Wellington, FL – Jan. 12, 2021 – Welcome to the 2021 WEF series of grand prix competitions in Wellington, Florida. It is time to get back to what we do best and that is to enjoy the sport of show jumping at its highest level. We are truly fortunate to have our sport running in the new normal and we must do everything to ensure that what is mandated by the government and the rules of WEF are correctly followed. I would like to point out David Burton and his crew are doing a really good job in the enforcement of masking and social distancing and should be acknowledged for this work.
The 2021 season began with a week of showing under national rules and not FEI rules. The first week, Premiere Week, was a bonus week and we will have 13 weeks this season rather than the 12 weeks in previous years. Premiere Week featured three major classes: the WEF Challenge on Thursday, the 1.50m Classic on Saturday, and the $75,000 Bainbridge Companies WEF Premiere Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
For Premiere Week, I made my way down to the International ring to walk the course for Sunday’s $75,000 Bainbridge Companies Grand Prix. Our course designer for the week has been Eric Hasbrouck (USA) and in the classes on Thursday and Saturday, Eric was spot on with his courses and the results reflect the same. In my opinion, the first two weeks of the circuit are the most difficult for the course designer because of the big mix of young, old, experienced, inexperienced horses and riders. The course designer needs to find that fine line using the rules about height, width and speed.
There were 31 entries in Sunday’s class but only 30 competitors made their way through the in-gate. The course consisted of 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts. The course featured three double combinations, a plank vertical, a closed Liverpool vertical (used in a combination) and a triple bar. The time allowed for round one was set at 84 seconds.
#1 Oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.7/5ft comes as the competitor crosses the in-gate away from
the in-gate and was never faulted throughout the day.
#2 Vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on no given distance off the left bending rein and also remained in the yellow top cups for the whole competition.
#3 Oxer 1.45/1.65m or 4.9/5.6ft comes from #2 on no given distance in a straight line (long distance) and completed the trifecta of initial jumps which were not faulted during the class.
#4a Vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on the turn back right rein and created three failures to execute.
#4b Oxer 1.45/1.55m or 4.9/5.3ft comes from #4a with a distance of 26.6ft. This combination caused one refusal that resulted in a fall and elimination. Thankfully, the rider was not injured.
#5 Plank vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #4b with no given distance and with a small bending left rein and the rails touched mother earth three times.
#6 Oxer 1.45/1.65m or 4.9/5.6ft comes from #5 with no given distance and on the right rein across the face of the in-gate and tumbled to the artificial footing two times.
#7 Short pole vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes on the right rein turn back and the short white pole was pushed to the floor four times.
#8 Vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #7 with no given distance on the left bending rein and was faulted only one time.
#9a Oxer 1.45/1.55m or 4.9/5.3ft comes from #8 on the left rein and was crushed twice.
#9b Vertical 1.50m or 5ftcomes from #9a with a distance of 11.30m or 37ft and kissed the
footing 1 time.
#10 Oxer 1.45/1.65m or 4.9/5.6ft comes from #9b on the right rein and with no given distance and there were four failures recorded here.
#11 Triple bar 1.50/1.85m or 5/6ft comes from #10 on the right rein coming back home and stayed in place during the class.
#12a Vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #11 in a straight line with a distance 27m or 88.6ft. This fence was the bogey fence of the afternoon with two refusals, in addition to the top pole being banished to the floor eight times.
#12b Closed liverpool vertical 1.50m or 5ft and comes from #12a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft. This was a really good use of the liverpool and the triple bar in this combination was almost as deadly as #12a with six splashdowns.
#13 oxer 1.45/1.65m or 4.9/5.6ft comes from #12b on the left rein with no given distance and at the final fence in the first round, there was one dirty pole and one recorded refusal (there was no refusal but a pull-up but gets recorded as a refusal). That was the end of the first walk of the season and the results will follow.
The final tally will show that there were four riders to go clear and advance to the jump-off. There was one ride with 1 time fault, one ride with 2-time faults and two rides with 3 time faults. We had six riders with 4 faults and one ride with 5 faults. There were two rides of 8 faults and the rest of the class will compete another day. The course saw one fall, four refusals, one elimination and one voluntary withdrawal.
The time allowed was something that the riders had to be aware of because it was a factor, but it was a fair time allowed. Being aware of the time allowed is a factor that is part of modern course design and modern show jumping and in the course today it was a very fair test. The course was not too technical but was designed so the riders had free rein to gallop and find a good distance to jump clean and carry on freely to the next jump. The results were extremely good in all three feature classes during Premiere Week.
In closing the first walk of the season, I must say that it was a very good week under different, and in some cases, difficult circumstances. I look forward to the coming weeks where we all keep each other safe. Stay safe, and until next week, I am Dave Ballard.