2006 Winter Equestrian Festival Dressage Competition Kicks Off
with Wellington Dressage, February 2-5, in Wellington, Florida

WELLINGTON, FL – January 16, 2006 –

Wellington Dressage, the first of three dressage shows featured at the 2006 Winter Equestrian Festival, kicks off the season with four days of competition, February 2 through 5, at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida. Wellington Dressage will showcase dressage competition in four rings, with more than 200 horses from across the nation entered to compete. Competition will include 60 classes encompassing Training Level through Grand Prix, with over 20 Musical Freestyle rides. Featured classes include qualifying competition for the 2006 World Equestrian Games Selection Trials, and qualifiers for the 2006 USEF National Grand Prix Championship and USEF National USEF Intermediaire I Championship.

Anne Kursinski and Bent Jensen, winners of the $25,000 Windsome Dressage/Jumper Spectacular at the 2005 Wellington Dressage show. Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Highlighting Wellington Dressage is the annual $25,000 Windsome Dressage/Show Jumping Team Spectacular scheduled for 3:00 pm on Saturday, February 4, in which topnotch dressage riders and show jumpers pair up and switch disciplines to vie for the biggest chunk of the show’s $45,000 total purse. Jumpers will ride Third Level Test 3 and dressage riders will jump a Hit ‘n’ Hurry course up to 3’ 6”. Entries include the longtime defending champions – show jumping Olympian Anne Kursinski and dressage Olympian Bent Jensen – who have won this event more than half a dozen times. Newcomers to the class include dressage rider Nicole Levy, a Team Bronze Medalist at the 2002 NAYRC, paired with Ireland’s Olympic show jumper, Kevin Babbington; and dressage rider Heather Bender, who has earned her USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals, paired with Grand Prix show jumper Roberto Teran of Colombia, who has represented his country in Nations’ Cup competition.  For 10 consecutive years, Mr. John Deuss and Windsome Farm have sponsored Wellington Dressage and this popular featured class, which always draws a large and enthusiastic crowd.
 
At the FEI level (Federation Equestre International, which includes Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire, and Grand Prix), Wellington Dressage will feature 23 classes, including six major qualifying competitions.  The FEI qualifiers will provide a preview of the contenders for this year’s National Championships and the World Equestrian Games (WEG) Selection Trials. The National Championships and WEG Selection Trials will be held at the USET Foundation headquarters, June 15-18, in Gladstone, New Jersey. Wellington Dressage will also feature two Region 3 designated qualifying competitions for the 2006 North American Young Riders Championships (NAYRC), which will be held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia, August 1-6, for riders aged 16-21. Additionally, the Wellington Dressage show will feature qualifiers for the GAIG/USDF (Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation) Regional Championships held in eight regions across the country.
 
Kicking off the USEF High Performance  (HP) qualifiers on Thursday, February 2, is the USEF Prix St. Georges with a powerful field of 15 entries that includes three Olympians – Bent Jensen, Charlotte Bredahl Baker, and Michelle Gibson – and champion performers such as Silke Rembacz, Patricia Becker, and Nancy Polozker.  On Friday, February 3, qualifying action continues with three featured classes: the FEI Young Rider Team Test, the USEF Intermediaire I, and the USEF Grand Prix with 16 entries, including renowned riders George Williams, Charlotte Bredahl Baker, Michael Barisone, Lisette Milner, Arlene ‘Tuny’ Page, Karin Reid Offield, and Kathy Von Ertfelda; these riders will also compete in the featured qualifier on Saturday, February 4, the USEF Grand Prix Special, along with topnotch contenders Jennifer Baumert, Melissa Taylor Yee, Heather Blitz, Tami Hoag, Marco Bernal, Kathy Priest, Paige Finnegan, and Betsy Rebar-Sell.
 
Sunday, February 5, wraps up the qualifying classes with rides to music featuring the USEF Intermediaire Freestyle, USEF Grand Prix Freestyle, and FEI Young Rider Freestyle. The traditional ‘Freestyle Sunday’ at the Winter Equestrian Festival will also feature FEI classes for riders not vying in the qualifiers, with the Intermediaire Freestyle presenting a strong list of entries, highlighted by international competitors including Germany’s Mirja Block; Canada’s Ashley Holzer, Tom Dvorak, and Dominique Culham; and Brazil’s Pia Aragao; as well as topnotch U.S. riders Jacqueline Brooks, Bent Jensen, Nicole Levy, and Jane Cleveland. 
 
Officiating at Wellington Dressage will be a distinguished panel of international judges at the FEI rings: Natalie Lamping 'I', Marianne Ludwig 'I', Joan MaCartney 'I' and Lois Yukins 'I'.   Judging Training through Fourth Level will be Maryall Barnett 'C', Jane Weatherwax 'C', Susan Roberto 'R', and Lynda Southam 'R'.
 
In addition to ribbons and prize money awarded to the top six places in each class, at the conclusion of the show High Score Awards for Champion and Reserve Champion will be presented to the top two horse/rider combinations in each of the following divisions: First Level, Second Level, Third Level, and Fourth Level.
 
Stadium Jumping, Inc., producer of the Winter Equestrian Festival, produces Wellington Dressage, and the two upcoming shows on the 2006 Florida winter dressage circuit in Wellington, including this year’s U.S. League Final:
* Zada Enterprises, L.L.C. Florida Dressage Classic - February 16-19.
* Zada Enterprises, L.L.C. WEF Dressage Classic, CDI 3*/Y - March 16-19.
* USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship / U.S. League Final CDI-W, the Official Selection for the 2006 FEI World Cup Dressage Final, March 17-18.
 
USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship / U.S. League Final  –
Jockey Club Tables Available for March 18-19 Evening Competitions/Celebrations
The USEF National Grand Prix Freestyle Championship / U.S. League Final consists of two competitions, which will be featured as evening classes held under the lights in the De Nemethy Arena. The Grand Prix will be contested on Friday night, March 17, and the Grand Prix Musical Freestyle will be featured on Saturday night, March 18. From the top finishers of the 12 competitors, two riders who are qualified and eligible to compete will be selected to represent the United States in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final, to be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 20-23, 2006.  Celebratory evening events will be held during the competition on Friday and Saturday nights, including a gala “Dancing Under the Stars” benefit for the USET Foundation, in the Jockey Club overlooking the De Nemethy Arena. For table reservations, contact Kendra Cecieta at Phelps Media Group, Inc. International at 561-753-3389.

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