The 5* CDI at the first weekend of February is supposed to be the highlight of the annual Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida. In the twelve weeks of competition hosted on the Wellington show grounds, the 5* CDI event always boasts the biggest purse of prize money and the most world ranking points can be earned at that event.
One would expect that the cream of the crop of American dressage would attend such a competition. Alas, this year American high performance dressage excels in its absence.
Only two riders from the U.S. WEG team squad are present in Wellington this weekend: Adrienne Lyle and Shelly Francis. Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass have decided to focus on the World Cup qualifiers this winter and choose Gothenburg over cash. Steffen Peters decided to stay in California and promote the circuit there. 2018 U.S. Grand Prix Champion Charlotte Jorst (based in California) only arrived in town this week and is not yet ready to compete. U.S. WEG team reserve Olivia Lagoy-Weltz and Lonoir haven't shown since their guinea pig ride in Tryon in September. There's no Ashley Holzer on the Grand Prix starting list. Who else is missing?! Ah, Sweden's Tinne Vilhelmson, who annually spends her winters in Florida, decided to skip the 5* after having ridden in the past two CDI-W events.
Just 11 riders are entered for the 5* classes, and 26 will ride in the 3* tour, so a total of 37 Grand Prix riders competing on the 5* star weekend of 2019. For comparison, there were 18 5* riders in 2018 and 30 in the 3* tour (a total of 48 Grand Prix riders in 2018). In 2017 there were 20 in the 5* tour and 27 in the 3* tour (a total of 47 Grand Prix riders in 2017). In 2016 there were 30 in the 5* tour and 37 riders in the 3* tour (a total of 67 Grand Prix riders in 2016!!).
But do not despair! The 5* event is brightened by the presence of world number one Isabell Werth, who will be conducting a Masterclass on Thursday 7 February 2019. Werth will be teaching six riders in an open lesson and seats for the masterclass have almost fully sold out!
Also, after a not so pleasant January month when it comes to the weather -- there was quite a lot of rain and wind - this has now changed for the 5* week as there is lovely sunshine and comfortable 25° centigrade temperatures. The holiday feeling is certainly there!
Eurodressage's Astrid Appels is on the scene this week for the 5* event. Check out a selection of photos from the horse inspection today. All horses passed
Photos © Astrid Appels