World of Showjumping
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The Winter Equestrian Festival kicks off twelve weeks of competition

Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Winter Equestrian Festival 2018

Photo (c) Sportfot Chloe Reid, Liza Boyd, Kent Farrington, Michael Stone, Allyn Mann, and Juan Matute, Jr. at the opening press conference for the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. Photo (c) Sportfot.

Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) hosted an opening press conference on Tuesday, January 9, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, to start the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuits.

The 12-week WEF will host thousands of the world’s best horses and riders competing in the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines starting Wednesday, January 10, and running through April 1.

Tuesday's press conference panel included Equestrian Sport Productions' President Michael Stone, Allyn Mann of Adequan®, world number one ranked show jumper Kent Farrington, three-time USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winner Liza Boyd, top 10 Under 25 showjumper Chloe Reid and world number three Under 25 dressage rider Juan Matute Jr.

"We are delighted that Rolex is once again our major sponsor here and the sponsor of the five-star grand prix during week seven as well as the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* in our final week. They are a major partner of everything that we do, and we’re very thankful to have them,” said Stone.

Starting out the 2018 season of “Saturday Night Lights,” the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes, presented by Wellington Regional Medical Center, is on Saturday, January 13. The three-phase team event always provides a high-level of entertainment and fun action for the community to cheer on.

The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, is another great community event that will add to the over $10 million already raised and distributed to over 200 Palm Beach County charities in its ninth year. The event will be held on Saturday, February 3, with teams of pro-am riders putting on an exciting and philanthropic night of competition to benefit 35 local charities.

This year’s WEF will host four weeks of CSI 5* competition, with a CSI 2* division running concurrently during each week once again, which allows riders and horses of different levels to contest international competition. The highlight $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* will be on Saturday, March 31, returning to its normal schedule during the final week 12 of the circuit.

During weeks 4 and 11, FEI jumper competition will be held on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. Stone said, “This is to respond to the requests for a change from the riders and to have an alternative for the horses over the long season. We have two full weeks of competition there, which I think will be very exciting.”

Rolex testimonee and U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington will look to maintain his number one ranking in the world by gaining valuable FEI ranking points throughout the 12 weeks of competition.

He noted, “For me, Wellington is home. It’s a great time for me to do two things at once, which is produce my horses for the future and be able to stay in one spot where I’m not at a different venue every week. At the same time, we have high-level competition, so I can take my experienced horses and kind of gear them and their schedule around what I want to do for the rest of the year. I would say early on here, I’m going to try to have my younger horses do most of the jumping, and I’ll save my seasoned veterans for bigger competition toward the end.”

Speaking of the evolution of the Winter Equestrian Festival, Farrington said, “I think over the course of the last ten years, we’ve seen great improvements in infrastructure and bringing on big brands like Rolex has helped elevate the level of the show, not only from an exposure point of view, but also from the level of competition. If you look at the number of top equestrians that are in Wellington today versus 20 years ago, I think those numbers would be staggering. A lot of people are using this now as a home base to produce horses and also to compete at a high level. So for me the growth in the sport and the exposure has been great for all of us.”

Hermés has become the new title sponsor of the Under 25 division at WEF. Speaking of the importance of the division for riders, Chloe Reid said, “Being able to jump the U25 Nations’ Cup gave me a lot of experience to then jump the senior Nations’ Cup here for the U.S. team. It gives riders all of this experience to then hopefully go to Europe and represent your country. It is another stepping-stone that I think has done a great job of producing our young riders. It’s amazing to have Hermés as the title sponsor, and the riders definitely feel important and honored to be so well represented.”







Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions // Picture © Sportfot

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