Category Archives: Polo

Team Greenville Charges to Victory in Gladiator Polo “Battle for the Carolinas” Series Final

Photo Credit ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – June 23, 2018 – The Gladiator Polo™ presented by Coca-Cola® $50,000 “Battle for the Carolinas” Series concluded on Saturday night at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), as Team Greenville presented by Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) conquered the arena and rode away with the ultimate win at the end of a hard-fought battle versus Team Charlotte presented by North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL), topping the evening with a score of 13-11.

The electric atmosphere surrounding the George H. Morris Arena at Tryon Stadium was evident as the team representing South Carolina’s major upstate city, featuring Jared “The Fuego from San Diego” Sheldon, Pelon “Bam Bam” Escapite, and Jared “Soco” Zenni, faced off against their prominent North Carolina counterparts representing the city of Charlotte. Team Charlotte presented by NCEL was comprised of three top players, Mariano “Nino” Obregon, Tommy “The Great White Shark” Collingwood, and Kris “Colorado” Kampsen, a three-time winner of the U.S. Arena Polo Open Championship®.

The match started out fast as both teams punched multiple scores in the first chukker, immediately setting the tone of the match. The play was aggressive and strong as both teams settled into the game, resulting in one of the best head-to-head games the league has seen.

In only his second ever Gladiator Polo™ match, Jared Sheldon played a pronounced role in his team’s win, scoring a total of three goals throughout the evening. The newcomer to the league noted, “Our team worked really well together today. When one person went down, someone else picked it up and it was a really good group. The crowd was amazing! It was so fun to feed off of them and everyone was loud which makes it so much more fun for us.”

After taking some time to adjust to the intense arena setup during the “Battle for South Carolina” hosted two weeks ago, Sheldon admitted that he felt more confident his second time around. “It felt so good to win tonight. I was definitely more comfortable in there than a few weeks ago. It’s a different arena and different rules, and it all clicked today.”

The California based player concluded, “The venue, the people, everything: all of it is my favorite and it’s a blast. I hope to be back when they do this again.”

The MVP of the game was awarded to Pelon Escapite, a veteran of the Gladiator Polo™ sport, and the only member of Team Greenville to play in not one, but two, Gladiator Polo™ Final matches. Last year, the competitor rode against Team Asheville presented by Ingles in a duel that ended in loss for the South Carolina team. Returning to take his revenge and stake his claim on top honors in the title match, Escapite assured a fast and furious fight down to the very last chukker.

“It feels great to win,” noted Escapite, who scored a total of four goals for his team. “Today was a great turnout with a lot of people and an even better atmosphere. Every chukker we went out there and people were cheering for us, against us, I mean it was a special atmosphere today.”

He continued, “My teammates work so hard. Like I have said before, I get a lot of the credit, but they are working so hard for me and it is all due to them. Winning is my favorite part about tonight. We played a great team. I mean those guys are hard to beat, but we pulled it off tonight.”

Jared “Soco” Zenni admitted his team lacked momentum two weeks ago, but regained their chemistry and ultimately resulted in victory. “It feels great to win. It always feels good to win. Two weeks ago we started out a little slower, but tonight we all knew each other; we knew each other’s strengths and the game started fast.”

Zenni scored a total of four goals for Team Greenville presented by GSP fueled by the enthusiasm of the crowd. He commented, “I love the crowd. I love the intensity: them yelling at us, booing at us – they’re so into it. I love it all, but winning is my favorite. I love winning.”

Gladiator Polo™ was inspired by Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG) and Managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP) and Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), who understood that the sport of polo was in desperate need of revitalization in order to attract and broaden its traditional audience base. Combining elements of both Field Polo and Arena Polo, the concept of Gladiator Polo™ took form in Wellington, FL during the annual high goal season in South Florida and from there, the game expanded and has garnered both a national and international following. This is the second season that Gladiator Polo™ has been played at TIEC.

For more information on Gladiator Polo™, please visit To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center, please visit

Press Club of Long Island Honors Equine Photographer Diana De Rosa

LONG ISLAND, NY – June 7, 2018 – Professional equine photographer and EQUUS Film Festival Co-Organizer, Diana De Rosa, was presented with first place at the Press Club of Long Island annual awards in the category of Non-Local Photo. The photo was taken at a polo match during the 2017 International Polo Club season in Wellington, FL. Second and third place went to photographers from Newsday, the well-respected daily newspaper on Long Island. To win ahead of two Newsday photographers was a real honor.

The PCLI annual awards dinner was attended by over 230 guests, where close to 300 awards were given out to first, second and third place winners. De Rosa, who has covered eight Olympic Games, joined co-host David North and Eileen Lehpamer, from News 12, to MC the evening honoring the many award winners while also catching pictures throughout the night. The event was held at The Woodbury Country Club in Syosset, Long Island.

