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Dave Ballard
February 14, 2017
COURSE DISCOURSE The $380,000 Fidelity Investments CSI 5* Grand Prix
By Dave Ballard
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 :: Posted 01:25:50 PM UTC

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© Kenneth Kraus: Bob Ellis and Dave Ballard   2-8-15
Course Designer Bob Ellis and Dave Ballard

We are almost at the halfway point of the season and this week, week 5, the competitive level will be of a 5* rating. Week 5 will see the total prize rise to over a half million dollars just in the qualifier and the GP alone.

The Course Designer this week will be Bob Ellis (GBR) and his very experienced team will be on hand to provide all the experience needed to give both the rider and the spectators a great week of show jumping.

The qualifier on Thursday once again provided the proper challenge to give us a great starting field for the Fidelity Investments CSI 5* “AA” grand prix. The prize money tonight is $380,000 and there will be 40 competitors in the starting lineup. The regular number is 45 but only 40 actually entered tonight’s 5* event. All 40 will compete.

After last week’s Sunday Grand Prix out on the grass derby field, we are back under the lights on Saturday night. The weather is perfect and there is a very good crowd on hand.

© db: Bob Ellis' course chart
Bob Ellis' $380,000 Fidelity Investments CSI 5*Grand Prix course

In the course tonight we will see 13 numbered obstacles and there will be 16 efforts. The TA is set at 86 seconds and will remain there. As usual the speed is 375 m/m.  

The course tonight will not have a triple bar, plank jump, wall and no water jump, however there will be 1 triple combination, a double combination and we will see 2 liverpools with water in them. The course tonight will involve the whole ring and is tied with the week 2 course for my award for using the ring in the best possible way, giving the spectators on all 4 sides a good piece of the action.

Just a small reminder that Bob Ellis was the CD for the London Olympics and is no stranger to Wellington. Enough of the entre, it is now time to begin our walk and get to the meat of the matter.

 #1 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft in the middle of the ring and you can pick your lead for the approach and this fence ended the evening very early for 1 rider.

 #2 vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes on a full turn right from #1 and dashed the hopes for a paycheck of 2 competitors.

© db: Fence 1
© db: fence 2
© db: fence 3 

#3 oxer 1.48/1.60m or 4.11/5.3ft comes from #2 on a small bend left toward the in-gate on no given distance. The popular number of strides here was 6. This oxer was never faulted on the evening.

 #4 oxer 1.55/1.20m or 5.1/3.6ft comes on the right rein and dead away from the in-gate on a full turn from #3 and was pushed from the top cups 5 times.

 #5 oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes on a full turn left from #4 and is close to the in-gate and met mother earth on 6 occasions.

© db: fence 4
© db: fence 5
© db: fence 6 

 #6 vertical closed Liverpool 1.60m or 5.3ft (with water) comes across the face of the in-gate in a straight line from #5 on a distance of 69ft and was baptised 3 times.

 #7a vertical 1.52m or 5.1ft comes from #6 on a bending line left away from the in-gate on no given distance with the choices being 7 or 8 strides. This test saw 1 refusal and 1 pole tumble to the ground.

 #7b oxer 1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft on distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft from #7a and crashed down only 2 times.

 #7c oxer 1.51/1.35m or 5/4.3ft comes from #7b on a distance of 10.85m or 35.6ft and was faulted on 4 attempts.

© db: fence 7a
© db: fence 7b
© db: fence 7c
© db: fence 8 

#8 skinny vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the left rein from #7c with no given distance all white poles and fell to the ground only 1 time.

 #9 oxer Liverpool  1.50/1.60m or 5/5.3ft (with water) comes on a full turn right and was the winner tonight as it was faulted and got a soaking 7 times.

#10 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #9 in a straight line on a distance of 27.5m or 90ft and here we had 1 refusal and 2 poles fall from grace.

 #11 oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes on a full turn right from #10 and was pushed to the floor 4 times.

© db: fence 9
© db: fence 10
© db: fence 11
© db: fence 12 

 #12 vertica1 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on a long gallop on the left rein from #11 directly away from the jumbotron and fell from the top cups 4 times.

Tonight, we’ll end with a double combination. #13a oxer 1.5o/1.60m or 5/5.3ft comes from #12 in a straight line on a distance of 23m or 76ft. The distance is a little flat in the 5 strides and resulted in 3 errors.

#13b vertical 1.55m or 5.1ft comes on a distance of 7.90m or 26ft and was not faulted on the evening. That was the final fence in the first round of the #380,000 Fidelty Investments CSI 5* Grand Prix.

© db: fence 13a

© db: fence 13b 

  The final tally of the opening round are as follows. There were 11 clean rounds and one round with 1 time fault. There were ten rounds of 4 faults and two rounds of 5 faults. We will also count six rounds of 8 faults. There were four vw’s on the evening. The rest of the entries will fight on another day. More than half of the class was within jump off range, so that’s good building.

 The material count shows us 56 poles, 13 planks, 2 liverpools and 1 filler (I am being very generous with the filler count). There was nothing else used in the building process. Every jump presented nothing but parallel lines with the ground. I loved the track and the results were great, but the jumps once again were boring. The course designer can only work with the material provided, so can we provide more variety in the material? Please?

I want to point out a couple of very interesting things about the course tonight. The total rail count in the triple combination was 7 with 1 refusal. #9 a single oxer accounted for 7 rails. In the double combination we saw only 3 rails and they came only at #13a. This is very unusual in the modern grand prix course and should be considered great work by the course designer.

© Taylor Renner: Kent Farrington and Gazelle
Congrats to our Saturday Night Lights winners,  Kent Farrington and Gazelle

Another aspect of this course was that upon walking the course it walked more technical than it rode. I think that was the result of a super track, that from start to finish, supported a very smooth ride with little need to pull on the reins.

Another result of this smooth track was the time allowed was not a factor and appeared to be a little more generous than what we have seen. I am getting used to seeing the yellow cups and this is a good thing for everyone. There are white cups that are of the 18mm depth and they are also being used but when you see yellow it is easier to move on to the next jump.

In my opinion every legal cup should have its own color and then there should be no doubt as to what kind of jump you are going to jump. In a grand prix of this level it should not be unreasonable to expect to see the open water and whether it is at night or during the day (the night thing about the shadows and the water has been shown at least in this ring to be irrelevant), the water has been shown to be another jump and test on the course. As long as it continues to be legal and there are many classes that need to show the water (u25, Junior North American Championships and Young Rider Championships and therefore high Jr-A/O classes, we need to see the water. Come to Canada, go to Mexico and South America, go to Europe you will have to jump the open water.

What is the problem?                                        

Next week we are back in stadium for the WEF qualifier and on Sunday back on the grass at the derby field as the hunters invade the International Ring for their classic week. Thanks to Bob Ellis and his team for a great week once again.

See next time my friend.

Until next week

I am Dave Ballard.    

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