Katie Dinan and Dougie Douglas, Photos © Sportfot.
Four CSI 5* Weeks to Run with New Concurrent 2* Division
Wellington, FL – November 22, 2016 -Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) looks forward to hosting the 38th annual Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) this season at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The largest and longest-running circuit in the world, WEF offers incredible opportunities for international show jumpers, awarding over $9 million in prize money, and more FEI World Ranking classes than ever before throughout the 12-week circuit on January 11 through April 2, 2017.
Highlights of the 2017 WEF include four weeks of CSI 5* competition. The five-star grand prix competitions will be featured on February 11, February 25, March 11, and March 25. The $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, previously held in the twelfth and final week of competition, has been moved to week 11 this season.
New this year, each week of five-star competition (WEF 5, 7, 9, and 11) will have a CSI 2* running concurrently. The top 60 in the FEI World Rankings will be eligible for the five-star competition, and other jumper competitors that are eligible may compete in the two-star classes. Each CSI 5* week will have a $380,000 grand prix (with the exception of WEF 11’s $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix), along with four other FEI World Ranking classes. The CSI 2* division during those four weeks will have a $50,000 grand prix, as well as another FEI World Ranking competition, and two additional classes.
“We have seen the popularity and growth at the international level at WEF, and we feel that offering a concurrent 2* during the 5* weeks will give more riders the opportunity to compete at the top level,” said ESP President Michael Stone.
The Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Series returns in 2017 as well, with events hosted both on the grass jumping field at The Stadium and in the main International Arena at PBIEC. The annual series features fantastic prize money and more opportunities for international riders to earn valuable World Ranking points throughout the winter.
The popular $150,000 Nations Cup returns during week 8 CSIO 4* competition, where teams represent their countries over two rounds of competition to see which nation is best. Always a fan favorite, and a fantastic night of sport and fun at PBIEC, the exciting event brings horses and riders from around the globe to compete on Wellington’s international stage on Friday, March 3.
As always, some of the most exciting competition of the season will be held on the beautiful grass jumping field at The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Some of the exciting events scheduled for this year include the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on Sunday, February 5, and the $50,000 National Grand Prix on Sunday, February 19.
The Winter Equestrian Festival has proven a valuable training ground for both riders and horses at different points in their careers, especially in championship years. The 2016 circuit was the perfect set up for many of the partnerships that went on to compete in the summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 2016 silver medal show jumping team from the United States that included Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis, and traveling alternate Laura Kraut all competed at WEF in the winter season as they prepared to make the team for Rio. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum traveled as the alternate for Germany and was a last minute substitute for Marcus Ehning to help her team earn the bronze medal.
Individual gold medalist Nick Skelton (GBR) and individual bronze medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) each used WEF as their winter training grounds prior to Olympic competition.
Managed by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), WEF hosts more than 6,500 horses competing throughout the winter circuit. Some of the managing partners of WEF also run the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, which hosts international events throughout the year.
Proving their capabilities to host world-class, multi-discipline events, the team recently won their bid to host the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. As preparations take place for those important championships, ESP looks forward to welcoming international competitors to Wellington for another fantastic season at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival.
For more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.