“I am thrilled to have achieved this honor,” De Rosa remarked. “My passion for photography has taken me all over the world. This photo was taken during an exciting polo match where top national and international polo players fought hard for their teams. To be recognized for my photography means a lot to me. I post a lot of my photography for people to view on my web site: so that others can share in the beauty of the horse.”

The photo appeared with an article De Rosa wrote on called “A Twist of Polo.”

Contact: Press Link
Phone: 516-848-4867

Team Charlotte Fights to Victory in Gladiator Polo “Battle for North Carolina”

Team Charlotte. Photo Credit ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – June 16, 2018 – The Gladiator Polo™ “Battle for North Carolina” saw Team Charlotte, sponsored by North Carolina Education Lottery, avenge last year’s loss to defeat Team Asheville, sponsored by Ingles Markets, 13-12, after an intense battle in the George Morris Arena at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

Team Asheville was held scoreless until the second chukker and trailed by four until the fifth, but the match came down to the final second of play: Team Asheville was able to put up a trio of points to close the gap in the fifth chukker and trailed by one heading into the sixth. Collingwood was able to slam a two-point goal to keep Charlotte’s dream alive, and when the final horn sounded, the team in teal remained on top.

Team Asheville, sponsored by Ingles Markets, was comprised of Santi “The Polo Kid” Torres, Nano “The Snake” Gracida, and Patrick “Tricky” Uretz, in purple. Team Charlotte, sponsored by North Carolina Education Lottery, saw teal jerseys donned by Mariano “Nino” Obregon, Tommy “The Great White Shark” Collingwood, and Kris “Colorado” Kampsen.

Tommy “The Great White Shark” Collingwood, a newcomer to Gladiator Polo™, scored the first goal of the match as well as the two-point shot that sealed the deal for Team Charlotte, ultimately being named the night’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts. Collingwood, 25, is a two-time winner of the $100,000 World Cup and complimented his team’s chemistry as well as the venue:

“This game was crazy. Team Asheville was pretty unlucky when we took the seven-goal lead, which can sometimes come back to bite you, and it almost did,” he admitted. “In the second half, Team Asheville played unbelievable and almost took the game right out of our hands. But luckily, we got a few quick goals at the end that gave us the lead. The great thing about our team is we all get along very well, which kept it very natural despite the intensity.

“It has been a great experience so far,” said Collingwood. “This arena is unbelievable. I personally know the Bellissimo family and [Mark] does an incredible job in Florida, and an incredible job around the country. TIEC is an amazing facility for world-class riders from every part of the sport, and my hat is off to them.”

Both Kampsen and Obregon credited Collingwood with the victory, and both acknowledged that Team Asheville didn’t go down without a fight: “It got very rough and physical, and Asheville really brought it to us with physicality in the game,” said Kampsen. “They had a bad first few chukkers, and we were lucky to capitalize on that, and that helped us hang on to that lead at the end. Tommy saved us with the two-pointer at the end – that was huge. Our plan always was to play strong defense, and allowing that to lead us into offense.”

Kampsen, a three-time winner of the U.S. Arena Polo Open Championship®, was notably effective muscle for Team Charlotte, but humbly credited his teammates for the opportunities they created, saying, “Following Nino and Tommy worked well, and just picking up whatever they left!”

“It was really intense,” added Obregon, who is coming off a recent U.S. Open Polo Championship® win. “It got kind of competitive at the end. The arena plays amazing, and it’s very open, and the crowd is great. It’s a lot of fun!”

Heading into next week’s final, Team Charlotte plans to study film and discuss strategy to overcome Team Greenville, and all players emphasized the importance of a good North Carolina crowd against the strong South Carolina opponent. “Come cheer us on in the finals, North Carolina! We’re going to need you,” concluded Obregon.

Gladiator Polo™ was inspired by Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG) and Managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP) and Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), who understood that the sport of polo was in desperate need of revitalization in order to attract and broaden its traditional audience base. Combining elements of both Field Polo and Arena Polo, the concept of Gladiator Polo™ took form in Wellington, FL during the annual high goal season in South Florida and from there, the game expanded and has garnered both a national and international following. This is the second season that Gladiator Polo™ has been played at TIEC.

The “Battle for the Carolinas” Series presented by Coca-Cola® will conclude on Saturday, June 23. Team Charlotte, sponsored by North Carolina Education Lottery, will compete against Team Greenville, sponsored by Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, for the coveted champion title.

For more information on Gladiator Polo™, please visit To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center, please visit

Team Greenville Prevails in Gladiator Polo “Battle for South Carolina”

Photo Credit ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – June 8, 2018 – Gladiator Polo™ presented by Coca-Cola® returned to Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) to kick off the “Battle for the Carolinas” Series presented by Coca-Cola® with the “Battle for South Carolina”. Team Greenville emerged victorious at the close of six chukkers, with a final score of 11-7. Both were sponsored by Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP).

