We are now at the halfway point of the 2020 season, and due to WCHR Hunter Week taking over the International Ring at PBIEC, Saturday night’s $137,000 Grand Prix CSI3* was held in the Global Dressage Arena. The course designer, Catsy Cruz (MEX), is one of my favorite designers. Last year, in this same venue, Catsy built the same grand prix, and there were only two clean rounds. This was a situation where, in my opinion, the riders let the course designer down. A course designer should not feel that two clean is always something that could have been their fault. There is nothing wrong with two clean. There is nothing wrong with a number that says too many clean. After all is said and done, it is what it is. Having said that, in speaking with Catsy before the class, the result from last year was very much on her mind.
The start list showed 39 entries, but with two scratches, we only saw 37 attempts over the course that evening. The weather, once again, was a bit worrisome with a very ugly sky at start time. In the end, the weather cleared, and I believe that the reason for the change was because I went and bought a raincoat (I should point out that I already have many raincoats). If you want to stop rain, go out and buy a raincoat that you do not need. Works like a charm.
The course Saturday evening sported 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. Courses features included one closed vertical liverpool, a wall, three double combinations, a triple bar and one short pole vertical. The original course showed an oxer Liverpool, but the water tray was removed before the start of the class. At the time I was taking the pictures of the jumps, the liverpool was still under the oxer. The time allowed was set at 75 seconds and was not changed.
#1 Oxer 1.43/1.46/1.40m or 4.9/4.10/4.6ft. The first fence put three horse and rider combinations out of the running.
#2 Oxer 1.47/1.50m or 4.11/5ft comes from #1 on the bending right rein with no given distance. This Hermes oxer was the only fence to be left intact throughout the evening.
#3 The wall 1.50m or 5ft comes on the left turn away from the in-gate. Here we saw one refusal and two blocks pushed to the sand.
#4 Oxer 1.47/1.50m or 4.11/5ft comes from #3 on the continuing left rein with no given distance. Over the course of the night this jump received one denial (resulting in an elimination) and had one pole pounded to the floor.
#5a Vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #4 in a straight line with a distance of 19.60m or 64.3ft. Again we had one refusal and one pole kiss Mother Earth.
#5b Vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #5a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft, and received equal punishment with one pole down.
#6 Narrow oxer, 1.50/1.20m or 5/4ft, comes on a full turn back right rein. This obstacle created one refusal and three failures to execute.
#7a Oxer 1.48/1.55m or 4.11/5.1ft which comes from #6 on the bending left rein with a distance of 34m or 111ft. This oxer created one refusal and had three rails removed from the top white cups.
#7b Vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #7a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft, and crashed into the sand twice.
#8 is a closed liverpool vertical, 1.52m or 5ft, and comes from #7b in a straight line with a distance of 15m or 49ft. The top pole splashed down into the water tray two times.
#9 Triple bar 1.50/1.90m or 5/6.3ft which comes from #8 on the left rein away from the in-gate with no given distance. This fence was taken down just once this evening.
#10 Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 23.20m or 76ft, and lost the fight with gravity two times.
#11 was a short pole vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes on the right bend with no given distance and was rolled from the top cups just once.
#12a Vertical 1.52m or 5ft comes from #11 on the continuing right rein with no given distance. This one was the bogey jump on the course this evening and it was abused five times.
#12b Oxer 1.47/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #12a with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft, and broke the hearts of two riders.
#13 Oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft which comes from #12b in a straight line with a distance of 26m or 85.3ft. This jump ended the first round and the evening for two riders. It is now for the final tally of the first round of the FEI CSI 3* $137,000 grand prix.
There were nine clear rounds that would advance to the jump off. We had four rounds with just 1 time fault, nine rounds with 4 faults, two with 5 and three with 8 faults. The rest will jump another day. We had six refusals and one elimination due to refusals. There were four voluntary withdrawals and no falls.
Earlier I discussed the results of the grand prix last year. When I walk the course, I know very well how a course designer feels if they think that their previous grand prix was on the difficult side. My thoughts about the course tonight was that it might have been on the soft side. The course featured many white cups in place of the yellow, and the liverpool from under the oxer was removed before the start of the class.
In the start order (FEI seeding), the first ride had 4 faults, and the next two were clean, but with a time fault. The next three were clear, followed by a 4 fault ride. Catsy Cruz is one of my favorite course designers, and she showed that she deserves to be a regular on this circuit because at the end of the first round tonight, the results were perfect for this 3* event. Every jump on the course was a test except for #2, which ironically the Hermes oxer was the most faulted single jump during the circuit last year. The course designer at Deeridge the day prior, Alan Wade, had a course where every fence on course was a test for someone. To me, this is one of the true tests of a good competitive course. Congratulations to Catsy and her crew for another great course with great results. I hope to see Catsy again next year under the Saturday night lights. We are back under the Saturday night lights next week, and until then, I am Dave Ballard.