Palm Beach Dressage Derby Canceled for 2014, Leaving 6 CDIs at Wellington’s Global Dressage Festival

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Equestrian Estates. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Equestrian Estates. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The Palm Beach Dressage Derby, the oldest and for almost three decades the most prestigious dressage event in Florida, has been canceled for the winter of 2014 after show office management was served Saturday with legal notice of breach of contract.

Cancelation of the event that was to host a World Cup qualifier Feb. 27-Mar. 2, the seventh CDI in Palm Beach and the only one on the 2014 winter calendar outside Wellington’s Global Dressage Festival, was disclosed by Palm Beach Dressage Derby., Inc.

“We are saddened that we feel it is necessary to cancel the Palm Beach Dressage Derby for 2014,” the Derby organization said in a statement to dressage-news.com of the event that is held at Equestrian Estates, owned by Maryanne McPhail who also owns the corporation that holds the license.

“Failure of the show manager to remedy breaches of the contract have left us with no choice but to exercise our right to terminate the contract. Formal notice was served on Saturday.”

Maryanne would not elaborate except to say that the issues involved show office management.

The show management at the Derby also owns Wellington Classic Dressage that in recent years has staged an extensive calendar of shows at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach. It also managed International Horse Sport events at Equestrian Estates and the member-owned club, Gold Coast Dressage Association (GCDA).

“Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Inc. has every confidence in Lars Petersen and Ed Borreson who were involved in the shows,” the statement said, “It is clear they had no part in the show management but worked hard to maintain the show standards, keep the facility in good condition and acquire sponsors in the spirit for which the Derby is renowned.

“The Palm Beach Dressage Derby has been Florida’s premier competition for many years. The agreement Palm Beach Dressage Derby entered into was designed to continue that legacy. The dressage community locally, nationally and internationally that has supported the Derby deserve no less.

“We no longer have confidence that it is being provided or will be provided in the future by the management. Failure to respond to our concerns has led us to this most regrettable action.

“We will review our options for the future.”

There was no response to requests made Saturday night by dressage-news.com to the show management for comment.

Wellington Classic sold dates that it held for CDIs at the Jim Brandon Center in West Palm Beach and at least one International Horse Sport show at Equestrian Estates to Equestrian Sport Productions that owns and manages the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.

The GCDA club has been stripped of its Internal Revenue Service tax exempt status for what the IRS stated was failure to file required financial reports for three straight years.

GCDA is licensed by the U.S. Equestrian Federation for several national competitions and a FEI CDI1* Gold Coast Opener scheduled for Jan. 16-19 that it plans to stage at the GDF grounds.

Uncertain is the status of International Horse Sport national competitions that are scheduled for Equestrian Estates on Jan. 4-5 and Feb. 15-16. Dressage at Equestrian Estates, also a national competition, is owned by Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Inc. and is not expected to be held Mar. 28-30.

The Palm Beach Dressage Derby was founded in 1983 by a partnership of immigrants–Janne Janson at the time now Janne Rumbough, a Dane, and Gisela and Howald Pferdekaemper, a German couple.

Janne, still very active as an amateur competitor at all levels of the sport including Grand Prix and as an owner of My Lady ridden by Mikala Gundersen for Denmark, and the Pferdekaempers created a show at White Fences Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee with elite riders competing for prize money and sponsorship from some of the world’s top drawer brands. The rural community adjoins Wellington that has become the center of international level dressage as well as jumping and hunters at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

White Fences has been restored in recent years with quality footing in competition and warmup arenas and good stabling for a slate of national competitions that are usually over-subscribed and provide a competitor-friendly atmosphere of no public address announcements and free pizza for lunch.

Maryanne McPhail and Evelyn O’Sullivan took over the Derby management several years ago and moved it to nearby Equestrian Estates. The McPhails built a permanent show office, installed several show and warmup arenas and hosted United States dressage team fund raisers. The family has been deeply involved in dressage for many years and owned Lectron, the horse that Robert Dover rode for U.S. team bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Maryanne and Evelyn retired from the show management four years ago.