West Palm Beach, Florida – Competition kicks off Feb. 12 for the Wellington Classic Dressage Spring Challenge CDI-W/Y/J and with it another round of competition in the Wild Card Challenge. Wild Card Challenge classes will be held from Training Level to Grand Prix with the chance to win an instant $500. And Courtney King-Dye can attest to how much fun that is. King-Dye pulled a Joker from the deck during the Wellington Classic Sunshine Challenge held Jan. 30-31 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. Jokers earn competitors an instant $500. King-Dye won three Wild Card classes during that competition and thus was allowed to pull three cards from the deck.
In all, she won four classes at the Sunshine Challenge – a First Level Test 3 and Test 4 with Atomic, scoring 72.286 and 73.158 respectively; FEI Intermediate II with Grandioso and a score of 66.842 and an FEI Test of Choice with Don Principe with a score of 69.211.
It was the first time that King-Dye had played the Wild Card Challenge and she was rather stunned to have won. "We get to place the Jokers in the deck before the deck is shuffled and my husband said, 'Keep your eye on it, honey, so you know where it is!' He was joking, of course. I just looked him straight in the eye during the shuffle and said, 'No, I don't need to, I know where it is.' I was joking as well, of course. Then John fanned out the deck to let me pick the card, and I just went straight to a card, pulled it out and it was the Joker! I just looked at Jason and said, 'See?' before I realized that I really actually had pulled a Joker! So amazing! Then the disbelief set in."
King-Dye said she actually loves playing poker but rarely wins. The Wild Card Challenge allows competitors who win Wild Card classes to draw a card. A Joker brings an instant $500. The goal for competitors is to gather enough cards during the Wellington Classic Dressage winter show season to have a winning hand. The most valuable hand a competitor can win is a Royal Flush, worth $50,000. Last year's biggest winner in the competition was Janne Rumbough, who won $5,000 at the end of the 2009 Wild Card Challenge for having the best poker hand.
And what did King-Dye do with her $500 winnings? "Well, I had four grooms at the show, so I gave a hundred dollar bill to Jen, one to Trini, one to Harrison, one to Danny and, of course, one to Jason! It's rare to have extra cash to throw around, so it was very fun to reward the team effort we all put in," she said. "It's quite rare that dressage can be lucrative. I love that this adds a little bit of simple fun to the sport... gives you something to accumulate and get excited about other than dressage scores. I love anything that adds another dimension of fun to our usually serious sport."
Keep track of competitors' poker hands throughout the season at www.wellingtonclassicdressage.com.
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