Florida Shows Seek to Attract More Europeans to World Cup Events

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Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén of Sweden on Don Auriello at Florida's Global Dressage Festival. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén of Sweden on Don Auriello at Florida’s Global Dressage Festival. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Organizers of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida are seeking to increase World Cup points for Europeans competing in North American events in an effort to raise standards and generate greater interest in the only annual global championships for dressage.

The proposal from Equestrian Sport Productions, organizers of the Global Dressage Festival, comes with an explosion of CDI events in Florida, including seven World Cup qualifiers on the calendar for Palm Beach provisionally approved for the 2013/2014 series.

The seven World Cup events proposed for Florida are more than half the total of 12 for all of the North American League next season. Two are planned for Saugerties, New York, one for Devon, Pennsylvania and two for California. None are planned for Canada for the second year in a row though with the U.S. is included in the NAL.

World Cup rules for the Western European League currently allow riders to compete in other leagues but receive 100 per cent of points from one event in another league and 50 per cent from a second event.

One proposal is to allow combinations from Western Europe, for example, to earn full points for at least two competitions in the NAL as long as they have competed in at least two events in their own league.

However, there are significant disparities within the NAL that could lead to different rules for events in Florida and its prospectively large base of horses and riders and California where World Cup events typically draw only a handful of entries.

One idea for Florida would be to require minimum prize money of $20,000.

Only two World Cup events staged at the Global Dressage Festival offer prize money greater than that, while Dressage at Devon, a longtime popular event on Main Line Philadelphia, offers a purse of about $20,000.

“One of the problems with dressage that we are trying to address with the FEI,” Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions said, “is to get them to give the same ranking points for the World Cup to Europeans who come over here.”

“The incentive for them to come is very limited. A lot would like to come. Hopefully we can fix this problem.”

He said that unless some of the top European riders were brought to North America to compete the standard would remain below that of Europe.

“I am hopeful the FEI will agree to change,” he said, “then we can put together packages, and we can get the Europeans to come. We can provide stabling, and we have an arrangement with the shippers who do discount shipping packages.”

Michael cited the growth in the number of foreign riders competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival of jumper events, a companion event to GDF.

“There are a number of factors,” he said, “but we believe we can get them here and once they come here, the business that is here, should attract them.”

World Cup events make up more than half the total of 12 international dressage shows scheduled for a period of three months that has made South Florida the most concentrated CDI circuit in the world.

Applications provisionally approved by U.S. Equestrian Federation–but still to be endorsed by the International Equestrian Federation–has grown to 12 CDIs for the winter circuit in 2014, the same number as in 2013 and up from three CDIs a decade ago.

The draft calendar also includes two CDI5* events and a CDIO3* Nations Cup, the only such event in the Western Hemisphere.

The Nations Cup is testing a unique format of teams made up of mixed small and big tour combinations in preparation for upgrading dressage at the Pan American Games.

The Florida circuit now accounts for almost half the entire calendar of 27 CDIs each year for all of the United States. A similar number of national shows are also held in Palm Beach.

Of the Florida CDIs, seven competitions are under the umbralla of one management organization at two separate show grounds and five are managed by Equestrian Sport Productions.

The provisional CDI calendar for the United States for 2014:
Jan. 16-19 – Gold Coast Opener CDI-W – West Palm Beach
Jan. 22-26 – Wellington Classic Sunshine Challenge/World Dressage Masters CDI5*/3* – West Palm Beach
Jan. 30-Feb. 2 – Wellington Deessage CDI-W/3* – Wellington
Feb. 6-9 – Wellington Classic Spring Challenge CDI-W – West Palm Beach
Feb. 13-16 – Florida Dressage Classic CDI-W/3* – Wellington
Feb. 20-23 – Mid Winter Dressage Fair CDI3* – Burbank, California
Feb. 27-Mar. 2 – Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W – Loxahatchee
Mar. 6-9 – Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II CDI1* – West Palm Beach
Mar. 6-9 – The Dressage Affaire CDI-W/3* – Del Mar, California
Mar. 13-16 – WEF Dressage Classic CDI3* – Wellington
Mar. 20-23 – International Horse Sport Champions Cup CDI-W – Loxahatchee
Mar. 27-30 – Festival of the Horse CDI-W – San Juan Capistrano, California
Mar. 27-30 – Dressage at Equestrian Estates CDI-W – Loxahatchee
Apr. 3-6 – 5* West Palm Beach CDI5*/3* – Wellington
Apr. 3-6 – Golden State Dressage Festival CDI3* – Rancho Murieta, California
Apr. 10-13 – WEF Wellington Dressage Nations Cup CDIO3*/CDI3* – Wellington
Apr. 24-27 – Houston Dressage Society Spring Classic CDI3* – Katy, Texas
Apr. 24-27 – Del Mar National CDI3* – Del Mar, California
May 22-25 – ESDCTA Memorial Weekend Dressage CDI3* – Allentown, New Jersey
May 22-25 – Dressage at Flintridge CDI1* – La Cañada-Flintridge, California
May 22-25 – KDA 28th Annual Dressage Show CDI3* – Lexington, Kentucky
May 22-25 – Paragon Dressage CDI3* – Estes Park, Colorado
June 12-15 – Golden State Dressage Classic CDI3* – Rancho Murieta, California
Aug. 14-17 – Centerline Events at HITS on the Hudson CDI3* – Saugerties, New York
Aug. 14-17 – Estes Park CDI1* – Estes Park, Colprado
Sept. 18-24 – NEDA Fall Festival CDI3* – Saugerties, New York
Sept. 25-28 – Dressage at Devon CDI3* – Devon, Pennsylvania