This weekend the ERM takes us to Millstreet - Cork. Located in the southwest of Ireland it is known as the rebel county, a place famous for its penchant for challenging authority. As the series enters the penultimate leg, I can’t help but wonder if the venue might inspire some underdogs to pull out a performance and really challenge the favorites this weekend, or possibly even make a run at the overall series?
We don’t have to look too far back to see that this is a real possibility. In the latest ERM leg in Jardy, we had a name we were not expecting - Aisprit De La Loge under Gireg Le Coz entered the competition with less than a 1% chance of winning. Against all of our models and predictions, they posted a dressage score of 28.2 and finished on it. Not only did they win the event, but they beat some very established names along the way including Quicklook V, Dacapo, and Treason all of whom were well up in our favourites going into the weekend. Could Millstreet provide a similar upset this week?
There are a couple of the horses heading to Millstreet that are be hoping that doesn’t happen. For the third time in a row Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook V are coming into the competition as our favourites for the weekend (on 15%). While they retired at Arville, they missed out on the win last time out by the smallest possible margin, finishing second place and just 0.1 penalties behind the eventual winner Gireg Le Coz. Can they go one step further by claiming their first ERM leg at Millstreet? To do so they will have to beat out some very stiff competition and cross country will be key. Right behind Gemma in the win chances are a couple of 5* winners, Tim Price with Wesko and Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class, at 12% and 10% respectively. At first glance it might seem off that Quicklook is ranked higher than these two proven top level combinations. However Quicklook does have the lowest 6RA (Six Run Average) in the field (25.0). If the time proved gettable, it would hamper Wesko’s chances of pulling back the few marks. Ballaghmor Class is sitting lower again, likely due to his tendency to knock a pole in the Jumping. If he manages to keep them all up on Saturday you can expect his win chances to creep up.
As is always the case in an ERM field, after the top two or three favourites, we have a very strong chasing pack. Heading into Millstreet we have 5 combinations with between an 8-9% chance of winning. These include the returning Horseware Stellar Rebound with Sarah Ennis, the ERM stalwarts Bill Levitt and Shannondale Titan, and the prediction centre’s second favourites when they visited Jardy, Emily King and Brookleigh. Together this group comprises 41% of our total win market, so you shouldn’t be at all surprised if the eventual winner does come from this pack. In fact, we have it as slightly more likely that the eventual winner will be one of these five (41%) rather than one of our three favourites (37%).
When we look below the chasing pack, what begins to stand out are the combinations that Prediction Centre seems to be too down on. Combinations like Tom McEwen - Figaro Van Het Broekxhof, have only been outside the top 5 once in their last 7 international completions, yet the prediction centre only gives them a 7% chance of making the podium at Millstreet. Their last three dressage tests have been in the thirties and the model is reading that as too big a gap too pull back. Gireg Le Coz and Aisprit De La Loge are back. The winners of the latest ERM Leg are given <1% chance of repeating the feat, and only a 25% of making it into the top 10. Chris Burton is the final name to mention. Dressage tests have varied but 21.9 at Badminton in the recent past shows they can score low. They will likely knock a pole but a tough time would bring them right back into play. It will be interesting to see if these combinations will outperform our models predictions this weekend.
One of my favourite things to do when looking across a Prediction Centre field is looking for combinations with a large discrepancy between their win chances and their top 10 chances. These tend to be combinations with a very influential single phase, which can be either very strong, or very weak. These might be extremely reliable combinations that you would expect to see rise up the rankings over the weekend, or perhaps someone who is hit or miss in the show jumping, and might leap into contention if they can manage to keep the poles up. Combinations that jump out to me in Millstreet are Christopher Burton and Graf Liberty. While their 6RA of 27.7 and their high likelihood of knocking a pole has them as our 5th favourite to finish on top, their speed and reliability cross country has them our most likely combination to stay in the top 10, at 58%. If they can manage a clean first two phases they could well be our biggest mover on the final day. Another combination to keep an eye on are Emily King and Brookleigh. While they are our 4th favourites to win thanks in large part to their 6RA of 26.5, they only returned to competition in late 2018 after, and have only finished two of five internationals since then (withdrawing in the other three). They are only our 10th favourite to make it into the top 10 (47%), and a steady result at Millstreet would go a long way to confirming their comeback to the top level of the sport. The final combination I’d highlight are Daniel Alderson and TS Jamaimo. Even though their 6RA of 39.1 say’s they will likely need a serious PB to break onto the podium (<1% chance ) they are among the fastest and most reliable jumping horses in the field, and have a real chance (24%) of moving up the leader-board over the two jumping phases to break into the top 10.
As usual, the ERM is bringing a very exciting group of competitors to Millstreet this weekend. In its penultimate event, series points are now more valuable than ever, and of course there is a lot on offer for just winning the Leg. Follow along and check in with Eventing Prediction Centre throughout the weekend to see how the competition is playing out.
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