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Dave Ballard
March 13, 2017
COURSE DISCOURSE - $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI 5* Grand Prix
By Dave Ballard
Monday, March 13, 2017 :: Posted 11:04:39 AM EDT


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 © Kenneth Kraus/PhelpsSports.com: Dave Ballard  2-2-13Dave Ballard

We are in week 9 of the Winter Equestrian Festival and about to walk the $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI 5* Grand Prix. Our course designer for the week is Alan Wade (IRE) and is no stranger to Wellington Florida. Earlier this season he was the designer of the Wellington Masters CSI 4* at Deeridge Farm and the results of that Grand Prix were excellent. Last week the Grand Prix was held on Sunday afternoon but this week we are back to a Saturday night class. It is nice for the major classes to be held on a different day rather than at night but the reality is that the spectators prefer the nighttime format. There is a very good crowd tonight and the weather is perfect for show jumping. The weather this season has been very cooperative.

© Kenneth Kraus: Alan Wade   3-6-14

© Dave Ballard: Alan Wade and his $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI5* Grand Prix course.

There will be a strong starting field of 40 and 39 will compete. The course tonight will show 14 numbers and there will be 17 efforts. On the floor of the arena there will be 1 triple and 1 double combination, a triple bar, 2 liverpools (1 oxer and 1 closed vertical) and there will be 2 10ft short pole verticals. For the first time this season the open water will be in the course in a grand prix. The open water was required in the Nations Cup by the rules but the use of the water tonight was the choice of the course designer. There will no wall and no plank jump. The speed is 375m/m, distance 540m and the TA is set at 87 seconds and will not be changed. The material count will show that there are 54 poles, 8 planks, 3 pieces of fill, 2 liverpools and the open water. One aside before we begin the walk is that the National Anthem has been so well presented over the years by a great mix of local talent young and old and sometimes using well known individuals or groups. I for one appreciate the effort to present the night opening in a great way. It is now time to begin the walk of the $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI 5* Grand Prix.

© Dave Ballard:

#1 oxer 1.43/1.50m or 4.8/5ft this was a soft start and yet we had the first horse on course refuse and 2 others lower the height of #1.

© Dave Ballard:
#2 vertical 1.56m or 5.4ft and was the only fence on the course not faulted tonight.

© Dave Ballard:

#3 oxer 1.48/1.70m or 4.11/5.6ft comes on the left rein away from the in-gate and tumbled to the floor only 1 time.

© Dave Ballard:

#4a oxer 1.50/1.70m or 5/5.6ft comes from #3 in a straight line with a distance of22.50m or 73.9ft. Oxer to oxer on this distance was a little flat in 5 strides. Most did the 5 but there were a couple of 6 strides and the oxer ended the evening for 2 competitors.

© Dave Ballard:

#4b vertical 1.56m or 5.2ft with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft from #4a and accounted for 5 riders being left out of the jump off.

© Dave Ballard:

#5 oxer Liverpool 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft. On the left rein from #4b and no given distance, here we saw 2 splash downs.

© Dave Ballard:

#6 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #5 on a full turn right at the far end of the arena and was pushed from the yellow cups 5 times.

© Dave Ballard:

#7 open water 3.90m or 12.7ft comes from #6 on a long gallop on the right rein with no given distance and here we had 2 eliminations and 1 of the eliminations came from a refusal resulting from a fall. There were also 6 toes in the tub.

#8 oxer 1.53/1.40 or 5.2/4.6ft comes from the water in a straight line of 26.30m or 86.3ft  and was the most difficult fence on the course tonight with 8 rejections.

© Dave Ballard:

#9 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft  comes from #8 in a straight line with a distance of 22m or 72ft. This was a difficult line and yet this short distance caused only 1 rail to find mother earth.

© Dave Ballard:

#10 triple bar 1.54/2.00m or 5.2/6.6ft comes on the left turn back rein away from the in-gate and the back pole was punched down 2 times.

© Dave Ballard:

#11a vertical 1.53m or 5.1ft comes on a strong bend from #10 towards the jumbotron  on the right rein and no given distance. The number here was mainly 9 strides but there were a couple of 10’s. This vertical was faulted 7 times.

© Dave Ballard:

#11b oxer 1.50/1.65m or 5/5.4ft comes from 11a with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft and the height was lowered on 3 occasions.

© Dave Ballard:

#11c oxer 1.48/1.65m or 4.10/5.4ft on a distance from 11b of 10.80m or 35.4ft and came back to planet earth 5 times.

© Dave Ballard:

#12 vertical closed Liverpool 1.60m or 5.3ft comes on the right rein a full turn from#11c back towards home and splashed the ring crew 5 times.

© Dave Ballard:

#13 vertical 1.60m or 5.3ft comes from #12 on the bending left rein on no given distance (7 was the most popular number) and found the sand only 2 times.

#14 oxer 1.53/1.75m or 5.1/5.7ft comes from #13 in a straight line with a distance of 19.50m or 63.9ft. This is the final fence in round 1 and denied a couple of the major riders a clean round and the ability to advance to the jump off. We saw 1 fall and 6 poles fall to the sand at the final fence.

The final tally for tonight’s class was 4 clean rounds. There were 13 rounds of 4 faults.  There were 8 rounds of 8 faults. Of the remaining they will fight another day. There were 5 vw’s and we had 3 eliminations 2 resulting from fall’s. The time allowed was not a factor and it did not need to be. The water jump was a small factor but not the beast some think it is. Could this jump been less of a factor if we had seen it used in a qualifier or a least one other grand prix in the 8 weeks prior to this class? This was not even  a 4m or 13ft water and yet did its job creating more difficulty at the following obstacle. Eliminating the vw, falls with resulting eliminations and 1 round of 14 faults the remainder of the entries completed the course with 12 or less faults. 28 entries were 12 faults or less.

I like to rate the grand prix’s and to this point in the season this rates as the best of the year to this point. The final results were great. The use of the width meant that the height could be a little less, the TA was there but not a factor, and the technical aspect was the best. This was my kind of course using the technical features more than being just big. A course designer should be able to use both but not at the same time in most cases. Absolutely great work and the bar has been set very high for the remaining weeks. Thanks to Alan Wade (IRE} and we look forward to your work in the future. Next week we fall back to the 3* rating and we will see Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) in the international ring.

I would like to take a minute to say thank you to my friend. Nine years ago I had an idea to do something I had never done before and write something about my sport and my trade. I contacted Mason Phelps at Phelpssports and ran a thin storyline by him. He encouraged me but said the man to talk to was Ken Kraus. Ken had been a longtime friend and together we came up with a rough theme which is “course discourse” today. The name was also the creation of Ken Kraus. I was not a writer and had serious problems with the computer but with a lot of patience and editing I am somewhat better than I was. Kenny has decided to retire and I am saddened but I also understand. Ken has told me he has left me in good hands at Phelpssports and of that I am confident but I will miss the emails that tell me that I sent the work but nothing came through. I also know that Ken is only a phone call away.  Until next week and WEF 10 I am Dave Ballard.

PS. I would like to say hello to Barre Duke my new producer and I hope that Ken has you prepared for me. 

© Barre Dukes: Congratulations to Saturday's night winner Karen Polle and With Wings
in the $380,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate CSI5* Grand Prix.


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