Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 22, 2022 – We are on the down side of the 2022 season in Wellington Florida and we have just completed week 10 and the feature class this week was the CSI 4* $216,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix. Our course designer for the week has been Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) and I am looking forward to an exciting course tonight. The WEF qualifier was held on Thursday afternoon and was a good indication of what the riders will be seeing tonight. As I have stated in most of the walks this season the qualifiers have been solid in height and width and time allowed and have been quality events that have met the required specifications of the 3,4,5 star rating. Tonight we have a 4* Grand Prix event and the qualifiers should be properly prepared having qualified through the class on Thursday.
The course tonight will have 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts. We will see 1 triple combination and 1 double combination. There will be 2 liverpools (1 oxer and 1 closed vertical). There is also a new wall, a triple bar, short pole vertical, plank vertical but there will be no water (we have seen the water the last couple of weeks and not necessary tonight). The time allowed is set at 83 seconds and will not be changed. A total of 45 have entered and all will compete. The weather has been very hot and humid and the start time was extended to 7.30pm for the lights to have full effect for all the competitors. The crowd was a little late in arriving but it is another sold out event. I think that it is time to walk the CSI 4* Horseware Ireland Grand Prix.
#1 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft comes at the far end of the ring on the left rein and being a little old school (rampy) was not a factor in the event tonight.
#2 vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #1 on the bending left rein with a distance of 31m or 102ft and was an obstacle that was dealt 1 lethal blow tonight. It is interesting that we saw 6, 7 and 8 strides to this jump.
#3 triple bar 1.55/1.95m or 5.1/6.4ft comes from #2 on a full right turn at and away from the in-gate and also was undamaged in the first round. This was a soft start to the course tonight but the best was yet to come.
#4 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes from #3 on a bending right rein with a distance of 34m or 112ft and kissed the turf 7 times. This was also an interesting distance in that we saw 6, 7, 8 strides to attempt this jump.
#5 closed Liverpool vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #4 with a bending left rein and on a distance of 21.9m or 72ft and these short 4 strides saw 6 splashdowns.
#6 THE NEW WALL 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the full left turn and 2 top blocks tumbled down to the dirt and 1 refusal was recorded.
#7a oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes from #6 in a straight line with a distance of 26.3m or 86ft and 2 poles were pushed from the yellow cups.
#7b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #7a with a distance of 7.92m or 26ft and also fell from grace 2 times.
#7c oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #7b with a distance of 7.92m or 26ft and suffered the same fate as #7a and #7b and was damaged 2 times. The wall and the way a horse jumps the wall made the 6 strides easier to ride and made the triple combination a smaller factor than some other distances and this is a good thing. The triple combination can in many cases have a major influence on the outcome of a grand prix and it is nice to see the other tests take that role. This season has seen the triple combination play this minor role and one that I agree with.
#8 Plank vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #7c on the bending right rein with no given distance and is at and toward the in-gate. I was really surprised that this delicate white plank was never faulted tonight.
#9 oxer 1.53/1.70m or 5.1/5.6ft comes from #8 on a full turn right and is at and away from the in-gate. There were 4 jumps that remained intact in the first round tonight and this was the 4th. Number #1 and #3 I fully understand but #8 and #9 leaves me scratching my head. They were big and wide and at the in-gate. #8 did not receive 1 gentle touch ever in the first round and although #9 had a couple of shaky moments it did not even get a rub.
#10 Short pole vertical (all white) 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9 on a long gallop on the left rein and is positioned next to the open water (not on course tonight but could be a visual distraction to some) and met mother earth 5 times.
#11 oxer (Hermes) 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.3ft comes from #10 in a straight line with a distance of 23.5m or 77ft. This jump and its color was the single most faulted jump in 2121 but has assumed a more minor role this season and bit the dust 3 times tonight.
#12a vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #11 on a full right turn and was the bogy fence tonight with 9 meetings with mother earth and also 1 refusal.
#12b oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes from #12a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and was demolished 6 times. The double combination in the WEF qualifier was also 8m or 26.3ft vertical to oxer with a related distance from a jump on the approach and was also the most difficult test in that class. Tonight the same combination had the same results on the class but it was a combination that stood alone on the approach.
#13 vertical 1.58m or 5.2ft comes from #12b in a straight line with a distance of 18.30m or 60ft and fell from grace 3 times with 1 refusal.
#14 Liverpool oxer 1.53/1.75m or 5.1/5.7ft comes from #13 in a straight line with a distance of 26.30m or 86ft and is the final fence in the first round of the grand prix tonight. This Liverpool oxer also ended the evening for 8 competitors. This ends the walk of the CSI4* Horseware Ireland Grand Prix in week 10. It is now time for the final tally of the first round.
We will have 10 riders returning for the jump off. We had 1 with a time fault only, 2 with 2 time faults and 12 rounds of 4 faults. There was 1 with 5, 1 with 6, 1 with 7 and 1 with 8 faults. The rest will jump another day. More than half the class were within 4 faults of a clear round and that says volumes about how great this course was. The ulcers of the course designer may have suffered some. There were no falls and no eliminations. We had 1 VW and 3 refusals. This could be the best Saturday night under lights we have had this season. The random draw also made the evening a pleasure to watch in as much that you were in your seat for the whole class waiting for the next great ride. This was a tough class to design for because many of the big horses were getting a week off before the final 2 weeks and we were seeing some great second mounts and some younger riders. Everyone should appreciate the quality and scope of all the horses we are seeing in the grand prix this season. Also the depth and quality of the younger riders that compete in the major classes this season is amazing. Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) has once again given us his best efforts this week and I for one have had a good time watching his courses. We have had great sport in 2022 and it is not over yet. Week 11 is coming and until next week I am Dave Ballard.