The highly anticipated €100,000 ($130,000) Exquis World Dressage Masters that brings together some of the top horses and riders in the world kicks off Friday with the Grand Prix of 20 invited riders at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The order of go that was a so-called "straight draw" with no regard to world rankings produced a surprising lineup for the class that begins at 1 p.m. in the centerpiece International Arena.
The first rider on course is USA's Michael Barisone on his Olympic reserve horse Neruda followed by three time Olympic gold medalist and nine time World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven on IPS Painted Black. The pair won the Amsterdam World Cup qualifying competition last weekend. Next in the order is Canada's three-time Olympian Ashley Holzer on Pop Art, fresh from success in Wellington and perched atop the North American League FEI World Cup standings.
In the second block of five rides is American star Steffen Peters on his Olympic mount Ravel followed by the popular Edward Gal on Interfloor Next One. Gal confirmed Thursday that he will ride Lingh, the horse he rode at the 2005 World Cup in Las Vegas to capture the hearts of American dressage fans, for Karin Offield in Sweden on Friday, Feb. 13.
Denmark's Lars Petersen on his Success will follow Gal, then Hans Peter Minderhoud of The Netherlands on Exquis Escapado. He is at the top of the standings of the fiercely competitive West European League.
The draw was made after the veterinary jog during which all 20 horses passed inspection and deemed fit to compete.
The Grand Prix that starts at 1 p.m. Friday is free to spectators who are at the show grounds at noon.
It will be followed on Friday night by a clinic by van Grunsven with six North American horses and riders, open only to holders of reserved seats or seats purchased at the gate.
The Grand Prix Special is scheduled for Saturday during the day with the Grand Prix musical freestyle on Saturday night under lights.
The inaugural Exquis World Dressage Masters at PBIEC followed by three in Europe will conclude with a special exhibition after the frestyle by van Grunsven. Details will be announced Friday.
Tickets for WDM are available online at http://www.equestriansport.com and clicking on Buy Tickets.
Ticket options are:
- International Club $750 for a table of six per night on Friday night or Saturday night, or $1,350 for both nights. Dinner and open bar included.
- International Club individual seats $125 per night on Friday night and Saturday night, or $225 for both nights. Dinner and open bar included.
- VIP boxes $50 for individual seats on Friday night and Saturday night, or $90 for both nights
- Reserved General Admission is $20 per night, or $35 for two nights.
- General admission tickets are available at the gate for $10 or $25 for assigned seating for each night.
For more information, call Annette Goyette at 561 793 5867.
The Wellington competition is the inaugural and only U.S. event in the WDM series. The other competitions are Salzburg Austria, (May 1-3), Munich, Germany, (May 21-24) and Hickstead, Great Britain (July 23-26).
Photo: Dressage riders working in Palm Beach International Equestrian Center's International Arena Thursday before the opening Grand Prix of the €100,000 Exquis World Dressage Masters drew a crowd. The USA's Steffen Peters and Ravel go through their paces. Photo: © 2009 Ilse Schwarz-HorseSport USA