UPDATE–Revised Florida 2012 Dressage Calendar News Release

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Noreen O'Sullivan. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

ORLANDO, Florida, Mar. 30–A law firm representing Wellington Classic Dressage advised Wednesday that news releases providing the calendar of 2012 competition dates should have been changed only to note that approval for some shows was pending and was not intended to alter an earlier news release that contained sharp criticism of Equestrian Sport Productions.

A letter to dressage-news.com from Amanda G. Simmons of Shutts & Bowen LLC said the firm represented Wellington Classic Dressage, Gold Coast Dressage, Inc. and International Horse Sport Palm Beach and described Phelps Media Group as a media partner.

The letter said “the sole purpose” of re-releasing an announcement that criticized plans by ESP to build a new dressage facility as part of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center was to clarify that some 2012 competition dates were “pending final approvals.”

“WCD was never informed that this press release would be changed the way it was and any statement or insinuation made by you or your team that WCD had full knowledge of how this re-release was edited and published by dressage-news.com is simply not true.”

Dressage-news.com quoted Mason Phelps of Phelps Media Group as saying that Noreen O’Sullivan and John Flanagan of WCD had knowledge of the changes from the first to the second news releases, both issued by Phelps Media Group. Dressage-News.com stands by its reporting.

Dressage-news. com also posted clarification from the U.S. Equestrian Federation the six competitions listed by the organizers as having CDI designations–international level competitions–have not yet been approved for 2012.

The original news release was issued by Phelps Media Group on Monday on behalf of Noreen O’Sullivan who manages competitions for her Wellington Classic Dressage, the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, International Horse Sport Palm Beach, in which she is named a managing partner, and Gold Coast Dressage Association, a tax-exempt member organization affiliated with the U.S. Dressage Federation of which she is the president.

Dressage-news.com reported parts of the news release but did not use sections the editor believed were inflammatory, incorrect and unsubstantiated. Many readers have questioned dressage-news about the original news release.

“The news release was revised with the knowledge of Noreen O’Sullivan and John Flanagan (the owners of Wellington Classic Dressage) after conversations with Robert Dover and Equestrian Sport Productions,” said Mason Phelps of the Phelps Media Group.

“The news release was prepared for Wellington Classic Dressage and sent to Phelps Media Group for distribution under our contractual agreement.”

All references to ESP, he said of the organization that owns and operates the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, were dropped from the revised news release.

When asked about the designation of six competitions on the 2012 calendar as CDIs, Mason said that the news release should have specified that the CDI dates were subject to approval. The six competitions listed by the organizers included four CDI World Cup qualifiers, one CDI3* and one CDI5* with no reference to pending approval.

In response to questions from dressage-news.com, the USEF said that applications from show organizers for CDIs must first be approved by the USEF and, in the case of CDI-Ws, also by the FEI World Cup Dressage North American League Committee. The application deadline for 2011/2012 season CDI-Ws is April 1, and for other 2012 CDIs May 1.

The only 2011/2012 CDI-W approved so far for North America is Del Mar, California, on Mar. 8, 2012.

The World Cup Final will be held in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, in April, 2012.