When #ERHOTY17 voting starts today (with head-2-head polls on our Facebook page!) which criteria will you use to cast your vote? Some will vote for their sentimental favorite, while others will automatically default to the winners of the year’s biggest events. If you’re looking at a horse that made the most impressive gains on paper this year, look no further than Bulana. We have talked a lot about Top Improvers in the 2017 season, and this mare’s numbers speak for themselves.
In comparing her 2017 and 2016 seasons, Bulana improved her dressage average by 7.3 penalties, with the three best dressage scores of her entire international career all occurring in her final three events of the year. She also significantly improved her performance in show jumping, dropping her average penalties from 4.6 in 2016 to 1.5 in 2017, and she didn’t knock a pole all season. She also tightened her average finishing score to 49.6 in 2017, a 13 penalty improvement from 2016. Her top five strike rate skyrocketed from 42.9% in 2016 to 75% in 2017.
Though ‘Berry’ competed only four times at international level in 2017, three of them were unforgettable performances. She shook off a cross country blip at her first international run of the season at Burnham Market and bounced back in a big way at Chatsworth with her first ever dressage score in the 30s. Adding 2.8 cross country time penalties to her dressage score of 39.9 saw Bulana finish 4th.
She then improved her dressage even further at each subsequent outing. A score of 38.7 at Luhmühlen in her four-star debut placed Bulana 4th after dressage. She played with the cross country to move up to 3rd. While 3 time penalties in show jumping ultimately cost her the win by 0.6 penalties to Julia Krajewski and Samourai du Thot, Bulana’s 2nd place finish in her first CCI4* landed her a spot on the British team for the European Championships.
Bulana once again rose to the occasion at Strzegom, scoring a career personal best of 35.1 to sit in 7th after dressage. Only four combinations made the time on the most difficult Europeans cross country course we have seen since Pratoni in 2007, and Bulana added just one second over the optimum time to move up to 4th place overnight. While rails tumbled down on the final day, Bulana once again jumped a clear round under pressure to secure individual bronze on a career personal best finishing score of 35.5 and boost the British team to gold. What a star!
Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.