Course Comparison: Breaking Down Performance at WEF's Annual FEI Opener
Photo by Catie Staszak Media
Since the addition of WEF Premiere in 2021, WEF 1 has brought with it the first international classes of the annual Winter Equestrian Festival—kicking off 12 straight weeks of FEI competition, including four CSI5* weeks.
They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere (If you thought that phrase refers to New York, you might not be a horse person). For show jumping athletes, all eyes are on WEF—a most strategic game of careful planning, high stakes and even higher entries.
Forty-five of the 69 athletes in Thursday's CSI3* WEF Challenge Cup (Round 1 of 12) punched their tickets to Saturday Night's CSI3* Southern Arches Grand Prix. With WEF's first thee FEI classes of 2023 in the books, Prixview has broken down year-to-year performance with its revolutionary live course data:
Level 3 Course Designer Nick Granat (USA) is setting the tracks at WEF 1, and while Granat was not among the cast of FEI course designers last season, he did set the $50,000 National Standard Grand Prix under the lights at WEF last January. Granat was promoted to a Level 3 Course Designer in May and has earned the opportunity, adding much needed depth to the pool of course designers in North America (Granat is unique in that he also has his "R" judging license for both jumpers and hunters/equitation in the U.S.).
Granat's first WEF Challenge Cup saw 12 clear efforts from 69 entries in the first round, with just three double-clear efforts. The average first round score was 6.69 faults. To say he hit the mark might be an understatement. Last year's opening WEF Challenge had an average score of 6.92 faults from 65 entries.
Granat's course was also incredibly well balanced, with rails falling throughout and no distinguishable "bogey" jump. When pulling the numbers, the vertical at 12b fell most often, coming down 18 times and accounting for 15% of the faults on course (just 0.83% more than the oxer at 12a). The triple combination came incredibly late in this track, off a sweeping right turn and set up against the rail (Uniquely, this side of the International Arena does not have a proper rail and is rather set up against a bank). If you came in with too much pace to this element, you ran into trouble.
The numbers show that there is indeed a correlation between CSI level and average faults. At WEF 2022, the FEI class with the highest average score was the CSI2* Griffis Residential Grand Prix at WEF 5; the class averaged 8.4 faults. Contrastingly, that week's CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix averaged just 4.69 faults. It's truly a game of millimeters (and milliseconds) at the top levels of show jumping sport.
Take a look at the average faults per week at WEF 2022:
How will WEF 2023 trend? Follow Prixview's live course data at Prixview.com.