World’s Best Equestrian Competition At 2016 WEF

images from the january 2016 issue of wellington the magazine. all content ©2016 wellington the magazine

World’s Best Equestrian Competition At 2016 WEF

The 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival is now underway at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The 37th annual show series opened Jan. 13 and continues through April 3. The 12-week circuit is world-renowned for its size, scope and caliber of competition, featuring more than $9 million in prize money. While WEF brings the best equestrians in the world to Wellington each winter, the festival also welcomes everyone from the local area to enjoy everything that the show grounds has to offer.

WEF is the largest and longest-running circuit in equestrian sports, with riders from 33 countries and all 50 U.S. states represented. WEF hosts the nation’s premier events for children, juniors, adults and amateurs — for riders from age 2 to age 70 — in more than 70 unique divisions of competition. More than 6,000 horses compete within the circuit.

PBIEC is one of the finest venues in the world for equestrian sports, and its growth has ushered in a new level of competition in the United States. The expansive facility features 500 acres, 12 competition arenas, 256 permanent stalls for horses, horse trails, pedestrian paths, dedicated shopping areas, food vendors and more, making it a place anyone can appreciate, whether an equestrian or a spectator.

WEF has stepped up its visibility worldwide with major cable sports network broadcasts of the biggest events of the season. Last year’s television coverage included shows on NBC Sports. More television will be included for this year’s circuit, and people from around the world can watch all the major events at WEF online at Live streaming has become an ideal way for equestrian sport fans to follow along with the competition.

Highlights of this year’s WEF include four weeks of CSI 5* competition. The first five-star class of the season is the $380,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 5* on Feb. 13 during WEF Week 5. Following that are the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI 5* on Feb. 27 in WEF Week 7 and the $380,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI 5* on March 12 during WEF Week 9. The final five-star is the culminating event of the season, the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* on April 2.

International competition will also feature the popular $150,000 FEI Nations Cup on Friday, March 4, during week eight’s CSIO 4* competition, as well as 52 FEI World Ranking classes throughout the circuit.

WEF hosts the best competition in the country, with 73 professional and amateur divisions for hunters, jumpers and equitation. Special hunter and equitation events include the USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular on Saturday, Feb. 20 in WEF Week 6; the George Morris Excellence in Equitation presented by Alessandro Albanese on Friday, March 25 in WEF Week 11; and the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Dietrich Insurance and hosted by Tailored Sportsman, on April 2-3 in WEF Week 12.

Other top jumper events include the $170,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, with seven classes for the best young show jumpers throughout the circuit; the Hollow Creek Farm Children’s/Junior/Young Rider Nations Cups on Saturday, March 5; and the $10,000 Holtgers 5 Year Old Jumper Classic, $15,000 Adequan 6 Year Old Jumper Classic and $20,000 Adequan 7 Year Old Jumper Classic, all held during WEF Week 12.

The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments, an exciting pro-am show jumping event, will take place for the seventh year on Saturday, Feb. 6. The event has raised more than $7.5 million for more than 150 Palm Beach County charities over the past six years, becoming the largest single-day net charitable event in Florida.

Friday nights will feature action in the main arena at the Stadium at PBIEC throughout the circuit. The Stadium, built on almost 60 acres, features a beautifully manicured grass derby field with natural obstacles adjacent to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival grounds, which house a main arena surrounded by grandstand seating and the Global Pavilion, 200 permanent stalls, the Wellington Equestrian Realty Arena that can fit three regulation-size dressage arenas, and the Van Kampen Arena, one of the world’s largest covered arenas.

In addition to the facility being home to world-class dressage, it will also host exciting grand prix events, horse exhibitions and equestrian clinics. It is the home to the Palm Beach Riding Academy, where everyone is welcome to take lessons or make a weekend experience at PBIEC. Horses are available for lease to ride and to show.

During WEF Week 6, six different show jumping events will be staged at the Stadium, both in the International Ring and on the grass derby field. Both venues offer variety for horses and riders. Spectators will get to enjoy a Sunday afternoon sitting on the grass berm watching show jumping in the sunny Florida weather. One of these featured events is the $216,000 Ariat Grand Prix CSI 4* on Feb. 7, during WEF Week 4.

Also held at the Stadium is the WEF Sport Horse Auction on March 3, hosted at night in the International Ring. Spectators can see some of the most amazing young horses from The Netherlands and see how the bids add up to take home these talented mounts.

The Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, is another thrilling event staged at the Stadium, featuring the Olympic sport of eventing. Spectators can watch a new discipline as it expands in popularity in Wellington.

The Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series and Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series each feature increased prize money and more opportunities for international riders to earn valuable world ranking points throughout the circuit. They are an easy way to see the top riders in the world competing against up-and-coming stars in a relaxed daytime setting.

Thousands of equestrians call Wellington home each winter, and it’s no surprise, since opportunities abound for competition, training, gaining experience, selling horses and more at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The world is welcome to visit PBIEC to learn more about equestrian sports and appreciate the beauty and strength of horses in action.

To learn more about the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival, visit