Area Festival Championship 2017 Competitors to Watch & Qualifying Score Analysis

I have analysed the published results of the Area Festivals held in 2016 and the wildcard qualifiers announced by British Dressage (1st Feb 2017, 15th Feb 2017 and 6th Mar 2017) to produce the following charts and statistics:

Note: I produced an earlier report shortly after the Area Festivals in 2016 based only on the automatic qualification scores: Area Festivals 2016: Review Scores & Silver Sections.

Competitors to Watch

The following list of competitors to watch are competitors whose scores at the Area Festivals indicate that they may be in the Top 3 of their class at the Championships. However, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance and this is especially true with horses so this is only a guide.

Inter 1 – Silver
Alicia LaughtonArmanda Dante
Melanie PhillipsRuxton Bridget-Jones
Debbie PoynterKeystone For Real
PSG – Silver
Rachael ClarkWilhemina II
Samantha FishCumeragh House Mac
Ida De FouwWillem Van Oranje
Catrina LeckieAdventure
Debbie PoynterKeystone For Real
Rachael Clark and Wilhemina II are strong favourites for this class with a high qualification score.
Advanced Medium – Silver
Jessica Jayne BennettJB Dukaat
Josie KentSerious Black
Vikki PengillyZion E
Vikki Pengilly and Zion E are strong favourites for this class with a high qualification score.
Medium – Silver
Emily HedgerCadalma
Sharon LindopSpielbanker
Elaine WormwellDon Jaun wildcard
Elementary – Silver
Penny BrooksDeluca
Nicky JenningsNoble Savage
Vikki PengillyZous
Novice – Silver
Alicia LaughtonArmada Donna Bella
Kirsty SpencerLyme Park Riggeletto
Abbie NewburyArmada floriana
Danielle BalsdonLord Lennox
Samantha JimmisonBillionaire z
This will be a very competitive class with lots of high scores achieved in the Area Festivals.
Advanced Medium – Bronze
Denise FryerDelaney wildcard
Alastair GibbsWilfret
Alison JendonUnder Discussion
Zoe JonesBacardi V
Jane LittlejohnUrban Knight
Amanda LeakerDon Rico
Another competitive class with lots of high scores achieved in the Area Festivals.
Medium – Bronze
Charlotte CurrerMidnight Illusion
Anna SlosmanisCezare II
Jodie SmithCinja wildcard
Charlotte Currer and Midnight Illusion are strong favourites for this class with a high qualification score.
Elementary – Bronze
Rachel FrenchStormhill Comrade
Eli LovellSheepcote Dream Lover
Morgan McCartneyKiento WH II
Novice – Bronze
Kendal BowDpuk Blue Moon
Victoria GreggRock Supreme
Tessa HalsallTresaison Hallmark
Tessa Halsall and Tresaison Hallmark are strong favourites for this class with high qualification scores.
Prelim – Bronze
Holly ClarkeNewoak Truffle
Emilia NelsonWaxwing Archimedes
Penny GraepelBe Smart
These three competitors are all strong favourites for this class with a high qualification scores.

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Will wildcard competitors be competitive at the Championship?

In the above list of competitors to watch there are three competitors that qualified for the Area Festival Championship with a wildcard. In other words competitors who qualified with a wildcard and based on their qualifying score have a chance of winning the class. This is interesting so I decided to investigate wildcard competitors qualifying scores in more detail.

There were 17 Area Festivals in 2016 and some venues have lots of competitors in each class whilst other venues are very small and only have a few competitors in each class which means that the top placed scores vary significantly. This means that the automatically qualified competitors have qualification scores that vary significantly. For comparison, there are only 8 Regionals so while there is still a variation in qualifying scores the variation is not as big as in the 17 Area Festivals.

The following graph shows the distribution of qualification scores across all classes (Prelim to Inter 1 and Bronze and Silver) broken down into automatic and wildcard qualifiers.

Area Festivals 2016 Distribution of Automatic and Wildcard Scores

The chart shows that there are some high wildcard qualifying scores and these competitors will be competitive at the Championship. So, if you have qualified with a wildcard you are most definitely not just making up the numbers – you really do stand a very good chance of getting a very good result and a rosette at the Area Festival Championship.

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How many competitors have qualified in each class?

The chart below shows the number of competitors that have automatically qualified and the number of competitors that have been awarded a wildcards in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wildcards announcements. However, the competitors that have not entered or have withdrawn from the Championship is not published so there will be less competitors that enter the class at the Championships.

Area Festivals 2016 Qualifiers by Class

The chart clearly shows that the Prelim, Novice and Elementary classes are approximately twice as big as the more advanced classes. This is because each of the Prelim, Novice and Elementary classes have two rounds at the Championship. The highest scores from the first round in the morning qualify for the second round in the afternoon where the same test is performed but with different judges.

Note: The 2017 Area Festival competition structure has changed and this is the last Area Festival Championship that will have two rounds at these levels.

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Which Area Festivals qualified the most competitors?

