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Dressage Competitions At Winter Equestrian Festival Are Qualifiers For Olympic Selection Trials

WELLINGTON, FL - January 21, 2004 - There is always an electrified air around the dressage rings during seasons when riders are qualifying for international competitions such as the World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. This year promises to reach high voltage at the 34th annual Winter Equestrian Festival, January 28 through March 21, in Wellington, FL, when two United States Equestrian Team Federation (USETF) Qualifying Competitions (formerly USET Qualifying Competitions) for the Olympic Games Selection Trials will take place. Those competitions are Wellington Dressage, February 5-8, and Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic CDI, March 18-21. Stars of the dressage world are entered and ready for the rigorous route to Athens, Greece, including Robert Dover, Shelly Francis, Ruth Hogan-Poulsen, Arlene Page, James Armstrong, and Monica Sinks.

There are 29 Qualifying Competitions held across the nation during the qualifying period, which began Summer 2003 and will finish June 4, 2004. Rider/horse combinations are required to compete in a minimum of two USETF Qualifying Competitions, one of which must be a Concours de Dressage International (CDI). They must complete the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at one of the qualifiers, and at the other, the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle. Riders that complete more than two qualifiers are allowed a drop score. However, the CDI may not be used as a drop score if it was the only CDI completed.

Riders have one more criterion to fulfill - they must be eligible for an FEI Certificate of Capability. To obtain that, they must have scored at least 63% from an "O" Judge (FEI Official International Dressage Judge) of a nationality other than their own, in the Grand Prix at two CDI***/CDI-Ws or shows with more than a three-star rating, between January 1, 2003 and June 4, 2004.

Then, based on highest average scores in the designated qualifying competitions, the top 12 riders will be invited by the USETF to compete in the Dressage Selection Trials for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. The Trials will be held at Oaks Blenheim in San Juan Capistrano, CA, over two weekends - June 11-13 and June 17-20. Three riders will be selected at the Trials and the fourth rider/horse combination will be selected in Europe. A team of four plus one alternate will travel to Greece to represent the US in the XXVIII Summer Olympic Games, which are scheduled for August 13-29, 2004.

What this all means for spectators at the Winter Equestrian Festival is that they will have the opportunity to watch some of this country's most accomplished riders on world-class horses vying to earn scores that will insure an invitation to the Selection Trials. It's a great opportunity to preview and cheer on potential members of the US Olympic Dressage squad.

Information about the qualifying competitions and the selection process is available on the USEF and USET websites at and or by contacting Marilyn Adams, USETF Director of Dressage, at (908) 234-0848. The full selection procedures will be available on the USEF and USET websites as approved by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Show days for the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival are Wednesday through Sunday. Gates open at 8:00 am. Ticket Prices: Wednesdays are free to everyone; Children 12 and under are admitted free every day; Young Adults 13 to 18 and Seniors are $5 on Thursday through Sunday; Adults are $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. The Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club is located on Pierson Road off South Shore Boulevard.

For additional information, visit or call 561-793-5867.

January 28 - February 1 Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic CSI***
February 4 - 8 Bayer/USET Gold Coast Jumper Classic CSI***
February 5 - 8 Wellington Dressage (Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
February 11 - 15 Kilkenny/ICH Internationale CSI***
February 18 - 22 Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular CSI-W/Y CSI-Ch
February 19 - 22 Zada Enterprises, LLC Florida Dressage Classic
February 25 - 29 PDP Capital Wellington Masters CSI***
March 3 - 7 CN Wellington Open CSI-W
March 10 - 14 CSIO United States Cosequin Finale CSIO***
March 18 - 21 Zada Enterprises WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y
(Qualifier for Olympic Selection Trials)
March 24 - 28 Tampa Bay Classic CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
March 30 - April 3 Tournament of Champions CSI-W (Bob Thomas Equestrian Center)
April 3 Budweiser American Invitational (Raymond James Stadium)


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