Team Greenville, comprised of Jared “The Fuego from San Diego” Sheldon, Pelon “Bam Bam” Escapite, and Jared “Soco” Zenni, held the lead throughout the entire match and surged ahead in the second half to lead by five. Team Spartanburg, comprised of Obregon brothers Juan Martin “The Stitcher”, Facundo “Chachi”, and Geronimo “Chori”, put up a fierce fight in the last chukker, but were unable to close the gap and avenge last season’s defeat. Team Greenville is chasing their own revenge: in last year’s $50,000 “Battle for the Carolinas” Final presented by Coca-Cola®, Team Asheville prevailed 14-10.

Pelon “Bam Bam” Escapite was named MVP, scoring six points throughout the intense competition, but his teammates are well-decorated, too: Jared Zenni recently became the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Final, and Jared Sheldon is a back-to-back winner of the U.S. Open Arena Polo Championship®.

Escapite complimented his two new teammates and emphasized how important crowd energy was to their performance. “This year is a different crew. I played against Jared Zenni last year in Gladiator Polo™, and I have played outdoor with Jared Sheldon this past year. To get in here and come out with this win is very important,” he continued. “We needed a little bit of time to figure each other out, but after the third chukker we really worked well together. [Both Sheldon and I] are aggressive players, and it took us until the fifth chukker to click. Having Jared Zenni on the team, he brought a lot of energy and he played very consistent throughout the whole game and I think that kept us very honest,” he added.

Newcomer to Gladiator Polo™ and to Team Greenville, Jared Sheldon, noted that the innovative sport took a little bit of adjustment: “This arena definitely took me three chukkers to figure out, especially the angles on the goals,” he admitted. “The game was fun, fast, open, and there were not too many penalties. It was so much fun overall and I’m looking forward to coming back for the finals on June 23rd! We want the crowd to get as rowdy as possible and we want everyone to come on out,” he emphasized.

Jared Zenni has now participated in a three Gladiator Polo™ matches at TIEC, and notched his first win with Team Greenville. “It feels great to finally win,” he recounted. “I had never played arena polo before Gladiator Polo™, so it has taken me a little while to figure it out and adapt to it. It is a totally different game, but every time I play I am able figure it out and read my teammates better, and tonight they played amazing.”

Zenni echoed Escapite’s emphasis on the importance of a great crowd on Saturday, June 23. “I’m really excited for the Final,” said Zenni. “I think the crowd is going to be amazing and a lot of fun. I love when the crowd gets into it and they start yelling and cheering for Team Greenville and South Carolina. When you are a player, we get pretty tired, you wouldn’t think we get pretty tired, but we do, so the having the fans behind us really makes a difference in that last half.”

For more information on Gladiator Polo™, please visit To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center, please visit

Gladiator Polo Returns to TIEC June 8 for Three-Game ‘Battle for the Carolinas’ Series

Photo Credit ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – May 29, 2018 – After a successful inaugural season at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in 2017, the fast-paced sport of Gladiator Polo™ is back for another month of action-packed competition. Gladiator Polo™ served as a crowd favorite last season and the 2018 calendar will not disappoint. The “Battle for the Carolinas” Series begins with the ‘Battle for South Carolina’ on Friday, June 8, followed by the ‘Battle for North Carolina’ on Saturday, June 16, and concludes with the Gladiator Polo™ Battle for the Carolinas – North Carolina vs. South Carolina Final on Saturday, June 23.

The fun will begin each evening at 6:00 p.m. with TIEC’s signature entertainment including free carousel and pony rides, face painting, live music, Gladiator-inspired activities, and more. There will be an exclusive autograph signing session with players in the front of Legends Plaza before the game, as well as a player Meet-and-Greet after the game at the Silo Bar. Fans of all ages can enjoy an authentic Argentine Asado buffet from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. in the Legends Club. The first Gladiator Polo™ match of the season will start at 8:00 p.m. Tryon Resort’s onsite shops, restaurants and bars will be open throughout the night. General admission and parking at Tryon Resort are free.

“Our organization has been very excited to announce the Gladiator Polo™ schedule for this season at TIEC. We received such a tremendous response to the tournaments we hosted last year and wanted to ensure top tournament play remains on the event calendar here for many years to come,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG) and managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP). “Gladiator Polo™ has allowed us to bring more focus and attention to the sport of polo, which has been our mission since getting more heavily involved with the sport two years ago. We anticipate a very competitive season this year and are eager to welcome our Gladiator Polo™ fans back to the venue in June.”

