Date: July 8th 2017
Running order of Divisions: CICO3*
Arena: 310ft x 210ft (at its narrowest) All weather
CCIO3* – 30/7 plus 1 with time faults (23%)
The arena at Great Meadows is a rather odd shape, somewhat in the form of an hour glass. However, with the rounded ends it does allow the competitors to flow around it, rather than getting ‘sucked’ into the corners. This flow can mean that the horses can keep up an even pace, in this type of arena, and therefore the time could be easily achieved if wheeled a little too leniently.
In addition to the shape of the arena, the Course Designer had to contend with three cross-country obstacles. Fortunately, there was only one Division to design for, and the resulting course used the arena well and flowed smoothly around it.
The track from fence 3 to 4 was measured, as I would expect, around fence 9 and the adjacent cross-country jump. However, there was a small gap between fence 3 and 9 and competitors found this and used it to get to fence 4 without having to go around 9 and the cross-country jump. This made the length of the course much shorter then measured, which meant the time was not a factor. This was something the Course Designer did not expect, and I assume the Technical Delegate and Jury did not notice when approving the course. In hindsight the gap could have been blocked as mentioned by the Course Designer on his course Evaluation Report.
On paper it does not look like this turn is possible, but I do think this is something that can easily happen when you have distractions, like cross-country jumps in the arena, and limited time to build when the dressage is held in the arena on the same day. However, watching the video of the Event the riders seem to have made this turn quite easy.
The show jumping rules only allow a triple bar to be used as the first part of any combination. This is due to the fact that a horse needs to take off much closer to the base of this type of jump. Therefore, if used at ‘b’ or ‘c’ the distance would have to be much shorter than normal and horses can miss read this and leave out a stride, or in the case of a one stride distance, even try to ‘bounce’ it.
On this course we see the triple bar used in this manner, which is good at this level. However, I would not recommend using this type of combination below One Star level. Additionally, I would not build this combination with two strides, especially on a long approach, as I would be afraid that the competitors would approach it too fast and the triple bar, could unintentionally, carry the horse too far in, and then they could leave out a stride.
The Course Designer has again used his trade mark ‘Alternative’ on this track with two fences at 8 and 9. The right hand fence 8 had a plank on the top. I gather about 65% turned left after 8, which shows it was a good alternative as both routes were used. However, no one jumped the plank no matter which way they turned. This may have been due to the lenient time allowed, due to the inside cut after fence 3, or the fact that by jumping the left-hand side of 8 and turning right, you could save some distance by staying closer to the decorations on the end of the jump. Perhaps if the jump with the pole on top was set one hole higher than the plank there may have been a different result. If only we Course Designers had the advantage of hindsight!
USEF Eventing Show Jumping Course Advisor
Great Meadow International CICO3* Nations Cup Results - Click Here