Today I went to the opening Press Conference of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Michael Stone, President at Wellington International, Brianne Goutal -Marteau , Adrienne Lyle and Thomas Bauer,Director of Sport at AGDF were on the panel.
Michael Stone was the first to speak. “Our focus is always on the horses, and the welfare of the horses. We have upgraded the premanent stalls an re-did rings 7 an 8. We have spent over 9 million over time on improvements.” When asked how many horses were competing at theWinter Equestrian Festival he told us there are two to three thousand !
Brianne Goutal-Marteau spoke next . She is an international hunter and jumper competitor as well as a trainer. She said she likes to be at the WEF as it is an ideal opportunity to have a big selection of classes for young horses as well as seasoned horses that have already got lots of experience. She has two young children and she says they spend five months of the year in Wellington and they feel very much at home.
Adrienne Lyle Olympic dressage rider said she agreed with what Brianne had said. At the Adequan Global Dressage Festival there is the opportunity to show green younger horses and to help clients show their horses. They have the chance to show alongside the best of the best. Salvino is her top horse at the moment and she will carefully choose which of the Global Shows to take him in. She loves the Friday night freestyles and said : “It is one of the coolest atmospheres I have ever ridden in my life the Friday nights!”
Thomas Bauer told us that Global will have several CDIs 3* 4* and 5* that will have theGrand Prix classes held in the international arena at Wellington International. He said that entries for the first CDI were up 10% from the previous year. He also told us that the qualfication period for the Paris 2024 Olympics had started on Jan 1.Also this year there are riders competing to get scores to qualify for the Pan American Games in Santiago Chile in the autumn of 2023. And for the CDIO there will be more teams competing.Already they know of Germany,Spain, Canada, USA and Columbia!
We then had a chance to ask questions I asked Michael Stone how much is the amount of prize money that will be awarded at WEF this season. The answer…..$13 million.
The next event I will be going to at WEF is the Great Charity Challenge . This is a very entertaining evening of jumping with riders and horses in costume. Last year they raised $1.8 million that was distrubuted to local charities and non profits that work in the local community.