The first installment of Gladiator Polo™ will welcome Team Greenville and Team Spartanburg on Friday, June 8, in the “Battle for South Carolina.” The second match, taking place on Saturday, June 16, will see Team Asheville, sponsored by Ingles, and Team Charlotte duke it out during the “Battle for North Carolina.” The third and final game of the season, “Battle for the Carolinas”, will take place on Saturday, June 23.

During Gladiator Polo™ matches, two teams of three players are pitted against each other in an enclosed arena, giving spectators an up close and personal look at the action. In this Roman-themed event, horse and rider teams wear distinctive colors – from the players’ helmets all the way down to the horses’ leg wraps – making it easy for spectators to follow the game and cheer on their favorite team.

The game consists of six chukkers, or six periods of five minutes each. Riders change horses at the end of each chukker. Gladiator Polo™ does not require the large number of horses to play that outdoor/grass polo demands. Many Gladiator Polo™ players use five to six horses in their string as opposed to the traditional ten to twelve.

The Gladiator Polo™ ball is similar to a mini soccer ball, larger than the small and hard plastic ball used outdoors. While the larger size gives the new player confidence in learning to hit the ball, proper technique is necessary because the arena game is played on a dirt surface with the ball bouncing on the uneven surface and off the arena wall.

Unlike traditional equestrian competitions where audience participation is encouraged only before and after a rider competes, Gladiator Polo™ is fueled by a rowdy crowd. Spectators are encouraged to cheer on their favorite team throughout the entire match.

Please visit or call (828)-863-1000 for more information.

WEQx Games Competition List Announced

Athlete Inquiries Now Open and Must Be Received by Tuesday, May 15

Tryon, NC – May 8, 2018 – Mark Bellissimo and the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) announced that athlete inquiries are now open for the first annual 2018 WEQx Games™. In the inaugural year, the competition intends to have nine spectator-friendly equine competitions that highlight the accessibility, diversity, athleticism, and passion for horses and horse sport for athletes of all ages. The goal over time is to expand the WEQx Games™ to include a broad range of diverse competitions each year. The 2018 WEQx Games™ will be held alongside the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) this September 11-23, which is also being hosted by TIEC. Athletes are invited to compete to become the inaugural 2018 WEQx Games™ and/or U.S. Open champion.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has approved the WEQx Games™ concept as a further enhancement for spectators attending the WEG and to generally promote interest in equestrian sport. The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) is working with the organizer to ensure that all aspects of the WEQx Games™ meet the FEI and USEF requirements and following the response to this expression of interest, the organizer will submit the full details of the WEQX Games™ to the USEF Board of Directors for approval.

A total of nine competitions are planned for the inaugural WEQx Games™. Equestrian athletes interested in competing in any of the events must register their interest in participating by May 15, 2018. Details of the competition and qualifying information will be available shortly at the following link:

Organizer will assess the final competition schedule and qualifying information based on interest from exhibitors. All Jumping competitions are national classes and as such, entries are restricted by the provisions of FEI General Regulations Article 101 (maximum of four National Federations and/or a maximum of 15 foreign athletes). Entry fees will vary based on prize money of competitions and will not exceed all inclusive $1,250.

Proposed competitions and prize money are as follows:

U-25 U.S. Open Championship™ – The two class competition over two days during the 2018 WEG and will highlight the Show Jumping world’s up and coming riders under 25 years of age. Total prize money over the two days will be $50,000. The U-25 U.S. Open Champion™ will be crowned.

U.S. Open Speed Horse™ – A 1.40m, two-team relay featuring 32 two-person teams will navigate an Alan Wade course to compete for $100,000. Riders can create their own 2-person teams. Qualifying course and the final course will be the same and will be available for practice.

DERBYx™ – A derivative Hunter competition will be open to 24 competitors that will compete for a $100,000 prize. The optimum time competition will have 15 jumps and be objectively scored based on set criteria.

Battle of the Sexes – A three-event jumping competition featuring a 1.30m match race, speed class and relay with 10 men versus 10 women from the U.S. Ranking List among non-WEG participants or non-WEG reserves. The competition will highlight the only Olympic sport where men compete with women as equals. The teams will compete for $75,000 in prize money.

Match Race – A 1.30m competition where two riders face off in the ring over a mirrored course. Standard FEI rules to apply – two second faults converted, open to 24 competitors. Riders compete for a $50,000 prize.

Puissance – A horse and rider’s ability to clear a single fence that increases in height after each round – to as much as seven feet and is limited to four rounds. Riders compete for a $50,000 prize.

Six Bar – A challenge where the horse and rider jump a series of six vertical fences placed in a straight line with two strides between each fence. The six fences are progressively higher from fence one through six and are all raised after each round. Riders will compete for a $50,000 prize.

Pony Jumpers –  A competition where the top children of the sport compete for a $10,000 prize.

