FTI Rider Challenge and Global Champions Tour Return; CSIO 5* Wellington and Friday Night Nations’ Cup Highlight Star Studded Schedule
Wellington, FL – January 18, 2007 – The 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival debuts on January 24, 2007, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club on Pierson Road in Wellington, Florida. This year’s festival, the nation’s longest and consecutively running equestrian sporting event, celebrates its 35th year in Florida.
The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) features eight weeks of back-to-back horse shows in Wellington and two weeks in Tampa. Included are the two richest show jumping events in the United States offering over a half a million dollars in prize money. The €300,000 CN Worldwide Florida Open Grand Prix during the Wellington portion of the tour, and the United States’ most prestigious outdoor show jumping event, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday, April 7, 2006.
The top hunter, jumper, equitation, and dressage riders from around the globe compete at WEF, and in 2007, riders and horses from more than 35 countries are expected to pay a visit to South Florida.
While up to eight rings (thirteen on the weekend) simultaneously showcase beautifully trained mounts and superior riders ranging from Children’s Ponies to World Class Hunters, the Grand Prix show jumpers are usually what attracts the greatest crowds.
The one-million-dollar plus Grand Prix series features high-stakes show jumping competitions every Thursday and Sunday with a stellar line-up of world class athletes. Topping the list of U.S. riders competing this year are World Equestrian Games (WEG) team silver medalists McLain Ward and Beezie Madden. Madden was a double medalist at WEG, taking home the individual silver medal at Aachen this past summer. Ward, at the National Horse Show in December, won the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship. Laura Kraut and Margie Engle, also part of the WEG team silver medal effort, will be at this year’s 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival. Engle, home based in Wellington, was just named the AGA Rider of the Year for the tenth time in her amazing career.
Madden and Ward are joined by Chris Kappler, their Olympic gold medal teammate from the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. He will be joined by American superstars like Kent Farrington, Molly Ashe, Jeffery Welles, Leslie Howard, Georgina Bloomberg, and many more.
Returning to WEF for 2007 is the wonderfully popular $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge, a rider bonus pool of $200,000. Riders will accumulate points from their performances in the Thursday and Sunday Grand Prix events. The rider with the most points on March 17 will be awarded $100,000. Second place will be given $50,000, third place will receive $30,000, and $20,000 will be given to fourth place. FTI Consulting of Annapolis, MD, is sponsoring the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge.
Following its world-wide debut last year at WEF, the tremendously successful Global Champions Tour returns during the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival. The tour links eight of the world’s most prestigious outdoor show jumping events and begins in Wellington during the CN Worldwide Wellington Finale, March 14-18, 2007.
World class riders from around the globe that expect to call Wellington home this year include Olympic individual gold medalist and three-time World Cup Champion, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil, and four-time Olympians from Great Britain, Nick Skelton and Michael Whitaker.
One of the highlights of show jumping in Wellington is the Nations’ Cup, a competition that pits teams of show jumpers from multiple countries against each other in two rounds of competition. The 2007 FEI Nations’ Cup, CSI 5* presented by CN will be held on Friday, March 9, marks the sixth time that the Winter Equestrian Festival will host this prestigious international event. Making the competition especially exciting, the Nations’ Cup will once again be held at night under lights in the Internationale Arena.
The Course Designers for this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival read like a “Who’s Who” of the world’s best designers. They include Uliano Vezzani of Italy, Michel Vaillancourt of Canada, Aki Ylaenne of Finland, Germany’s Olaf Petersen and Olaf Petersen, Jr., 2008 Olympic Course Designers Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela and Steve Stephens of the United States, Jose Gamarra of Bolivia, Brazil’s Guilherme Nogueira Jorge, and Robert Ellis and Stephen Renouard of Great Britain.
In addition to the over $1 million Grand Prix series, $500,000 in prize money is offered in the various additional divisions for Open Jumpers. Theirs is over $300,000 in the Amateur Owner section, a Junior Jumper section worth over $200,000 and close to $400,000 offered for Adult Amateur, Senior, and Pony Jumpers. Young Jumpers in three different age groups, will compete for well over $112,000 in prize money.
This year’s Winter Equestrian Festival will be the richest on record and should be one of the most exciting and competitive equestrian competitions ever held.
Results, orders of go, and more from the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival are on-line at Shownet. http://www.shownet.biz
. Free downloadable software is available on line.
Live video web casts available from this year’s WEF. Whether you’re a horse owner, family member or friend of a rider, or an equestrian enthusiast in general, you can watch your favorite horses and riders compete live as it happens from Wellington or Tampa by logging on to http://www.ProductionsEast.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Beezie Madden, pictured here on Authentic, was the winner of the inaugural $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge at the Winter Equestrian Festival in 2006. Photo ©2006 PMG Pictures/Peter Llewellyn.
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