Florida’s Global Dressage Festival to Offer Huge Increase in 2014 Prize Money
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 16–The Adequan Global Dressage Festival is increasing prize money by more than 40 per cent to a total of about $450,000 (€338,000) for the 2014 winter CDI circuit that has been expanded to six competitions in a completely revamped schedule of 12 weeks from early January through the end of March.
The prize money total is 42 per cent greater than the 2013 GDF purse of $316,500 (€237,000) for five CDIs from mid-February through mid-April at the Stadium, part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that also hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival of jumper and hunter shows.
Next winter’s GDF schedule is for a CDI5* with $120,000 in prize money, a newly created CDI4* with $110,000, three World Cup events each with $50,000 and a Nations Cup with $35,000 for a total of $415,000. However, purses for other FEI classes such as small tour, Under-25, Young and Junior Riders as well as ponies will push the total to more than $450,000.
The 2013 total for the senior CDI events was more than $275,000 but the prize lists approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) showed that a total of $316,500 was offered when the other classes were factored in.
Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), organizer of the Global Dressage Festival that shares the 59-acre (24Ha) facility with a grass jumper derby field, confirmed total prize money will include purses for FEI-sanctioned competitions associated with the primary CDI events.
The 2014 season will be the third for GDF created at a venue built at a cost of about $8 million (€6 million). It includes six full size outdoor arenas–three for competitions and three for warmup–with the same quality footing installed for Olympics, 200 permanent stables that might be increased to 300 and a covered arena easily able to accommodate three 60 by 20-meter regulation-size rings with the same quality footing.
The economic impact of dressage on Palm Beach was estimated two years ago at $44 million for the season, more than twice that for polo which stages a four-month series of events second only to Argentina and compared with $120 million for WEF. Coincidentally, the show ground for GDF was the former Palm Beach Polo Club that was the original heart of Wellington’s equestrian activities and attracted thousands of spectators to Sunday matches.
ESP’s renewed commitment to dressage–it had cut its schedule significantly in 2010 when growth in jumper/hunter competitions to about 2,400 horses per week at the main show grounds left no room for dressage and a falling out with the organizers of the World Dressage Masters removed the headline event–has had a rocky start.
The initial schedule of five CDIs in Wellington was sandwiched between seven CDIs in neighboring Loxahatchee and at a taxpayer-owned facility in nearby West Palm Beach. And a wealthy family that opposed the so-called Equestrian Village that had GDF at its core funded a slate of politicians that was elected to take over the Village of Wellington government. One of their first moves was to withdraw construction approvals. ESP shelved plans that already were approved for a condominium hotel and an equestrian-focused retail mall so as to continue development of the dressage grounds.
Despite the political issues, the supplement maker Adequan, which sponsored events at the main PBIEC jumper grounds, extended its support to dressage with a commitment to GDF of $450,000 over three years. Several high profile companies and individuals also committed to GDF as founding sponsors.
After the 2013 circuit, ESP bought the CDI dates from the organizers of the West Palm Beach shows.
But the Palm Beach Derby in Loxahatchee, a foundation event in Florida’s winter circuit, maintained its status as a highlight.
The GDF schedule was revamped to dovetail with the Winter Equestrian Festival of 12 weeks from early January through the end of March.
ESP also negotiated with the Village of Wellington on a long list of conditions to allow year-round use of the dressage show grounds and not just a six-month temporary permit for the winter circuit. The restriction prevents riding in the covered arena, for example, in tropical South Florida where mid-summer temperatures are in the 90sF (32C) with high humidity, frequent thunderstorms and among the highest number of tornadoes and lightning strikes in the United States.
The agreement passed its first hurdle with a unanimous vote of support from the Equine Preserve Committee but the zoning group is the next stage followed by the full council of which three of the five members received substantial funding for their election from the family that opposes the show grounds.
The 2014 GDF circuit is not affected by the politics, though.
Thomas Baur of Germany, a prominent show organizer, is working with Lloyd Landkamer, the GDF show office manager, and ESP on finalizing details of the 2014 show calendar.
The CDI Grand Prix Freestyles will be held under lights on Friday nights at the Stadium while the centerpiece jumper Grand Prix will be held on Saturday nights in the main International Arena that accommodates about 6,000 spectators.
The dressage CDIO3* Nations Cup of mixed big and small tour teams to create a template for the 2015 Pan American Games will be held just a week apart from the jumper Nations Cup that attracts about 10 teams from the Americas and Europe.
The finale week at the end of March will be headlined by the dressage CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle on Friday night and the jumper CSI5* on Saturday night.
The 2014 Florida CDI schedule:
Jan. 9-12 – CDI-W – GDF
Jan. 22-26 – CDI-W – GDF
Feb. 6- 9 – CDI4* – GDF
Feb. 19-24 – CDIO3* Nations Cup
Feb. 27- Mar. 2 – Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W – Loxahatchee
Mar. 13 -16 – CDI-W – GDF
Mar. 27-30 – CDI5* – GDF