World Dressage Masters Palm Beach Competition Starts Thursday

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Covered arena at the Jim Brandon Center that is being transformed for the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Mar. 7–Early arriving Europeans were lightly training their horses Monday in preparation for the €100,000 (US$140,000) World Dressage Masters Palm Beach, while crews were working to transform the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center into a luxury VIP venue.

Tiered platforms beside the two long sides of the covered competition arena were being installed to seat spectators paying up to $4,000 (€2,860) for a table of eight for the only CDI5* in the Western hemisphere in which up to 20 riders from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Italy will compete.

General admission is limited to 80 spectators at $80 (€57) per ticket.

The official description of what table buyers can expect at the freestyle:

“A five-course Southern France-inspired dinner from International Polo Club Catering, accompanied by wine pairings from the most renowned wine regions of France, will be served at ringside tables. The Jim Brandon Center, elaborately decorated, will transport participants and spectators to the elegance of Provence.”

Fiber has been mixed with existing footing in both the covered competition and outdoor warm-up arenas to address concerns about the riding surfaces. Rain and too much sprayed water forced closure of the warm-up arena to disrupt two World Cup qualifying events at the facility in recent weeks.

The forecast for Thursday is for a chance of isolated thunderstorms.

Among the competitors are the USA’s Steffen Peters and Ravel, double bronze medalists from the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky; Ashley Holzer, a three-time Olympian for Canada on her Beijing Games mount, Pop Art; Sweden’s five-time Olympian Tinne Silfvén, and her WEG mount, Favourit, and the Danish Olympic bronze medalist Anne Van Olst and Exquis Clearwater. These riders have competed at WDM events in the U.S. or Europe. The top two finishing riders from the Wellington Dressage Classic Challenge II CDI3* Grand Prix that is being held concurrently with WDM will also be invited to compete.

WDM presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach starts at 1 p.m. Thursday with the Grand Prix, with the Grand Prix Special at 1 p.m. Friday and the top eight combinations in the Grand Prix Freestyle at 6 p.m. Friday.

Hans Peter Minderhoud, Dutch Olympic silver medalist and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games gold medal team member, will kick off Friday evening activities with a MasterClass horse training presentation.

The list of competitors:

Steffen Peters (USA) – Ravel
Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven (SWE) – Favourit
Ashley Holzer (CAN) – Pop Art
Tina Konyot (USA) – Calecto V
Michal Rapcewicz (POL) – Randon
Valentina Truppa (ITA) – Chablis
Anja Ploenzke (GER) – Le Mont d’Or
Christa Laarakkers (NED) – Ovation
Anne Van Olst (DEN) – Exquis Clearwater
Todd Fletrich (USA) – Otto
Pierre St Jacques (USA) – Lucky Tiger
Jacqueline Brooks (CAN) Gran Gesto
Shannon Dueck (CAN) – Ayscha
Shawna Harding (USA) – Come On III
Elisabeth Austin (USA) – Olivier

Plus, the first and second placed combinations from the CDI3* Grand Prix test at the Wellington Classic Challenge II