How many jumped clear, influential fences and frangible pins: crunching the numbers on Blenheim CCI4*-L cross-country

  • The horses are washed off, the buzz is simmering down and thoughts are now turning to the final phase after a thrilling CCI4*-L Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country day. But how does today’s action boil down into cold hard facts? H&H takes a look at the Eventing Scores statistics and crunches the numbers on an adrenaline-filled day...

    A 20,000-strong crowd watched close to six hours of CCI4*-L cross-country action Blenheim Horse Trials today (18 September).

    A total of 60 of the 88 starters finished the course with clean jumping sheets – a clear rate of 68.2%. Twenty finished with penalties (22.7%) and eight did not complete. The top four places remain unchanged after dressage.

    Of the 80 competitors who completed the course, 18 finished within the time and 17 go forward to the showjumping on their dressage score – one combination finished within the time, but carries 11 penalties for activating a frangible device.

    The Snow Centre log roll to corner at fence 4ABC was the first real question competitors faced. The wide table to corner asked riders to commit to four or five strides from the A to the double-lettered BC element. There was also a black-flagged route with two separately numbered B and C fences. Four riders picked up penalties at this fence.

    The most influential fence by far on the course was 15AB – a stick pile to open corner on a related distance over undulating ground on an intense section of the track.

    Five horses activated the frangible device here, adding 11 penalties to their scoresheets. The 15 penalty “flag rule” (see more details, below) was triggered once, along with several combinations picking up penalties for run-outs and one rider fall. The flag rule was also activated once at fence 17.

    Fence 19 proved an expensive question. The rail, ditch and skinny brush “birds nest” combination caught out seven competitors. There were a smattering of issues elsewhere on course. The NAF trakehner, undulating Ayr Equestrian rail to rail oxer at 11ABC, Ford log to brush into water at 13AB and the Ford angle brush after the first splash were all costly for some.

    In the latter stages, fence judges at the cottages at fence 17, the Horse Rail picnic table to arrowhead at 22AB and the brush ditch at fence 23 all noted penalties for at least one combination.

    • Penalties, statistics and scores as stated on Eventing Scores at 8pm Saturday (18 September). Provisional scores may be subject to revision.

    Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country: what are the frangible pin and flag rules?

    Run-outs, stops, falls and time-penalties – these are all penalties that casual eventing followers will be familiar with. But there are a number of other, newer penalties that were a key talking point on CCI4*-L cross-country day at Blenheim Horse Trials.

    The rules surrounding both activating frangible devices and the so-called “flag rule” have been hot topics in the sport in recent years.

    Frangible devices are breakable mechanisms fitted to certain types of cross-country fences to improve safety. The idea is that the device breaks when the fence is hit by a horse with a certain degree of force and at specific angles, with the aim of preventing a fall.

    But whether combinations should be awarded penalties for activating a device remains a contentious point. The FEI rule regarding penalties has been revised and tweaked a number of times in recent years. The current rule means combinations are awarded 11 penalties for breaking a device.

    The so-called “flag rule” was born out of the puzzle of how to appropriately penalise a combination that has not fully answered the question posed by a fence, but has not run-out or stopped. This too has been fiercely debated in recent years, resulting in changes to the wording and penalties awarded in recent years. Currently, competitors will receive 15 penalties for “missing a flag”.

    The wording of the rule states: “A horse is considered to have missed a flag when the point of a shoulder fails to pass between the extremities of the obstacle as flagged. The head and neck must pass inside the extremities of the obstacle as flagged. If a flag is dislodged, the hindquarters must jump the height of the solid part of the obstacle.”

    View the Blenheim Horse Trials CCI4*-L leaderboard after cross-country

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...