At Least $275,000 In Prize Money for New Palm Beach Dressage Circuit

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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Nov. 25–The inaugural Global Dressage Festival is offering more than $275,000 (€203,000) for five international competitions over two months of winter, making it one of the richest circuits in the world.

Five CDIs–two World Cup qualifiers, a CDI3*, a CDI5* and a CDIO Nations Cup–will be held from mid-February to mid-April at a new multimillion dollar complex dedicated to dressage that is part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, home of the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) that created the new Global Dressage Festival disclosed the prize money details Friday.

In addition to the CDIs and complementary national compeititions, five separate national shows will be held at the new venue. The facility is under construction to include four outdoor arenas with world class footing, a covered arena and 200 permanent stables to be ready for the start of the winter cicuit in late January.

With at least another $132,000 (€100,000) from competitions organized at other venues in the Wellington area, the 11 CDIs from mid-January to mid-April would be the richest dressage circuit in the world.

The breakdown of GDF prize money:

Feb. 2-5 – CDI-W – $50,000
Feb. 16-19 – CDI-W – $50,000
Mar. 15-18 – CDI3* – $15,000
Mar. 29-Apr. 1 – CDI5* – $125,000
Apr. 11-15 – CDIO3* – $35,000

Each of the CDIs will also offer national competitions simultaneously. Five additional standalone U.S. national competitions will be staged.

The GDF takes up more than 50 acres (20Ha) of the former Palm Beach Polo Grounds. A grass jumper derby field takes upanother section of the facility that is a few hundred yards/meters from the main PBIEC grounds with its 12 competition arenas accommodating about 2,500 horses from around the world each week of WEF. WEF is the world’s longest running horse show at 12 weeks of hunter-jumper competition with $6 million in prizemoney.

Future improvements at the former Palm Beach Polo Grounds include permanent covered spectator seating for the central outdoor arena, a permanent VIP pavilion and another 200 permanent stalls making a total of 400 stables.

The permanent barns and the covered arena have been prefabriacted off site and will be shipped to the new venue ready to construct Lego-like. Foundation work began earlier this week.

“Our mission is to create for dressage what we have achieved for jumpers and hunters,” ESP Chief Executive Mark Bellissimo said.

“That means the best facilities in the world dedicated to dressage, the highest prize money and a lifestyle attractive to riders, owners and fans from around the world. But we are doing it with a focus on the needs and desires of the dressage community for a circuit that sets a standard for the Americas, in addition to superb footing, top-notch stabling and hospitality. A competition facility of this quality with a full range of hospitality and shopping amenities may also be attractive to riders in other disciplines who prefer the elegance of dressage.”

He said GDF is designed to complement other equestrian competitions in Wellington by expanding the number of participants and fans and scheduling classes to dovetail with other horse events. “We plan to hold the dressage Grand Prix Musical Freestyle on Friday or Sunday,” he said, “so as to allow both competitors and spectators to also enjoy the week’s main jumping event on Saturday nights and polo on Sundays.”

The U.S. has formally expressed interest in hosting the 2018 World Equestrian Games at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, one of eight national federations to start the process of vying for the showcase of international horse sports held once every four years.