The dressage world turns its focus to Wellington, Florida this week as many top competitors from throughout the world will go head-to-head at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage. This prestigious event will take place once again at the Palm Beach County Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, January 24-26. The United States has a strong presence in this year's competition as five Americans are set to compete at the only North American stop in the World Dressage Masters Series presented by the Axel Johnson Group. The two-time defending champion, Steffen Peters, returns to Florida from his San Diego, California base looking to score a hat-trick in 2013. The three-time Olympian brings a rising star this year in Legolas 92. The previous two years, Peters has dominated the event with his 2009 FEI World Cup champion and 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games Bronze medal winning partner, Ravel, who was retired following the London Olympic Games. Despite the big shoes to fill, Four Winds Farm's 11-year-old Westphalian gelding looks to be up to the task after claiming the 2012 USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Championship.
Joining Peters in Wellington are two of his teammates from the Olympic Games in London, Tina Konyot and Adrienne Lyle. Konyot (Palm City, FL) brings her 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and 2012 Olympic Games partner Calecto V. Konyot's 15-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion was the sixth place finisher in the Freestyle at the 2012 World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI4* presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach. Lyle (Ketchum, ID) and Parry and Peggy Thomas' 13-year-old Oldenberg gelding Wizard enjoyed an extremely successful 2012 that kicked off with a win at this competition in January. The pair that trains with U.S. legend Debbie McDonald, jumped started a season in which they made their Olympic debut with a win in the Grand Prix Special at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Rounding out the U.S. entries are Heather Blitz with her own Paragon, while James Koford will ride Shirley McQuillan's Rhett. Blitz (Wellington, FL) and the 10-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding have been turning heads since winning Team Gold and Individual Silver at the 2011 Pan American Games. Koford (Raleigh, NC) and Rhett, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, are looking to capitalize on the form they have been generating over the last few years.
The U.S. competitors will look to showcase their top form in a truly international field. Sweden's top two ranked pairs, Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven with Don Aurilio and Patrik Kittel with Watermill Scandic, have been spending time in Florida in 2013 and look to break onto the podium. Additionally, two Dutch veterans Edward Gal and Inter Floor Next One along with Hans Peter Minderhoud riding Whitney van't Genthof will utilize their vast experience as they try and earn top spots. Entries from Denmark, Italy and Canada also make up a well-rounded field.
All competitors will perform in the WDM Nürnberger Grand Prix on Friday afternoon which will break the competition into two groups. Saturday half of the competitors perform in the WDM Grand Prix Special beginning at 2pm ET. While the top competitors vie for bragging rights in the WDM Freestyle Saturday evening beginning at 7:30pm ET.
For more information about the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach presented by Wellington Classic Dressage visit; http://www.worlddressagemasters.com/archives/event/wdm-palm-beach-2013