I’m not sure we eventers knew quite what to expect when we heard the sport was heading to Wellington. This is hallowed pure dressage and show jumping ground, but eventing in Welly World?
After the end of our first day here in Wellington at this inaugural $50,000 showcase, all I can say is that the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Equestrian Sport Production and CEO Mark Bellissimo have raised the bar substantially in the past 24 hours.
From the excellent footing in both the main arena and on the cross country course to the hospitality for the owners (and the journalists!) and what can only be described as a world class facility, the eventers are getting spoiled rotten this weekend.
Here are six quotes from this afternoon’s press conference that give you an idea of what the riders are thinking about the venue and this $50,000 purse. And be sure to check out EN’s Instagram for more photos from Wellington.
Boyd Martin: “It’s an absolute honor and a privilege to be here in Wellington. I think it’s probably the best horse trial I’ve ever been to. When you consider the organization, the arenas we’re riding in, the marquee for the owners — it’s fantastic to think our sport is climbing up to that caliber, and I think all the riders are blown away by the standard of competition. It’s a real thrill to be riding here.”
Michael Pollard: “If we continue putting on events like this, we might attract Europeans here instead of having to go there all the time.”
Marilyn Little: “It’s funny to be eventing in Wellington. This is certainly home turf, but it’s very new turf. I’ve jumped a lot of jumps on that field, but not quite like that. I knew as soon as we knew who the organizers were there was no doubt it would be an incredible weekend. They are experienced at making magic happen. This looks like it has all the potential to be a big event.”
Boyd Martin: “The event is first class in every department. It’s important for the people that support the horses. All my crew are having a fantastic time, having lunch and looking up at a flat screen TV to see scores. Tomorrow they’ll be watching the cross country from the shade of this marquee. The dressage and show jumping footing are sensational. The cross country field is irrigated turf. It doesn’t get much better. I think it’s fantastic.”
Michael Pollard: “For the owners, it’s the most important thing to give them something back … That gives them some hope rather than just an endless money pit.”
Marilyn Little: “The financial incentive of the weekend is a drop in the bucket, but it’s a show of respect for what it takes to get the horses ready. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”
Kudos to the organizers for putting on a fantastic affair so far, and stay tuned for much more from #WellyEventing.