While trolling the FEI database — you don’t do that in your spare time? — I noticed the same ground jury appointed to the World Equestrian Games in Normandy — Ernst Top, Gillian Rolton, and Alain James — will also be judging at Luhmühlen this year, which raises some interesting points.
1. Could the intent in bringing the same ground jury together just two months prior to Normandy be to give the judges a practice run to work out any judging discrepancies in their marks? That makes sense, as the time to have huge spreads is certainly not at WEG. But that raises a big issue in that …
2. Do the competitors at Luhmühlen have a clear advantage in getting their horses in front of the same ground jury prior to Normandy? A judge is generally more likely to have a positive impression of a horse he or she has seen multiple times, so having the opportunity to get a horse in front of the same ground jury just a few months out from WEG is pretty valuable.
3. Did the Germans know the ground jury would be the same as WEG before deciding to forgo Badminton and send their top riders through Luhmühlen instead? Is the sky blue? The German Equestrian Federation finalized the official schedule for Luhmühlen on Feb. 24, giving the Germans plenty of time to decide where they were headed.
4. If the quest to win eventing medals is a chess game, we’re getting outplayed. The USEF has done an admirable job of getting judges from the WEG ground jury to the States this year — Gillian Rolton will judge at Rolex, and Alain James just judged at Galway Downs and The Fork — but we’re not talking about Luhmühlen getting just one judge here; they got the whole kit and caboodle.
5. Should more Americans hoping to make the WEG team be trying to go to Luhmühlen to get their horses in front of this ground jury? Luhmühlen is the final selection trial on the High Performance schedule, so waiting that late in the season to qualify is definitely risky. That said, riders who take a spill or have a silly 20 on cross country at Rolex will likely end up re-routing to Luhmühlen.
6. In the true spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, riders who do re-route to Luhmühlen due to trouble at Rolex will have the opportunity to get their horses in front of the same ground jury as WEG. Think of the advantages: gaining a very good idea of how the ground jury would score your horse in Normandy. It’s even the exact same test as Normandy: 2009 4* Test B.
7. WEG certainly isn’t going to be a dressage show. But if you were a selector and it came down to choosing between a horse that had a good dressage score at Luhmühlen — in front of the exact same ground jury as WEG — and a horse that had a good score in Kentucky, would you give greater preference to the horse that qualified through Luhmühlen? Now things are getting interesting.