Global Dressage Festival Moves Closer to Year-Round Schedule

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center's Stadium complex that hosts the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equstrian Festival grass derby field events. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex that hosts the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equstrian Festival grass derby field events. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 11–The Global Dressage Festival moved closer to a year-round schedule after a key committee on Wednesday night gave unanimous approval to expanded facilities and easier traffic access more than two years after a wealthy family funded election of a local government opposed to the dressage show.

The recommendation by Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee now goes to a zoning body and then for final approval by the full five-member council of the Village of Wellington, probably in about one month.

If the plan is approved it would end a political nightmare ihat severely restricted access to the show grounds and, at one point, led to horses being forced out of newly built permanent stalls for a temporary tent with no water or electricity.

This coming winter’s Global Dressage Festival of six CDIs from January through March is not affected by the vote by the Equestrian Preserve Committee as a so-called special use permit already allows competitions to be held from Nov. 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014.

The Global Dressage Festival was opened two years ago with six permanent competition arenas, 200 permanent stalls and a covered arena capable of easily accommodating three full size dressage rings and shares 59 acres (24 Ha) with a world class grass derby jumping and hunter field.

The proposal approved Wednesday includes a third permanent stable building of about 100 stalls to increase total accommodation to almost 300 horses plus tempoary tent stalls, a VIP pavilion and expanded spectator seating that the organizers said was designed to prepare for future growth.

A major road expansion to ease potential traffic problems was also part of the package and included creating a second access to the GDF grounds.

The price of approval was shelving plans for a condominium hotel and an equestrian-centric retail plaza on what used to be the prime Palm Beach Polo Club grounds in Wellington but had not been used for several years.

The GDF grounds are part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that also hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival, 12 weeks of jumper and hunter competition that has become the world’s foremost winter equestrian destination.

Beginning with the 2014 circuit, the dressage and jumper circuits have been dovetailed to begin and end at the same time. The dressage calendar includes three World Cup events, a CDI4*, a CDIO3* Nations Cup that will create a template for the 2015 Pan American Games and a CDI5* with total prize money of about $300,000 (€225,000).

Among the highlights will be scheduling the dressage Nations Cup about the same time as the jumping Nations Cup in mid-February and the dressage and jumping 5* events on successive nights as a grand finale for GDF and WEF.

The 2014 Palm Beach, Florida CDI schedule (subject to approval by the International Equestrian Federatio):

Jan. 9-12 – CDI-W World Cup – GDF
Jan. 22-26 – CDI-W – GDF
Feb. 6- 9 – CDI4* – GDF
Feb. 19-24 – CDIO3* Nations Cup
Feb. 27- Mar. 2 – Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W – Loxahatchee
Mar. 13 -16 – CDI-W – GDF
Mar. 27-30 – CDI5* – GDF