After a couple of weeks off we are back at the Caledon Equestrian Park and the $25,000 Summer Festival Grand Prix. This will be a national rules grand prix and we will see a line up that will include some junior riders in their first major grand prix and a few amateurs that are also moving up. The starting field will also include a couple of well established grand prix riders. My expression that it is easy to be hard, but hard to be easy for a course designer with this starting field is very relevant today.

Our course designer this week has been Peter Grant of Calgary, Alberta, who has limited experience in eastern Canada. He will have his work cut out for him in this grand prix. The open welcome on Friday showed that he has a good feel for the field today.

We will see a total of 20 starters and they will all compete. The course will show 14 numbered jumps with 18 efforts. On the course we will see a triple combination, a double combination, a triple bar, a wall, the open water with a pole and a closed Liverpool vertical. We will not see a plank vertical or oxer and there will be no 8ft pole vertical.

The artificial footing is perfect and the weather could not be better for show jumping. At this point, I would add that there were no shaved [cups] used in the course today. The TA was set at 87 seconds and was not changed. It seems to be the time to begin the walk of the Caledon Summer Festival $25,000 Grand Prix.

#1 vertical 1.30m or 4.3ft. This simple starting fence ended the day for two riders.

#2 oxer 1.30/1.35m or 4.3/4.6ft comes from #1 on the soft bend left and with a distance of 29.8m or 97.6ft and made short work of one entry.

#3 oxer 1.35/1.35m or 4.6/4.6ft comes on the right turn directly away from the in-gate and saw one serious compression on the back rail and eventually ended the competition for that rider.

#4a vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft comes from #3 with a distance of 33m or 108ft and here we saw one refusal and two rails touch down. From the pictures of this combination you can see a certain spook factor that is missing in most courses today and this jump also added some fun to the courses during the Pan American Games in 2015.

#4b vertical 1.40m or 4.7ft comes from #4a on a distance of 8.40m or 27.6ft and never kissed mother earth.

#5 the water with a rail which makes this jump a Liverpool and here we saw one refusal. The entry then circled and completed the task of jumping the Liverpool.

#6 vertical 1.37m or 4.4ft comes from the water on the left bending rein on no given distance and was never faulted on the day.

#7 triple bar 1.37/1.70m or 4.4/5.6ft comes from #6 on the right turn and it fell from grace one time and had one denial.

#8 oxer 1.37/1.45m or 4.4/4.9ft comes in a straight from #7 on a distance of 22.8m or 74.9ft and this forward ride resulted in one refusal and a fall that resulted in elimination. The use of the triple bar to set up this line was a classic move and well done by the course designer.

#9 vertical 1.35m or 4.4ft comes from #8 in a straight line on a distance of 22.3m or 73.3ft and was never faulted on the day.

#10a oxer 1.35/1.40 or 4.4/4.6ft comes from #9 on the left rein and was another obstacle that never got dirty on the day.

#10b vertical 1.35m or 4.3ft and comes from #10a with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft and tumbled to earth one time.

#10c oxer 1.35/1.30m or 4.4/4.3ft with a distance of 11.2m or 36.6ft from #10b and here we saw one rail with a fall and elimination. This fall was not pretty, but there was no injury involved to horse or rider.

#11 the wall. 1.40m or 4.6ft.The wall comes on a full turn on the left rein and fell to the floor two times.

#12 oxer 1.35/1.40m or 4.4/4.6ft comes in a straight line from #11 with a distance of 18.8m or 61.6ft and did not have a fatality on the day.

#13 oxer 1.35/1.45m or 4.3/4.9ft comes from #12 on the right rein and met mother earth two times.

#14 closed Liverpool vertical 1.40m or 4.9ft comes in a straight line from #13 with a distance of 25.6m or 83.9ft. The final fence on the course today ended the day for one competitor.

The results of the first round are as follows. There were five clean rounds, four rounds with one time fault, two rounds of four faults and one with eight faults. The rest will return and fight another day. There were two falls that resulted in elimination and there was one VW. Peter Grant gave us a very good grand prix course that fit the national standard that this field required.

As I stated at the beginning, this starting field contained a very diverse group of riders and there were many young and inexperienced riders that would benefit from a good course. The heights and widths were correct and the technical aspects of the course on target. I was asked “should the TA have been changed?” After the first three rides, there were no time faults involved and the rides were comfortably below the TA of 87 seconds. In modern show jumping, the TA has taken on a major role in how riders have to approach modern courses. The speed of 350m/m is no longer relevant and should be removed from most levels of our sport. If three seconds (just a random choice) had been added to the time in the hopes of getting more to the jump off today that would have given eight for the JO. In some eyes this would have given a better jump off (in some opinions), but the time was the correct TA and the riders that failed a very reasonable test, gained valuable knowledge for the next grand prix. In my opinion, the TA was correct and should and did stay at 87 seconds. We hope to see Peter Grant back next year. Job well done. We return to the FEI format next week and our course designer will be Marina Azevedo (BRA).

I wish to congratulate all the team members of the North American Children, Junior and Young Rider teams on their outstanding performances that made this year (2017) the best year ever for this event. Special thanks to Beth Underhill as chef for her dedication and devotion to this event and to the riders. These results are a tribute to your tireless efforts on behalf of the riders and Canada.

Until next week I am Dave Ballard.