Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 8, 2022 – For the second time this season we are out on the grass at the Derby Field and there is no better place for a 4* grand prix than on the grass during the daytime. The class today will be the FEI $216,000 CSI 4* Grand Prix. There are 45 qualified entries and all will compete. Our course designer for the week has been Anderson Lima (BRA) who is now a regular for the winter season and can be considered one of the best in the world today.
We can have a great comparison between the 4* last week under the lights and the 4* today in daylight and on the grass surface as opposed to the artificial sand footing of the international ring. We will discuss this feature at the end of the course walk. The course today will feature the Open Water for the first time this year and for me a welcome addition to the course. We will also see the triple combination and the double combination, the short pole vertical, oxer Liverpool, a plank vertical and a triple bar. There will be a wall but for me there is too much air in the construction and therefore jumps more like a normal vertical. I like to see a solid filled in Wall which jumps differently than a normal vertical. The time allowed is set at 84 seconds and will not be changed.
The weather is perfect and the grass is in good condition. There is a small crowd on hand but that is what happens when we are on the grass on a Saturday and during daylight which is a little discouraging but it is what it is. We are now ready for the course walk of the FEI $216,000 Bainbridge CSI 4* Grand Prix. The course will consist of 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts.
#1 triple bar 1.47/1.50/1.50m or 4.10/5/5ft will start the class and end the day for 1 rider.
#2 the Wall 5.1m or 5ft comes from #1 on the soft bend right with no given distance from #1. As a set up jump it was not used to set up anything and remained undamaged throughout the class. It was only 1 of 2 obstacles that remained intact in the first round.
#3 oxer 1.51/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #2 on a right turn and kissed mother earth 5 times. I thought that this fence was going to cause more trouble today and maybe be the bogy jump but I was wrong.
#4 plank vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes on the continuing right rein and was all black in construction and fell from the blue sky 4 times.
#5 THE OPEN WATER 3.90m or 12.9ft comes from #4 on the bending left rein with a distance of 36m or 118ft. At the water we had 2 rides that were eliminated after 2 refusals and another 2 touched the tape and there was 1 big splash. The water accounted for 5 rides that did not go forward to the jump off.
#6 oxer 1.52/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from the water on the left bend with no given distance and was punished 2 times.
#7 The short pole vertical all black 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #6 on a full turn left and was 1 of 2 bogy fences today as it crushed the hopes of 14 competitors.
#8 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #7 in a straight line with a distance of 27.50m or 90ft and tumbled to the turf only 1 time.
#9a 1.53m or 5.1ft comes from #8 on a long gallop on the right rein with no given distance and sealed the fate of 3 riders.
#9b oxer 1.51/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #9a with a distance of8.10m or 26.6ft and fell from grace 6 times.
#9c vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #9b with a distance of 8.00m or 26.3ft and never felt pain all day. The triple combination in many classes will account for a high percentage of the faults incurred during the first round and it was unusual today that it resulted in so few faults. The fact that this class was very difficult and the triple combination was not a huge fault factor was a welcome change.
#10 Liverpool oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #9c on the right rein with no given distance created 9 splash downs on the day. This was the Hermes signature jump and no matter how it was constructed last year (vertical, oxer, with or without a Liverpool) it was the most faulted single jump for the whole season.
#11 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #10 in a straight line with a distance of 18.20m or 59.9ft and was the scene of 1 refusal. This distance near the end of the course was a difficult short 4 strides and I thought it would cause more problems but with the talented riders and the well broke horses it proved to be less difficult.
#12a oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes on the left turn back and was constructed with the 3m or 10ft poles and was the elephant in the room today and let gravity pull 14 poles to the turf.
#12b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes from #12a with a distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft and also felt the effects of gravity on 4 occasions. There was 1 refusal.
#13 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #12b in a straight line with a distance of 23m or 75.5ft and a curtain of darkness fell over 6 competitors so close to the end of the course.
#14 oxer 1.53/1.80m or 5.1/5.9ft is the final fence in the first round today and it comes from #13 on the left bending rein with a given distance of 39m or 130ft and the bell tolled for 6 riders at the finish. This ends the first round of the FEI 4*Bainbridge Grand Prix and we will now give you these results.
There were 4 clear rounds, 1 round with 1 time fault, 1 round with 2 time faults and 10 rounds of 4 faults. We saw 3 rounds of 8 faults, 2 with 10, 1 with 11 and 1 round of 12 faults. The rest will jump another day. There were 2 eliminations (open water) and 2 refusals not water related. There were no falls and 2 VW’s.
When I come to watch a 4* grand prix in daylight and on grass I really want to see superior show jumping. This is what I got today. The course was right on with the specifications in height and width and a talented group of riders and great horses were put to the test. The course was not really technical but there a couple of areas that required a technical ride. This was a long galloping course that featured big 4* jumps and there was the use of the open water that added to the scope required for this course. In comparison to the 4* in the stadium last week, last week’s course was far more technical with many more related distances yet the scope of the jumps were much the same as today. In the class last Saturday night with the related distances riders were obligated to ride the lines with the same number of strides in most cases and doing so the time allowed for each ride was almost the same for everyone and not a huge factor and with superior riding and horses up to the task there were maybe more clean than expected. Today with a great qualifying class on Thursday the step up to the grand prix encouraged a strong effort in this grand prix. The same can be said about the qualifier last week. This course reminded me of the earlier grand prix classes in Spruce Meadows when Pamela Carruthers (hope the spelling of her name is correct) was the course designer and many had the same type of results. The trend today is to have more clear rounds in the major classes than fewer but I feel that sometimes fewer is just as important. Also in the past the time allowed was far more generous than it is today and the TA today can be and is a major weapon. I have often stated that I believe in a tighter time but not as serious a factor when the course is big and wide like today. The TA today was more of a factor than I would have liked but it was not unfair. The TA is always the same for everyone. I think that Anderson Lima (BRA) did a superior job this week in all his major classes and has set the bar very high for the course designers in the coming weeks. Next week we are back in the stadium and under the lights on Saturday night for our first 5* grand prix and our course designer will be Kelvin Bywater (GBR). Until next week I am Dave Ballard.