Gladiator Polo™ – A professional three-on-three arena polo match with modified rules that keep the play fast. The event is played in a ring with all-weather footing that is approximately 310 feet x 250 feet, which is one-tenth the size of a typical grass polo field. Four international teams will compete for $100,000 in prize money.

The WEQx Games™ concept and competitions have been approved by the FEI and the USEF Board of Directors with the intent to grow interest in horse sport.

To register an interest to participate, riders or trainers must send an email to by May 15, 2018.

To learn more about the 2018 WEQx Games™, please visit

Team Asheville Upsets Team Greenville in Gladiator Polo “Battle for the Carolinas” Final

Photo Credit ©TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – September 30, 2017 – Team Asheville presented by Ingles Markets took a surprising lead in the Gladiator Polo™ $50,000 “Battle for the Carolinas” Final presented by Coca-Cola® and never looked back, topping match favorite, Team Greenville presented by Greenville Turf & Tractor, to earn the coveted honors in the series finale. Team Asheville roared to victory, outscoring Team Greenville 14-10 at the final buzzer to clinch the overall Gladiator Polo™ “Battle for the Carolinas” title.

The Gladiator Polo™ “Battle for the Carolinas” Series began in late June and revved back up at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in early September, featuring four competitive matches between a set of teams from North Carolina and another from South Carolina: Team Greenville, Team Spartanburg, Team Asheville, and Team Charlotte.

Offensive powerhouse Team Greenville faced off against a trio of young guns in Team Asheville, who ultimately set the tone of the match and outpaced the veteran group of Team Greenville in the early chukkers. While Team Greenville attempted to make a comeback late in the fifth chukker, Team Asheville held them at bay and capitalized on key plays, ultimately helping them secure the win.

“The night was great. The crowd was even better than the last one. We threw out some crucial two pointers in the second chukker that really stepped up our game and gave us a heavy lead,” said Patrick Uretz, who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the match. “From then on we just kept the momentum going. Costi was so fast up front that it makes my job in the back really easy. That was the key to success today, my team’s quickness.”

Urtez has been the quiet yet consistent force for Team Asheville, playing a stellar game only a few weeks ago against Team Charlotte to push his team through to the final match. The more defensive-minded Uretz helped regulate the play of Team Asheville and has become a standout player in Gladiator Polo™ play.

“This is so cool to be able to come here and have people screaming my name,” smiled Uretz. “They know us and we get to represent a great city like Asheville. They gave us a lot of support, so it’s great to have them around and cheering, like when you score a free throw in the NBA – totally amazing. The future of Gladiator Polo™ looks bright and I hope to be a part of it.”

Urtez played alongside teammates Costi Caset and Geronimo Obregon, who meshed well as a team in their two matches together and each display different strengths and talents on and off the ball in play.

“I think the team played really well. I think our strength was always having a man in the back and pushing forward,” commented Obregon. “They never caught us flat-footed and they never really scored a goal in the breakaway. We played a lot better with that than last time, and we shot a lot better from outside the two point and that just changed the whole game.”

Caset accounted for many of the goals Team Asheville was able to safely put away. His speed combined with his tricky mallet and ball work pose a major threat upfront in offensive play. A perfect complement to his defensive teammate Uretz, Caset elaborated on the importance of Team Asheville’s two point plays, helping to further separate the score. He said, “It was a really close game on a tight playing field. I think we made the difference with making the two pointers, and before the game we made a plan to go for clean shots and when we could we went for those shots, and luckily they went in.”

In only his second appearance in the Gladiator Polo™ Fall Series at TIEC, Caset commented on the improvement Team Asheville experienced from their first appearance to their play tonight in the series final and how the energy of the crowd helped to change the momentum of the game.

“The night was amazing, even better than I could’ve imagined. I think we played against a great team, but we knew we had the chance to win if we played well, so this was amazing,” he added. “The arena is unbelievable. The footing, the size of the arena, around so many people, everything is perfect. I see a lot of potential in Gladiator Polo™. It’s growing really quickly, as it only started at the beginning of the year and it’ll only get bigger.”

Gladiator Polo™ was inspired by an ideology of Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG) and managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP) and Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), that the sport of polo was in desperate need of a revitalization in order to attract and broaden its traditional audience base. Combining elements of both Field Polo and Arena Polo, the concept of Gladiator Polo™ took form in Wellington, FL during the annual High Goal season in South Florida and from there the game expanded and has garnered both a national and international following.

“We have been thrilled with the support and engagement of the fans and spectators surrounding Gladiator Polo™ this year at TIEC and have been thoroughly impressed with the level of play we’ve seen across the board from each of the participating players,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon International Equestrian Center. “Our goal is to expand this game on both a national and international level and feel that these players and this atmosphere translates well anywhere in the world. We’re looking forward to the future of this game and are already planning the return of the series to this venue in 2018.”

