Global Dressage Festival Opens Wednesday With Over 25 Nations, $530,000 Prize Money

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Thomas Baur (left) and Lloyd Landkamer, managers of the Global Dressage Festival at the Palm Beach Internationa; Equestrian Ceter Stadium commlex in Wellington, Florida. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Thomas Baur (left) and Lloyd Landkamer, managers of the Global Dressage Festival at the Palm Beach Internationa; Equestrian Ceter Stadium commlex in Wellington, Florida. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 7–Thr Adequan Global Dressage Festival of seven CDIs with $530,000 in prize money opens Wednesday with the 12-week event attracting riders from at least 25 countries.

The GDF is being held simultaneously with the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival and Canadian Olympic team member David Marcus joined jumper stars Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and Eric Lamaze of Canada at the opening news conference.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that stages both the jumper/hunter and dressage series from Jan. 8 through Mar. 30 in the words of Eric Lamaze, the 2008 Olympic individual gold medalist, “I would put it at the top in the world circuit.”

Mark Bellissimo, chief executive of the Wellington Equestrian Partners group of wealthy families actively involved in horse sports and that owns and operates the equestrian center, said more than $35 million has been invested in upgrading the show grounds over the past eight years.

WEF has seen double digit growth in entries each year despite tough economic conditions in many parts of the world. The number of competition arenas has been expanded to 12 for jumpers and hunters, each with their own warmup rings and all with Olympic quality footing. Most are used by more than 2,000 jumper/hunter horses competing each week and there is a waiting list for the 1,000-seat WEF VIP club and the vendor village is sold out.

“We expect dressage to grow 30 per cent,” he said of GDF starting a third year at its own complex within PBIEC with three competition and three warmup arenas, 200 permanent stables and a covered arena capable of holding more than three full size dressage rings. VIP tables are almost sold out.

“This is a new phenomenon for dressage,” he said.

Thomas Baur, the Germany-based show organizer and the inaugural GDF Sports Director, said highlights of the event lineup include four World Cup events, a CDI4*, a CDI5* and a CDIO3* Nations Cup that will be part of the international team series for the first time.

The Nations Cup of mixed Grand Prix and Prix St. Georges teams will be testing the format to be used in 2015 at the Pan American Games in Toronto.

The Nations Cup may also see the debut of complete national teams from Europe, including Germany, in addition to teams from throughout the Americas led by Canada and the United States.

Riders are expected from Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rico, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United States and Venezuela.

German team rider Christoph Koschel is bringing to Florida the Russian Junior rider Daria Marchenko with three horses and German Grand Prix rider Maria Kaldewei with two horses. Christoph also trains Susan Dutta of the United States.

Joanne Vaughan, who lives in Italy but represents Georgia, is bringing four horses.

Sandra Hotz, a FEI 3* judge, will be president of the ground jury for the initial CDI that is a first for the trainer and competitor who is based in Erie, Colorado.

Sandy became a 3* judge after passing her exam at the Gwrman Masters in Stuttgart in 2012.

GDF has planned to name Americans as president of the panel of judges for all CDIs this year.