As the Open Welcome on Thursday was an extremely good class, I am expecting no less for the feature class tonight. This will be a course that will be set at 1.45m or 4.9ft. We will see 28 entries and 27 will compete. In the track we will have a triple bar (used in a combination) a plank vertical, Liverpool oxer and a short pole vertical. The will be no triple combination but we will see three doubles. The time allowed is set at 79 seconds.

Our course designer for the week has been Manuel Esparza (MEX). Manuel has been a friend of mine for 30 years and is one of the best course designers I know. If one is not a rider, the best way to gain knowledge of the sport of show jumping and course design it is to be a student of the sport.

I met Manuel in Delmar California for the World Cup Finals 30 years ago and he was just 18. He was there with a friend with the support of the Mexican Federation and

course designer Linda Allen to learn the art of course design. He has been at this sport ever since. He has worked at every level of this sport from ring to crew to assisting the best course designers in the world today. As a course designer (FEI level 3), he has many major credits across Central and North America. As you may read he is also one of my personal favourites.

The weather looks a little shaky with a small amount of rain after the first couple of rounds, but went by very quickly and did not return. The temperature is chilly but good for the horses. The class will be held totally under the lights and at the end of the walk we will discuss the effects of the lighting on the results. It is now time to walk the $40,000 Groupby 2* 1.45 Grand Prix.

#1 vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft towards the in-gate and was never faulted on the evening.

#2 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft. This oxer, built similar to last week but going on a full turn on the right rein away from the in-gate and in better light and was pushed to the floor four times and we had one refusal. Last week this similar jump was the most faulted on the course.

#3 vertical with short white poles 1.45m or 4.9ft comes on a distance of 19.2m or 62.9ft in a straight line from #2 and refused to meet mother earth one time.

#4 oxer Liverpool 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft comes on a full turn on the left rein had two poles fall from grace and also one refusal.

#5a oxer 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft comes on a bending line right and with a distance of 30m or 98ft. We had four rails that were removed from the top cups.

#5b vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft and on a distance of 8.10m or 26.6ft we had one refusal.


#6 vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft comes on the left rein and was never faulted. This was the second week in a row that the white plank vertical was not faulted.

#7 oxer 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft comes from #6 in a straight line on a distance of 21.3m or 26.6ft and is at the in-gate and was faulted two times.

#8 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft comes away from the in-gate on the left turn and was the majority shareholder on the night as it was punished eight times. Last week solid red (dark red) poles caused the most faults and this week solid lime green poles (both oxers) had the most faults. (Interesting facts)

#9a vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft comes from #8 in a straight line on a distance of 27m or 88.6ft and touched down two times.

#9b vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft comes from #9a on a distance of 8.20m or 26.9ft and also touched down two times.

#10 oxer 1.45/1.60m or 4.9/5.3ft comes on the right rein at the far end of the ring and the white pin stripped poles tumbled from the top cups on seven occasions.

#11 vertical 1.47m or 4.10ft comes on a full turn back on the right rein and was the scene of four accidents.

#12a triple bar 1.43/1.80m or 4.8/5.9ft comes on the bending left rein and saw one rail and one refusal.

#12b vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft with a distance of 11.20m or 36.6ft caused two failures to execute.

#13 oxer 1.45/1.50m or 4.9/5ft. This is the last fence in the first round and comes from #12b on the left rein and on a distance of 32m or 104.9ft. This fence fell only one time, but that rail was the only faults for Jenny Jones.

The results of the first round will give us six clean rounds. There were seven rounds of four faults and there were two rounds of five faults. We also had two rounds with eight faults. The rest will fight another day. These results show that more than 50 per cent of the class were within five faults of reaching the jump off. These are extremely good results. We had no falls and we had one elimination (refusals). There were two vw’s.

I have given up giving a material count because it is a lost cause. Competitors should request better jumps and the venues provide better material for the course designers to work with. The fact is that our courses are visually boring and unattractive, unless someone does something nothing will change. My new count will be based on the number of spreads and verticals on a course and how each impacts the results of the first round. Tonight the course featured eight verticals and eight spread fences. The spreads accounted for 29 faulted fences and 11 for the verticals. Last week, the results were about the same with about a three to one ratio with the spreads taking the most faults.

The lighting was a factor last week and this was addressed for tonight’s class and there was a difference. In the first place the course designer had the opportunity to adjust his course because of the results of last week and the venue also had time to adjust some of the heights of the light towers. These were facts that made the course tonight better for both horse and rider, but it is my opinion that more needs to be done for next year to make the night time grand prix safer for every competitor and his or her horse.

By the way, the jump off was the best of this series. There was far more speed and that is more to my way of course design. When the weather is a little iffy and the crowds stay as loyal for the night time classes, Angelstone is certainly doing the right thing with the night time classes.

It is my hope that Manuel is back with us next year and that his career continues to expand in the world of professional course design. Job well done. In two weeks we return to the Caledon Equestrian Park and their final series.

Until then I am Dave Ballard.