California Loses World Cup Dressage Qualifiers in Tough Economy, WEG in Lexington to be Focus for 2010

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Will there be enough World Cup shows on West for Steffen Peters & Ravel to defend their title. © 2009 Ken Braddick
Will there be enough World Cup shows in California for Steffen Peters & Ravel to defend their title in 2010. © 2009 Ken Braddick

LEXINGTON, Ky., May. 1–Two FEI World Cup dressage qualifiers in California on this year’s calendar have been canceled in the midst of a tough economy that may leave the West Coast with only a single World Cup competition available for qualifying for the next year’s annual global championship.

The two 2009 CDI-W divisions no longer on the calendar are Pebble Beach scheduled for July 3-5–the open show will still be held–and the Del Mar Classic that was scheduled for Nov. 6-8 but the show has been canceled completely. Dressage Affaire at Del Mar in mid-March loses its World Cup status when the Final is in Europe, as it will be in 2010 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

The cancellations were contained on the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s 2009 Updated CDI Calendar which was to be posted to the USEF Internet site Friday.

The U.S. East Coast has several World Cup shows for the 2010 Final, including Raleigh, N.C., May 29-31, Saugerties, N.Y., Sept. 9-13, Devon, Penn. Sept. 22-27, and three in Palm Beach, Florida early next year, plus Canadian CDI-Ws. The U.S. and Canada are now included in a single North American League, requiring qualifying scores from three World Cup shows to fill two places allocated in the Final. Steffen Peters and Ravel of the U.S. and Ashley Holzer and Pop Art of Canada qualified for the 2009 Las Vegas Final.

Some of the top riders on the West Coast have indicated in informal polling that their top priority in 2010 will be to compete for a place on Team USA at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky. Regular CDIs, of which several are scheduled throughout the U.S. over the next year, are used by the U.S. Equestrian Federation as Grand Prix qualifying competitions.

Southern California in particular has long been an area producing some of the top U.S. riders, including newly crowned World Cup champion Steffen Peters and Olympic and WEG medalists Guenter Seidel, Debbie McDonald and Sue Blinks.

A West Coast task force is planning more detailed polling to determine how many riders want to pursue a place in the World Cup Final. North American horse/rider combinations who might consider both the World Cup and WEG would have to meet qualifying requirements for the World Cup and, if successful, travel to Europe for the Final, and return to the U.S. for WEG qualifying, an onerous schedule for dressage horses not accustomed to transatlantic travel.

Connie Davenport, manager of the Pebble Beach show, said the CDI-W portion of the 2009 show was canceled for “economic reasons.” The entire event will not be held in 2010 because the U.S. Open Golf Tournament is scheduled for Pebble Beach a few weeks before the time the dressage show would have been scheduled.

Kim Keenan, whose Keenan Productions and Events stages the Del Mar Classic, said that fires in California in 2007 and the downturn in the economy in 2008 impacted entries at both the CDI and open divisions of the show and the prospects for 2009 were not high. Southern California, she said, produced high quality entries in the CDI division, but not the high numbers of 40 to 50 entries that are not uncommon during Florida’s winter circuit.

Glenda McElroy. Photo: Ken Braddick
Glenda McElroy. Photo: Ken Braddick

Glenda McElroy, one of the nation’s foremost dressage show organizers and who has been manager of Olympic qualifiers and the Las Vegas World Cup Finals, is planning to host a World Cup class at Burbank in 2010, which at this stage would be the sole qualifier on the U.S. West Coast.

She said, though, that an informal poll of riders indicated that the main focus of riders was the WEG in Lexington in 2010.

Glenda said she is scheduling two CDIs at Burbank in February and March, and planning a third–a new CDI–at Woodside near San Francisco in May.

If riders want to pursue a spot in the World Cup Final, she said, she is confident qualifying classes will be available on the West Coast.