WELLINGTON, FL – December 6, 2006 – The Cunningham Insurance Dressage Challenge presented by Great American Insurance Group (GAIG) guarantees $50,000 to the winner of all three Grand Prixs at the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival. The rider who meets the challenge will be awarded 50% of the purse and the owner of the horse will receive 50%. The Grand Prixs are scheduled during the 2007 Stadium Jumping, Inc. Dressage Series at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. The show dates and qualifying Grand Prixs are scheduled as follows:
Cosequin Wellington Dressage, February 8-11, 2007
On Friday, February 9, two qualifying Grand Prixs are available. Riders may choose to compete in Class 80 FEI Grand Prix Open or Class 81 FEI Grand Prix USEF HP. Only the horse/rider combination with the highest score from these classes (ties remain) will be considered as qualified to continue in their quest to meet the challenge at the next show.
Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic, February 22-25, 2007
On Friday, February 23, one qualifying Grand Prix is offered, Class 80 FEI Grand Prix. However, if this class is split per USEF rules, the horse/rider combination with the highest score from class 80A and 80B will count. Only the horse/rider combinations with two qualifying wins are qualified to continue in the challenge at the next show.
Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic CDI-W, March 22-25, 2007
The challenge wraps up on Thursday, March 22, with one competition – Class 81 FEI Grand Prix-CDI-W USEF HP. If the horse/rider combination wins this final Grand Prix, and has also won the previous two qualifying Grand Prixs, they will be declared the winner of the $50,000 Cunningham Insurance Dressage Challenge presented by GAIG.
“It’s truly a “triple crown” format, just like in Thoroughbred racing,” noted Mary Silcox, head of dressage at Stadium Jumping, Inc. “You have to win all three Grand Prixs to claim the $50,000. It’s not based on any type of point system and if no one meets the Challenge of winning all three Grand Prixs, no part of the prize money will be awarded.”
Riders Are Up for the $50,000 Cunningham Challenge
The opportunity has certainly captured the interest of Grand Prix dressage riders who will be competing at the 2007 WEF shows.
“I really like the idea,” said Colombian Marco Bernal, a Silver Medalist at both the 1993 Central America and Caribbean Games and the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. “I think it’s a very important type of motivation for owners and Grand Prix riders, and obviously it’s going to be more interesting for the public too,” he explained. “It’s going to bring more people to watch the competition because always, when there is an important prize, people know that everybody is working even harder. Dressage needs things like this because it’s good for everybody - for the owners and the riders and for the whole event. It’s very important.”
Bernal, who is based in Wellington, plans to ride his 2007 World Cup Final candidate Diamore, owned by Meryl and Richard Cannon, in the Cunningham Challenge. “I’m really excited and looking forward to competing in this beautiful event,” Bernal enthused.
Melissa Taylor, who rides the Grand Prix mount Succes – owned and previously shown by Lars Petersen, is aiming to qualify for the 2007 World Cup Final, but shared that she has considered turning the ride back over to Petersen for the Cunningham Challenge. Petersen, who is currently showing Taylor’s small tour horse, Dacardo, is a native of Denmark and has represented his country at one Olympic Games, three World Equestrian Games, and two World Cup Finals.
“I’m still making my relationship with Succes, so I told Lars that perhaps he should take Succes for that – after all, $50,000 is $50,000!” Taylor laughed, and pointed out that she might not lose her Grand Prix mount for the whole season if Petersen took a shot. “If you ride the first one and then don’t win the second one, it’s over.” Taylor and Petersen are partners in Legacy Farms, and she explained, “We share our horses. We work together really well like that.”
Karin Reid Offield owns and rides four Grand Prix mounts – Welt Adel, Tiamo Trocadero, Lingh, and Hexagon’s Louisville – and is aiming for the 2007 World Cup Final with at least one of her candidates. Offield is looking forward to participating in the Cunningham Challenge. “I’d like to win it,” she stated. “I think it’s great for the sport. I know that Tom Cunningham has been trying to put this into action for more than three years and I’m really pleased that everybody jumped on board and he got the job done. I think he’ll follow it up with lots of good things. He’s going to be an important sponsor of our sport, I believe.” With four possible contenders, and as owner/rider, Offield is sitting pretty for the $50,000 purse. “I’ll have to share with my grooms, I’m sure,” she grinned.
Even riders who don’t have a seasoned Grand Prix horse are excited about the Cunningham Challenge. Jan Brons owns Jourdan, a relative newcomer to the Grand Prix, and he is hopeful that his horse will be a contender in the Cunningham Challenge, but if not, he is pleased that the “Challenge” is in place at WEF. “I think it’s a great idea,” Brons said. “It’s wonderful that that much promotion goes on in the dressage.”
Closing Dates for Entries
To participate in the $50,000 Cunningham Insurance Dressage Challenge presented by Great American Insurance Group, riders must participate in all three Grand Prix competitions at the 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival.
Closing dates for the 2007 WEF dressage shows are:
January 5, 2007 for Cosequin Wellington Dressage, February 8-11
January 19, 2007 for Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic, February 22-25
February 20, 2007 for Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic CDI-W, March 22-25
For more information, or to download entry forms, visit http://www.stadiumjumping.com
Stadium Jumping, Inc.
1301 Sixth Avenue West, Ste. 406
Bradenton, FL 34205
Toll free: 800-237-8924
Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock, Inc. offers a complete line of equine insurance products. For more information on Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock Inc., contact:
Sara & Tom Cunningham
562 Route 17M, Suite 3
Monroe, NY 10950
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/winter-equestrian-festival-dressage-cunningham-12-06.html">$50,000 Dressage Challenge for Grand Prix Competitors at 2007 Winter Equestrian Festival</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com