The weather is hot and humid for the first round of the $380,000 Suncast CSI 5* Grand Prix. Welcome to WEF and week 7 in our series of 12 major CSI rated Grand Prix’s. There is a very good crowd on hand and the best starting field of the season. There will be 40 entries and with one scratch we will see 39 start tonight. Our course designer is Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and needs no introduction to the international ring in Wellington.
Ten countries will be represented in tonight’s class and as I have stated, the best starting field of the season.
The one thing that a course designer has be careful of in this class is that, even with all the tests that this class can put forward to challenge horse and rider is that this class is week 7 and there is always another class to follow in the coming weeks. On the course tonight we will see a wall for the first time in 7 weeks. There will be 2 liverpools, 1 double combination, 1 triple combination and 1 skinny vertical. There will be no triple bar, no plank jump and no open water (c’mon man).
The time allowed will be set at 77 seconds and will not be changed. I have given a material count this year and so on the course tonight we will have 52 poles, 10 planks,1 set of fill, 2 liverpools and 1 wall. Anthony will use the whole ring and give the crowd a good view from all sides. If anyone was paying close attention we will also find that for only the second time this year ( first was week 1 ) the course designer used the yellow cups on the front of every jump in the ring. Well done! The time has come to begin tonight’s walk.
#1 oxer 1.43/1.45/1.45 or 4.7/4.9/4.9ft a little ramp and #1 end the evening very early for 3 riders.
#2 vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes on the right turn from #1 and was never faulted this night.
#3 oxer Liverpool 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes in a straight line from #2 with a distance of 32.50m or 106.6ft and fell to the floor 1 time
#4a vertical 1.53 or 5.1ft comes from #3 on a left turn towards the in-gate on no given distance and was faulted 1 time.
#4b oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5.1/5.3ft with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft and tumbled from the yellow cups 3 times
#6 the wall 1.55m or 5.1ft comes away from the in-gate on the left rein and was one of two fences not to be faulted tonight.
#7 oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5.1/5.6ft comes from #6 in a straight line and on a distance of 19.20m or 63ft and kissed the sand only 2 times.
#9a oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5.1/1.53ft comes on a long gallop from #8 on the right rein and the top rail found its way to the ground 6 times.
#9b vertical 1.55m or 5.3ft on a distance of 11.20m or 36.6ft from #9a and was faulted 5 times.
#9c oxer 1.52/1.60m or 5.1/5.3ft on a distance of 8m or 26.3ft from #9b and fell from grace 1 time only.
#10 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9c on a small bend right towards the in-gate on a distance of 25m or 82ft and was the bogey fence tonight was pushed to the sand 11 times.
#11 skinny oxer 1.55/1.20m or 5.1/3.9ft comes away from the in-gate on the left rein and fell from the yellow cups 1 time.
#12 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #11 on a small curving line left on a distance of 23.20m or 76ft and here we saw 4 rails touch the ground.
#13 oxer 1.53/1.80m or 5.1/5.9ft. This is the biggest oxer on the course and the final fence in the first round and crushed the hopes of 3 riders.
The final tally in the first round of the Suncast CSI 5* $380.000 results in 12 clean, one with one time fault, eleven with 4 faults, two with 5 faults and six with 8 faults. Well over half the class were within 8 faults of the jump off There were no eliminations and no falls. There were 2 vw’s.
In my opinion this was an excellent class. Maybe the Course Designer would have considered 2 or 3 less clean, but as I said earlier this is one of many major classes in a horse’s career and this class asked and answered many of the tests of a 5* event. With 12 clean the spectators were treated to an excellent and exciting jump off, maybe the best of the season to this point.
The use of the yellow cups may have given extra life to a couple of the clean rounds at fence #5 by taking a hard rub, but that makes the course more exciting and getting away with a hard rub once in a while can make a horse more careful for the rest of the course. The shaved cup will not allow for this and in the end everyone is disappointed. The course had extremely good flow and is something every CD should strive for. In all the 5* events and with a very talented starting fields (I include the Wellington Masters in this count even though it was rated at the 4* level, the starting field was of 5* calibre.) With this kind of forward flow throughout the course the TA was extremely fair for all the horses and riders. I will continue to question the lack of material available for these courses. If the use of the material is the same every week there are only so many ways to use the poles and planks they will become even more boring than they already are. The standards are beautiful but give the horses a chance to see something new what they jump over every day.
Until next week
I am Dave Ballard.