Wellington, Fla. – Apr. 5, 2022 – The final week of WEF 12 2022 has come to an end and it is also the end of WEF. Wellington Florida is now the home of Wellington International. The final Grand Prix will be the CSI 5* $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix. The CSI 5* will be held on the grass field and the start time will be 10.30am Saturday morning. In some ways this a disappointing time and place for this event but I am sure that there were many factors that lead up to the decision to have the final on the grass on Saturday morning. As everyone knows I am a huge supporter of the use of the grass for some of the major classes during the winter season. Every possible effort was made to accommodate seating for the VIP section, international club and general spectators. There was food and drink available and plenty of security to ensure a great event. There was a threat of some bad weather and that moved the start time up but the weather did not come in until well after the event. We were lucky all winter with the weather and today was no exception. Our course designer for this week has been Guilherme Jorge (BRA) and all week has provided quality courses.
The WEF qualifier on Thursday provided insight into the course we will see today. The course featured tall verticals and wide oxers that were consistent with the rules governing 5* events. The serious technical aspects were not the main theme of the course except for the final line which featured a double of verticals on the shorter distance. The time allowed was also consistent with a course that featured aggressive height and width.
There were 15 clean rounds out of about 54 entries. There will be 40 entries today with 1 early scratch and 1 late addition. All 40 will compete. The course will consist of 14 numbered obstacles and 17 efforts on the course we will see 1 triple combination, 1 double combination, 1 short plank vertical, 1 triple bar, the wall and open water. There will be 2 Liverpools, 1 oxer and 1 closed vertical in a combination. At start time it is hot and very humid and there is a good crowd on hand. The time allowed has been set at 87 seconds and will not be changed. It is now time to walk the CSI 5* Rolex $500,000 Grand Prix.
#1 vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft could be approached on either lead and did not factor in the results of the first round.
#2 the wall 1.58m or 5.3ft comes on the strong left rein away from the in-gate and never came tumbling down. #1 and #2 were the only fences to remain intact during the first round. This fact is one that I like to use as an indication of a fair designed course. The tests were well spaced throughout the course.
#3 oxer 1.52/1.65m or 4/5.5ft comes on the continuing left turn and had 4 riders in the showers early.
#4 The open water 4m or 13ft comes from #3 on the right bend with no given distance (long gallop) and here we had 5 toes in the tub and 1 refusal (VW).
#5 narrow oxer 1.56/1.10m or 5.1/3.6ft comes from the water in a straight line with a distance of 25.8m or 84.6ft and was tossed to the turf 4 times.
#6 vertical 1.61m or 5.3ft comes from #5 on the bending right rein and was pushed from the yellow cups 5 times.
#7a oxer 1.52/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #6 on the role back right turn and was the bogey jump on the course today with 1 refusal and 9 poles finding mother earth.
#7b closed Liverpool vertical 1.57m or 5.3ft comes from #7a with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft and bit the dust 2 times.
#8 oxer 1.51/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #7b on a slight right bend found comfort in the grass 2 times.
#9 triple bar 1.60/2.00m or 5.3/6.6ft comes from #8 on the left rein and no given distance and fell from grace 2 times and resulted in 1 refusal.
#10a vertical 1.56m or 5.1ft comes from #9 on the left bending rein with a given distance of 33.5m or 109.9ft and fell from grace 4 times with 1 refusal.
#10b oxer 1.51/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #10a with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and fell from the sky 4 times.
#10c oxer 1.51/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes from #10b with a distance of 11.10m or 36.4ft and was slapped to the floor 4 times.
#11 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #11c in a straight line with a distance of 21.5m or 70.6ft gravity took 4 rails to the turf.
#12 a short plank vertical 1.61m or 5.3ft comes on a rollback turn on the left rein and was flipped to the floor 6 times.
#13 liverpool oxer 126.96.36.199m or 5.1/5.3ft comes from #12 in a straight line with a distance of 19.6m or 64.3ft and created 4 splash downs.
#14 oxer 1.55/1.70m or 5.1/5.6ft is the last fence in the first round and was also the last dance for 9 competitors. #14 comes from #13 on the right bend with no given distance.
The final results of this very interesting CSI 5* Rolex $500,000 grand prix will show that 5 riders will compete for the top prize in a jump off. There was 1 clear round that received 1 time fault. The time allowed of 87 seconds was not a serious factor in the first round. We had 7 rounds with 4 faults, 1 with 5 faults and 7 with 8 faults. That covers 50% of the entries in the first round with the remaining rounds that completed the first round to jump another day. There were 7 VW’s that will attest to the fact that this was a difficult course. With the jump order now based on a random draw it is interesting that all 5 clean rounds occurred in the first half of the class. There were no clear rounds in the second half. The very first entry to compete was a clean round and they were the late add to the order. I think that 5 clear in a 5* grand prix is a really good number and a sign of very good course design. This was a job well done by Guiherme Jorge (BRA). I believe that a long season with many serious 4* and 5*events may have taken its toll with some leg weary horses and a course that featured many spread fences in the final 1/3 of the course. There were 3 refusals on the course but there were no falls and no eliminations. The heat and extreme humidity could have had its effect on some of the entries.
That closes out the season for course discourse and for the previous administration. I will be back next year (I hope) and I am looking forward to my first season with Wellington International. It will be exciting to see new improvements and future projects completed and underway with more to come in the future. I would like to thank all the in-gate professionals, ring crew professionals and tractor drivers for their dedication in providing the best of show jumping on a large scale in North America. Many thanks go out to the office staff for their dedication and above all their patience. I need to single out David Burton for his unlimited energy whatever time day or night to make sure that we all stay safe and get grade “A” everything every day.
I don’t know how you do it but thank you. I do not want to end the 2022 season on a sad note but we said goodbye to Nancy Whitehead who passed away at home suddenly this weekend. She was my friend and we had many lively discussions about everything. She loved horses and riders alike and loved what she did for a living. Her work was her calling. She will be missed by many. RIP. Until next season I am Dave Ballard.