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Area Festivals 2016 Starters and Qualifiers by Venue

The graph shows the Area Festivals with the most northerly venues on the left to the most southerly venues on the right. The number of starters (a competitor who enters the arena at A) at the Area Festivals is shown in the wide bar and is plotted against the axis on the left. The automatic and wildcard qualifiers are the narrow bars inside the wide bar and are plotted against the axis on the right.

Since automatic qualification is based on the 1 in X where X is the number of starters the graph shows that the number of starters and the number of automatic qualifiers are directly related – the more starters there are the more automatic qualifiers there are.

However, the number of wildcards at each venue varies significantly from the number of starters. For example, Moreton Morrell and Pencoed have roughly the same number of starters but Pencoed was awarded a lot more wildcards. This does not mean that for some reason British Dressage have decided to allocate more wildcards to Pencoed. My analysis confirms that it is simply down to the fact that there were more high scores that did not automatically qualify at Pencoed.

The wildcard allocation process is:

  • Competitors scores from all venues are sorted into score order
  • Wildcards are allocated to competitors with the next highest qualifying score that has not already qualified either automatically or with a wildcard for a score at another Area Festival
  • Wildcards are allocated until the class has the required number of competitors

In other words the competitors score is the only thing that is taken into account when allocating wildcards – the venue or other factors do not have any influence on the wildcard allocation. The variation in the number of wildcards at each venue is simply down to the statistical variation in the scores for each class at each venue. So some venues get more wildcards than others and this is down to the statistical distribution of scores at each venue and absolutely not any preference to allocate wildcards to any specific venue.

It is obviously not normally possible to compare dressage scores from different judges. However, Area Festivals always have 3 judges for each test. The use of 3 judges will “average out” the difference in the scoring between judges so that it is realistic to compare the scores achieved at different venues. The Regional Championship use the same system of 3 judges and method of allocating wildcards.

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Average Qualifying Scores compared to Regionals

The chart shows the average of all qualifying scores (automatic and wildcard) from Novice to Advanced Medium at the 2016 Area Festivals and the 2017 Winter Regionals. I have excluded Freestyle results from the Winter Regionals because there are no Freestyle classes at the Area Festivals and Freestyle marks are typically higher than normal tests and would therefore distort the averages. I have excluded Prelim because there is only Bronze at Area Festivals and only Silver at Regionals whereas Novice to Advanced Medium have Bronze & Silver at the Area Festivals and Silver and Gold at the Regionals. For similar reasons I have not included levels above Advanced Medium.

Average scores at Area Festivals 2016 compared with Winter Regionals 2017

The chart shows that as expected the Gold section at the 2017 Winter Regionals has the highest average score while the Bronze section at the Area Festivals has the lowest average score. This is obviously as expected with the Gold section including professionals and Olympic champions!

There was a lot of discussion about the Silver sections as defined by the 2016 Rule Book. I have read concerns on Facebook that the scores in the Silver section at the Area Festivals were as high as the Silver sections at the Regionals. This chart shows that there is a clear difference between the Silver sections at the Regionals and the Silver sections at the Area Festivals. In actual fact the Regionals achieve an average qualifying score about 1.3% higher than the Area Festivals. There were fundamental problems with the 2016 eligibility rules that were widely discussed on Facebook, this website and even in Horse & Hound but these problems are not visible when looking at average qualifying scores.

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What are the scores in each class?

Area Festivals 2016 Minimum, Maximum and Average Qualifying Scores by Test
Minimum Maximum Average Qualifying Scores for each Test

The chart shows that in general the scores decrease as you go up the levels which is as expected. Looking at the classes which do not follow this trend:

  • Medium Bronze: A very strong class at Houghton Hall where the top 5 competitors scored over 70% impacted the maximum and average scores over all of the Area Festivals in the chart.
  • Elementary Silver: The minimum score was significantly lower than other Silver classes. If you look at the chart which shows the number of Automatic and Wildcard qualifiers for each class then it is clear that Elementary Silver has the highest number of qualifiers than any other class. I suspect that there have been a lot of competitors who have not entered or who have withdrawn so British Dressage have had to allocate a lot of wildcards to fill the class. The more wildcards are allocated the lower the qualifying score of the wildcard competitors which is shown with the very low minimum qualifying score in this chart.
  • Inter 1 Silver: has a relatively high minimum qualifying score. I believe that this is because it is the smallest class at the Area Festival Championship with very few wildcards allocated so the minimum qualifying score is relatively high.

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Minimum Score for Championship Qualification

The 2017 Rule book rule 58 (a) includes a minimum score of 63% to qualify for the Championship. However, I believe that the 2017 Rule Book does not apply to the 2017 Area Festival Championship because qualification for the Championship was at the Area Festivals was in 2016 under the 2016 Rule Book. The 2016 Rule Book does not include a minimum % to qualify for the Championship.

Obviously if this assumption is wrong it will have an impact on the above charts and other statistics.

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