For more information on Gladiator Polo™, please visit

For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), please visit

Inaugural Showcase of Gladiator Polo Brings Record Crowd to TIEC

Photo Credit ©MegBanks/TIEC.

Team Greenville Surpasses Team Charlotte 6-5 to Capture Top Honors

Mill Spring, NC – June 24, 2017 – Welcoming a crowd of more than 10,000 fans and spectators, the first Gladiator Polo™ presented by Coca-Cola™ game held at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) exceeded all expectations. Hosting an enthusiastic and engaged crowd while simultaneously showcasing the rapidly expanding sport of arena polo, the match featured two teams of top international arena polo players. The game saw Team Greenville sponsored by Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, top Team Charlotte sponsored by Circle K, 6-5 in a riveting six-chukker match.

The seating of George H. Morris Arena was filled to capacity with spectators, fans, and families eager to watch, learn, and participate in the high-paced and action-packed arena polo game, which brought together teams representing two of the major cities in close regional proximity to the venue, Charlotte, NC, and Greenville, SC. The event saw crowds begin to pour into the venue nearly two hours ahead of the scheduled start of the match, which began at 8:00 p.m. and continued on under the lights.

“Tonight was just unbelievable. It was something unique. I’ve never played in front of a crowd that big before,” said Mariano Obregon, who was a member of the winning Team Greenville. “Everyone was cheering so loud and it was just a great experience. I’m really hoping that we get to do it again.”

Each of the six players selected to participate in the inaugural match at TIEC have built impressive records and amassed top performances in the sport of arena polo, which has grasped tightly to a new, forward-thinking spin on field polo, helping to bring a fresh energy and flare for both players and fans.

“That crowd really gets you going. We were down by one or two the whole game and they lift you in those moments. You get into it and you put your heart into it to get the people behind you,” added teammate Carlucho Arellano. “It was just an incredible night.”

Gladiator Polo™ is a direct example of the creativity derived from Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP). Bellissimo realized early on after acquiring the International Polo Club Palm Beach with the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) in 2016 that a transformation was desperately needed for one of civilization’s oldest sports. He put forth the Gladiator Polo™ concept in Wellington, FL, a world-renowned hub for international and national polo players during the winter season, in early 2017 to gauge response and interest. The concept blossomed, giving players an entirely new platform to demonstrate their skills while reaching a broadened audience.

With a series of matches highlighting the Gladiator Polo™ season in Wellington, FL, Bellissimo announced the arrival of the sport at TIEC in early May, marking a substantial step forward in the effort to bring the game to a more expansive national and international audience.

“The community in this area has been so receptive and supportive to our concepts and events,” said Katherine Bellissimo, who also serves as a managing partner of TEP and oversees the marketing, communication, and sponsorship departments of the partnership. “Even when we first opened this facility and only hosted small grand prix classes on Sundays, we would still get a tremendous crowd. To see how that has expanded in only three years is truly incredible. We feel honored to experience such support and encouragement from this community, which has ultimately allowed us to grow and expand these sports to new heights.

“This game wouldn’t have been possible without the gracious support of our sponsors Coca-Cola™, Circle K, Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, and the U.S. Polo Association,” she continued.

The game marked the first display of the sport of polo at TIEC and the players were thrilled with the positive response and final result of the game. Arellano commented, “It means so much to win this game tonight. You never know what to expect and everything just exceeded expectations, but foremost the crowd. They just blew us away.”

“The ring size was different from what we played with in Wellington and I think it was really interesting for the crowd and for us as players,” added Obregon. “You’re further away from the goal, so it’s harder to get to, which makes the play really interesting. You have to really play with your teammates and it becomes a more open game. It makes it more fun for us and the play becomes much more dynamic.”

Veteran force Pelon Escapite wowed throughout the game, showcasing his distinctive play and tenacity in the arena. Escapite was the heartbeat of the match, amassing goals, assisting plays and exemplifying an exceptional sense of hustle and accuracy in each of the six chukkers.

“As a player that kind of atmosphere is unbelievable and it makes you want to give it your all on every play. When you’re playing you’re surrounded by people cheering for you and against you. It’s just a great environment. It was great for the families here and great for the sport,” said Escapite.

Escapite was a standout player during the Gladiator Polo™ series in Wellington and was eager to participate in the next installment of the game at TIEC. He added, “I think this type of game is really appealing to the spectators. You can be up against the boards and all around the arena. It’s right there in front of you and it’s close. It’s like having courtside seats for every game.”

“The last goal of the game was for anyone today. I called Nino [Obregon] off the ball and he honored that and I scored. It was team play until the end,” explained Escapite. “The way the management of this series has been and the way Mark [Bellissimo] is promoting and providing a platform for this sport is unbelievable. We had concerns about the turnout with the potential weather tonight, but you wouldn’t have known with the crowd that came. To bring that many people here, to the first game ever held in this arena, is just impeccable work from Mark [Bellissimo] and his team.”

