ambrosio is the other technical advisor to the course designer.

The entries for the event tonight have been rested and are ready for this major money class. There will be 40 entries in the class tonight were either pre-qualified or qualified in the WEF qualifier on Thursday. The results of the WEF qualifier on Thursday were a little disappointing. The weather is perfect and once again there is a very good crowd in the stands for this final event of the winter season.

The course tonight will consist of 13 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. The course will show 3 combinations, 1 triple and 2 doubles. There will be open water, 2 liverpools, 1 short pole vertical, a plank vertical and a triple bar. We will also show 4 jumps made of 10ft (3m) equiptment. The TA is set at 82 seconds and will remain there. The only major jump not in play tonight will be the fact that there is no wall. There were 40 entries qualified and entered and all will compete.

Before we begin the walk I will say that upon walking this course my opinion was that this was the strongest test of the season and was going to be tough to go clean. Guilherme used not only height and width but the technical aspects were very aggressive. That being said every aspect was what one should expect in this class. It is now time to walk the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*.

Fence 1

#1 vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes away from the in-gate on the left lead and suddenly ended the night for 4 entries.

Fence 2

#2 oxer 1.50/1.55m or 5/51ft comes from #1 in a straight line with a distance of 33m or 108ft and was found face down in the dirt 2 times.

Fence 3a

#3a oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/54ft comes from #2 on the left turn no given distance and tumbled to the turf 3 times.

Fence 3b

#3b vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #3a with a distance of 7.9m or 25.9ft and was punished only 1 time.

Fence 4

#4 narrow oxer 1.55/1.30m or 5.1/4.3ft comes on the right turn and met mother earth 1 time.

Fence 5

#5 the open WATER 4m or 13ft comes from #4 on the bending right rein with a distance of 31.5m or 103ft. These forward 7 strides gave the perfect approach to the water and the water received 3 splash downs and 1 refusal. The entry that had the refusal was successful on the second attempt.

Fence 6a

#6a vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #5 on the bending right rein with a distance of 33m or 108ft and was a casualty on 5 occasions.

Fence 6b

#6b vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #6a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and received punishment 6 times.

#6c oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #6b with a distance of 8.1m or 26.6ft and toppled from the top cups 4 times.

Fence 7

#7 closed Liverpool vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #6c on a rollback turn left at the in-gate and received 1 rail in the pond and 1 refusal.

Fence 8

#8 oxer (Hermes) 1.51/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 19.5m or 63.9ft and fell to the floor only 2 times tonight. This obstacle was the most faulted single jump this season and is always a factor in most courses. I cannot truly explain why. Tonight with the forward 4 strides it was less of a factor than in the past. Tonight it was used with a false ground line Hedge in the middle.

Fence 9

#9 oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5.2/5.6ft comes from #8 on a bending right rein with no given distance and the Lugano Diamond oxer cut the evening short for 7 entries.

Fence 10

#10 short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 21.4m or 70.3ft and fell from grace 5 times.

Fence 11a

#11a triple bar 1.55/1.90m or 5.1/6.3ft comes from #10 on the left turn and was dashed from the back standards 1 time.

Fence 11b

#11b plank vertical 1.56m or 5.2ft comes from #11a with a distance of 11m or 36ft and kissed mother earth 4 times. This was the first time the plank was used in a combination this season. Maybe it could be used more often in this manner?

Fence 12

#12 liverpool oxer 1.52/1.75m or 5/5.7ft comes from #11b in a straight line with a distance of 25.8m or 84.6ft and was dunked in the pond 5 times.

Fence 13

#13 vertical 1.62m or 5.4ft comes from #12 on the bending left rein with a distance of 26.2m or 85.9ft. The final fence in the first round was placed on a difficult angle and the riders were committed to the 6 strides and when the top pole is pushed too hard gravity wins. Gravity was the winner at the last fence 6 times tonight and for a few riders was the only rail they had.

The final tally of the first round of the last grand prix will show that there were 8 clear rounds. There were 10 rounds of 4 faults, 1 round of 5 faults and 6 with 8 faults. The rest will compete another day. The TA was right there but did not play a role in the class other than to keep the riders on the 375m/m speed over the whole course. There were no falls and no eliminations but there were 8 VW”s. We have discussed why riders choose to withdraw from a class before the finish line and further explanation is not needed at this time. I have said in the past that a really good course is demonstrated by the fact that every fence on course was a problem for someone.

Every fence on the course was faulted at least once. This was also the result in the million dollar class in Ocala last week. This was an extremely good course and the results were seriously good. I thought that there would be less in the jump off but I was wrong. This was a testament to the quality of the horses and riders that compete in Wellington at WEF. This also goes to describe the quality of course design that week after week allows the horse and rider to reach their peak for this final event. It also shows the quality of care and management each horse receives during this 3 month long season.

Thanks to Gui and his ring crew for tonight and the whole season and to all the support staff that create this venue and our Saturday Night Lights grand prix classes. I have a couple of things that are on my wish list for the coming 2020 season. I really would like to see some new jumps and I do not mean standards. I mean the fill that the horses have to jump over. The jumps that we have week after week for 3 months never change. New jumps would be at the top of my wish list. I know the reasons and fully respect the reasons that our feature class is the Rolex 5* and the prize money of $500,000. This circuit gives a great deal of money every week and because of the quality of horse and rider they must jump hard every week to win some of that money. I am not complaining by any means but it is on my wish list that WEF find a way to feature a Million Dollar class. I repeat that this is not in any way a complaint but just a wish for the future. I am trying to find a way to bring the Pan American games in Lima, Peru, and the courses to this blog this summer. I will keep you up to date on my progress.

In conclusion for 2019 and course discourse I want to thank Phelps Sports, Mason and especially Barre Dukes for their support and encouragement with this article. I am very needy and they give me their best. I want to thank the readers of course discourse for what I think was our best season so far because of the many readers who spoke with me during the season at the show grounds about how informative it has been and for that I am very grateful. Until next time I am Dave Ballard.

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