First Ever Spectator Judging at World Cup Freestyle in Omaha

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Daniel Göhlen of Black Horse One, the software company that partnered with SAP to provide spectator judging apps that are spreading around the world. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

OMAHA, Nebraska, Mar. 29, 2017–Spectator judging will be available at the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle on Saturday for the first time at the annual global championship and fans will be able to see how their scores compare with the panel of seven judges.

While the scores from spectators will not count in the results, a predominantly American audience could give the popular vote to hometown favorite Laura Graves on Verdades over foreign riders irrespective of the quality of performances. The spectator judging results will be displayed on the scoreboard in the arena.

Spectator judging has given fans a sense of engagement with the rapid spread of the smartphone app. leading up to its use at a World Cup Final.

Since its introduction at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in 2014 it has spread to numerous shows in Europe, including all World Cup qualifiers, as well as at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida this year. Its first championship use was at the World Young Horse event in Ermelo, Netherlands last September.

Spectator judging was available on three continents at the same time this winter–Wellington, Florida; Doha, Qatar and Dortmund, Germany. The Sydney CDI April 27-29 will be the first to use the system in Australia.

As a championship, the World Cup has a panel of seven judges, two more than the regular five-member ground jury.

Most judges have expressed support of spectator judging and some have even joked about any significant differences between the results assigned by spectators and the ground jury.

Scoreboard at the London World Cup event in Olympia comparing official results from the panel of five judges and the spectator judging. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The program for Omaha was a creation of Daniel Göhlen and his Black Horse One software team of Munich, Germany and the German-American software giant SAP.

Daniel Göhlen at Frankfurt Festhallen CDI4* where his spectator judging program was implemented. 

Under a partnership deal between the two companies,  the SAP Audience Judging app used in Aachen and some other shows has been discontinued and the Black Horse’s Spectator Judging will be the base of a combined solution.

“Spectator Judging will benefit from SAP technology and their experience,” Daniel told dressage-news.com. “Being powered by SAP technology enables us to include more real time features and explore amazing new features.”

Among the new features being worked on include an update in which the app will automatically select the next rider to enter the arena and show a timer countdown.

Expanding the application to include vaulting, driving and para-dressage is being explored.

A slimmed down stand-alone version has also been created with hippo data, a major German timing and results service that was successfully operated at two shows.