New $100,000 Arena Polo League to Launch at Global Grounds, Mark Todd to Compete at $100,000 Eventing Showcase Week Later

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United States Olympic pair Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery in the 2016 Eventin Showcase. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
United States Olympic pair Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery in the 2016 Eventin Showcase. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 22, 2016–A new $100,000 arena polo league launches at the Global dressage grounds Thursday, a week before the third year of the Eventing Showcase returns with some of the world’s top riders to battle for $100,000 in prize money.

The new polo league was announced Sunday by Mark Bellissimo and International Polo Club, the main polo venue in Wellington that a group of investors he heads acquired last year. He also controls the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The first of the arena polo matches in the league of four teams and created in conjunction with the U.S. Polo Association will be held next Thursday night.

The teams are rated at 25 goals, making it what the organizers described as one of the highest-ranked arena polo matches in history, and certainly in the last 25 years.

Two of the Thursday night matches will each have a purse of $30,000 with the final carrying a $40,000 purse.

“We wanted to create a concept that will re-energize polo in this country and ultimately bring new participants, spectators, and sponsors into the sport,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Polo Club as well as Managing Partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners that owns Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The matches will be six five-minute chukkers on an arena 300 by 150 feet (91.5 x 45.75m).

Mark Todd and William Fox- will join a lineup of top eventers from the United States and Australia for a third year of the Eventing Showcase Feb. 3-4 with $100,000 in prize money.

U.S. Olympic team rider Boyd Martin who won both previous editions of the Wellington Eventing Showcase, is looking to “three-peat” but will have competition from seven-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Mark Todd of New Zealand and five-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain along with 17 other riders representing the U.S. and Australia.

Competition starts with dressage Friday, Feb. 3, at 8:30 a.m. at The Stadium at PBIEC, home of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, with stadium jumping and cross-country phases on Saturday.

The cross-country track iss designed by Mark Phillips, an Olympic team gold medalist for Great Britain and the stadium jumping course will be designed by 2010 World Equestrian Games designer Richard Jeffery.