Ros Canter's Top Horses Can Handle the Tough Fights

Tuesday 6th October 2020
Author: Maria Muñiz

We unveiled the XCJ10 Adjustment metric earlier this year and - we have to say - the more we look at it, the more we like it. The cross country jumping metric says, in a nutshell,  "here’s a horse’s clear rate, “here's the average clear rate of the courses it contested” and “here's the difference”. That difference is the XCJ10 Adjustment and the bigger it is, the better.

It’s backed by data science but is still simple and transparent. So who does our blossoming metric peg as today’s most reliable cross country jumpers?

EquiRatings Eventing XCJ10 and XCJ10 Adjustment
First, the basic clear rate

The XCJ10 Adjustment builds on our XCJ10 metric. The XCJ10 tells us how many times a horse has jumped clear out of its last ten cross country starts. For example, if a horse jumped clear 9 times out of its last 10, that horse’s XCJ10 is 90%.

But how tough were the tracks?

This is where the XCJ10 Adjustment enters the picture to account for how difficult the courses were.

For this metric, to keep it simple, we measure how hard or easy a course was using the course clear rate. If 100 horses started the course and 80 jumped clear (80% course clear rate), that was an easier track (about the average for grassroots). If, out of 100 horses, only 55 jumped clear (55% course clear rate), that was a tough track (about the average for five-star). We’re only talking about jumping with this metric; we’re not incorporating how slow or fast the times were with this number.

So we get the average course clear rate of the last 10 courses a horse ran and we subtract that from the horse’s personal clear rate over those 10 courses (its XCJ10). The difference is the XCJ10 Adjustment for that horse and we want it to be a big, positive number.

Who consistently jumps clear, even when many others don't?

We sat down on our Google Meet screenshare and ended up talking for an hour about all the stories that were unfolding based on this metric, but let’s start simple: Which top-level horses have gone 10 for 10, even when the going was tough?

We looked only at international results to answer this question and we broke it down like this:

  1. Which horses, of those currently competing at the top levels, have run at least 10 four- or five-stars at any time during their career.
  2. Of those, who is currently on an XCJ10 of 100%
  3. Of the XCJ10 100% group, who has the highest XCJ10 Adjustment? This is what answers our question - who has earned a 10 for 10 record and has done so over tracks which tested many of their opponents?

The top-level horses who've gone 10 for 10, even when the going was tough

Most reliable top-level horses in the game right now according to EquiRatings’ XCJ10 Adjustment.

EquiRatings XCJ10 Article Ros Canter Top Horses Table Top 10

As of 2 October 2020, international runs only.

This table includes any horse that has at least 10 XC runs at CCI4*-S or above and competed at least once at those levels in 2019/2020. 

Avg XCT is the average time penalties over the 10 counting runs.


 

Zenshera jumps clear in tough fights

Zenshera tops the list with an XCJ10 Adjustment of + 40.3%. Included in his 10 most-recent runs were the five-stars Pau 2019, Pau 2018, Luhmühlen 2018, and Pau 2017 all of which were especially tough cross country days. Of those 4 tracks, the max course clear rate was only 47.5% (Pau 2018) and the lowest was a mere 39.0% in Pau 2019. On average, the courses Zenshera ran had only a 59.7% success rate, but Zenshera himself navigated those courses with a 100% success rate. That’s why she tops the list. (Success in this case being a clear-jumping round.)

That is what the XCJ Adjustment tells us. Who can you count on to leave the start box and come home on 0 jumping penalties, even on days that test the best?

What is phenomenal about this top 10 is that they stay the top 10 even if we take away the requirement for a perfect 10 for 10 record. If we look at horses who have the highest XCJ Adjustment, period - regardless of their past-10 record - we might expect some horses on an XCJ10 of 90% to crack the top 10. Without a perfect record, you’re still likely running in some tough fights, to be rewarded with a high XCJ10 Adjustment. But that’s not what we see.

 


The top-level horses who've been outperforming, even if not 10 for 10

Most reliable top-level horses in the game right now according to EquiRatings’ XCJ10 Adjustment. This time, we took away the requirement to have a perfect 10 for 10 record, but the top 10 remained unchanged.

EquiRatings XCJ10 Article Ros Canter Top Horses in Table Top 20

As of 2 October 2020, international runs only.

This table includes any horse that has at least 10 XC runs at CCI4*-S or above and competed at least once at those levels in 2019/2020. 

Avg XCT is the average time penalties over the 10 counting runs.


 

The top XCJ10 90% horse, just outside the top 10 - is another of Ros’s top rides. With an XCJ10 Adjustment of 34.1%, Allstar B is the top-ranked horse on a less-than-perfect XCJ10. Undalgo De Windsor, Faerie Dianimo and Vanir Kamira are the other horses to make the top 20 list of XCJ10 Adjustments despite an imperfect past-10 record, but Ros is the only rider who has two horses making the list.

Who are we surprised not to see? Classic Moet and Artic Soul come to mind. Classic Moet is on a 90% XCJ10 at the moment with an adjustment of + 30.0%, not cracking the top 20. Artic Soul currently has an 80% XCJ10 with a 17.0% adjusted, putting him further down the list as it stands now.

In summary

These horses have proven their jumping reliability on days which tested many of their opponents.

Are we saying the names on this list are the best cross country horses? No, because we all recognise the importance of time penalties. We have included the average XC time penalties over the 10 counting runs to add further context.

These XCJ10 and XCJ10 Adjustments update after every single cross country run, so these analyses are time-stamped. The next time these horses run, the standings may shift. But for now, Ros Canter is sitting pretty with two horses in the top 11 when it comes to cross country jumping form.

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