Course Discourse: $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*

Last week was the 5* Week 7 at WEF and the feature class was held Saturday night under the lights. Before we begin our walk-through of the grand prix class, I want to spend more time than usual on the course that was used Thursday for the WEF qualifier. I know that over the years that I have referred to three jumps that I qualify as “set up jumps.” They are the open water, the wall and the triple bar. These can be jumps that are not faulted on their own, but are used for tests that come after them. They do not need to be used in every class together in one round. The WEF qualifier showed the triple bar as fence #1 which was not used to really set up for fence #2. The open water was not used but the wall was.

Our course designer for last week was Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and demonstrated the best use of the wall as a set up jump that I have seen in quite some time. This test came late in the course (fence #9) of the WEF qualifier with a right turn away from the in-gate and was set at 1.57m or 5.3ft. Riders then continued in a straight line through #11b. This wall is new to the season (please refer to last week’s walk as in that walk I expressed the need for a different wall) and with little doubt 98% of the entries upon entering the ring went directly to the wall and let their horses have a good look before starting on course.

The need for a variety of jump material over the season is essential in course design. The wall was never dismantled during the class, however there was one entry that wanted no part of this wall and with two refusals was eliminated. When the wall is used to set up the test that is to follow, the rider has to be very accurate in finding a good take off point and the horse needs to be confident and create a normal arc over the wall. Should the rider miss a little or the horse is a little hesitant, the whole game for the ride to the next jump has changed. Fence #10 was an oxer measuring at 1.52/1.60m or 5/5.3ft followed the wall with a distance of 14.90m or 48.9ft. This distance under normal circumstances should be an up three strides. If you miss the wall, you change the planned ride to #10. Fence #11a, a vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft, came from #10 with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft. If you had to change your ride to #10 you now have to change your ride to #11a. Then the #11b oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.4ft was behind #11a with a distance of 8.00m or 26.3ft. If all the rides to this point had to be changed because of a miss at the wall, then the ride to #11b is also changed. This line set up by the wall was not a killer, but an extremely good test within the course and a brilliant use of one of the set up jumps that I have mentioned. I thought it would shed some light on the use of the wall.

I made my walk-through of the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI 5* Grand Prix as the sun was going down over the International Arena. Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) set a course that had 17 efforts and 13 numbered obstacles. This course is big and wide, and to date it will be the most difficult this season. On the course we saw the open water for the first time under the lights this season. The course also featured three combinations which includes two doubles and a triple combination, the new wall, a plank vertical, one closed vertical liverpool, a triple bar, a short pole vertical and a variety of different length poles. The time allowed was set at 76 seconds and 40 qualified entries gave the course their best effort. These 40 qualifiers came forward from the WEF on Thursday where we had 12 clear rounds out of 54 starters. I think it was the best qualifier so far this season. The WEF course was a clear reflection of what the riders would see Saturday evening. Let’s take a look at the course set up for the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI 5* Grand Prix.

#1 Oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.10/5ft came on the right rein and after crossing the start line ended the evening for four entries in about three seconds.

#2 Vertical 1.57m or 5.3ft came off a straight line from #1 with a distance of 27.20m or 89.3ft and was one of only two jumps which were not faulted Saturday evening.

#3 Hermes oxer (used with a false ground line) 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft followed #2 on the right bending rein with a distance of 31m or 101.6ft and was dashed to the dirt four times and created one refusal (here the rider chose to circle to regroup).

#4a Triple bar .80/1.55/1.90m or 2.6/5.1/6.3ft came from #3 on a long sweeping left rein and was the other fence to remain intact throughout the evening.

#4b Vertical 1.57m or 5.2ft followed #4a with a distance of 11.60m or 36ft and found the floor only once.

#5 Short pole vertical 1.62m or 5.3ft came from #4b in a straight line with a distance of 22.20m or 73ft and rang the bell for six riders.

#6 Oxer 1.52/1.75m or 5/5.7ft came from #5 in a straight line with a distance of 19.80m or 64.9ft and touched down two times.

#7 The wall 1.60m or 5.3ft came off the right rein towards and away from the in-gate and needed repair only once. Here the wall was used to set up the next test.

#8a Oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft came from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 23m or 75.5ft and was, without a doubt, the bogey jump tonight. We saw two refusals (eliminations) and 8 rails meet mother earth. #8a rode very difficult from #7 because of the forward measured distance, but also because it was uphill to the center crown and the spread was 1.70m or 5.6ft. The ride for most was the forward five strides, but I believe I counted the quiet six strides on four occasions. The riders who did the six were never faulted with this difficult test. The wall was the beginning of this test. I would love reader feedback on the part of the course.

#8b Closed liverpool vertical 1.56m or 5.3ft followed #8a with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft. It received one refusal and two splash downs.

#9 Oxer 1.52/1.75m or 5/5.7ft came from #8b on a soft bending left rein and with a distance of 34m or 111ft and fell from grace twice.

#10 The open water which was 4m or 13ft followed from #9 on a long sweeping left turn coming back home from the far end of the ring. Here we saw nine toes in the tub over the course of the evening. There were three rides that had a toe in the tub and no other faults. This was the first time we have had the water under the lights this season and no horse spooked or hesitated or did not want to come forward to the water. However, there were several poor rides that resulted in faults. This is not a reflection of the talent of the rider or the horse, but it was my observation of how the water was ridden tonight. There were also a couple of poor rides to #1. Again I would invite some comments on the water jump in this class.

#11a Vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #10 in a straight line with a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and kissed mother earth four times. The first horse on course did seven strides and the second entry did six strides and was faulted at #11b. From that point on, seven was the choice for the ride. We also saw one refusal here Saturday night.

#11b Vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft came after #11a with a distance of 8.20m or 26.9ft. Gravity took five poles to the floor.

#11c Oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.4ft followed behind #11b with a distance of 800m or 26.3ft and was faulted only one time.

#12 Plank vertical 1.65m or 5.4ft came from #11c on a long gallop on the right rein with a distance of 38m or 124.6ft and was placed at the in-gate. The plank found the artificial sand three times.

#13 Oxer 1.54/1.85m or 5.1/6ft came from #12 across the face of the in-gate with a distance of 23m or 75.5ft on very soft right rein and ended the evening for seven entries. This was the last fence in the first round of tonight’s class and I believe that two entries made it to this fence before faulting at #13. Now it is time for the final results of the first round of the $401,000 CSI 5* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix.

There were five clear rounds which would advance to the jump off round. We saw one round with only 1 time fault., 13 rounds with 4 faults and 8 rounds of 8 faults. The rest will jump another day. We saw five refusals (two or three which were just regrouping), but there was one elimination due to refusals. There were three voluntary withdrawals and we did not have any falls.

I think that this was an extremely entertaining class and was full measure for a 5* grand prix. I am not a fan of seeding the jump order, and if the draw had been random it could have been more exciting. Four of the five clean rounds came in the last seven rides, and if they had been more spread out I think it could have been more entertaining. Having said that, it was still a great competition. Many thanks to Anthony D’Ambrosio for great work in two feature classes that I watched this past week. WEF 8 is a double barreled week with the Nations Cup and a 4* grand prix. Our course designer for the week will be Steve Stephens (USA). I have asked for some input again this week and was very excited with the response from last week and hope some of the readers will find the time for comment this week. Until next week I am Dave Ballard.

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