We have arrived at Week 3 already of the Winter Equestrian Festival 2017 and this has been a good week of jumping in the grand prix ring. Our Course Designer is Luc Musset of Belgium and Luc has been coming to Wellington, I’m guessing for almost ten years now. Over thas been one of the most aggressive course designers, to the limit jump heights and widths and times allowed that were tight, but fair. Let’s see how he does this week.
This week we will see the Adequan CSI 3* “AA” $130,000 Grand Prix. This is the first 3* of the season and this will start to bring out more of the top horses. In the qualifier, the WEF Challenge Cup on Thursday we had 80 starters and there were 17 clean. About 25% were clean and last week the results were about the same in percentage clean. The course on Thursday was full measure for the qualifier for tonight’s class. The course was aggressive and the Time Allowed was just right. The WEF course was a true indication of what to expect tonight.
Luc Mussette and his Saturday Night Lights Course
For the class tonight we will have 45 entries and 43 will start. The course will consist of 13 fences and have 17 efforts. The TA will be 74 seconds and will not be changed. The weather is a little cool for Florida, but perfect for show jumping. There is a very good crowd on hand for tonight’s class. In the course we will see one liverpool oxer, a skinny vertical and short plank on the same jump. Luc will not make use of a triple bar, wall and there’s no water. As in last year’s class we will have one triple combination and two double combinations. This would appear to be a trade mark test that Luc uses as it was the same in the WEF this year and in his Grand Prix last year.
I will again list the material that will make up all the jumps in this class. There are 52 poles, 10 planks and 1 liverpool. Also 2 small shamrock hurdles. There is nothing else in the construction of all the jumps in this class. People are beginning to notice and comment about rails, rails, rails…….
The time has arrived to begin the course walk.
#1 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft away from the in-gate and dead square. This beginning fence was the end for 2 riders
#2 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on a small bend right from #1 on distance of 29m or 95ft and proved to be a problem for just one rider.
#3 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/53ft and comes in straight line from #2 on a distance of 26m or 85ft. This fence was never faulted tonight.
#4 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes on a half turn on the left rein from #3 and here we saw 2 refusals and 5 rails tumble to the floor.
#5a vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #4 on a very small bend on the left rein and on a distance of 23.30m or 76ft. This fence met mother earth 6 times.
#5b vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #5a on distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft and only sought comfort from mother earth 2 times.
#6 oxer Liverpool 1.50/1.65m or 5/54ft and this fence comes from #5b in a straight line on a distance of 28m or 92 ft. This distance on the down slop from the center crown of the ring was a good test of scope and the rider had to know his horse for the 6 stride or the 7 stride option. This obstacle was water bound on 6 occasions.
#7 skinny vertical with the white plank on top 1.57m or 5.3ft comes away from the in-gate on the half turn, right rein and fell from grace 4 times.
#8a oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #7 with a small bend right in distance of 25.80m or 92ft. This fence won the test 2 times.
#8b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes on a distance of 11.10m or
#9 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft is the widest on the course and recorded only 3 failures. This fence came from #8c on a long gallop on the left rein to the far end of the ring.
#10 vertical 1.58m or 5.3ft on the half turn still on the left rein from #9 and was assaulted on 2 occasions.
#11a oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft equal in width to #9 on no given distance but we saw 7, 8, 9 strides here and coming from #10 on a dog leg right turn we had the bully fence of the night (or the bogey, as it’s sometimes called) as there were 13 rails and 1 refusal.
#11b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft on a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft and here the law of gravity took hold and sent 7 rails to the floor.
#12 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes in a straight line from #11b on a distance of 18.80m or 61.6ft and was dashed to the artificial sand only 2 times.
#13 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #12 on no given distance on the right rein and toward the in-gate and was only faulted 1 time.
This ends the first round of competition in the $130,000 Adequan Grand Prix.
The final results of the first round are as follows. There were seven clean rounds and two with only 1 time fault. There were 11 rounds of 4 faults, two with 5 and 10 with 8. Half the class were within 5 faults of the ribbons. These are very good results for the top half of the class.
There were others that were within 12 or less and that means they only had some rails and hope to do better next time out. We had no falls and no eliminations. There were 3 VW’s but they were rounds with gaudy numbers that the rider did not want on the score card for final results. This was a very good class and was entertaining to watch. Luc had the same number clean last year, but what has to be more satisfying I think, is the fact that the rounds that were not clean were not as harsh as last year. It is more important to be able to finish with a fair score than it is to finish discouraged with a high number of faults.
Congrats to the red-hot Eric Lamaze on his Saturday Night win!
I am always looking for comments and I want to hear from the readers . My focus for the season is about the material being used or not used to build exciting and visually attractive courses. For 3 weeks now and for nine more to come, there are only so many poles and planks that can be used to create the courses in the grand prix. After a while, the jumps are basically going to be the same and the horses are going to be bored and in the end, get careless. Careless or bored horses are not going to give us the sport that we come to see and expect. Should we as riders, trainers, and spectators expect to see more variety in the material that is provided for the courses that we jump or watch? Got a comment? Send it to me at KK@PhelpsSports.com.
If the weather is in our favor, next week should be a great week for show jumping in Florida. We return for the second season to the Palm Beach Masters at Deeridge Farm and hopefully the grass ring will be in use. Then, we’re back to the derby field and also the grass at WEF. Grass has no equal in my opinion if Mother Nature is at her best.
On a personal note I wish to acknowledge my appreciation to Heather Caristo Williams for using her knowledge as a rider to show me where the most difficult jump is on the course in the weeks that she is not riding in the GP (not too often I hope). To this point in the season she is kicking my butt. Until next week and hoping for good weather
I am Dave Ballard.