Wellington’s International Polo Club Horse Show Plans

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Diagram of proposed competition venue at International Polo Club, the third show grounds in the complex for the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.
Diagram of proposed competition venue at International Polo Club, the third show grounds in the complex for the Global Dressage Festival and Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington.

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Aug. 24, 2016–Plans for an equestrian competition stadium, five additional arenas and 624 permanent stables have been drawn up for construction next year at the International Polo Club as the third venue in the Global Dressage and Winter Equestrian Festivals complex.

Centered around a stadium for 3,000 spectators and a VIP pavilion, the new facility will be constructed adjacent to the existing main polo stadium with its own spectator grand stand plus existing facilities such as tennis courts, pool, restaurant  and a spa. The annual United States Polo Championship and the featured match of the week are staged at IPC during the circuit that parallels the dressage and jumping winter show calendars.

Plans for the show horse/polo complex covering more than 88 acres (35.6 Ha.) were submitted to the Village of Wellington for review–it is believed that approval is not a requirement for the property that is already designated for current and proposed equestrian needs.

While specific uses of the facility were not detailed in the proposal, consultations by the ownership group with founding sponsors of the Global shows indicate it could become the new home of the Global Dressage Festival.

Not shown on the diagram is a covered arena such as the Van Kampen Arena that exists at the current Global dressage grounds that have been outgrown in the five years since opening.

Stabling will be in four barns each with 156 horses for a total of 624 that is more than three times larger than permanent stabling at the Global grounds.

The main stadium is similar in design to the showcase arena at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina that is bidding for the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

The riding surface measures about 230 feet by 320 feet (70 x 97 meters) with seating for 3,000 spectators on three sides and a VIP club on the fourth side.

Construction is expected to begin after the polo season ending in April next year and is expected to take about four months, well ahead of the 2018 winter circuit.

International Polo Club, © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
International Polo Club main stadium. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners that owns all three equestrian show venues in Wellington, has not disclosed details of how competitions will be scheduled at the complex that make up the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The Winter Equestrian Festival grounds for jumping and hunters have become over-crowded, a victim of its own success with as many as about 3,000 competition horses a week during the 12-week circuit. A growing number of jumper and hunter shows were moved to the Global grounds last winter which has a main competition arena and four other show rings and a complete grass derby field used for both jumpers and hunters as well as an eventing showcase event.

The dressage circuit of seven CDIs from World Cup qualifiers to CDI5* and a Nations Cup with total prize money nearing three quarters of a million dollars over the same 12 weeks as the winter jumper events has grown to such an extent that competition weeks have extended to five days.

An election last November led to the ouster of a majority of the Village of Wellington governing council that was elected with the backing of a family seeking removal of the Global dressage facilities.

The new show facility at International Polo Club is next door to the family’s estate.