Florida’s Winter Global Dressage Festival With $275,000 in Prize Money Gets Final Sign Off

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center's Global Dressage Festival grounds. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com


WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 27–The Global Dressage Festival of five CDI competitions offering $275,000 in prizemoney for the winter of 2013 was given final approval Thursday from the Village of Wellington that governs the community that hosts the world’s largest winter horse shows.

An agreement was signed by the Village and Equestrian Sport Productions for events to be held at the newly created multimillion dollar dressage grounds from Nov. 1, 2012, through the end of April, 2013. The Village confirmed to dressage-news.com that the formal signed agreement was sent to ESP Thursday.

The GDF facility is part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center which stages the Winter Equestrian Festival for 12 weeks of jumper and hunter competitions that draws riders from more than 30 nations for more than $6 million in prize money.

With Adequan, producers of animal joint treatments, as the title sponsor for three years, the GDF circuit includes a $125,000 CDI5*, two $50,000 World Cup events and the only non-championship dressage Nations Cup held outside Europe.

The prize money is the second largest for a single dressage venue anywhere in the world, surpassed only by the total of €330,000 (US$414,400) offered for dressage at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in 2012.

The GDF calendar for 2013 is:

* Jan. 31-Feb. 3 – Wellington Dressage CDI-W/3* – $50,000
* Feb. 14-17 – Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W/3* – $50,000
* Mar. 14-17 – WEF Dressage Classic CDI3* – $15,000
* April 4-7 – West Palm Beach CDI5*/3* – $125,000
* April 11-14 – WEF Wellington Dressage Nations Cup CDIO3*/3* $35,000

The GDF CDI5* is one of two on the calendar for the Florida winter circuit. Wellington Classic Dressage is scheduled to stage the €100,000 ((US$129,000) World Dressage Masters at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach at end of January. Tickets for WDM went on sale Wednesday.

The Global Dressage Festival was launched in 2012 after several million dollars were spent to build three outdoor competition and two full size warmup arenas all with Olympic quality footing, a covered arena large enough for three full size arenas as well as 200 permanent stables.

However, a newly elected majority of the Village of Wellington council that governs the community of 55,000 people blocked development after the inaugural circuit because of opposition to proposed construction of a condominium hotel and an equestrian-themed retail plaza.

Plans for the hotel and the retail plaza were shelved and construction of another 200 permanent stables to bring the total to 400 was put on hold. The council and ESP negotiated an agreement to enable the 2012/13 winter circuit to go ahead and provide time to work toward long term development of the site that also includes a grass jumper derby field.

Opposition to the dressage facility by a majority on the village council led to ESP withdrawing its application to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games just days before the formal presentation by official applicants was to be made to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation, the governing body of the sport in America, has approved the 2013 schedule subject to confirmation by the FEI that is expected within days of the Oct. 1 deadline for applicatios for the 2013 competition calendar.

The Nations Cup at Wellington has become critical for the entire Americas in preparing for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. The Wellington event is being used as a test bed of how dressage competition can be formatted to remain in the Pan Ams as an Olympic qualifier while elevating the sport to Grand Prix from its current small tour level.