The Summer Classic at Palgrave is now underway. The weather is perfect at the moment and hopes are high that we will not see any rain for a change. During the build of the of the Vestrum Canada $25,000 Grand Prix we had a very sudden downpour, but although a little violent, it was over quickly and in a very short time the footing made the water disappear and we had great weather for the class. The national rules are in effect for the next two weeks and not the FEI rules. There will be 24 starters and all 24 will compete.

The course designer for the week has been Catsy Cruz (MEX) and is one of my favourites. My column on has given Catsy my gold star award for the best grand prix design of the winter circuit the last two seasons.

When course designing at any level, the best expression I use to describe our job is “It is easy to be hard, but very hard to be easy.” Week 2 of the Florida winter circuit begins the FEI rated classes with a 2* event. A tremendous number of world class riders and horses spend the winter in Florida and week 2 does not necessarily begin with the big guns (horses), but the quality of the young horses and the younger riders and with a good mix of the local talent this 2* class make the job of the CD extremely difficult.

No one wants the course to be too difficult, but regardless what the competitors say no one wants too many clean. The results that Catsy achieved in this class for the last two years were memorable. This winter she was also the first CD to use the yellow 18mm cups 100 per cent from the first fence to the last.

The class today is advertised as a 1.40m class under national rules. There will be 24 starters and the course will be over 520m and the speed will be 375m/m. There will be 13 numbered jumps with 16 efforts and the TA is set at 84 seconds and will not be changed. On the course, we will see three double combinations, one liverpool, one triple bar and one plank on the top cups. We will not see open water, a triple combination and no short pole vertical. With the sun shining and the start time 2:30 p.m. it is time to begin the walk of the $25,000 Vestrum Canada Grand Prix.

#1 oxer 1.35/1.40/1.40m or 4.3/4.6/4.6ft and here no one faulted the height but there was one refusal.

#2 oxer 1.40/1.50m or 4.6/5ft comes from #1 in a straight line with a distance of 34.50m or 105ft. This oxer tumbled to the floor one time.

#3 vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft comes from #2 with a change of direction on the right rein and was never faulted.

#4a oxer 1.40/1.50m or 4.6/5ft comes from #3 with a very shallow bend left with a distance of 31.50m or 103 ft. This oxer fell from grace three times.

#4b vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft with a distance of 7.70m or 25.3ft from #4a and fell to the sand two times.

#5 oxer 1.42/1.60m or 4.7/5.3ft comes from #4b on the left rein and no given distance ended jump off chances for six competitors.

#6 plank vertical 1.43m or 4.8ft comes on the continuing left rein and was never pushed from the flat plank cups.

#7 oxer 1.40/1.55m or 4.6/5.1ft comes in a straight line from #6 with a distance of 36m or 118ft and was lowered only one time.

#8 vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft comes from #7 on a right rein and was also a fence that was never a problem for any competitors.

#9 triple bar 1.40/1.70m or 4.6/5.6ft. Again, we had no problems with this fence.

#10a vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft comes from #9 in a straight line with a distance of 26m or 85.3ft and was dashed to the dirt five times.

#10b vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft with a distance of 7.80m or 25.6ft from #10a and was the big winner on the day crushing the hopes of 10 riders.

#11 oxer Liverpool 1.40/1.50m or 4.6/5ft comes on the left rein and although the TA was not a factor there was an inside turn to it and several riders chose this option. This oxer splashed down two times.

#12a vertical 1.40m or 4.6ft comes from #11 on a soft left rein with a distance of 29m or 95ft and was pushed from the top cups one time.

#12b oxer 1.40/1.55m or 4.6/5.1 comes with a distance of 11.20m or 36.9ft from #12a. This fence found mother earth one time.

#13 vertical 1.45m or 4.9ft comes from #12b still on the soft left rein with a distance of 21.70m or 71ft. The final fence on the course today was never faulted.

This completes the first round of the Vestrum Canada $25,000 Grand Prix. The results are as follows. There were seven clean, one with one time fault, seven with four faults and three with eight faults. The others will live to compete another day. There was one vw, no falls and no eliminations.

It is interesting to note that the fences not faulted during the opening round were all verticals except the triple bar. The TA was a little generous, but the TA in this class did not need to be a huge factor and it did see one clean round that did not make the TA. This grand prix had great results. More than 50 per cent of the starters were within one rail of the jump off and there were no disasters. There was 1 vw and that exhibitor chose to fight another day.

This was an example of the” hard to be easy” section of course design and once again Catsy rose to the occasion. This class was an example of a competition that benefited from the use of cups that were less than 18mm in depth, but I want the depth to be the same in all cups of any depth and that the depth comes from properly manufactured cups that are color coded for everyone to know what is being used. The cups that are shaved at our shows are done out the back and no cup is shaved the same way and therefore every jump where they are used are not the same. I hope that our show management and venues will start the process and begin with the purchase of the proper yellow 18mm cups. That would be a good start and I do not want to hear about the cost. The big loser using improper cups is the horse. I said in earlier walks that I would push this topic and I guess that I am.

Catsy did a great job again and I look forward to her work in Florida next year and back in Canada at this venue as well in 2018. We are back here next week for another national level grand prix and another walk with course discourse Canada. Until next week, I am Dave Ballard.