Category Archives: Polo

13th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Honors Equine Photographer Diana De Rosa

LOS ANGELES – February 21, 2019 – Professional equine photographer Diana De Rosa from Long Island, New York was presented with the 13th Annual Black and White Spider Awards Nominee title in the sport category at the prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow streamed Saturday, November 10, 2018.

The live online gala was attended by over 17,000 photography fans around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the industry’s most important event for black and white photography. The 13th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from Penguin Random House, London; Contrasto Galleria, Milan; Young & Rubicam, Lima; Harper’s Bazaar, UK; Victoria Film Festival, Canada; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Silvan Faessler Fine Art, Zurich; Time Inc., London; Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; Conny Dietzschold Galleries, Cologne; and Fratelli Alinari Photography Museum in Florence who honored Spider Fellows with 692 coveted title awards and 952 nominees in 32 categories.

“Once again, another stunning collection of high-quality entries both professional and amateur. It’s always inspiring to see this classic medium being stretched into new and interesting directions,” said juror Marcel Wijnen, Creative Director at Anthem Worldwide/Marque Branding in Sydney. Cultural Heritage Consultant Andrea de Polo from Fratelli Alinari Photography Museum in Florence added, “The quality of work is incredible and for the jury selecting the best images is very hard work.”

“It’s an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 6,404 entries we received this year,” said Basil O’Brien, the awards Creative Director. “Diana De Rosa’s Polo Power, an exceptional image entered in the sport category, represents black and white photography at its finest, and we’re pleased to present her with the title of Nominee.”

De Rosa is a veteran equestrian journalist, who has traveled the world and has recorded equestrian history for over 35 years. A language major in college, De Rosa went on to run a riding school, then was editor of an equine magazine for 13 years, and eventually focused on her writing and photography.  She has over 1000 published stories and photos to her credit.

She is the past president of the American Horse Publications and is on the Executive Board of the Press Club of Long Island.

A long-time member of The International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists, De Rosa has been one of the few journalists to be credentialed to cover the past eight Olympic Games (including being on assignment for USA Today for the 1992 Olympics).  She has also covered or been on staff at every World Equestrian Games, numerous Pan American Games and World Cups.

Besides being a writer & photographer, De Rosa also does PR. Some past and present clients include the Hampton Classic, National and Washington International Horse Shows, USA Equestrian Trust, Healthy Horse Boutique, Running Wild, DreamWorks, the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, and 20th Century Fox.

For ten years De Rosa co-hosted the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show for the local Hamptons’ TV Station WVVH.  She also does some radio reporting and voiceovers.  De Rosa enjoys bringing life to her many equestrian stories through her camera lens and keyboard.  For eight years until his death on October 11, 2004, she worked with the famed Christopher Reeve.

De Rosa is co-organizer of the EQUUS Film Festival, which takes place annually in New York City, with tour stops around the US, including the 2017 World Cup in Omaha, NE and the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC. She also spent part of the 2017 winter taking photos for the Equestrians Got Talent, Althea and at the International Polo Club in Wellington, FL, which is where she captured this polo power moment.

De Rosa is a part time actress and a SAG-AFTRA union member. She has performed in parodies, music videos, was a side-kick on a cooking show, appeared on The Food Network, featured on Gotham and Oceans 8 and much more. De Rosa is single and calls home Huntington, LI, NY.

BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography.

CONTACT: Press Link/Diana De Rosa,, 516-848-4867

British Polo Days Charity Exhibition Gets a Dose of Casares’ Photographic Style

Oxfordshire, UK (November 6, 2018) – The sport of kings got a taste of art this summer, as a host of celebrities, royalty, and some of the best handicapped polo players in the world descended on the Black Bears Polo Club outside of London for the 2018 British Polo Days. An unprecedented social and sporting event, the stage for this prestigious charity polo exhibition was set by a selection of artwork, including a large print of Adolfo Cambiaso’s cloned champion polo mare, Dolfina Cuartetera B09, donated by photographer Ramon Casares. Known for his dramatically illuminated and detailed artistic animal and equine portraits, Casares has been photographing horses and wildlife for famous polo teams and conservation societies around the world.

As a family, the Cambiasos of La Dolfina Polo Team hosted the La Dolfina Sunset Polo and Gala during the Polo Days. Designed to raise funds and awareness for Prince Harry of England’s charity Sentebale, which supports mental health and well-being of children and young people affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana, the Polo Days exhibition featured some of the top players and patrons of polo in the world, including Pelon Stirling and Juan Martin Nero, ten goal handicapped players of La Dolfina Polo Team, Cambiaso’s patron Bob Jornayvaz, young talent in the form of Cambiaso’s son and daughter, Poroto and Mia, Prince Harry himself, and a slew of famous spectators including the newest member of the house of Windsor Meghan Markle and tennis superstar Serena Williams. The two exhibition games were also highlighted by exclusive parties and a large fireworks show.

Casares’ contribution of a fine art print of Cuartetera 09 scratches the surface of the artist’s support of both humanitarian causes and wildlife conservation. In addition to portraits of some of the world’s top polo and sport horses, his rescued wildlife series BROKEN highlights both rare and common rehabilitated species on multiple continents. The intimate portraits and stories behind each animal provide a captivating look at the power, fragility, and complexity of nature.

Building on influences from his background as a native of Argentina and career as an exotic animal caregiver at the country’s largest zoo, Casares expanded his photographic talents to include all species of creature, from human and equine to possum and crocodile. He has photographed animals from nearly every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom. With Casares Fine Art Photography appearing across the globe and garnering international acclaim, his images have captured the imagination of audiences at major media outlets and international art shows.

But despite his passion for the horses and traditional commissioned work, Casares’ portrait style images of nature’s rarest and most common species are the artist’s true accomplishment and calling card along with his trademark style devoid of background distractions and illuminated to detail each whisker, feather, or scale. Casares captures an essence with each image that underscores his own passion and vision as a photographer and conservationist. As a former keeper for the Buenos Aires Zoo, Casares was witness to the beauty, ferocity, and fragility of the animal kingdom firsthand. During the evolution of his photographic career, he began to visit wildlife rescues to document the plight of their patients. Realizing his images could generate support and awareness for those injured and recuperating commonplace species, as well as those who are in danger of extinction, Casares embarked on a mission to unite his talent for photography with his passion for conservation. Broken was the result.

Combining Casares’ distinctive artistic style and the plight of rescued animals, Broken is the final product of 3 years’ worth of photography, the resilience of each animal, and the selfless efforts of their rescuers. In the oversized fine art book, the saga of each animal is told beside their stunning and emotionally evocative images with the goal of bringing awareness to their struggle and rehabilitation. An ever-growing endeavor, Casares intends to expand the Broken: Rescued Wildlife Fine Art Project to multiple countries and continents to maximize awareness and resources for endangered wildlife.

For more information on Casares Fine Art Photography, visit

Media contact:
PR and Marketing
Holly Johnson
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
+1 954 205 7992

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.”

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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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