Florida Dressage Season Kicks Off with an International Flair at CDI Competitions

Steffen Peters and Ravel during the awards ceremony following the 2012 World Dressage Masters Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle, which they won with a score of 83.70%. (Photo courtesy of Susan J Stickle)

Wellington, FL (February 7, 2012) – Thanks to the efforts of the show management team from the Gold Coast Dressage Association and the Wellington Dressage Classic Association, the 2012 Dressage season kicked off with three amazing CDI events in January and 2 Paralympic Qualifiers. With world-class dressage riders providing an air of European competition, the Gold Coast Dressage Association’s Opener CDI W/CDEDI3* January 19-22, 2012, the Wellington Classic Sunshine Challenge CDI3*/CPEDI3* January 25-29, 2012 and the 2012 Palm Beach leg of the prestigious World Dressage Masters presented by the Axel Johnson Group set the tone for a fantastic Wellington dressage season.

Wellington Classic Dressage once again hosted the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach with International Polo Club as Presenting Sponsor.  The Masters proved to be a record setting event for the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, with dressage star Steffen Peters setting the dressage ring on fire with record breaking scores, while the number of spectators also proved to be at an all-time high. “This year’s Masters was one for the record books,” said John Flanagan of Wellington Classic Dressage, Gold Coast Dressage, International Horse Sport, and one of the organizers of the WDM Palm Beach. “The competition was amazing and a record number of people were able to watch this event live, which is a great testament to the strength of our sport in South Florida and the United States.”

Flanagan added that technology played an important role in audience participation during the Masters, including the ability to stream the rides to a smart phone. “This year we featured a live video stream which was so inundated by viewers it actually crashed the USEF website. We also featured high definition monitors at various locations in the area to provide each viewer with optimal angles of each movement and to replay clips from each ride.”

An added highlight of the World Dressage Masters was an up-close-and-personal moment of each rider being interviewed after their ride. “The crowd really enjoyed hearing the excitement in each rider’s voice as they spoke about their ride, and I think it brought them even closer to the action of an international dressage competition,” said Flanagan.

The 2012 World Dressage Masters Palm Beach is the only North American leg in the Masters series and was presented by the International Polo Club of Wellington, which hosted a spectacular competitors’ party during the event. Held poolside at the Mallet Grill on the Polo Club grounds, the Competitors party featured an exquisite ice sculpture of the WDM logo, Venetian cuisine, mermaids, showgirls and fire dancers. The ambiance and excitement of the Competitors party set the tone for the entire weekend, which culminated with the Exquis Grand Prix Freestyle. Steffen Peters and Akiko Yamazaki’s Ravel beat out Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro by the narrowest of margins, only .05%, to capture the win for the second year in a row. During the Grand Prix Special on Saturday afternoon Adrienne Lyle and Wizard easily captured the win, with Heather Blitz and Paragon placing second and showing off some impressive movements for a young Grand Prix horse.

The World Dressage Master highlights came on the heels of the exciting Gold Coast Dressage Association’s Opener CDIW in which Adrienne Lyle and Wizard, owned by Parry and Peggy Thomas, captured the win in the Grand Prix class in the National Division with a 73.652%. Konyot rode away with a 71.596%, just ahead of Canada’s Ashley Holzer on Pop Art who scored 71.525%.

The Gold Coast Opener also proved to be a festive occasion, with the GCDA Opener Competitor’s party hosted by Stanley and Janne Rumbough and the Second Annual Stick Horse Quadrille, which featured great prizes from Sho Clothes Dressage boutique in Wellington. The show also featured para-equestrian dressage riders from Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Bermuda, the United States, Finland and Japan. The United States Para-Equestrian Dressage Team, coached by Missy Ransehousen, was in the ribbons with Jonathan Wentz taking home the blue aboard NTEC Richter Scale. The para riders also took part in the qualifier at the Wellington Classic Dressage Sunshine Challenge, which ran in conjunction with the Masters. “It was a great weekend for the riders who competed in the Sunshine Challenge CDI 3*, as they were able to ride among some of the top Olympic riders and in an environment unparalleled in the United States,” said Flanagan.

The World Dressage Masters is proving to be a major steppingstone for the South Florida dressage market and the United States dressage scene, becoming a true mecca for Olympic level dressage. “Having the Masters here in Wellington is great for both the riders, who get to enjoy the beautiful weather and top class competition, and for the audiences and dressage enthusiasts who get to have the top echelons of the sport right in their backyard. The stands were full all throughout the weekend, and I think we were pushing 3500 people during the Grand Prix Freestyle and over 10,000 for the weekend. Dressage is quickly becoming a major spectator sport,” Flanagan said.

For more information on Gold Coast Dressage Association shows, visit their website at www.gcdafl.org.

For more information on Wellington Classic Dressage shows, visit their website at www.wellingtonclassicdressage.com.

For more information contact:
Johnny Robb – JRPR, Inc.

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