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COURSE ANALYSIS: Grand Prix Semi-Finals

Julie Daniels reports on how the course is running.

The course has played out exactly as we predicted on paper (for one thing, the crews have done a beautiful job throughout the weekend of building courses true to the design on paper!).  As expected, the opening turn to the see-saw and 180 degree turn to the dogwalk have played pretty smoothly.

The long line from #6 dogwalk to #10 tunnel is not difficult but must be run by the handler from the back of the ring to the front in order to send from the #9 weaves through the big box to the #10 tunnel.  It is not proving to be a problem, but it is an effort.  The line from the #10 tunnel over the double to the #12 tunnel under the A-frame is straightforward.  Most handlers are front crossing at the tunnel exit the sending the dogs on the right around the semicircle of jumps #13, #14, and #15.

The most interesting challenge on this course presents a wrap around jump #16, back to the A-frame.  The dogs run from #14 to #16 looking to continue that line over the off-course trap at jump #4.  The handlers must cue the dogs early enough to alert them to an upcoming change of direction to avoid a misunderstanding on the landing side of #16.  Some handlers have executed elegant back crosses at #16 to wrap the dogs effortlessly without so much as a glance at the trap jump.  The tightest line back to the A-frame is won by putting the rear cross close to the #16 jump.  A looser cross (change of side further back, closer to the landing off the #15 jump) understandably sends the dog wide or simply miscues the dog.  There is a bit of safe space there as long as the dog turns right, so some handlers have been able to redirect to the A-frame with a wide turn.  But the fastest times have been posted by dogs who knew where they are going earlier!

Off the A-frame is a 60' send over the tire, triple, and winged jump at #20.  Handlers are working this line from either side, but the tightest lines are being turned in by those who have trained good independent contacts.  This is because the line plays better with dog on the left, but there is the handler restriction on that side formed by the #12 tunnel entrance. 

So some are choosing to work the other side, which has typically required a rear cross at the #19 triple jump.  The handlers are feeling the length of this big course.  It uses the whole ring, 100 x 120 feet, and even the athletic handlers are coming out of the ring catching their breath!  A very fun and exciting course to watch.

Watch the complete course analysis here!


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