We have reached the halfway mark in the 2021 winter season of WEF. We were back out on the grass for Week 6 and that is a good thing for everyone, but it is a great thing for the horses. They love this grass footing and, at least for this season, they will be out here more than any season to date. The grass takes less of a toll on the soundness issues that are more prevalent with the artificial sand.
For Week 6’s highlight show jumping class we dropped back to the 3* FEI rating and the number of entries in the WEF qualifier were up as one would expect. The WEF qualifier was a really good test, but with the limits of a 3* there were a few more clear rounds than usual. Our course designer for the week has been Catsy Cruz (MEX) and I have said in the past that she is a personal favorite course designer and a good friend. She has her work cut out for this grand prix design because of the restrictions of a 3* and a field of competitors and horses that far exceed that of a true 3* grand prix.
The feature class held on Sunday was the FEI 3* $135,000 IDA Development Grand Prix. I cannot believe how quickly the grass grows back here in Florida, but the ring is in great shape and during the walk prior to the first horse the weather was perfect again. However, at the start of the first entry the wind came up and for the whole class the wind was a serious distraction for everyone. The gusts were 45mph or better and I hate the wind. However the horses, who can be affected by high winds, were at their best. The course featured 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. The time allowed was set at 80 secs. We saw a triple combination (late in the course) a double combination, a triple bar, wall, plank vertical, short pole vertical, and two liverpools (closed vertical and oxer). There were 45 qualified entries who all competed. Let’s walk the FEI 3* $135,000 IDA Development Grand Prix.
#1 Oxer 1.45/1.47m or 4.9/4.10ft and a sudden impact with the back rail really shortened the day for one entry. I really like to start a major grand prix with an oxer like this one!
#2 The wall, 1.50m or 5ft, came on the left rein with no given distance and never met the soft grass floor. I think the wall was wasted here and serves better to set up a distance test later in the course. My comment about the wall is that it can be a major factor in a grand prix, but if we have only one wall for the whole circuit it becomes useless. Do we not have another wall?
#3 Vertical (closed Liverpool) 1.52m or 5ft came on the right turn and rails fell in the bathtub four times.
#4a Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft followed #3 in a straight line with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and tumbled to the turf three times.
#4b Vertical 1.50m or 5ft as just behind #4a with distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft. Here just one rail felt the green grass, but we did see one refusal as well.
#5 Oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.11/5.4ft came from #4b on the left rein with a distance of 36m or 118ft, and the top rail was removed from the yellow cups just once.
#6 Vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft followed #5 in a straight line with a distance of 14.40m or 48.9ft and was assaulted twice.
#7 The triple bar, 1.50/ 1.90m or 5/6.3ft, came from #6 on the right turn past the in-gate and along with the wall and remained undamaged today.
#8 Plank vertical 1.60m or 5ft came from #7 in a soft bending left rein with a distance of 25.40m or 83ft and was dashed to the dirt five times. This plank vertical has been used in most of the grand prix classes this season in many forms and yet there were enough complaints that the black curved skinny plank was removed and replaced by the common white plank before the start of the class. I will explore your opinion, the reader, at the end of this walk.
#9 Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft came from #8 in a straight line with a distance of 20m or 65.6ft and was tossed to the turf one time.
#10 Oxer liverpool 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft followed behind #9 on the right rein with no given distance and was washed only once.
#11 Short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft came from #10 on a soft bending right rein with a distance of 32m or 104.9ft and got a “hurtin” five times.
#12a Vertical 1.51m or 5ft came from #11 on the full turn on the left rein with no given distance and was lights out four times.
#12b Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft came from #12a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and kissed mother earth six times.
#12c Vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #12b with a distance of 11.40 or 37.3ft and was kicked out of the crib four times. The triple combination came late in the course and had a total of 14 rails which is very much in line with the triple combination coming late in the course.
#13 Oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft followed #12c in a straight line with a distance of 22.60m or 74ft and was the end of the day for six competitors. There was one recorded refusal, but it was more of a decision to regroup. This was the last fence on the course on Sunday and we will now review the final results of the first round of the FEI 3* $135,000 IDA Development Grand Prix.
There were 18 clear rounds that moved forward into the jump off. We had one round with 1 time fault, 12 rounds with 4 faults, two with 5 faults, one with 6 and five rounds of 8 faults. There were no falls, no eliminations and no voluntary withdrawals. There were a few more clean than any course designer would want, but this was a 3* with very few 3* horses. Catsy did not abuse the height and width limits afforded to the course designer and built a fair 3* grand prix. The time allowed in the end was a little generous, but with the seeding of FEI classes there was little leeway for a fair change in time.
I will provide a picture of #8 before and after the rail change for you the reader to tell me if the change of the plank was in any way necessary because it was deemed to be unfair. The black plank has been used in almost every grand prix this season in many ways and at night under the lights.
I have given it a lot of thought and looked at it all day, and I object to the course designer having to change their creativity in a class that needed this test. I know that everybody agreed in the end to make the change, but I do not think that because a professional golfer thought that the pin placement was unfair on the final hole of the Masters that the pin would be changed.
This was a great class on the grass and Catsy did a great job. As she has been a regular here for years, I look forward to her return next year. We are back in the main stadium and under the lights for Week 7, so until this weekend, I am Dave Ballard.