Global Dressage Festival Entries Stay at Record Levels

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Laura Graves on Verdad at the World Equestrian Games, © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdad at the World Equestrian Games, © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Feb. 26, 2015–The Global Dressage Festival enters the second half of its lineup of seven CDI shows maintaining record levels of almost 700 international and national rides for the iconic Palm Beach Dressage Derby over four days next week.

The World Cup event that is the first of two remainng qualifiers on the East Coast has attracted 33 Grand Prix combinations including Laura Graves and Verdades that will be competing for the first time since emerging as American stars at the World Games last August.

Confirmed entries total 233 international rides and about 450 national rides for the derby in its 32nd year as Florida’s oldest dressage event that was moved a year ago to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington from its home in neighboring Loxahatchee.

The numbers maintain the record levels of well over 200 international rides at the $200,000 CDI5* event and the $120,000 CDI4* in the fourth year of the Global circuit that has grown to be the largest and richest lineup of non-championships dressage shows in the world.

With focus turning to the World Cup Final in Las Vegas for the first time since 2009, attention will be on Laura of Geneva, Florida and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding that finished fifth in the World Games Freestyle.

The pair will need to achieve an average score of two World Cup events that would place them in the top two in the North American League of Canada and the United States. The last World Cup qualifier in Wellington will be later in March.

Steffen Peters of San Diego, California and Legolas, her team mates at the WEG and America’s national championship pair, have set the bar high on a Freestyle score of 80.825 per cent with the only other West Coast qualifier to be held in Southern California in late March.

Canada’s Diane Creech has logged the second highest result of 75.100 per cent among North American citizens with Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, California on the powerful stallion Rassolini posting 75.050 per cent for the third best result.

So far, however, Lars Petersen, the Florida-based Danish rider on Mariett, leads the North American League standings with a two-score average of 76.825 per cent. The pair finished atop the NAL and were awarded a starting place in the final last year but it is not certain that will be the case this year.

In this year of the Pan American Games, held once every four years to qualify a team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with teams made up of mixed Small and Big Tour pairs, 56 combinations are entered in the Prix St. Georges.

For the first time this season, a Grand Prix Consolation class will be staged to provide competition for combinations that do not not qualify for the Special or the Freestyle.