Global Dressage Festival Clears Last Hurdle for Year Round Use

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A second access to Global Dressage Festival grounds that has been blocked during two years of political wrangling. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
A second access to Global Dressage Festival grounds that has been blocked during two years of political wrangling. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

 

WELLINGTON, Florida, Nov. 13–The Global Dressage Festival appeared to have cleared its last hurdle for year round use of one of the biggest investments in dressage show facilities in the world when a last-ditch effort Tuesday night that could have led to more delays failed to get any support.

A move by a member of the Village of Wellington council to reopen consideration of some conditions already approved failed to get support from the other four members thus ending almost two years of political wrangling over the dressage complex that is part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The on-again, off-again actions by the council that is controlled by three members who have frequently opposed GDF have no impact on the coming winter circuit of six CDIs with almost $500,000 in total prize money. A special use permit under which the dressage grounds have been used for the past two years from Nov. 1 to April 30 had already been approved for the 2014 circuit.

The first competition at the GDF grounds of six outdoor arenas with Olympic quality footing, 200 permanent horse stalls and a covered arena with capacity for more than three full size rings is scheduled for the end of this month.

The lineup of six CDIs–three World Cup events, a CDI4*, CDI5* and a Nations Cup–begins Jan. 8 and runs to the end of March with national shows sandwiched between them.

The approvals include use of a second access to the shww grounds on a road that runs beside the estate of a famiiy that has fought development of the show grounds.

The Global Dressage Festival dovetails with the Winter Equestrian Festival of jumper and hunter competitions that draws riders from more than 30 countries to the Palm Beach International show grounds.

Equestrian Sport Productions, organizer of the horse shows, has also applied to host the 2018 World  Equestrian Games of the seven international sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining and vaulting plus para dressage. WEG could bring more than 500,000 spectators and have an economic impact on Palm Beach County of well over $200 million.

An earlier application to stage the event was withdrawn because of the political uncertainty.

Locally, year round use would enable free use by charities as well as a riding club and officially sanctioned competitions in a covered arena capable of accommodating at least three full size dressage arenas in South Florida’s steamy tropical summers.

Organizers can now apply to build more permanent structures such as additions to 200 stables constructed for the first dressage season in 2012 and a VIP pavilion.

The approvals do not include plans to construct a five-story condominium hotel and retail complex at the same time as the dressage facilities were being built on the 59-acre (24Ha) GDF grounds that also includes a grass jumper derby field.