Central Park Horse Show Cancels Dressage After Carl Hester, Isabell Werth Pull Out

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A highlight of the Central Park horse show, adoring fans of Valegro at a farewell appearance in New York, an up-close and personal celebration of the multiple Olympic gold medal partnership. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

NEW YORK, SEPT. 2, 2017–Dressage at this year’s Central Park Horse Show in New York City was canceled Saturday after Carl Hester and Isabell Werth withdrew following the European Championships, ending what would have been the fourth year of one of the world’s prime showcases for the sport.

The show scheduled for Sept. 20-24 in the Wollman ice skating rink, featured in several Hollywood blockbuster movies with a background of the Manhattan skyline of towering skyscrapers, will go on with $50,000 arena eventing replacing dressage and alongside jumper and hunter events offering total prize money of $340,000.

Organizers of the iconic event, Equestrian Sport Productions headed up by Mark Bellissimo who also is staging next year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and operates Wellington, Florida dressage and jumping circuits, alreaady stopped selling tickets for the CDI4* and will provide refunds beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5 for those who had already bought them.

Isabell Werth was slated to compete in 2017 and commented, “I am so sad that this one-of-a-kind show will not take place this year for dressage.”

Isabell that with Weihegold  OLD is ranked No. 1 in the world, said: “It is very unfortunate that I am unable to bring Don Johnson due to the travel and quarantine situation. I am still hopeful that this very special event will continue in the future.”

Laura Graves and Verdades, the top American combination that beat Isabell and Weihegold at the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* Grand Prix Special in Aachen, Germany on Laura’s 30th birthday last month were also scheduled to compete.

Laura of Geneva, Florida rode Verdades this week for the first time since returning from Europe in preparation for Central Park as she was looking forward to earning world ranking points and also the “stiff competition.” Now, she said she will let Verdades, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding, “enjoy the fall” ahead of next year’s Adequan Global Dressage Festival in winter and the Tryon WEG.

Ranked No. 2 in the world behind Isabell, Laura and Verdades produced top results this year including reserve champion at the Omaha World Cup Final. Verdades will be 16 years old in 2018 when the World Equstrian Games will be staged at Tryon, North Carolina but Laura has followed a carefully selected schedule to insure a sound horse happy to perform at the highest levels.

Her top scores in all three Grand Prix classes have occurred this year: Omaha World Cup freestyle 85.307 per cent in March; Aachen CDIO5* Special 81.824 per cent in July, and Wellington, Florida Grand Prix 80.240 per cent in February.

Laura Graves being honored in the main stadium at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen after winning the CDIO5* Grand Prix Special. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The horse show was the first for Central Park when it was staged in 2014 after Donald Trump, before his election as president, agreed to lease the rink if the organizers could get approval of New York City.

They succeeded in getting that approval and Isabell Werth on El Santo NRW competed, Steffem Peters performed an exhibition with Ravel and Jan Ebeling retired his 2012 Olympic celebrity mount Rafalca. The following year, Ireland’s Judy Reynolds on Vancouver K were the stars.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro provided a memorable moment when the horse was led into a crowd of adoring fans following a night time performance a month after the duo’s second Olympic individual gold medal in 2016.

Ticket holders for both dressage events on Friday, Sept. 22, and Saturday, Sept. 23, will be refunded in full for their purchase or may use a credit to secure event tickets for another evening. Refunds for the tickets will be processed within three to five business days to the form of payment used for the ticket transaction.