Global Dressage Festival Gets Six CDIs, Dressage Derby Remains at Loxahatchee in Major Realignment of Florida Winter Circuit

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center's Stadium complex that hosts the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equstrian Festival grass derby field events in the 2013 winter circuit. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex that hosts the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equstrian Festival grass derby field events in the 2013 winter circuit. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

A 2014 Palm Beach winter dressage circuit of six international events to be staged by the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington but keeps the Palm Beach Dressage Derby in neighboring Loxahatchee has been approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The USEF, according to sources within the federation that governs the Olympic sport, approved moving most shows previously held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Ceter to Wellington’s GDF grounds where Equestrian Sport Productions has created one of the world’s leading dressage circuits.

The GDF circuit with almost US$300,000 (€235,000) in prize money has become the centerpiece of dressage in all the Americas–Canada, the United States and many other nations depend on the shows to qualify for Olympic and world championship teams, the World Cup Final and development of dressage at the critically important Pan American Games–the second largest multisport event in the world.

The new Global Dressage Festival schedule matches the calendar of the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center of 12 weeks from early January to the end of March.

The schedule was revised from a timetable announced by the USEF in March and came after four months of negotiations between the USEF, Wellington Classic Dressage and Equestrian Sport Productions to streamline the schedule that led to ESP acquiring 18 dates for shows that had previously been held at the Brandon Center.

The new winter schedule of CDI international events, expected to be announced within days, is:

-Jan. 9-12–CDI-W World Cup at GDF;
-Jan. 22-26–CDI-W World Cup at GDF;
-Feb. 6-9–CDI5* at GDF;
-Feb. 19-24–CDIO3* Nations Cup at GDF;
–Feb. 27-Mar. 2–Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W World Cup at Equestrian Estates, Loxahatchee;
–Mar. 13-16–CDI-W World Cup at GDF, and
–Mar. 27-30–CDI5* at GDF.

Another CDI may be held at Equestrian Estates in Loxahatchee in April, but that is not yet confirmed. The Palm Beach Dressage Derby is 30 years old and one of the founding competitions of the Florida winter circuit.

The €100,000 (US$130,000) World Dressage Masters CDI5* that was staged for two years by ESP at the Pealm Beach facility then moved to the Brandon Center for three years is uncertain.

The CDIO3* Nations Cup has been scheduled within the same time frame as the jumping Nations Cup and Nations Cups for junior and young riders that were inaugurated last winter.

If the USEF and International Equestrian Federation approve the Nations Cups in dressage and jumping being held in the same show, it would mean the first CHIO outside Western Europe. The two CHIOs currently held are Rotterdam and the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, the world’s foremost horse show and both are in summer.

National competitions will be interspersed with the CDIs and several staged by ESP at Wellington, as many as four at Equestrian Estates, several at White Fences and some by the non-profit Gold Coast Dressage Association but the location of those shows could not be confirmed.

Executives at Gold Coast Dressage Association, Wellington Classic Dressage and Equestrian Sport Productions did not return requests for comment.

The GDF facility that is part of Palm Beach Internatiional Equestrian Center has held shows for the past two winters after millions of dollars were spent constructing six Olympic quality dressage arenas–three competition and three warmups–200 permanent stalls and a covered arena large enough to hold at least three fullsize dressage arenas.

However, a campaign launched by a family in a nearby equestrian estate funded the election of members of the council that controls the government of the Village of Wellington and one of their first actions was to cancel permits to use the facility. Since then, the council has approved temporary permits to hold the winter shows but refused to allow use of the grounds for six months of the year, including use of the covered arena in hot and humid tropical summers.

The calendar of at least seven CDIs at top facilities in winter is attracting riders from around the world, as it has to WEF, the world’s largest and longest running jumping show at 12 weeks.

The role of Palm Beach and events that are designated CDI3* or greater, the level for team qualification as well as earning world ranking points, accounts for one-third the total number of such events in all of the United States.

California has a total of six in widely separated venues spread over the entire year, New York has two in the fall, while Texas, New Jersey, Kentucky, Colorado and Pennsylvania each have one.