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$9million in prizes and the ultimate in luxury — what to expect at the opening of the state-of-the-art World Equestrian Center

There has been much anticipation ahead of the January grand opening of the state-of-the-art World Equestrian Center in Florida, USA, with its spectacular facilities and revolutionary plans for the sport.

Competition at the dazzling new facility in Ocala is set to kick off on 6 January 2021 with a 12-week Winter Spectacular, offering a whopping $9million in prize-money and prizes across its hunter/jumper circuit. There are 13 CSI3* classes set to run and 12 grands prix, culminating in a feature class worth $250,000 in week 12. As well as some valuable hunter competitions, too, equitation riders can qualify for the WEC Premier Equitation Cup, the winner of which receives prizes including a brand-new car with a $100,000 trainer bonus up for grabs. The series final runs from 24-28 March.

“We have all been anticipating the World Equestrian Center, Ocala, facility opening and I promise it is going to be amazing,” said Roby Roberts. “We’ve created a schedule that will give our exhibitors from lead line to the grand prix levels a top quality competition experience at a facility that is second to none.”

Competitors can expect enviable facilities, all of which have been built from scratch, including four climate-controlled indoor arenas which surround the open-air stadium on three sides, and 22 cutting-edge outdoor arenas.

The 145,000 sq ft Grand Arena is the centrepiece of the facility, with covered grandstands, alfresco VIP dining, massive Jumbotrons, a state-of-the-art sound system, all-weather footing with built-in irrigation, judging booths and a flag court entrance. The Stadium features grass footing, a dedicated warm-up area with all-weather footing and covered grandstand seating.

Riders can stay in the on-site five-star equestrian hotel featuring 248 rooms and suites, some equipped with balconies overlooking the grand stadium, or at one of two beautiful campgrounds. There are several restaurants including fine-dining hospitality with seating for up to 500 VIPS, a laundrette, chapel, luxury boutique shopping – including high-end art, jewellery and tack shops – and a convenience store on site. Hotel guests can also enjoy access to a speciality pastry boutique staffed by on-site chefs. Golf carts are available for getting to-and fro in the 348-acre grounds with golf cart paths weaving throughout the venue. If you’re in need of a mind and body refresh after a hard day in the saddle, the salon and spa offeres a comprehensive menu. On-site greenhouses are there to provide a constant source of flowers to decorate the grounds.

But for the equines, too, luxury is the order of the day, with accommodation for more than 2,000 horses. The spacious stables offer a comfort mattress system, drop down door fronts and individual fans in the climate-controlled barns and multiple paddocks are available, too. There will be organised schooling available in designated rings on the day before the show each week. As well as the extensive competitive grounds, riders can enjoy extensive horse trails. A veterinary clinic, for both small and large animals, is there if needed.

If Carlsberg made equestrian venues, this would definitely be it…

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