USA Festival of Champions to be Hosted at Historic Gladstone In 2017

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USET Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey
USET Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey

Nov. 14, 2016


Gladstone, the original home of the Festival of Champions, will host the United States Grand Prix, Intermediate and Under-25 championships next May 18-21, after a year in which the championships were not staged for the first time since their founding a quarter-century ago.

Selection of the venue an hour from New York was announced Monday by the U.S. Equestrian Federation that approved the event for only next year and not for three years under a plan it had proposed to enable organizers to benefit from a longer term agreement.

The Gladstone, New Jersey headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation was chosen in an effort to restore credibility with a competition aimed not only at crowning champions but garnering support for America’s teams for Olympics, world championships and Pan American Games.

The dressage festival that was first held in 1991 has been split into two separate shows and will remain that way for now.

Grand Prix and Intermediate with the Brentina Cup Under-25 division to be moved to the senior division for the first time next year will be at Gladstone.

Pony, junior and young riders with a new children’s competition planned for next year will be at Wayne, Illinois alongside young and developing horse national championships to be staged Aug. 24-27.

The festival has hopscotched between cities in recent years–the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington in 2013, Gladstone in 2014, the Global Dressage Festival grounds in Wellington, Florida at year’s end in 2015 and then scratched this year for the first time when two different California show organizers could not make it work.

This year, the top Grand Prix combinations competed in Europe during the time the championships are usually staged in preparation for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where the United States team won bronze, the first time on the medals podium since the 2004 Games.

Tryon International Equestrian Center that will host the 2018 World Equestrian Games in North Carolina decided not to bid when the USEF did not accept the dates proposed by the organizers. Organizers of a bid for Paso Robles in California also sought a change in the date.

Gladstone was completed at a cost of $1 million ($23 million in 2016 dollars) by Wall Street financier James Cox “Diamond Jim” Brady exactly 100 years ago and named Hamilton Farm in homage to his wife.

Steffen Peters on Legolas and Laura Graves on Verdades at the 2014 U.S. Championships. © Ken Braddick/
Steffen Peters on Legolas and Laura Graves on Verdades at the U.S. Championships in Gladstone in 2014. © Ken Braddick/

The reigning American champion is Laura Graves of Geneva, Florida who won the title on Verdades in Wellington in 2015.

Steffen Peters of San Diego, California has been the most successful, winning the title on Legolas in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and on Ravel in 2008 and 2011 but skipped 2009 when the pair won the World Cup and then went to Aachen, Germany to become the first American to become CDIO champion and in 2010 was excused in from the championships. He was also champion on Lombardi in 2007 and Floriano in 2006.