The final CCI5* competition of 2019 and we get another chance to showcase what has been a fun year for the Eventing Prediction Centre. It is coming up to a year since we first began to test this piece of SAP technology and see if eventing really is as ‘unpredictable’ as everyone says. We covered 21 competitions so far this year and in 9 of the 21, the Prediction Centre correctly highlighted the winner in advance of the competition. In 14 of those 21 competitions, the winner came from the top three selected combinations. There have been winners which we did not see coming. Izzy Taylor and PSH Gazelle who the CCI4*-L at Tattersalls in June having been given a tiny (less than 1% chance) by the Prediction Centre. Lucy Jackson and Superstition winning an ERM class at Millstreet was another that the data did not see coming. All this is to say, there will be times the data doesn’t predict what happens next (of course there is) but more often than not, our winners are reasonably predictable and we can tell from past performance, what future performance to expect.
This brings us to Adelaide 2019. The first thing to note is how tightly the numbers are at the top of the field. There is no outright favourite. Emma Bishop and CP Issey Miyake (18% Win Chance) are having a great season again with CCI4*S wins at Tamworth and Goulburn and they are the slight favourite going into their home CCI5*. Hazel Shannon is back with Willingapark Clifford (16% Win Chance). Hazel (2016, 2018) is one of only two riders in the field with the opportunity to become the first ever three-time winner of Adelaide CCI5* (Stuart Tinney, 2009, 2011 the other). Willingapark Clifford is the only horse to ever win event twice and arrives therefore bidding for an unprecedented third victory.
Sometimes, one of the most critical things in deciding the winner happens before the competition even starts. It has happened here. We were big on the chances of Koko Popping Candy (Amanda Ross) but sad news came through they were forced to withdraw. All of the numbers have been re-run.
Amanda Ross and her mare, Koko Popping Candy have been dominating the big events of Victoria again and have CCI4*S wins at Wandin and Werribee this season and they would have had a big chance here. Huge blow for them but we can see the chances of a victory for Megan, Hazel and Emma have all increased.
The start is going to be important. It is not a venue where we have seen particularly low dressage scores. This decade, just 5 people have gone sub 30 at Adelaide in the CCI5*-L class (2.7% of the 187 starters).
From the 9 winners of the CCI5*-L at Adelaide this decade, 44% have been in the top 2 after the dressage phase. There is a chance we might see a couple of combinations break into the twenties. I would expect to see Emma and Megan in the top two spots after dressage.
When it comes to cross country, you have to jump clear and last year showed that there is no guarantee on this. Just three of the 2018 field ended up with no jumping penalties in what turned into one of the most extraordinary days in CCI5* competition in recent years. At Adelaide, if the jumping doesn’t get you, the time might. It has the joint lowest inside the time rate (6%) of CCI5*s in the world (Burghley also 6%). Note: Chris Burton is the only Adelaide CCI5*-L winner this decade to have made the time XC, he did it when winning in 2013.
Jocular Vision (3% Win Chance) is the only horse in the field this year to have made the time previously here (2017). Emily Gray also takes Jocular Vision to Adelaide having jumped 14 clear cross-country rounds in a row. One to watch.
I really wanted to see Koko Popping Candy take this on. They had added cross country jumping penalties just once (11 penalties at Wallaby Hill, 2017) from 21 international cross-country rounds. Alas, not to be.
It is interesting to note that the horses with the fastest speed ratings are all horses which are shown in the Prediction Centre has having a big chance of a win here.
The nerves will build as we arrive at the final round of jumping of Sunday. Six of the winners this decade have jumped clear on the final day. Will history be made with a first three time win for a rider and for a horse (Hazel & Willingapark Clifford)? We will see.
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