The 2016 Wellington Polo season came to a close on Sunday, April 24th with the conclusion of the U.S. Open Polo Championship®. Orchard Hill clinched the win over team Dubai in overtime with a final score of 13-12. The match was a heart-pounding close to an interesting season on Engel & Völkers field at the International Polo Club.
A stylish crowd including locals Vanilla Ice and Bo Derek, witnessed the delivery of the magnificent silver perpetual challenge trophy, created in 1910, via helicopter to the center of Championship Field. The game was special because it not only marked the end of Wellington’s polo season, but also the last game at IPC under it’s current owners.
The change is a welcome one as the new buyer is Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP). They have purchased the club and it’s surrounding property—a sprawling 248 acres. The sale should close in late April and represents a new era for the club, which had suffered from some degree of uncertainty until now.
As Wellington Equestrian Partners own the nearby Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), which is one of the best hunter/ jumper and dressage competition venues in the country, nobody doubts the group’s dedication to equine sports.
With the future of IPC secure, all of Wellington can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate a new (and possibly improved) era. After all, Wellington’s horse-related activity brings in around $200 million annually for the small community.
“We are now positioned to achieve a new level of prominence and excellence for the competitor and visitor experience at all of our venues,” explains Bellissimo. “This allows us to establish and showcase Wellington as the world destination for polo, show jumping and dressage. We will present a vision for the venue and the facility soon,” he added.
The group intends to amplify the energy at polo by cross-promoting the two venues, which naturally have some overlapping demographics and, hopefully, sponsorships of which WEP’s Winter Equestrian Festival has more than 100.