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Spring Steeplechase Canceled Due to Drought Conditions

WELLINGTON, Fla., Mar. 26--The Spring Steeplechase that was scheduled for Saturday, April 4 has been canceled due to recent drought conditions and a severe weather forecast that could adversely affect the grass track at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

Following months of drought that has weakened the grass roots of the steeplechase track at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the management team had concerns about the safety of the course. Records show that so far this year Wellington has recorded precipitation of 1.63 ins. compared with the annual average for the period of 9.26 ins.

The National Weather Service is now forecasting severe thunderstorms next week that, combined with the recent drought, threaten to jeopardize the safety of the horses and riders in the steeplechase.

Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) that owns and manages PBIEC had scheduled the Spring Steeplechase and its four races over jumps sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association and two celebrity races on the flat for Saturday, April 4. The event was planned after the inaugural Palm Beach Steeplechase last Thanksgiving drew more than 8,000 spectators to the PBIEC Stadium and its grass field that was the original showcase of Wellington's winter equestrian circuit.

ESP will refund all payments made for tickets.

"Our first priority is the safety of the horses," said Mark Bellissimo, Chief Executive Officer of ESP. "Demand for tickets for the Spring Steeplechase is greater at this stage than it was for the inaugural event four months ago.

"Arrangements were being finalized for a day of exciting competition and fun for the whole family to make this second steeplechase as enjoyable and memorable as our inaugural event.

"While disappointed, we look forward to the Fall Palm Beach Steeplechase."

PBIEC Stadium has one of the top grass polo fields among Wellington's dozens of top venues. The venue was originally created as the Palm Beach Polo Club and the scene of games featuring Britain's Prince Charles watched by his then wife, Princess Diana.

The field has been maintained to its original quality and used sparingly for such popular events as last Fall's steeplechase and a jumping derby during this year's FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.


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