Where’s my whip? Yesterday afternoon I received a distressed email from my ‘researcher’, who had decided to double check the WEF prize list for the names of the ground jury on Feb. 27. Much to my surprise and chagrin, I had been given erroneous information about the name of the jury president. I considered going in and changing yesterday’s post (I can do that you know – that’s the beauty of the virtual word as opposed to the printed one), but then decided that would be sort of cheating. And besides, Pepe was still on the jury. He was the foreign judge – whose presence on every FEI panel is presumably in part to ensure no favoritism or dirty business go on among the others, who are very often all from the host country. And really, the entire ground jury is responsible. If they weren’t, what would be the point of having more than one judge?

If I can believe my source – and I have to, since I can’t download the 38 mb monster of a WEF prize list on this crappy (but free) Mexican wireless signal – here are the names of all the members of the ground jury:

President – Thomas Thomson (USA) of Talent, OR

Foreign judge – Jose (Pepe) Gamarra (BOL)

Member – Ralph Alfano III (USA) of Welly World, FL

Member – Neil O’Connor (USA) of Northampton, NY 

All four above-named individuals are FEI ‘I’ judges.

Let’s start with El Presidente, the redundantly named Tom Thomson. Being a dyed in the wool west coaster, I know Oregon quite well. I’ve been to Portland, Ashland, The Hood, Grant’s Pass – I’ve even been to Sisters, though I had never heard of Talent before yesterday afternoon. Oregon is a beautiful, if somewhat forgotten, state. I recently heard that, due to tough economic times, Oregon has the fewest highway cops per mile of highway in the United States. Now that’s a reason to live there if there ever was one. In terms of show jumping, what makes Oregon cool is that Rich Fellers calls it home. But the only cool thing about Tom Thomson from Talent is the alliteration. What on earth were you thinking, man? The others had a say, but the buck ultimately stopped with you in that judges’ tower. If you were seeking to make a name for yourself (if you Google Tom, he comes up only occasionally on lists of ground juries – no interviews, no articles, no stories – until now), I dare say you have succeeded.

Ralph Alfano the Third is also an FEI steward, which is all that needs to be said there. Neil O’Connor comes up as infrequently as Tom Thomson on a Google search, though now he too shall be famous. Or infamous. At least notorious.

With all those people in the judging tower it must have been pretty cozy that night at WEF. I wonder how big the tower is. At least the dressage judges each have their own booths, so overcrowding is not a concern. I sure hope this lot don’t try to use the excuse that they didn’t have a clear view of MMJR whipping his horse. And even more importantly, I hope that the tribunal doesn’t buy it if they do.  You could have seen that arm flailing up and down 13 times even if you were lying prone on the ground on the other side of the ring. 

 On another note: I am not in Swiss Land to watch the WC Show Jumping final, but a friend of mine is. I have nearly succeeded in persuading that friend to post a guest blog from Geneva, so stay tuned!