Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 25, 2020 – We have finally arrived at the end of the 2020 show jumping winter season with the Palm Beach Masters $300,000 CSI 5* grand prix. Everyone knows why the season is ending early with the Corona Virus Pandemic, and I wish that everyone stays safe and complies with the laws of the land and make it as safe as possible for everyone. I am going home early this year and have been busy getting settled back in at home in Canada, so I apologize for the delay on this final walk.
The weather this season has been unsettled, but our events at both major venues (WEF and Deeridge) have managed to avoid most of the bad weather. The grass field at the Palm Beach Masters has been better than ever, and today it is in perfect shape. Our course designer will be Alan Wade (IRE), who has been the only CD to work on this grass field. With only a small blip with the time allowed in the qualifier for the grand prix this week, Alan has been incredibly consistent with great course design. The class showed 40 entries, and all did compete. The time allowed was set at 84 seconds and remained unchanged. The course consisted of 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. On the course, we saw the open water, triple combination and a double combination. There is also a triple bar, short pole vertical, plank vertical and there are two liverpools (Closed vertical and one oxer). There will be no wall. One final statistic shows us that almost half the jumps will use solid colored poles, which has been a growing trend this season. The time has come to walk the $300,000 Palm Beach Masters CSI 5* and the 2020 final winter season grand prix.
#1 Oxer 1.43/1.50m or 4.9/5ft comes on the right rein and dashed the hopes for a jumpoff attempt for one rider.
#2 Vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #1 on the bending right rein with a distance of 35m or 114ft and was only one of three jumps to stay off the statistic sheet.
#3 Vertical 1.59m or 5.3ft on a full left turn. This jump was one of the most faulted jumps for the last three seasons and was punched to the floor seven times.
#4a Oxer 1.49/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #3 on the bending left rein with a distance of 26.50m or 86.9ft and fell from grace two times.
#4b Vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft comes from #4a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and received no damage throughout the day.
#5 Oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #4b in a straight line with a distance of 25.60m or 83.9ft. The top pole was removed from the yellow cups three times.
#6 Vertical 1.58m or 5.3ft comes from #5 on a long gallop on the right rein turning right and fell victim to the jump gods three times.
#7 Open water 3.80m or 12.6ft comes from #6 on the soft bend right rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft. there were three toes in the tub over the course of the day.
#8 Vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #7 on the soft left bending rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and bit the dust five times.
#9 Narrow oxer 1.53/1.40m or 5.1/4ft comes on a full roll back turn left at and away from the in-gate and fell from the sky two times.
#10a Vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #9 on the right rein. This jump was the obstacle to remain undamaged throughout the day.
#10b Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #10a with a distance of 7.85m or 25.7ft and met Mother Earth twice.
#10c Oxer 1.49/1.50m or 5/5ft comes from #10b with a distance of 10.90m or 35.7ft and tumbled to the turf five times.
#11 Vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #10c in a straight line with a distance of 23.20m or 75.6ft and was punished three times.
#12 Triple bar 1.55/1.90m or 5.1/6.3ft comes from #11 on a full turn right and coming home from the far end of the ring. Although it came to rest on the grass only one time as a set up jump, it once again this season proved to be a tough task master.
#13 Vertical 1.61m or 5.3ft comes from #12 in a straight line with a distance of 18m or 59ft. Number 13 was was the bogy jump for this class and gravity pulled 11 poles down from the sky.
#14 Oxer 1.52/1.75m or 5.1/5.7ft comes from #13 on the left rein with no given distance directly towards the in-gate and sent three riders to the showers at the last possible moment.
This was the end of the first round of the last grand prix of the 2020 winter season in Wellington, Florida, and it was another example of the consistent great work of Alan Wade (IRE) and his team. The results will show that there were six clear rounds and four rounds of only 1 time fault. There were six rounds of 4 faults and two with 5 faults. We saw seven rounds of 8 and three rounds of 9 faults. The rest will jump another day. We had no falls and no eliminations. There were five voluntary withdrawals.
The Palm Beach Masters is a series of three major FEI rated events in the winter in south Florida in Wellington. The grand prix field is grass and, weather permitting, all feature events are held on the grass. There are no lights, so there are no night classes. With amazing grounds, there is no need for night classes, and the effect of the lights on the grass at night, I think, reduces the beauty of the surroundings. The decorations for the ring and the jumps (Evie Frisque, CAN.) are and were beautiful every week and are better in daylight. I hope that the Palm Beach Masters will continue to be a major factor in our sport for many years to come. If you were a spectator or competitor at Deeridge, maybe while you are in self-quarantine, you might drop an email and give them your support for the coming years. EVERYONE around the world is being affected by this virus, and we are all making sacrifices some big and some not so small. This commentary on the grands prix is a reflection of my opinion and about the sport in general, so when I say to “The Ridge” shame on you, it is only my opinion. I am sorry to end the 2020 winter series on a negative note, but I guess these are negative times. On a positive ending, I love doing Course Discourse and have received so many positive compliments about it, so with that, I will say goodbye for now and want everyone to stay safe and look forward to the 2021 season. Until then, I am Dave Ballard.