Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 3, 2020 – We had the pleasure during Week 8 of WEF to be spectators for the Premier Equestrian $214,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix and the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup as the feature events. This was, without a doubt, the hardest week at WEF for the course designer. Not only because of the two feature events, but because there is also the WEF Challenge Cup qualifier, the U25 grand prix and the 1.50m Classic. All of these classes are important, but the sheer number of these highly regarded classes occurring in the same week puts the course designer and his crew on a tight time schedule to provide unique courses on time. The days for these hard workers are long, and they start early. Last week the results of every class were excellent, and our course designer Ken Krome (USA) deserves major credit for a week of terrific courses with great course design.
The course last Sunday afternoon featured a triple combination and two double combinations (first time this season). There were two Liverpools (one closed vertical and one oxer) and a short pole vertical. There was no water, no wall, no plank and no triple bar. There were 50 entries and with three scratches and three added, so we still saw our 50 entries make their way into the ring. The weather was perfect, and the crowd was light, which is typical for an afternoon grand prix. On the course, there were 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. The time allowed was set at 77 seconds.
Now, let’s begin our course walk.
#1 Vertical 1.48m or 4.11ft comes on the left rein at the far end of the ring coming home. This was the only fence on the course that did not factor in the results of the first round.
#2 Oxer 1.48/1.55m or 4.11/5.1ft comes from #1 on the left bend with a distance of 32m or 105ft, and only one competitor got stuck in Rushy Marsh.
#3 Was a closed Liverpool vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft that came from #2 in a straight line with a distance of 26m or 85.3ft. Throughout the day, four poles plunged into the pond.
#4 Oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes on a full change of direction to the right and away from the in-gate. The JTWG jump received came crashing down twice.
#5a Vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #4 on the bending right rein with a distance of 27.50m or 82ft and fell down four times.
#5b Vertical 1.55 or 5.1ft comes from #5a with a distance of 8.20m or 26.9ft and remained untouched that day.
#6 Oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #5b in a straight line with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft. Fence 6 fell from grace two times.
#7 Short pole vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the roll back left turn and slipped from the top cups eight times. There was one yellow and one white cup on top.
#8a Oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #7 on the bending right rein with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and we saw on refusal and three removals of the top pole.
#8b Narrow oxer 1.52/1.20m or 5/4ft comes from #8a with a distance of 11.20m or 36.6ft We saw one refusal and four poles who met Mother Earth.
#8c Vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #8b with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft. Seven poles were punched out of the yellow cups.
#9 Was an oxer 1.52/1.50m or 5/5ft comes from #8c on the right rein and across the face of the in-gate with no given distance. Three poles tried to make their escape out the in-gate during round one.
#10a Vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft goes directly away from the in-gate on a roll back left turn. This jump caused quite a few issues on course, falling to the sand 11 times.
#10b Oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #10a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and was dominated by 16 times. Do you think the color of the combination was the determining factor here? The distance was normal. Maybe the roll back away from the in-gate could have created the difficulty? I am asking for some opinions on the combination.
#11 Vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #10b on the bending left rein with a distance of 23m or 75.5ft. This jump suffered five beat downs and one refusal.
#12 Liverpool oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.3ft comes from #11 in a straight line with a distance of 25.9m or 84.9ft. This waterfront property met its match ten times throughout the first round.
#13 Oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #12 on the right turn at the far end of the ring. This Horseware Oxer brought the curtain down on five riders who had jump faults and had one rider who had a refusal. This will end the walk of the first round of the #214,000 Premier Equestrian CSIO 4* grand Prix.
The final tally of the first round showed eight clean rounds, which would advance to the jump off. There were two rounds with only 1 time fault, four rounds of 4 faults, four with 5 faults, nine rounds of 8 faults and five with 9 faults. The rest will jump another day. We had one elimination due to refusals, and there were two voluntary withdrawals. There were no falls.
This was a really good end entertaining grand prix. With the Nations Cup the night before, we may have seen some second horses used, but it was still a 4*. It was the job of the course designer to weigh that factor and still abide by the rules and build a correct 4* competition. Ken Krome was right on target and gave the riders and the spectators a great class. Ken had a very good week in all of his feature classes, and with this course, I think he belongs with Alan Wade (IRE) and Santiago Varela (ESP) in providing us with great grands prix to this point in the season. We have had great course design every week this season as always, but these three stand out for me to this point.
All things change, and some are good changes, and some are not. Back in the day when there was only one Nations Cup per country per year (Canada and USA were allowed two because of their geographic isolation) the tradition was if there was a course designer equal to the task of designing a Nations Cup course within the host country they were afforded the recognition to be the course designer. Things have changed, and there are now two Nations Cups, but only one goes to the finals in Barcelona. I respect the decision over the years by WEF to use a Qualified American course designer for their Nations Cup week. This is not in any way a bad comment about any other venue or country that uses course designers from outside the host country for their Nations cup but only a personal observation about some traditions that have changed, and there are many instances where this tradition was not a consideration in the past. Not many course designers get the opportunity and privilege to design a Nations Cup for their country, and when it happens, it is a big thing for the course designer.
We now make our way into WEF 9, which features the 5* Saturday Night Lights Douglas Elliman $401,000 Grand Prix with our course designer Alan Wade (IRE) at the helm. Congratulations to Ken Krome (USA) for a job really well done. Until next week and our next walk, I am Dave Ballard.