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Apart from a most dominant Swedish team that won the gold medals at the 2022 FEI World Championships, Herning has been full of surprises.
Has anyone considered McLain Ward (USA) and Contagious retiring before the last individual round? What about the disobedience of Balou du Reventon by Brian Moggre (USA)? And a crash by Jos Verlooy (BEL)?
This is just another reminder of the unpredictable nature of our sport. Absolutely anything can happen.
But the numbers can help us understand why.
After taking a few days to recover from the most impressive sweep of the World Championships by Henrick von Eckermann and King Edward, we take a closer look at each of the courses throughout the five show jumping events.
Courses are meant to get progressively more difficult during a championship, and Herning’s numbers back it up, as the tracks produced a greater average of faults as the competition progressed. That is, of course, until the individual final. These lower numbers, however, illustrate a greater caliber of combination (and simply fewer starters).
The rider-horse pairs qualifying for these final two rounds of show jumping were those who navigated the courses with the most skill throughout the week. However, the second leg of this final proved to be more difficult than the first, with an average score of 4.5 against 4.24.
In the five show jumping events, only von Eckermann and Jérome Guery managed to escape without hitting a single fence. The separation of individual gold and silver is due to time, a perfect manifestation of how our sport has modernized and how critical time has become. Guery committed a single time fault in the second round of the team competition. He and Quel Homme de Hus were also slower than von Eckermann and King Edward in the opening speed competition. (Eckermann finished fifth in this opening event, with Guery 17th).
Learn Show Jumping: Table C for Show Jumping Championships)
Where do all the decimals in the scores come from after the first round? In this unique format of converted fouls, scores are converted into points by multiplying each athlete’s time by the coefficient 0.5. The athlete with the lowest number of points after this conversion will be assessed 0 penalties. The other athletes receive a score which is calculated by the difference in points between each of them and the leading athlete.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the courses themselves. The table above shows the jumps that fell most often in each respective jump round. In four of the five rounds, the most fouls were committed in a combination.
In the round opening speedthe oxer and 5b and the open water each contributed to 28.57% of fouls on the course. Open water is not surprising, as this course element is relatively infrequent. In this case, he came late in the course and on a long bend line that gave riders space to gallop, but also involved related distance. 5b, meanwhile was a wide oxer that was preceded by a fairly regular line. If you rode the line too easily, it took a big effort for the horse to get out of the suit and spread out that oxer.
In the first team round, the triple combination reared its ugly head again and again. Across the three elements, the triple combination rails fell 48 times, contributing to a combined total of 30% of the rails on the course. 9b, however, fell the most. The line entering the combination was a sweep, continuing nine strides. Coming in with such momentum made the line from 9a to 9b – a cautious vertical – exceptionally tight.
The team competition final round came Friday, a third straight day of jumping for the horses. The most difficult element came, again, late in the course, at 13c– and again, part of the triple combination. 13c accounted for almost 16 percent of the fouls on the course. A and B of the triple were careful verticals, but C came out of a stride and forced the horse, after jumping, to then stretch on an oxer. This oxer was then followed by a final vertical at 14 inches, a stabilization line. Handling was crucial here, and surely more than a few rails at 13C meant riders were thinking and preparing for that final line.
How special are our equine athletes? After a rest day, there were two more rounds of show jumping on Sunday to determine the individual world champion. In the first of last two rounds, Jump 9 fell most often, but it actually had nothing to do with jump 9. This vertical was preceded by open water. After jumping this huge stretch on an open gallop, you immediately had to go to the next fence.
Only 12 combinations showed up for the final roundand the fence that fell most often was 10b, a Liverpool oxer. It was actually a combination of two liverpools: vertical, oxer. The Liverpool is designed to draw the horse’s eye downward, distracting it from studying the height and width of the fence it is jumping. Seeing through the combination at another liverpool created quite the illusion, coupled with the stamina required for a final run and fifth round of jumping for these top horses. Let’s just add to the fact that many horses carried a lot of momentum towards this series of obstacles. A stabilization line preceded this tight combination.
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Feature image: © FEI/Leanjo de Koster
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