Wellington Classic Dressage Event

Wellington Classic Dressage is gearing up for the 2012 show season at the beautiful Palm Beach County Jim Brandon Equestrian Center and major improvements to the Center will mean that no matter the weather, the show can go on.

The Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, one of Palm Beach County’s Parks and Recreation facilities, has been host to Dressage and other equestrian events for the past six years. The facility has undergone major improvements this summer including landscaping and beautification, but also what matters most to dressage riders – footing. The FEI rings and warm-ups have new footing and an additional $100,000 was spent on a state-of-the-art drainage system in the show arenas and barns.

The new footing is courtesy of Wellington Classic Dressage, said Joan Hutchinson, facility manager for the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. “And we’re grateful for that,” she said. “Those footing improvements were paid for by Wellington Classic and yet it benefits everyone, not just dressage riders.”

The new drainage system was covered by Palm Beach County and Hutchinson said that while it’s one of those vitally important improvements it’s also not one that is easily noticed. “When it floods, people notice that, but the idea here is that neither the rings nor the barn will flood and people don’t usually notice an improvement that’s good.” Noreen O’Sullivan, Managing Partner for Wellington Classic and President of Gold Coast Dressage Association (a 501 (c)(3), not-for-profit), agrees, adding, “Florida is in a tropical climate and is subject to heavy rainstorms at times, so although we can’t control the weather, it’s great that we have such a great system in place.” Wellington Classic and Gold Coast Dressage hosts shows year-round at Jim Brandon.

The Wellington Classic Dressage Series will again host the Palm Beach leg of the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Presented by Axel Johnson Group at Jim Brandon. The World Dressage Masters is one of the richest Dressage Series Internationally, with each show boasting over 100,000 Euros in Prize Money. The WDM Palm Beach will take place during the Wellington Classic Sunshine Challenge CDI3* on January 26-29, 2012 with International Polo Club as presenting sponsor. Clearly, Wellington Classic Dressage does much more for the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center than contribute new footing, Hutchinson said. “Dressage brings a lot to our facility. Not only does it contribute to our overall budget, but it has increased our profile. Most facilities are struggling right now, but the fact that Dressage has embraced us with so many shows helps increase the visibility of the Jim Brandon. Dressage has made us better known to the entire equestrian community.” “We also try to really work with Jim Brandon’s management to make this one of the best competitor and community-friendly facilities for all of its users,” said O’Sullivan, “and admission is free to the public for most our events.”

Hutchinson said Wellington Classic Dressage not only draws a tremendous following of spectators and competitors, but the show series management has also done an excellent job of marketing its shows, which has given the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center some added publicity. “They do the work of letting people know that we are here.”

Just how much Dressage at Jim Brandon contributes to Palm Beach County’s economic base is a question Palm Beach County sought to answer this year. “Wellington Classic Dressage and Gold Coast Dressage participated in a survey undertaken by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission that gathered information on the economic impact of equestrian sports on the local economy. The County did a similar study back in 2005 but that study only looked at the economic impact of show jumping from the Wellington Equestrian Festival,” said George Linley, executive director of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. This more recent study also included Dressage and polo. “All three of those equestrian components are strong assets for the County,” he said.

The County is still reviewing the results of the study before making an official release of the numbers. The Dressage portion of the study surveyed competitors at the Dressage shows being held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center and asked them about such things as travel, housing, horse and show expenditures during the competition season.

The preliminary results indicate competitors in the Wellington Classic Dressage and Gold Coast Series at the Jim Brandon spend around $44 million in the region. In comparison, Polo competitors spend around $21 million and show jumping riders during the WEF spend around $121 million. The County is expecting to make an official release of its analysis of the survey in the coming weeks.  Dressage riders have been competing and visiting Palm Beach County for over the past 30 years.

For further information on upcoming shows, including 2012 season events, please call 561-227-1570 or visit the following websites:

Wellington Classic Dressage:                 www.wellingtonclassicdressage.com
Gold Coast Dressage Association:          www.gcdafl.org
International Horse Sport Palm Beach:    www.ihspb.com

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