COURSE DISCOURSE – $87,000 Marshall and Sterling Insurance CSI 2* Grand Prix

© Kenneth Kraus/ Dave Ballard 2-2-13
Dave Ballard

Welcome to Week 2 in Wellington Florida and the $87,000 Marshall and Sterling Insurance CSI 2* Grand Prix. For a course designer this is as difficult a week as there is on this winter circuit. This is a stand-alone CSI 2*. There will be many horses that are more than 2* athletes and with the limits placed on the dimensions of the course for this level, the work of the Course Designer is much more difficult. Our CD for the week will be Catsy Cruz (MEX). This is her second year in a row, designing the tracks for week 2. In 2016, Catsy got my vote for the best course designer of last season. Last year, there were 45 starters and there were 12 clean and 12 ribbons. The course was exactly within the rules and there were no bad results.

This year, I believe that we will receive the same dedication to the craft of course design that we saw last season. As this is the first week of FEI jumping, I think we need to touch on the Thursday WEF class that will qualify our start order for tonight. On Thursday we saw a field of 119 starters. In the end we had 28 clear rounds and a California split for the prizes. Without being too precise the results show that 25% of each split went clean and 15 clean in a class of 60 is great results. That many in a class is a little hard to watch. With the WEF complete we arrive at tonight’s class.
The count for tonight is 45 qualified and 42 will start. The course will consist of 13 numbered jumps and there will be 16 efforts.

The course will have of a triple bar, 1 vertical of the short poles, 1 plank jump and 2 liverpools. As we’re seeing more and more these days, we will have three double combinations and no triple. There will be no wall, no water jump (maybe in the WEF with a pole) and no filler. The Time Allowed is set at 72 seconds and will not be changed.

© Kenneth Kraus: Catzy Cruz 11-28-14
© Dave Ballard: Catsy Cruz Saturday night course
Catsy Cruz and her $87,000 Marshall and Sterling Insurance CSI 2* Grand Prix course 

There is one aspect of this class that needs to be pointed out and that is the use of the yellow cups. 18mm of depth in a cup is the minimum allowed depth and now we have a colour so riders and trainers and the jury can see that 18mm cups are being used. Every jump on course tonight has the yellow cups. Very brave of the Course Designer, and a deserving tip of the cap to Cathy for that. As I stated last week I will give a count of the material used so you can see what we have and what we don’t to work with each week.

The course tonight has been built with 53 poles, 7 planks, 2 liverpools that are above ground with water in them and 1 small piece of fill. Enough already, let the walk begin.
#1 oxer 1.42/1.45m or 4.6/4.9ft  black in color and slightly into the dark stands and quite square. This construction and placement was the beginning of a long night for 6 riders.

#2 vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft  comes on the right rein around the only turning island on course tonight and was never faulted.

© Dave Ballard: fence 1
© Dave Ballard: fence 2
© Dave Ballard: fence 3

#3 vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft closed Liverpool on the left turn from #2 and was tumbled from the cups 2 times.

#4 oxer 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft in a straight line from #3 with a distance of 26.50m or 86.9ft and was pushed aside only 1 time.

#5a oxer 1.45/1.55m or 4.9/5.1ft comes on a bending line left with a distance of 32m or 105ft and found the artificial sand 4 times.

#5b vertical 1.47m or 4.10ft with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft from #5a and was assaulted 1 time.

© Dave Ballard: fence 4
© Dave Ballard: fence 5a
© Dave Ballard: fence 5b
© Dave Ballard: fence 6

#6 oxer 1.46/1.60m or 4.10/5.3ft comes on the right turn from #5b and only fell 1 time.

#7 vertical 1.48m or 4.11ft short black rails past the in-gate into the dark stands on no given distance from #6. We saw 3 rails and a fall with elimination.

#8 oxer 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft on the right rein from #7 and tumbled to earth 1 time.

#9a vertical 1.47m or 4.11ft with the plank on top on a distance from #8 of 22.70m or 74.6ft. Here we saw 1 refusal and 7 reconstructions.

#9b oxer 1.46/1.60m or 4.10/5.3ft in a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft from #9a and here we had only 2 rails fall to earth.

© Dave Ballard: fence 7
© Dave Ballard: fence 8
© Dave Ballard: fence 9a
© Dave Ballard: fence 9b

#10 vertical 1.48m or 4.11ft on the left rein from #9b no given distance and was removed from the top cups on 2 occasions.

#11a triple bar 1.47/1.80m or 4.11/5.9ft comes from #10 on the left turn to come back home and the spread was shortened 1 time.

#11b narrow oxer 1.47/3.9ft comes from #11a on a distance of 11.20m or 36.6ft and this was the big winner tonight, by a long shot with 16 rails hitting the ground.

© Dave Ballard: fence 11a
© Dave Ballard: fence 12
© Dave Ballard: fence 13

#12 vertical 1.50 or 5ft with 10ft poles on a distance of 18m or 59ft in a straight line from #11b and found mother earth 1 time.

#13 oxer with Liverpool 1.48/1.70m or 4.11/5.6ft on a small bend right from #12 and a distance of 32m or 105ft. With 1 refusal and 3 splash downs this was the final fence on course tonight.

Now that the first round is over, the final results are as follows. There were eight clean rounds, five rounds with only 1 time fault, nine rounds of 4 faults, four rounds of 5 faults and one round of 6 faults. There were five rounds of 8 faults, but the rounds that counted were 4 or less. We also saw two VW’s and one fall with elimination. The Time Allowed was aggressive, but very fair and needed to be in this class. With the TA set at 72 seconds, this was for this venue a short track but the large crowd on hand for the class tonight did not even notice. The weather was Florida at its best and we can only hope that the same conditions will continue for the rest of the season.

At the beginning of the walk tonight I said that Catsy would continue to give us her best work and she did. This was a difficult class and if you were with her just before the first horse you would understand the passion that course designers have for their job and for the sport and that they give their all every time out. In the coming weeks we will have great designers and great competition and that is what makes our sport great.

© Morgan McClelland: Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna
Congrats to our Saturday Night Lights winner, Enrique Gonzalez and Chacna

On a side note, Sunday morning marked the first U25 Classic and 66 started , 5 clean and it was a tough course, but fair and we must continue to see that the level of the course remain high because these riders are the future of our sport.

The quality of course design this week was extremely high and sets the bar at a high level for the rest of the season. This does not mean that they must get tougher, but that they remain fair and honest.

Thank you Catzy Cruz for a great week and see you again next year in the Grand Prix ring.

Next week we move to the 3* level and we see again our good friend Luc Musset (BEL) in the role of CD.

Until then,

I am Dave Ballard.

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