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Florida’s iconic equestrian and dressage festivals set to begin

Laura GRAVES and VERDADES in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final ll, Grand Prix Freestyle © Cara Grimshaw/FEI

Laura Graves and Verdades won the CDI5* Grand Prix Freestyle at the AGDF in 2018, scooping more than $35,000 for winning that class alone.

© Cara Grimshaw/FEI


By Equestrian Life

It’s that time of year again! Wellington, Florida becomes a hive of equestrian activity (well, more so than normal) for the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF). Both are held concurrently at Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre, and both span mid-January through to the end of March.

The largest and longest running circuit in horse sport, WEF will be returning for its 40th season and will run for 12 consecutive weeks spanning from January 9 until March 31. This circuit offers elite hunter, jumper, and equitation competition. Top national and international dressage riders will return to AGDF for competition beginning January 10 until March 31.

Event organisers Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) spoke at the opening press conference, with CEO Mark Bellissimo saying, “This will be the 40th year of WEF and it is now the world’s largest festival centered around show jumping, dressage, and polo, so I think equestrianism in Wellington is alive and well and we are very excited about the future.”

Winter Equestrian Festival

Fast facts:

•    12 weeks, with weeks running Wednesday to Sunday
•    More than $10 million prizemoney total
•    70 unique divisions (spanning jumping, hunter classes and equitation classes), catering for riders from 2-70 years old
•    Main events include $500k Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*, FEI Nations Cup, Battle of the Sexes and the Great Charity Challenge.

The 2019 season will also offer an unprecedented amount of FEI events including four CSI 5* Grand Prix events during weeks 5, 7, 9 and featuring the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* on week 12.

A fan favorite, the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes will return as the first “Saturday Night Lights” of the 2019 season on Saturday, January 12. The multi-phase event has provided a night of excitement and rivalry for many seasons. This year’s event is sure to be well-attended after the men’s team scored their first victory in Battle of the Sexes history in 2018.

During Week 4 of WEF, the Great Charity Challenge will return for its tenth season. The event groups amateur and professional riders into teams with elaborate costume themes and has repeatedly engaged a large crowd. The event has raised over $12.2 million to date and benefited more than 230 nonprofit organisations.

Adequan Global Dressage Festival

Fast facts:

•    Seven CDI events over 12 weeks, including four FEI World Cup Qualifiers, one CDI4* and one CDI5*, plus and a CDIO Nations Cup event and additional CDI3* classes.
•    CPEDI (Para Dressage) event
•    The CDI events offer a total of more than $600k in prizemoney
•    Isabell Werth will give a masterclass in week seven

In terms of the AGDF, there are FEI classes across many weeks – with plenty of Grand Prix CDI3* opportunities, CDI4* classes and also the World Cup/CDI5* classes in week 7. Seven-time Swedish Olympian Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven has attended AGDF since its early beginnings and is pleased with how the show has cultivated dressage talent in the U.S.

“This is my ninth year competing here and I would say the competition has gone from zero to a very high degree of skill from other contenders, so it has changed tremendously,” Silfven said. “Since I live far away from here, I think it’s such a great way to prepare my horses for the season and keep them in great shape.”

In addition, Isabell Werth will give a masterclass at the AGDF on 7 February, during the $216,700 CDI5* week.

Guided by Bellissimo and President Michael Stone, WEF’s 40th season looks to continue to improve on its previous successes. “We’re not going to stand still. I think the way you improve is by analyzing every year what was good, what was bad, what we need to improve on,” said Stone. “You need to be innovative and look at ways of making more interesting competitions and things to make it the equestrian lifestyle destination of the world.”

Source: Information sourced from WEF and AGDF press releases




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