Steffen Peters Seeking New US Venue for Canceled World Dressage Masters
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The World Dressage Masters management announced Thursday it has enlisted Steffen Peters and Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Ravel, in efforts to find a new United States’ venue for the €100,000 (US$132,000) event that was canceled for 2011 by the Palm Beach organizers.
“We were very surprised by this news,” said Anthony M. Kies, chief executive officer of WDM management in a statement from Oisterwijk, Netherlands reacting to the announcement by Equestrian Sport Productions that owns and manages the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that hosted WDM in 2009 and 2010.
“First of all because WDM has a running contract with ESP and secondly because several top North American and European riders had already confirmed to travel to Florida to compete in the WDM.”
WDM regrets, the statement said, that ESP informed the media without consulting WDM which “has resulted in a situation where the U.S. dressage community is left with many questions about the future of WDM in the U.S.”
Michael Stone, president of ESP, said that the organization notified WDM on Tuesday, Nov. 30, the day before issuing a news release and after ESP announced the highlight events of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival beginning in mid-January that did not include WDM.
Among the top Europeans to compete in at least one of the first two WDM events at Palm Beach were Anky van Grunsven, Isabell Werth, Edward Gal, Hans Peter Minderhoud, Ulla Salzgeber and Anne van Olst. No European combinations in the top 10 of the FEI World Rankings committed to the 2011 event.
Anthony Kies, whose Exquis is the prime sponsor of the WDM series along with Moorlands that owned the superstar stallion Totilas through the WEG in Kentucky, said that Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Ravel, and WEG double bronze medalist Steffen Peters “are determined to secure WDM for the North American riders and public and have gladly offered their help in finding a good place to stage WDM.”
Steffen confirmed to dressage-news.com that he and Akiko are actively searching for a new venue for WDM.
“I think it is such a great opportunity for dressage in the USA,” he said. “If we lose the interest of the European show organizers there is no way we’ll get the European riders to compete in the U.S.
“WDM has so much to offer. Besides the amazing international atmosphere, the owners of the horses have a chance to make a little return on their investment.”
Evi Strasser, a Canadian rider and International Dressage Riders Club board member, said: “We cannot afford to lose this great competition and definitely need to go the extra mile to keep it here.”
WDM will stage a news conference on Dec. 28 during the World Cup show in Mechelen, Belgium, to present the 2011 WDM calendar, a new media partnership and a new partner.
In 2010, aside from Palm Beach, WDM events each with €100,000 in prize money were held in Munich, Germany; Cannes, France; Falsterbo, Sweden and Hickstead, England. Current sponsors are Exquis, Moorland Stables and Moorland Investments of the Netherlands, Nürnberger Versicherungsgruppe of Germany, Axel Johnson Group of Sweden and Jerich International of Austria.
(In the interest of full disclosure, this correspondent was active in the organization of the 2009 and 2010 WDM events at Palm Beach and assisted in promotion of the events worldwide in both years until the end of the 2010 series.)