I was on the road early this Sunday morning and have arrived in Ocala Florida for the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. This is a production of HITS and is the second million dollar class produced by HITS in 7 days.
The first was in Thermal California and was a very successful competition with 6 clean and a very exciting jump off. The course designer was Bernardo Costa Cabal and did a fantastic job with the field of horses that participated in the 57 entered. Beezie Madden was the winner and was well deserved. These 2 million dollar classes are held under national rules and the entries include invitation entries from the East coast. It must be noted that the invitation entries are placed in a hat and they have a drawn order that must go before the local qualified entries. The local entries that have qualified over the winter series are then subject to a draw of their own. This is the way it should be done. Once again it must be stated that these 2 classes are held under national rules.
The weather today is perfect for show jumping. There is a really good crowd on hand and there is some electricity in the air. Our course designer for this class is the now the familiar Alan Wade (IRL) and he is recognized as the best in the world today. The ring looks beautiful and is well decorated. I think that the jumps have beautiful standards but as a general comment about the jumps in the world today the fill is really boring. Jumping only poles and planks is boring for the horses and for the spectators. In this class we have seen the Ocala wall but is easily missed because it is not in the course today. The wall is only one filler or standalone jump and we need to see a more interesting way to challenge competitors at all levels of show jumping. Some old things are not necessarily bad things and I would like to see some of the old time jumps re-introduced into our sport.
The class today will show 44 entries and with 1 scratch we will see 43 compete. The course will show 14 numbered obstacles and 18 efforts. This course has 18 efforts because we will see 3 combinations. There are 2 double combinations and 1 triple combination. This is outside the normal but well within the rules. This class value certainly allows for this aggressive use of combinations. The course will show a triple bar, short pole vertical and 2 liverpools. There is no plank vertical and there is no open water. There is no wall. There are a couple of facts that I will spend more time on in the future and they are the use of more solid colors used in the fill and far more 10ft (3m) filler being used in courses today. The course today uses solid colors in 5 jumps and there are 5 jumps using 10ft filler. The TA is set at 84 seconds and will remain. The TA was very fair. There was no clean round but that had a time fault. I will say that under national rules the penalty for exceeding the TA is 1 fault for every second over the TA. The FEI rule is 1 fault for every 4 seconds over the TA. The FEI rule is fair. The national rule is unrealistic. Time for a change I think. It is now time for the walk of the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix brought to you by HITS.
#1 vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on the right lead and very quickly ended the day for 3 riders.
#2 triple bar 1.50/1.95m or 5/6.4ft comes from #1 on the bending right rein with no given distance and was forced to the floor 2 times.
#3 vertical 1.56m or 5.2ft comes from #2 in a straight line with a distance of 21.5m or 70.9ft and was the down fall of 3 competitors.
#4a oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft comes on the full turn left and bit the dust (no dust) 4 times.
#4b vertical 1.53m or 5/1ft comes from #4a with a distance of 8.20m or 26.9ft and was rolled from the top cups 1 time. This distance is a little forward but the slope in this ring is away from the in-gate towards the far end of the ring and helps the distance as it is going downhill.
#5 short pole vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes on the left bending rein with a distance of 29m or 95ft and was punished 5 times.
#6 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #5 in a straight line with a distance of 19.4m or 63.6ft and was faulted only 1 time.
#7 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on the full turn right and back up the slope. This all white oxer saw 6 failures to execute.
#8a vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes in a straight line from #7 with a distance of 25.6m or 83.6ft and tumbled from the top 2 times.
#8b oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #8a with a distance of 8.05m or 26.4ft and kissed mother earth 4 times.
#9 oxer 1.48/1.70m or 4.11/5.6ft on the bending left rein with no given distance and fell from the sky 2 times.
#10 closed Liverpool vertical 1.59m or 5.3ft comes on a full turn left away from the in-gate and back down the slope and created 9 splash downs.
#11a oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #10 on the bending right rein with no given distance and was dipped in the dirt 3 times. Before we get to #11b I would like to say that I try to describe the faults in a kind way and I am always trying to come up with new terms for faults. I would like to thank my friends Joey Norick and Mark Laskin for the following new term for faults.
#11b oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #11a with a distance or 10.80m or 35.4ft and if you rub the top pole too hard GRAVITY WINS 13 times.
#11c vertical 1.54m or 5.1ft comes from #11b with a distance 7.85m or 25.7ft and once again GRAVITY WON 8 times. (Thank you for the new term guys)
#12 liverpool oxer 1.49/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes on the full turn right back up the slope and we saw 2 refusals (same entry and therefore elimination) and the poles got washed 3 times.
#13 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the bending left rein with a distance of 31.4m or 103ft and was the late end of the day for 5 entries.
#14 oxer 1.50/1.75m or 5/5.7ft comes in a straight line from #13 with a distance of 22.6m or 73.9ft and as the last fence in the first round today it ended the day for 3 riders.
I think a true test for a great course is that every fence on the course be a test for someone. Every fence on the course was a problem today. The final tally of the first round will show that there were 9 clean rounds, 15 rounds of 4 faults. That is more than 50% of the class. There was 1 round of 5 faults, 1 with 6 faults, 1 with 7 faults and 2 with 8. The rest will jump another day. The TA was set at 84 seconds and remained there. The TA was very fair. There were 3 VW’s and no falls. We had 1 elimination. (2 refusals) Alan Wade (IRL) continues his extremely consistent and valuable work as the leading course designer in the world today and I look forward to next year in Florida. This was a great class and many thanks to Great American Insurance Group for their valuable support of the Equestrian community with the million dollar prize offered here at HITS. Now back to Wellington and the season ending WEF 12 and the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*. Our CD will be Guilherme Jorge (BRA) and we will be under the lights Saturday night. Until next week I am Dave Ballard.