The Winter Equestrian Festival Will Begin January 10 and Continue Through April 1, 2018
For Immediate Release
Wellington, FL – January 2, 2018 – The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC (ESP) have begun preparations for what is expected to be one of the most expansive Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season yet, welcoming top equestrian athletes from around the globe to the venue from Wednesday, January 10, through Sunday, April 1. The 2018 WEF will feature 12 consecutive weeks of elite equestrian competition, hosting eleven FEI weeks and four CSI 5* competitions.
The Winter Equestrian Festival has been the pinnacle of equine competition in South Florida for more than four decades, welcoming enthusiasts and athletes annually to contest one of the most competitive shows in the world. This year’s circuit will offer more than $9 million in prize money throughout the duration of the season and will feature many of the world’s top internationally ranked riders including reigning World #1 Kent Farrington (USA), #2 Mclain Ward (USA), and #8 Eric Lamaze (CAN), who all call Wellington, FL, home during the winter months.
“We look forward to delivering another amazing season in 2018, with bigger classes, more prize money, and incredible sponsors, as we host the most talented riders in the world,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP). “We are proud to continue organizing the sport’s largest equestrian competition and look forward to making this year one of the best WEF seasons yet.”
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, home of WEF, is open to the public and offers free general admission throughout the season to all events. Competition each week begins on Wednesday morning and continues through Sunday afternoon. The highlight “Saturday Night Lights” competitions, featuring major international Grand Prix competition under the lights in the iconic International Ring, will begin at 7:00 p.m. each Saturday of the circuit. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. for spectators and fans and include carousel rides, face painting, family entertainment and more.
The season will feature four CSI 5* weeks: WEF 5, WEF 7, WEF 9, and WEF 12.
The four CSI 5* Grand Prix classes, the highest designation of international show jumping in the sport, will take place on February 10 (WEF 5), February 24 (WEF 7), March 10 (WEF 9), and March 31 (WEF 12), in the International Ring at PBIEC. These competitions feature the top horse and rider combinations in the world, and include four FEI World Ranking classes during each week. The final CSI 5* competition of the circuit (WEF 12) will welcome the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, the most prestigious international class of the 2018 season.
This year the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* will once again take place on the final Saturday of the season.Following the success of the 2017 season, WEF will again offer concurrent CSI 2* competitions running in conjunction with CSI 5* weeks in an effort to offer exhibitors additional opportunities to compete at the FEI level. The CSI 2* division will feature a $50,000 Grand Prix on Sundays and include FEI World Ranking classes, along with two additional classes during the week. Each week of the WEF circuit also hosts “Premier AA” hunter competition for children, juniors, amateurs, and professionals.
|The Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup, Hollow Creek 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series all return in 2018 with the addition of several new Derby Field classes.|
WEF welcomes Equinimity LLC as the new title sponsor of the popular WEF Challenge Cup classes, Thursday’s weekly highlight of competition. The Equinimity WEF Challenge classes will begin Thursday, January 11, and continue through Thursday, March 29, ranging from $35,000 up to $132,000 in prize money.
The 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic classes also welcome a new sponsor, as Hollow Creek Farm will take presenting honors in 2018. The Hollow Creek Farm Championship Classic competitions are set to take place throughout the circuit at both PBIEC, Equestrian Village, and on the Derby Field, culminating with a final class under the lights on Saturday, March 24 with the $132,000 Hollow Creek Farm 1.50m Championship Classic Final.
The season will also see a return of the prestigious Under 25 Grand Prix Series, this year presented by Hermès, showcasing the next generation of talent for five editions of competition. Hosted at both the main grounds of PBIEC and at Equestrian Village, the Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series is sure to impress once again with many of the world’s top riders under the age of 25.
|Two new weeks of classes on the Derby Field have been added to the 2018 WEF schedule and will include a significant rider bonus for the top three finishing combinations.|
In an effort to continue expanding innovative competition opportunities at WEF each season, the management team is excited to present a new collection of classes on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village for exhibitors wishing to compete on the iconic grass footing. All FEI classes during WEF 4 and WEF 11 will be hosted on the Derby Field including the $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, February 3, and the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, March 24.
A Rider Bonus will be awarded following the conclusion of competition during WEF 11 for which riders must compete in both WEF 4 and WEF 11 to be eligible. The Rider Bonus will be awarded to the top three riders finishing with the best placings throughout the two competitions as follows: $15,000 for first place, $7,500 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. Any form of tie will be determined via results in the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI 4*.
The $75,000 Battle of the Sexes presented by Wellington Regional Hospital will kick off the “Saturday Night Lights” season on Saturday, January 13, pitting males against female in a battle to see which gender will come out on top. Always a crowd favorite, the 2018 Battle of the Sexes will begin at 7:00 p.m. and spectators are encouraged to support their favorite team.
|The Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® has awarded more than $10.8 million to over 250 charities and non-profits in the Palm Beach County region. The ninth installment of the event will take place on Saturday, February 3.|
The Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), a profound philanthropic event hosted annually at PBIEC, is set for the evening of Saturday, February 3. The GCC has raised more than $10.5 million dollars for over 250 Palm Beach County charities through a Pro-Am style relay race between teams of riders in costume. This year’s theme is “A Night Where Everyone’s A Star”, and teams will dress as their favorite iconic Hollywood movie characters. The winning team will present more than $150,000 to their paired charity, while all participating charities receive at least $15,000.
A continual crowd favorite, the $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO 4*, featuring team format competition with riders representing their home countries, will be part of “Saturday Night Lights” in 2018, hosted on the Saturday evening of March 3 during WEF 8. Last year Team Ireland claimed top honors and went on to capture the coveted Team Gold at the FEI European Championships later in the season.
|The $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular will take place during WEF 6, as hunters take over the International Ring. The $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will conclude the 2018 WEF season on Sunday, April 1, on the
The $100,000 USHJA/WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular during WEF 6 welcomes beautiful hunter display as the highlight of competition of the week, as riders competing for one of the discipline’s yearly top honors take to the International Ring for an evening of traditional and classic hunter competition. WEF 6 also features a varying group of hunter divisions competing in the International Ring throughout the week, while FEI CSI 3* jumper classes will take place at Equestrian Village.
WEF concludes on Sunday, April 1, with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on the Derby Field to officially end the twelve weeks of the season. Top hunter riders will set out on the Derby Field in an attempt to capture the final major prize of the winter circuit. Spectators are encouraged to enjoy the final day of WEF from the berm on the Derby Field or on the adjacent grassy hill.
In total, the WEF circuit will host more than 7,000 horses over the duration of the twelve weeks and offer classes for an array of riders, from top international show jumpers to young beginners in leadline classes.
To learn more about Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the Winter Equestrian Festival, please visit www.pbiec.com.
2018 Winter Equestrian Festival Season