With 18 horses less than 10 points out of the lead and 38 horses within 10 points of 10th place, it seems like Rolex is anyone’s game. Awesome! As sports fans we love parity, we love the Cinderella story in March Madness, we love feeling like anyone can win. Indeed anyone entered can win Rolex, speaking literally, but a look at results from the past three years suggests that being close after dressage is critical.
The past 3 Rolex winners:
2007 Been Along Time: 3rd after dressage, 0.4 points back from the leader after dressage
2008 Connaught: 3rd after dressage, 2.0 points back from the leader
2009 Headley Britannia: 2nd after dressage, 2.5 points back
At Rolex this year, only five riders are within 2.5 of the lead: William, Karen, Allison, Kim and Becky.
One major factor creating parity, or at least the illusion of parity, is the weather
. As of the time I am writing this post, rain is predicted to start falling at 3AM Saturday and turn into thunderstorms as Saturday goes on. There is a special weather warning
for Saturday afternoon, including possible wind damage, tornadoes, hail, heavy rain, and lightning
The footing on the course is perfect right now, but if enough rain falls the footing will start to get deeper and eventually soggy. If enough rain falls tomorrow to make the footing deep, it will have an impact on the cross-country results.
Generally speaking, smaller and lighter horses have an easier time in deep footing because they can skim along the surface and make efficient turns.
Of the top 5 horses, Mandiba is the smallest and lightest, and the other 4 (Cool Mountain, Arthur, Paddy, and Comet) are all tall horses and Cool Mountain and Paddy are larger boned.
Neville is THE horse is watch if the footing deteriorates because he jumped from 16th to 1st at the soggy Fair Hill CCI3* last year and looked great running in that deep footing. The Foreman is another experienced horse who is small and light on his feet.
The first horses on course will also benefit from less rain in the ground and fewer horses in front of them to tear up the ground. Neville is the 1st out, Leyland is the 3rd, and Comet is the 9th.
Update: The latest weather report I have heard suggests that the worst of the weather might wait until after the XC, which is all we can hope for.
SO, to answer the post’s title question: Rolex without bad weather will probably be won by one of the top 5 dressage horses. However, WITH severe weather, look for some big movement in the placings and the lighter horses to excel. Go eventing.