It is hard to be believe July is here already. It is a month which tends to mark some bittersweet moments in my year. In Ireland it brings improving weather, but shortening days, it brings fond memories of long summer holidays, but envy of the students currently enjoying them. Of course, it also marks a point in the eventing season in Europe which means we are now into the second half. It seems to have come about awfully quickly this year. Some of the biggest events of the year have been and gone but now the stage has been set for us to really appreciate the events that are coming up, the combinations that are performing well, and the drama that is still to come.
The Event Rider Masters class at Jardy 2019 captures the mid-season feeling. With three events behind us, we move into the latter part of the ERM 2019 series. Looking back over the first three legs I’m reminded of the amazing contests we’ve had so far. The emotion of the Laura Collett win, the surprise result for Michael Jung & Star Connection, the first ever ERM win for Tim Price and Wesko (and the drama of Chris Burton and Quality Purdey) at Arville - we have been treated to some top class competition. No rider is yet an out and out favourite to take the series crown. Chris Burton leads but plenty are within touching distance.
At first glance Jardy seems to be set up almost identically to the most recent ERM leg at Arville. Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook V are again the favourites, and again with a 16% chance of taking the win. Even with a larger field, she is a slightly hotter favourite than on her last run. The second favourite (a returning Brookleigh and Emily King) is 4% back on 12%. 4% is also the spread covering the next 5 horses (all 8-12% winning probabilities). In a now typical ERM style market, we have very deep, highly competitive field with over half of the combinations having a real chance of taking the leg. I look at them in four tranches, Gemma out in the lead, a chasing pack of Brookleigh down to Shannondale Titan, a third tranche (with a real chance!) of Treason to Springpower and then the outsiders as anyone below that. While it’s difficult to choose an obvious combination to keep an eye on in our last tranche, they still comprise 20% of our total win probabilities so don’t be too surprised if the eventual winner does come from that group.
If you have been following the Eventing Prediction Centre throughout the season, hopefully you have begun to put some trust in the numbers. It’s been pretty good at identifying the favourite (5 from 11 pre-competition favourites have gone on to win). It has helped identify some maybe overlooked combinations who went on to have a big showing (Vanir Kamira, Badminton; Off the Record, 2nd Tattersalls CCI4*L). Let’s look at the Eventing Prediction Centre model in more depth. Why exactly is Quicklook V our favourite going in? How come Sarah Cohen and Treason are so often identified as key contenders in ERM? Why is Punch De L’esques so high on likely top 10 but so low on win chance? This is a perfect time to have a look at some of our simple metrics.
Normally, the horse that ends up winning an ERM class only has dressage penalties and time penalties. Only two winners have ever knocked a pole(s) - Gemma Tattersall Arctic Soul – Gatcombe 2017 and Chris Burton Graf Liberty – Blair 2018. To be amongst the favourites to win you have to have a consistently low first phase score. Our top 7 favourites; from Quicklook (16%) through to Treason (5%) all have a 6RA (Six Run Dressage Average) below 30. If you’re not in that category, you couldn’t be a favourite in this type of class. Eight of the last nine ERM winners have finished below 31.0.
Two to watch in the show jumping phase are Treason and Springpower. The simple numbers indicate both can have difficulties in this phase. Both have a good chance of hitting the 20’s in dressage and should be among the faster and reliable horses on across the country. My guess is that their pre competition win chances may be slightly hampered by their Show Jumping records. However, if either of them does manage to leave all the poles up I would expect to see their probabilities improve as a result.
When talking about a horse’s chance of jumping a clear cross-country jumping round, we use the term ‘reliability’ at EquiRatings HQ. Every horse has the ability to jump clear and when looking at the win chances at the top of the market, you can take it that the model is reading them as clear jumping. To consistently finish in the top 10 you have to consistently jump clear. This is where reliability really comes to the fore. One way we measure reliability is a simple score which sums up a horse’s cross-country performance over its last number of runs based on their jumping outcome and the level they competed at. At CCI4*S competitions, it classes horses from those with a 50% chance of jumping clear up to those with an 85% chance of going clear. When you rank the field by this indicator horses that jump out are Opium De Verrieres (our most likely horse for a top 10 at 58%), Josera’s Entertain You (40%) and sitting at the very top of the list Punch De L’esques.
Punch De L’esques is perhaps the most intriguing horse in the field. We don’t think his first phase score will be low enough to win (2% win chance) but his jumping reliability (both phases) makes him 4th favourite for the top 10 (51%), and gives him a relatively strong chance of a podium finish (10%).
It’s difficult to know how tight the time will be in ERM Jardy. When Diarm gets there he will start asking (or starting walking with his wheel). We have a new simple metric coming out soon to assess speed (it is very difficult). In the absence of the simple one for now, I will look towards our more complex algorithms (often referred to as Expected Scores). Horses that are hoping for a tough time test on Sunday are Quintana P (the Nicole Brown dark horse), Treason (one of three horses inside the time at Weisbaden), Punch De L'esques (made the time in 4 of 7 international completions since 2015), and you can never forget the Christopher Burton factor when looking at Lawtown Chloe. When following along on Sunday keep an eye on the first couple of combinations. If the time is looking a bit difficult then don’t be surprised to see these combinations move up the order.
Hopefully after considering some of these indicators you will have a better understanding as to why the Eventing Prediction Centre has arrived at the probabilities it has. You may well disagree with them, but that’s the fun of the sport. If we knew for certain who was going to win, we wouldn't tune in to watch it unfold. All in all, Jardy is promising the usual ERM showing - a top class field, a close pack of contenders, and likely a lot of drama and movement all the way to the final combination on Sunday. Follow along and check in with Eventing Prediction Centre throughout the weekend to see how the competition is playing out.
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