Riders & Fans Disappointed at Conflict Between Global Dressage Festival’s “Friday Night Stars” & USET Foundation Event

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WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 22–Many dressage riders and fans expressed disappointment at a change of time for the Global Dressage Festival’s “Friday Night Stars” World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle because of a conflict with the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation benefit event which the organization said was planned long before the dressage calendar was set.

Some riders and owners said they would not attend the USET Foundation’s “Soir√©e du Cheval” because of the conflict that has led to the Freestyle being switched to late afternoon–4 p.m. to 7 p.m.–instead of under the lights at night. Of the 15 combinations entered in the Freestyle, only three are Americans–the remainder are from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, Germany and Italy. However, many VIP table holders are suporters of the USET.

Equestrian Sport Productions, organizer of the GDF with seven CDIs over the winter circuit from January through March, has heavily promoted the “Friday Night Stars” Freestyles that filled the stands at this season’s opening event and at the second Friday night a Western event packed the show grounds.

The USET said its event was initially planned for the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, but faciities to host it were not large enough and the benefit was moved to International Polo Club.

Bonnie B. Jenkins, USET Foundation executive director, said the date for the USET benefit was set long before the Friday night GP was scheduled.

“Over a year ago. ESP was aware of our date because we had initially thought our benefit event would be at PBIEC but the tent was not big enough,” she said. “Also our benefit has been the same date.

“At any rate when the ESP/Global Dressage sent out their schedule and all saw conflict, they said they (ESP) would move GP earlier so the dressage community including many wonderful friends and supporters of the USET Foundation could do both.”

ESP could not be reached comment.