Wellington, FL – January 9, 2018 – Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) hosted an opening press conference on Tuesday, January 9, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, to start the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuits.
The 12-week WEF will host thousands of the world’s best horses and riders competing in the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines starting Wednesday, January 10, and running through April 1. The AGDF features the stars of dressage from Thursday, January 11, through March 31.
Tuesday’s press conference panel included Equestrian Sport Productions’ President Michael Stone, Allyn Mann of Adequan®, world number one ranked show jumper Kent Farrington, three-time USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winner Liza Boyd, top 10 Under 25 show jumper Chloe Reid and world number three Under 25 dressage rider Juan Matute Jr.
“We are delighted that Rolex is once again our major sponsor here and the sponsor of the five-star grand prix during week seven as well as the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* in our final week. They are a major partner of everything that we do, and we’re very thankful to have them,” said Stone. “I can’t talk about dressage without mentioning Adequan. We’re really happy that Adequan stepped up once again as our title sponsor of dressage, and we are looking at a very strong dressage season. We’re really pleased with that. I think the whole season is going to be fantastic.”
Starting out the 2018 season of “Saturday Night Lights,” the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center, is on Saturday, January 13. The three-phase team event always provides a high-level of entertainment and fun action for the community to cheer on.
The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, is another great community event that will add to the over $10 million already raised and distributed to over 200 Palm Beach County charities in its ninth year. The event will be held on Saturday, February 3, with teams of pro-am riders putting on an exciting and philanthropic night of competition to benefit 35 local charities.
This year’s WEF will host four weeks of CSI 5* competition, with a CSI 2* division running concurrently during each week once again, which allows riders and horses of different levels to contest international competition. The highlight $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* will be on Saturday, March 31, returning to its normal schedule during the final week 12 of the circuit.
During weeks 4 and 11, FEI jumper competition will be held on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. Stone said, “This is to respond to the requests for a change from the riders and to have an alternative for the horses over the long season. We have two full weeks of competition there, which I think will be very exciting.”
Kent Farrington will look to maintain his number one ranking in the world by gaining valuable FEI ranking points throughout the 12 weeks of competition.
He noted, “For me, Wellington is home. It’s a great time for me to do two things at once, which is produce my horses for the future and be able to stay in one spot where I’m not at a different venue every week. At the same time, we have high-level competition, so I can take my experienced horses and kind of gear them and their schedule around what I want to do for the rest of the year. I would say early on here, I’m going to try to have my younger horses do most of the jumping, and I’ll save my seasoned veterans for bigger competition toward the end.”
Speaking of the evolution of the Winter Equestrian Festival, Farrington said, “I think over the course of the last ten years, we’ve seen great improvements in infrastructure and bringing on big brands like Rolex has helped elevate the level of the show, not only from an exposure point of view, but also from the level of competition. If you look at the number of top equestrians that are in Wellington today versus 20 years ago, I think those numbers would be staggering. A lot of people are using this now as a home base to produce horses and also to compete at a high level. So for me the growth in the sport and the exposure has been great for all of us.”
Along with top show jumping competition, WEF features divisions for every level of hunter horse, including week six’s $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular and week 12’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. This year’s circuit also includes two $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby competitions, plus a new “Hunt and Go” format $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on Friday, February 2.
“The ‘Hunt and Go’ is a little bit similar to a power and speed (jumper class),” Boyd explained. “You do your first hunter classic round, and then you go directly into your handy. So it’ll be a little bit quicker and fun for the crowd and just a change. We’re really excited that WEF is offering that, as well as Green Hunter Incentive classes for the 3’6”, 3’9” for two-thirds of the season. There are a lot of really exciting things for hunter riders this year.”
Hermés has become the new title sponsor of the Under 25 division at WEF. Speaking of the importance of the division for riders, Chloe Reid said, “Being able to jump the U25 Nations’ Cup gave me a lot of experience to then jump the senior Nations’ Cup here for the U.S. team. It gives riders all of this experience to then hopefully go to Europe and represent your country. It is another stepping-stone that I think has done a great job of producing our young riders. It’s amazing to have Hermés as the title sponsor, and the riders definitely feel important and honored to be so well represented.”
Adequan® Global Dressage Festival Begins on Thursday
Announced at Tuesday’s press conference, Adequan® has renewed their title sponsorship for three more years and are now in their sixth year of sponsoring the Global Dressage Festival.
Allyn Mann of Adequan® stated, “We’re honored to still be the title sponsor. We are definitely committed for the long haul. I think AGDF really has changed the whole image of dressage in the U.S. There’s a wonderful management team; Thomas Baur and his crew have done an amazing job to really elevate dressage in this country. Mark and Katherine Bellissimo and Michael Stone have been very supportive of the whole process. I think we’ve already seen some of the evidence of that in the success that the U.S. dressage team had in Rio two years ago, and I know that they’re really excited about their expectations for the World Equestrian Games this year, especially on our home turf. I think this will be an exciting season, and we will see some amazing competition. Again, as a partner and a supporter of it, we’re just honored to be here.”
Juan Matute Jr. will be competing in his sixth consecutive season at AGDF, and has four horses that he will compete at the FEI Grand Prix level.
“You get to experience lots of mileage because of the constant competition we have week after week,” said the young rider who represents Spain. “It’s the perfect strategy. We get warmed up; we get ready. Then when we go to Europe, we’re in perfect shape. I really think it’s a privilege, and I’m fortunate to be able to be a part of AGDF year after year. Overall, I’ll continue learning and continue enjoying because we have the perfect structure here, the perfect competition, and it’s just lovely.”
The team at Equestrian Sport Productions looks forward to welcoming the best in equestrian sport to both the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival and 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. For more information and a full schedule of events, please visit www.PBIEC.com and www.GlobalDressageFestival.com.
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media
Photos: © Sportfot
Categories: Winter Equestrian Festival