Equestrian Sport Productions and Wellington Classic Dressage announced that they've reached an agreement on the structure of the dressage calendar for 2014 and beyond, and they will submit this to the U.S. Equestrian Federation. Working together with the USEF and the other CDI dressage show organizers, including IHS Palm Beach and Gold Coast Dressage, a very balanced winter dressage circuit has been developed that reduces the overall number of CDIs in Palm Beach County but creates a series that will be attractive to international riders from all over the world.
The proposal is subject to approval by the USEF, but both organizations are confident that it is in line with recent discussions between all the parties.
The proposal will utilize the Adequan Global Dressage Festival venue (The Stadium) as the main base for the international events except for the iconic Palm Beach Derby CDI-W, while other national shows would continue at the Loxahatchee venue or Jim Brandon Equestrian Center.
Noreen O'Sullivan, the manager of Wellington Classic Dressage, stated, "I am very pleased that an agreement has been reached to work together, and I know that the sport of dressage can really grow and reach the level it deserves by utilizing the fantastic facilities at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival."
Mark Bellissimo, CEO of ESP, agreed. "I am delighted with the outcome; this is a great step forward and is proof that groups working together despite prior differences are much more powerful than continued opposition. We can now give Wellington a world-class circuit at a world-class venue, and that is only to the benefit of both the dressage and non-equestrian communities in our great village."
Michael Stone, President of ESP, stressed that the agreement was subject to USEF approval, but following recent meetings with the USEF and the various CDI organizers, he stated, "I am confident that our proposal will be well received and is in the best interest of the sport. However, out of respect to the decision-making process of the USEF, the full details of the proposal cannot be released until we have received the formal approval."
Robert Dover, U.S. dressage chef d’equipe and year-round Florida resident, said that he’s excited about the new CDI arrangement.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing for the sport and for everyone concerned that an agreement was made between the organizers, and I’m very hopeful that this will mean not only a continuation of the progress that’s been made, but that it’ll also continue to usher in a new era for the sport,” said Dover. “The most important thing we can do is serve everyone so that we have great national shows, great shows for younger horses and adult amateurs and juniors—and so that we also have an international venue that is as similar in feeling and atmosphere as to what horses and riders will have to deal with when they’re competing against the top of the world in Europe.”
Dover noted that he hopes the new schedule will continue drawing sponsors, and that more riders from Europe will opt to spend their winters in Florida.
“Really that's the best way for us to be able to not have to continuously trek over to Europe in huge numbers for long amounts of time,” he said. “We need to have the top competitors come to us. When the only time our top competitors get to compete against the other top riders around the world is at the World Dressage Masters or a five-star or major championships when they’re in North America, that’s not enough. It’s not enough when you consider the world ranking list, and it’s not enough for the advancement of the North American riders and especially our American riders.”