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Argentex Team Dubai Reign Supreme at Chestertons Polo in the Park 2017

The sun kept up its perfect record of shining down on London’s Hurlingham Park for the third day of Chestertons Polo in the Park. Polo fans gathered at the iconic grounds on Finals Day as Argentex Team Dubai – led by George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford – were crowned winners of Chestertons Polo in the Park.

Before the three matches began, guests were treated to a transformed venue with A-list children’s party planners, Sharky & George and London’s top soft play venue, Eddie Catz joining forces to create a wonderland for the Little Hooves Kids Club, including bouncy castles, face painting, a soft play zone and a brilliant arts and craft area for children to get their creative hats on. After a morning of excitement, the guests were geared up for an afternoon of exhilarating polo from some of the world’s finest players.

To open the day’s polo action, the Subsidiary Final took place between Mauritius Team Port Louis and Air Europa Team Buenos Aries. In blustery conditions both teams took a few minutes to find their stride and settle in to the game. An early-crossing penalty gave Nacho Gonzalez a chance to open the scoring; however, he pushed his effort wide. Never one to dwell on a missed opportunity, Gonzalez quickly regrouped and slotted home a beautiful strike to give Mauritius Team Port Louis a 1-0 lead. Building on their early goal, Mauritius Team Port Louis started to take control of the game when James McCarthy latched onto a beautiful pass from teammate Gonzalez outside the ‘D’ to increase the lead to 3-0 just as the first chukka ended.

As the second chukka began, Air Europa Team Buenos Aries began to make their mark on the game thanks to a close-range finish from Juan Cruz Guevara, closing the gap to just two goals, but a subsequent missed penalty by Guevara kept them from getting any closer. The second half of the game started much quicker than the first, with both teams adding a goal to their tallies, but countless other scoring opportunities went begging due to the changeable weather conditions. As the seconds ran out in the fourth and final chukka, Mauritius Team Port Louis put the result beyond all doubt with a well worked team goal, finished off by James McCarthy.

The second game of the day was the Runner-Up Final, as hometown favourites MINT Team London took on Whitley Neill Team Cape Town, both teams vying to take home third place. A testy opening chukka saw both teams piling on the pressure and creating chances, but sterling defensive play kept the scores at 0-0. It wasn’t until Joaquin Pittaluga stroked in a penalty to give Whitley Neill Team Cape Town a slender lead, right as the first chukka came to a close. The pressure continued into the second chukka with Ruki Baillieu finally opening the scoring for MINT Team London, levelling the scores at 1-1. Despite the wind continuing to challenge both sides, Whitley Neill Team Cape Town strung together a series of beautiful passes which Jamie Morrison was able to finish off to give Whitley Neill Team Cape Town an authoritative 3-1 lead, and one which they wouldn’t surrender for the rest of the game.

As the second half got underway, both teams continued knocking at the door, but neither could finish it off until the very end of the fourth chukka when Pittaluga avoided challenges from two opponents and buried his shot, and Jamie Morrison added his second to give a final score of 5-1.

Speaking on the win, Whitley Neill Team Cape Town’s Jamie Morrison said, “It was a glorious day and a great game, which was closer than we thought, and closer than the score line suggested. It was tough, as Chestertons Polo in the Park always is, and I was hoping we would get to the Final, although we didn’t make it this year. Chestertons Polo in the Park is always fantastic and going from strength to strength, with a great turn out and all the kids really getting into it and supporting the teams.”

The last game of the day was the one that everyone had been waiting for, the Chestertons Polo in the Park 2017 Final, and it certainly lived up to the billing. Right on the stroke of five o’clock EFG Team Zurich and Argentex Team Dubai rode out to an electric atmosphere and blazing sunshine, both teams ready to give their all. Just as the fans had hoped, the game got off to a scintillating start, as with barely a minute played both teams were on the scoreboard, Alejandro Muzzio recording his first goal for Argentex Team Dubai and Max Charlton levelling almost immediately.

By the end of the first chukka each team had doubled their totals to keep the game exciting at 2-2, but in the second chukka Argentex Team Dubai really piled on the pressure, notching an additional four goals to take an imperious 6-2 lead, and at half-time it looked like they would be the runaway winners of the day. The half-time break allowed for EFG Team Zurich to recompose themselves and on the back of two Max Charlton goals and a Chris Hyde two-pointer, EFG Team Zurich were right back in the game, trailing by only one goal with a score line of 7-6 at the end of the third chukka. The final chukka saw plenty of chances for EFG Team Zurich to complete the comeback of the tournament, but the defending of Argentex Team Dubai proved too strong in the end, and they were able to squeak out the win to be crowned Chestertons Polo in the Park 2017 Champions.

