Course Discourse: $140,000 Southern Arches FEI 3* Grand Prix

Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 20, 2022 – The Winter Equestrian Festival jumps into week 2 with the beginning of the FEI ranked competitions. This week the feature class will be the $140,000 Southern Arches FEI 3* Grand Prix and will be the first Saturday Night under the lights Grand Prix. This week was also The Duke of Wellington golf tournament and as I was a competitor at the tournament I missed the WEF qualifier and I have nothing to report on that class. Our course designers for the week will be Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) and Andy Cristiansen.

$140,000 Southern Arches FEI 3* Grand Prix

Speaking with Anthony before the class he wanted Andy to be the course designer most responsible for the track and his role was to be the advisor. Anthony gave Andy credit for being one of the best young CD’s in the USA at this time. Over the years I have worked with Andy many times and there are few that have filled as many roles in course design from ring crew to course designer and many roles in between. In the course walk last week I forgot to point out that I feel that one of the factors that creates a great course is that every jump on the course becomes a problem for someone. Every fence last week except for 2 were faulted and one of those was the triple bar and as a set up fence sometimes does not need to be a problem. The $140,000 Southern Arches Grand Prix will feature 45 entries and all will compete. The course has 13 numbered obstacles and 16 efforts and will show 2 Liverpools, a triple combination, a double combination, The Wall, a plank vertical, and a short pole vertical. The time allowed is set at 77 seconds and will remain there. The speed is set at 375m/m. There is a sellout crowd and the weather is perfect for show jumping. It is now time to walk the $140,000 Southern Arches FEI 3* Grand prix.

Jump #1

#1 oxer 1.40/1.42/1.40m or 4.6/4.8/4.6ft comes on the left rein and crushed the hopes for a good night for 1 rider.

Jump #2

#2 The Wall 1.50 or 5ft comes on the bending left rein with a distance of 36m or 118ft and as an obstacle  with some spook value caused 1 horse to stop and have a second look.

Jump #3

#3 Triple bar 1.50/1.90m or 5/6.3ft. This comes on a right rein turn back and was slapped to the dirt 1 time.

Jump #4a

#4a oxer 1.47/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes in a straight line from #3 with a distance of 31.5m or 103ft and was punished 3 times.

Jump #4b

#4b vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #4a with a distance of 7.90m or 25.9ft and was the only obstacle to remain intact in the first round.

Jump #5

#5 closed Liverpool vertical comes from #4b on the bending right rein with a distance of 28m or 91.9ft and splashed down 4 times. The Liverpool has some spook value and so we did see 1 refusal.

Jump #6

#6 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes on a right turn back and was the demise of 2 competitors.

Jump #7

#7 1.50m or 5ft short pole vertical comes in a distance of 21.5m or 70.6ft and was faulted 3 times.

Jump #8

#8 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes on a left turn back and fell from sky 2 times.

Jump #9a

#9a vertical 1.50m or 5ft comes from #8 in a straight line with a distance of 26.50m or 86.9ft and was on the upslope of the crown of the ring and fell from grace 6 times.

Jump #9b

#9b vertical 1.50 m or 5ft comes from #9a with a distance of 8 m or 26.3ft and disappointed 4 competitors.

Jump #9c

#9c oxer 1.48/1.50m or 4.11/5ft comes from #9b with a distance of 8m or 26.3ft and was the bogy fence on the course tonight as it tumbled to the turf 9 times.

Jump #10

#10 oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.5ft comes on the right turn back towards the in-gate and was pushed from the yellow cups 5 times.

Jump #11

#11 plank vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes on the right turn back at and away from the in-gate and was slipped from the flat cups 2 times.

Jump #12

#12 vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes on the left rein with no given distance and plunged to the floor 5 times.

Jump #13

#13 Liverpool oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #12 in a straight line with a distance of 18.8m or 61.7ft and was the final fence in the first round. It was also the last dance for 7 riders.

The final results of the $140,000 FEI 3* Southern Arches Grand Prix will show that there were 8 competitors advancing to the jump off.  There was 1 round with only 2 time faults. We had 9 rounds of 4 faults, 5 rounds with 5 faults, 1 with 6 faults and 3 with 7 faults. We also had 5 rounds of 8 faults and the rest will jump another day. There were no falls and no eliminations. We did have 2 VW’s. I hope that by the end of the season this grand prix will stand out as one of the best of the 2022 season. The TA was very accurate and the use of the ring was for me a little different. There were more changes of direction and the use of the diagonal lines across the crown of the ring resulted in a few more technical aspects than normal. Congratulations to Andy Christiansen and Anthony D’Ambrosio for a very enjoyable Grand Prix under the lights on Saturday night in Wellington Florida.

In review we had a grand prix course that featured every jump but 1 involved in the results of the first round and for me as I have said this is a sign of a great course. What stands out for me is the quality of horses that we see every week in the grand prix competitions and above all the quality of all the riders especially the riders on their way up the ladder.

At the start of the class tonight I was not aware of the FEI rule change with the faults for being over the TA. It is my fault for not being current. I have stated in the past that the national rule of 1 fault for every elapsed second was not a valid score in many cases but that the FEI rule of 1 fault for every 4 elapsed seconds was a better measure and I would have preferred that the national rule be changed to the FEI standard. That is not the case anymore. The FEI standard now reflects the national rule and that was the reason tonight for the 5,6,7 faults in the round totals. I do not agree with this change but that is my stand. This is an important change and I would love some feedback from the readers on their opinion concerning this rule change. One more question for the readers is how they feel about having a printed prize list program. Do you look forward for the printed copy of the program or are you just as happy to go on line? I love the programs and I save them. How about you?

That does it for FEI week one. We are back under the lights next week and I look forward to our next walk. Until then I am Dave Ballard.

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