Wellington, FL - The World Dressage Masters Palm Beach CDI5* presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach got off to an auspicious start on Wednesday, March 9th as all 15 horses were presented to the FEI Ground Jury and passed the mandatory inspection. They will go on to compete in the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle over the next two days. The highlight of the WDM Palm Beach is Friday evening's Grand Prix Freestyle, which will be accompanied by a ringside gala dinner inspired by the food and wine of Southern France. Friday evening's performance, which will accommodate 1200 spectators, is now sold out. Following the CDI3* Grand Prix of the Wellington Classic Dressage Challenge II, which is being held concurrently with the WDM Palm Beach, two combinations from that class have accepted invitations to compete in the WDM Palm Beach. Gary Vander Ploeg of Canada and Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic will join the 15 American, European and Canadian riders who were previously invited. Additionally, there has been one change to the original list of competitors: following the withdrawal of Canada's Evi Strasser, another Canadian, Jacqueline Brooks, will take her place with Gran Gesto. Brooks has been a member of the Canadian Dressage Team at the Olympics and World Equestrian Games, and is a Pan American Games team silver medalist. A total of nine nations will be represented at the WDM Palm Beach presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach, including several of the world's leading horse and rider combinations.
Prior to the start of competition on Thursday, riders had an opportunity to train and familiarize their horses with the competition arena. Danish Olympian Anne van Olst, whose horse Exquis Clearwater moved to the competition venue on the weekend, says she is impressed with the work the organizers have done to create a world class atmosphere. "So far everything looks great. They have created a beautiful ambience and the stables are very good. The people are incredibly friendly and have done their best to make us feel comfortable and welcome."
Pierre St. Jacques is one of six Americans competing in the WDM Palm Beach, and he agrees with Van Olst's first impression of the venue. "In the short amount of time they've had to put this together, they have done a fantastic job," he says. "The atmosphere is as nice as any show in Europe. This is what we need more of in the US."
In addition to a complete transformation of the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center to resemble the countryside of Provence, the footing for the competition arena and warm up areas has been enhanced with German Geo Textile footing, a state of the art fibre that is used at many world class venues. "The footing is great," says WDM Palm Beach competitor Shannon Dueck.
Coming annually to West Palm Beach, the World Dressage Masters presented by Axel Johnson Group is unique in North America, being the only five star FEI dressage competition on this continent. Worldwide, it is also the richest dressage series in history, with 400,000 Euros in prize money - 100,000 of which will be awarded at the WDM Palm Beach.
Eurosport Events has teamed up as the official broadcaster of the World Dressage Masters series, and will broadcast highlights from the Grand Prix Freestyle as part of "Wednesday Selection", a weekly prime-time program featuring a selection of the best action from around the world in golf, sailing and equestrian sports. The USEF will provide live webcasting of Friday's Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle. Coverage of the Grand Prix Special will begin at 1 pm EST, and the Freestyle will begin at 7:30 pm EST. The live webcast can be found by going to http://www.usefnetwork.com/WDM2011.
• Steffen Peters (USA) - Ravel
• Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfven (SWE) - Favourit
• Ashley Holzer (CAN) - Pop Art
• Tina Konyot (USA) - Calecto V
• Michal Rapcewicz (POL) - Randon
• Valentina Truppa (ITA) - Chablis
• Anja Ploenzke (GER) - Le Mont d'Or
• Christa Laarakkers (NED) - Ovation
• Anne Van Olst (DEN) - Exquis Clearwater
• Todd Fletrich (USA) - Otto
• Pierre St Jacques (USA) - Lucky Tiger
• Jacqueline Brooks (CAN) - Gran Gesto
• Shannon Dueck (CAN) - Ayscha
• Shawna Harding (USA) - Come On III
• Elisabeth Austin (USA) - Olivier
• Yvonne Losos de Muñiz (DOM) - Dondolo Las Marismas
• Gary Vander Ploeg (CAN) - Cezanne