Speaking after his victory, Argentex Team Dubai’s Juan Cruz Merlos said, “It’s my first time playing at Chestertons Polo in the Park and it was really great. In the first half we were winning by five goals but they caught up. The second half was very close but we managed to take the win. The event was great fun and really well organised, and the crowd is amazing.”

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For more information, contact Gayle Telford E: or T: (0)20 3176 0355

Goals Galore on Day 2 of Chestertons Polo in the Park

London’s iconic Hurlingham Park was bathed in glorious sunshine for a sold-out second day of Chestertons Polo in the Park. Polo fans from all over the country arrived to witness three exciting and fast-paced polo games whilst also enjoy the luxury bars and pop-up food stalls scattered around the grounds, including the Champagne Lanson Garden and Mahiki’s VIP tent.

After the excitement of the historic International match, which saw Champions Polo League India take on ICM Capital Team England for the first time in 70 years, Ladies Day presented by FOREO had a lot to live up to, but certainly did not disappoint. To kick things off, the polo took a back seat to a game of bicycle polo between the finest polo players from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and a contingent of American players from American Ivy League Universities. As the players cycled through the divots of the pitch, both teams found it difficult to finish their chances, but Oxbridge managed to sneak the win at the end on a final score of 1-0.

In the day’s first game, Whitley Neill Team Cape Town took on Air Europa Team Buenos Aries, with a place in Sunday’s final up for grabs. Both teams started the opening chukka cautiously, before a scintillating few minutes of play allowed Joaquin Pittaluga to score four unanswered goals to give Whitely Neill Team Cape Town an impressive 4-0 lead. Despite their slower start, Air Europa Team Buenos Aries didn’t lose heart and managed to pull back a goal through some beautiful play from Argentine Paco O’Dwyer, but as the first half came to a close, hometown favourite Jamie Morrison scored from close range to increase the lead to 5-1 in favour of Whitley Neill Team Cape Town.

The second half added a flurry of early goals for both teams, with Morrison and O’Dwyer adding one each to their tally to make the game interesting at the end, but ultimately Whitley Neill Team Cape Town were too strong, and a clinical close-range goal from Morrison and a coolly slotted away penalty from the in-form Pittaluga ensured that Whitely Neill Team Cape Town left victorious with an imposing 10-5 score line.

Following the thrilling opener, the day’s second game pitted hometown MINT Team London against EFG Team Zurich, and the excitement continued with two early goals from each team. A mistake from Max Charlton gifted MINT Team London a penalty within the first 10 seconds which George Meyrick calmly slotted home, but Chris Hyde weaved his way down the pitch from the restart to even the scores at 2-2. By the end of the second chukka Chris Hyde had added another four goals, but George Meyrick kept MINT Team London in the game with a second goal of his own to keep the game within reach at 6-3 to EFG Team Zurich.

Building on their strong end to the second chukka, MINT Team London took the lead for the second time in the game, their impressive teamwork paying off as Meyrick and Malcolm Borwick drilled the ball through the posts. The lead was only a short lived one however, as Chris Hyde really put his stamp on the game, scoring an unrivalled three more goals, with Max Kirchhoff adding another to take the lead, and one which they would not give up again. Borwick added a final consolation goal for MINT Team London, but the game was sealed with a final score of 13-9.

After the win, EFG Team Zurich’s Max Kirchhoff said, “I absolutely loved it. It is my first time here, and the crowds were fantastic. It’s a great venue and I think the team have done amazing things to the grounds, setting everything up perfectly. It’s so great to see EFG back sponsoring polo and I really hope it’s here for many years to come.”

Mauritius Team Port Louis went head-to-head with Argentex Team Dubai in the day’s final game, and although both teams enjoyed plenty of chances in the opening minutes, it wasn’t until the very last second of the first chukka that Juan Cruz Merlos was able to nudge the ball through the posts to give Argentex Team Dubai a narrow lead. The chances continued throughout the second chukka but some excellent defensive efforts from both teams kept the game tight, and the score remained 1-0 to Argentex Team Dubai going into half time.

The game opened up in the second half with two goals in quick succession for Argentex Team Dubai, George Spencer-Churchill volleying a pass from team mate Hissam Ali Hyder, and Ali Hyder adding one of his own to give Argentex Team Dubai a commanding 3-0 lead. Miguel Ayala was able to claw back a goal for Mauritius Team Port Louis as the third chukka came to an end, but two final goals from Juan Cruz Merlos and Hissam Ali Hyder proved too much for Mauritius Team Port Louis to overcome and Argentex Team Dubai left with the 6-1 win to book their place in the final to face EFG Team Zurich.

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For more information, contact Gayle Telford E: or T: (0)20 3176 0355.