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Winter Equestrian Festival 2005 Dressage Competitions--Three Eclectic, International, and Intense Competitions

Phelps Media Group

The 2005 dressage season at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) will no doubt prove to be one of the most exciting show seasons for avid dressage fans and newcomers alike. Post-Olympic years are always the best time to catch a little excitement and get a sneak preview of many of the sport’s future greats. A number of horses that were not quite ready to compete against last year’s Olympic hopefuls will make their debut into the grand prix at WEF this year. Newcomers competing against the proven champions is a sure-fire recipe for excitement for spectators and competitors alike.

WEF Dressage Show Dates
This season the Winter Equestrian Festival will host three dressage shows at the Palm Beach Polo and Equestrian Club:
-Wellington Dressage, February 3-6
-Zada Enterprises,LLC, Florida Dressage Classic, February 17-20
-Zada Enterprises, LLC, WEF Dressage Classic CDI, March 17-20

About the Shows
The first show in the WEF Dressage series, the Wellington Dressage show, hosts the $25,000 Windsome Dressage/Show Jumping Spectacular on Saturday afternoon, February 5. In this breathtaking event, dressage riders and jumper riders team up and switch disciplines. The jumper riders compete in a Third Level Dressage competition, while their dressage partners compete over a 3’6” Hit n’ Hurry jump course. The stakes are high as the teams try to win their share of the $25,000 purse and the crowds go wild encouraging them. The six-time winning team made up of dressage rider Bent Jensen and jumper rider Anne Kursinski will be on hand this year to try once more to walk away with the $8,000 first place prize. Spectators trek from as far away as Alaska to catch this spirited competition.

Later in February, the Zada Enterprises Florida Dressage Classic serves as the litmus test for a number of upcoming dressage prospects. Any speculations about “getting lucky” at the first Wellington Dressage show are laid to rest. This show is where the competitor’s pull out the stops and put their best horses to the test, literally. There is always a hush of excitement around the FEI arena at this show and for many horses this will be the turning point in their 2005 season.

The culmination of the WEF dressage season takes place in March at the Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI. This important show is a USEF championship qualifier and the outcome of the CDI show is noted around the world. For competitors, it is chance to see where they rank amidst the nation’s best and for spectators, it is the show they will refer to when they say “I was there when…" The show is the final opportunity for top competitors to put a successful notch in their WEF dressage belts and every rider knows how important the outcome is. Spectators will see past and future Olympians merge and the outcome is rarely predictable.

Who to Watch For
Olympic addicts will not be disappointed this year, as five-time Olympian and 2004 Team Bronze medalist, Robert Dover is planning to compete his Olympic partner, Kennedy, at the WEF shows with the goal of qualifying for the World Cup. In addition, long-time Dover protégé, Katherine Bates will show the grand prix on Rainer.

Also watch for recently returned U.S. rider Lisette Milner competing in the grand prix on her impressive chestnut stallion, Eminence. The pair spent the last 18 months training with Ernst Hoyos in Germany and left their last European competition winning both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special.

Also recently returned from competing in Europe, will be Canadian rider Shannon Deuck competing her veteran grand prix partner, Korona, and her exciting young horse, Pegasus. Pegasus will make his I-2 debut and Deuck hopes to have him out at the grand prix by the end of the season. Deuck likes to show at the WEF shows because “the crowds and excitement at WEF mimic the activity levels at the European Shows." This is important as she has sets her sights on Aachen and WEG for 2006. Fellow Canadian Cheryl Meisner will also be competing at WEF dressage shows as she continues to cut her teeth in the grand prix arena.

The Danes will also have excellent representation at the WEF dressage shows, with Danish Team rider Lars Peterson hoping to continue his grand prix dominance aboard his very successful grand prix partner, Dansko’s Success, and Danish Olympian Bent Jensen will strive to continue his winning streak at fourth level with his young stallion, Rockefeller. Both Peterson and Jensen were victorious last fall at Devon and Dressage at the National and will be two to watch at the WEF shows.

Meanwhile Columbians, Marco Bernal and Dr. Cesar Parra have big plans for the WEF shows, too. Bernal will debut the nine-year old Danish gelding, Scorpion, at grand prix, while continuing to develop his successful PSG and I-1 mounts, Playboy and Halbgott. Also causing a stir, are Brenal's young black Westphalian stallions, Maybach and Farewell IV. Both of these eye-catching three-year-old stallions are approved and Maybach already debuted in the awards ceremony at Dressage at the National, where the black stallion captivated spectators while taking High Score of the Show honors.

Dr. Parra is equally excited about his prospects at WEF. “We are concentrating on getting our younger horses out in preparation for the future Pan AM Games and WEG”, said Parra. But he is also very excited about showing the musical freestyle with his grand prix partner, Galant du Serein, who he hopes will qualify for the wild card slot at the Freestyle Championships in Las Vegas.

Also looking forward to WEF dressage are American riders, Karen Lipp and Heather Bender. Lipp has three FEI mounts to compete, including Region Three Champion, Caribi, who is “really improving in his grand prix work” according to Lipp. Lipp plans to spend time in Europe this summer and knows WEF is an excellent preparation. Heather Bender and her grand prix mount, Winwood, have had success at Wellington and are planning to use the WEF shows to kick it up a notch. Bender is developing Winwood’s talents and has high hopes for him at the WEF dressage shows this season.

Find Out More
The Winter Equestrian Festival is held at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club allocated on Pierson Road off South Shore Blvd. in Wellington, FL. For more information, visit or call (561) 793-5867.

Photo: Robert Dover on FBW Kennedy
Photo Credit: Cheryl Bender