The 12th annual Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) started off its 12-week competition circuit in Wellington on Jan. 11 and runs until March 31. With two weeks off during the first four weeks, the show runs consecutively for the last eight weeks.
During these weeks, some of the top Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) dressage riders from around the world will ride in the AGDF International Ring to compete and qualify for numerous championships, including the World Cup, Festival of Champions and the North American Youth Championships. Spectators are welcome to watch their favorite riders compete from Thursday through Sunday each CDI week.
AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur invites everyone out to the dressage festival showgrounds at Equestrian Village to enjoy all the beautiful horses and great performances.
The high point of each week is the Friday Night Stars event featuring Grand Prix freestyles from some of the top riders around the world.
“Our highlight of the week is always the Friday Night Stars with the musical freestyles,” Baur said. “That is always something very entertaining, and we have a lot of spectators there. That, for me, is the most recommended part of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.”
In addition to the freestyles on Friday evenings, the two most prestigious events are the Nations Cup taking place during Week 7 and the CDI5* during Week 10 hosted at Wellington International. Some of the countries that will be represented during the circuit aside from the United States will be Germany, France, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Sweden, Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela, Singapore, Turkey, Belgium, Chile and Switzerland.
Baur is very excited to see the flags of so many different countries on display at the AGDF, representing the many foreign dressage riders who have made the trip to spend the winter here in Wellington.
“At the Nation’s Cup week, we have seven countries being represented, and that is really something very special to have that many teams from different countries all across the world — from Europe, South America and North America,” Baur said.
The $15,000 Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix series for horses eight to 10 years of age and the $10,000 Future Challenge/Young Horse Prix St. Georges series for horses ages seven to nine years old will be held over the season as well. Riders have five weeks of qualifying chances at the AGDF during weeks 3, 5, 7, 8, and 10. The top two horses from each week will be qualified for the final to be held during AGDF Week 11. This event gives riders and trainers the chance to showcase their talented young horses in the International Ring in an exciting and electric environment without the pressure of international competition.
The most popular night of the season will be during Week 10 when dressage takes over Wellington International. The iconic International Ring will host the CDI5*, preparing the riders for a summer spent in Europe in intensely competitive environments.
“In Week 10, which is the dressage five-star week, we will have the Friday Night Stars across the street at the big jumping stadium,” Baur said. “It’s mainly for the top horses to see something else, not always at the same showgrounds, and it will also allow us to accommodate more spectators for the five-star night.”
This season is extra special because spectators are once again able to see Olympic riders such as Adrienne Lyle. Lyle is highly decorated and won the Olympic team bronze medal with her teammates Sabine Schut-Kery and Steffen Peters. She will compete with Betsy Juliano’s stallion Salvino and show in many Friday Night Stars events to prepare for the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha.
Two weeks of the season, Week 3 and Week 9, will also feature para-dressage. Para-dressage is the only equestrian sport in the Paralympics, and riders compete in one of five different grades based on the rider’s ability and what movements are allowed in each test. Grade I is a walk-only test, while Grades II and III are walk and trot. Grades IV and V are walk, trot and canter. The riders will compete in these three-day events with a freestyle on the final day. The para-dressage events will include one of the most decorated para riders, Roxanne Trunnell, who won an individual gold medal in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
For more information about the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.