The course at this year's Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase took an interesting route. You could say the spectators were in the thick of it...
“At last year’s Land Rover Eventing Showcase we just had the gallop through the VIP tent. This year [course designer] Captain Mark Phillips has put up a pretty considerably fence right in the middle of the tent. So it could be interesting,” said American eventer Boyd Martin, ahead of this year’s competition (3-4 February 2017).
But the challenging track at the glamorous setting close to West Palm Beach didn’t seem to deter the 37-year-old, who took the Eventing Showcase for the third consecutive time, this time riding the 12-year-old mare Welcome Shadow.
“This is a great event and the highlight of my year,” said Boyd afterwards. “You couldn’t come to a better venue for eventing and for this short format at the beginning of the year. We’ve had a wonderful time and it’s a real privilege to be down here.”
The competition is a short format horse trials, with dressage on the Friday and showjumping and cross-country on the Saturday, with a prize-fund of $100,000 (£80,000).
“West Palm beach is a very glamorous and beautiful coastal town here in Florida and it’s a really great place for us to showcase our sport,” said American eventer Allison Springer.
“The Eventing Showcase is a great addition to the sport in this country. There’s a lot of dressage riders and showjumpers down here that have been exposed to a whole new sport and are really enjoying it.”
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Olympic showjumping gold medallist Nick Skelton added: “Wellington is really renowned for showjumping and dressage now, but with the Eventing Showcase coming in it widens it out to a greater audience and it’s great for the whole sport.”
This is the 38th Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre in Wellington, Florida, and it runs for a total of 12 weeks (11 January-2 April). The Eventing Showcase was first run in 2015.