Sunday 24 April 2011

Sam Watson: Impressions On The Dressage Scoring

Jakarta Managed A Perfect 10
Dressage over and what a display! Six combinations in the thirties, another twenty seven in the forties, and only thirteen competitors with a score of 60 or higher. That’s impressive and a seriously high standard. Welcome to the World’s top event. The judging was the best I’ve ever seen on the international stage. As usual there was the odd discrepancy with 4’s and 7’s appearing for individual movements but that happens and will continue to do so until eventing also has a ‘video referee’! I say that with tongue in cheek, but I was genuinely impressed with the consistent percentages from top to bottom across the three judges. Every single horse in the top ten scored higher than 70% from each judge. That reflects consistency of both performance and judging and was a pure delight to watch. But now the dressage is over and the intricate details have already been forgotten. Why? Because there’s a bigger fish to fry. It’s called cross country….

That’s what you as spectators come to watch and it’s what makes Badminton the spectacle that it is. Take a good look at the leaderboard now because it won’t look like that for long. Fiftieth place is on 55 penalties. Last year only fifty competitors completed and only seven finished on a score lower than those 55 penalties. An interesting statistic and one which many riders will be turning to tonight for motivation. When William Fox-Pitt delivered a score of 48.5 on reigning WEG silver medallist Cool Mountain, no, he wasn’t happy to be 6.5 marks higher than that WEG test, but yes, I’m sure he was both surprised and disheartened to be sitting in 31st position. I said tactics would play a part in this event but what can you do when so many talented horses already have a head start on you? The answer is to ignore the scoreboard and focus only on your own performance. A top ten finish would still net him at least a cool £8,000. Worth fighting for I’d say.

Every rider’s head is spinning for different reasons. Those out in front are doing everything in their power to block out the dreams of winning and instead focus on the task in hand. The riders hot on their tails are also trying to concentrate on what they need to get right, rather than calculating what those early leaders need to get wrong in order to overtake them. A lot has changed in the last two days. Badminton 2011 is no longer about past form, potential and promise. The scoreboard is displaying fact not fiction and a lot of riders have some catching up to do. While we prepare to settle down for the night so too do the riders. The only difference is that our headspace is somewhere near tranquillity, whilst theirs more accurately resembles a washing machine. I’ll be in touch in the morning, by which time that washing machine will have descended towards to our riders’ stomach region…! I still wish it was me though….

1 comment:

Twinkle said...

You will have plenty more opportunities and will be taking away perhaps more from your analysis this year without having a horse to worry about !

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