Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 1, 2022 – This course will be one day late because my daughter provided first class tickets to the final round of the Honda Classic on Sunday and it was special. So Sunday was out and Monday morning is my time to play golf so on Monday afternoon I am pleased to walk the 5* $406,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix that took place on Saturday night under the lights. I think that given the extra time to walk this course I will be able to express my congratulations to our course for the week Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and his co- designer Andy Christiansen (ECU) on the best 5* in recent memory.
The WEF qualifier on Thursday was big and wide with a time allowed that was what it required. The result was perfect and yet it left room for the Saturday night class to be a little more. The course in the qualifier was very straight forward. It was not based on the technical side but on the height and width that a 5* required.
The course tonight will be in keeping with the qualifier and will feature the height and width of a true 5* grand prix. In every major grand prix the course designer does not need to use all the bullets in the revolver but only the ones to create great competition. I need to stress the similarity in the courses between the WEF qualifier and the 5* tonight. Too often the qualifier does not seem to prepare the horse and riders for the main event. This was not the case this week and Anthony and Andy will stand out in 2022. The course tonight will show 13 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. We will see 2 liverpools (1 in a combination for the first time this season) a plank vertical, 1 triple combination and 2 double combinations. There is a triple bar and a short pole vertical. There is no open water and no wall. (Maybe they are building a new one. Let’s hope.) The time allowed was set at 75 seconds and after 3 rides without a refusal it was changed to 78 seconds. This decision between the jury and the course designer was without question the right decision. There were rides that were within the original time allowed after the change but the results will show that adding the 3 seconds was the right decision. There are 40 entries that qualified and all will cross the start line. The stands are in sell out mode and the weather is perfect and so it is time to walk the CSI 5* Lugano Diamonds $406,000 Grand Prix.
#1 vertical 1.52m or 5ft and 3 riders were in the showers early before they could get a sweat on.
#2 oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from #1 on a straight line with a distance of 32m or 104ft and #2 was only 1 of 2 obstacles the remained intact in the first round tonight.
#3 vertical 1.62m or 5.3ft comes on the left turn at the bandstand and kissed mother earth 3 times.
#4 oxer 1.52/1.75m or 5/5.7ft comes from #3 on the bending rein left with a given distance of 34m or 111.5ft and tumbled to the turf 4 times.
#5a vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes in a straight line from #4 with a distance of 23m or 75.6ft and fell from the sky 3 times.
#5b oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #5a with a distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft and was pushed from the yellow cups only 1 time.
#6 the triple bar .95/1.55/2.00m or 3/5.1/6.6ft comes on the full right turn directly at the in-gate and was punished 3 times.
#7 short pole vertical 1.63m or 5.4ft comes across the face of the in-gate in a straight line with a distance of 17.80m or 58.3ft. This very difficult short 4 stride line caused 1 refusal and 3 poles fall from the sky. There were 2 attempts to do the very aggressive 3 strides. 1 was successful and 1 was not.
#8 oxer Liverpool 1.51/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on the full turn on the right rein back towards the in-gate and splashed down 3 times.
#9 short pole vertical 1.63m or 5.4ft comes from #8 on a soft bending left rein with a given distance of 27.50m or 90ft and 4 rides failed to execute and there was 1 fall and therefore 1 elimination.
#10a oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #9 on a strong bending line left with a given distance of 34.50m or 113ft. This was the most difficult ride tonight and we saw 1 refusal resulting in a fall and thus elimination. There were also 8 top poles that gave in to gravity and fell to the floor.
#10b closed Liverpool vertical 1.57m or 5/5.2ft comes from #10a with a distance of 11.60m or 38ft and was the second obstacle on the course tonight to remain in the yellow cups for the first round.
#11 Plank vertical 1.63m or 5.3ft comes from #10b on a medium bending line left with a distance of 31m or 101ft and was flattened on the dirt 7 times.
#12a vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #11 on the full turn back on the right rein and was dashed to the ground 3 times.
#12b oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #12a with a distance of 8.00m or 26.3ft we saw 8 failures to execute at this point on the course.
#12c vertical 1.56m or 5.3ft comes from #12b with a distance of 8.00m or 26.3ft and was not relieved of its position in the yellow cups but there were 2 refusals.
#13 oxer 1.54/1.85 or 5.1/6ft is the last obstacle in the first round and comes from #12c in a straight line with a distance of 23m or 86.9ft. This fence also ended the evening for 3 competitors.
The final results of the first round of the CSI 5* $406,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix will show that 5 rides will go forward to the jump off. There was 1 round of 2 time faults, 12 rounds with 4 faults, 1 with 5 and 1 with 7. There were 6 rounds with 8 faults. We saw 6 VW’S, 5 refusals. Two of the refusals resulted in falls and therefore 2 eliminations. One measure that we evaluate a great course is that every jump on the course becomes a problem that has to be solved by the riders and their mounts. All but 2 of the obstacles in the first round tonight were involved in the final outcome. As I stated before the walk that the TA was changed by 3 seconds from 75 to 78 seconds and that was the right decision. We had 2 falls resulting from refusals and both riders walked out of the ring. I was very pleased to see that one of the riders was wearing a safety vest and I know that it is a personal choice for all riders but these riders are idols to many younger riders and it is pleasing that many of our elite riders are showing the way to a safer sport. Tonight was another sell out and the spectators were treated to the best 5* Grand Prix in quite some time. The course was straight forward but the height and width of the fences were where they should have been and there was just enough time to get the job done. The work of Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Christiansen was exceptional all week and I for one wish to congratulate them on one heck of a week of show jumping at its best.
Next week is week 8 of WEF and Nations Cup week and is one of the most exciting weeks because of the Nations Cup and I am looking forward to great competition with many of the best riders competing for their respective countries. Until next week I am Dave Ballard.