Global Dressage Festival 5* Finale Logs Record Western Hemisphere 113 CDI Entries

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The Global Dressage Festival grounds. © Ken Brsddick/dressage-news.com
The Global Dressage Festival grounds. © Ken Brsddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 18, 2014–The Adequan Global Dressage Festival finale has attracted 113 entries in the CDI3*/CDI5* next week that is a record in the Western Hemisphere and reflects explosive growth in the three years since the winter circuit was created.

In the three years since GDF was founded, CDI entries in 2014 increased 120 per cent over 2013  and almost 200 per cent over the founding year of 2012.

Wrapping up 12 weeks of national and international competitions including seven CDIs with total prize money of $530,000, the finale event presented by Diamante Farm lists 22 entries in the CDI5* Grand Prix, 18 in the 3* Grand Prix, 38 at Prix St. Georges, six in Under-25, 11 in Young Rider, 12 Juniors and two in the pony division as well as four in young horse classes. Prize money for the season finale totals $174,500.

Two other CDIs on this year’s winter circuit have each logged more than 80 horses and riders.

“We are very pleased that by organizing a comprehensive schedule of CDIs and national shows we have been able to create the significant growth,” said Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes GDF. He praised Thomas Baur, the German show organizer in his first year as sports director; Lloyd Landkamer, show manager, and his staff, and Jimmy Mandela, the facilities manager.

The GDF show grounds are ranked among the best in the world and the circuit has been a major factor in spurring growth in the sport throughout the Americas with its Nations Cup and lineup of big prize money CDIs.

The California winter and spring circuit this year began a major overhaul of faciities and presentation that has won widespread praise.

Wellington’s GDF circuit was formed with the multimillion dollar construction of the dressage facility at the Beach Internatonal Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex.

The 12 weeks of shows that end with the CDI5* on Sunday, Mar. 30, has drawn riders from almost 30 countries and all regions of the world–Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America and South America.

The GDF was held simultaneously with the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival which saw its jumping Grand Prix routinely exceed 100 entries including numerous Olympic and world championship medalists from around the globe.

At the opening of the GDF this year, Mark Bellissimo, chief executive of the group that owns the Palm Beach show grounds, said he expected dressage to grow 30 per cent this year.

Instead, the growth was in triple digits at the dressage grounds with three competition and three warmup arenas with world quality footing, 200 permanent stables and a covered arena capable of holding more than three full size dressage rings. The VIP pavilion was sold out.

In the GDF inaugural year, 2012, the five CDIs received total entries of 154, an average of almost 31 per competition.

The total jumped 34 per cent to a total of 207 with an average of more than 41 horses in five CDIs in 2013.

This year, an increase to seven CDIs received a total of 458 entries, up 120 per cent, for an average of more than 65 horses per CDI.