22 September 2015, New York, NY ~ Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG), LLC commenced the second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show in the foreground of New York City’s beloved Wollman Rink on Tuesday. Alongside inaugural Rolex Central Park Grand Prix winner and hometown hero Georgina Bloomberg, Olympic dressage rider Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén, and GallopNYC Executive Director Alicia Kershaw, Bellissimo christened Central Park as the host site for the inaugural U.S. Open competitions with a welcome press conference. The Rolex Central Park Horse Show runs Sept. 23-27 with Arabian, Hunter, Dressage, and Show Jumping disciplines being showcased.
Competition at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show begins Wednesday, September 23, with the U.S. Open Arabians, presented by Aljassimya Farm. Action continues throughout the week, highlighted by the U.S. Open $212,000 FEI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex on Friday, and the U.S. Open Hunters $50,000 Duchossois Cup, presented by the Gochman Family and U.S. Open $75,000 Dressage Freestyle, presented by Axel Johnson Group on Saturday.
“Last year, the inaugural event was an incredible success,” stated Bellissimo. “We really would like to use this event to create a world stage for equestrian sport – there is a great opportunity for us to raise the awareness in this country and there is no better place to do that than in New York City. I think this will continue to grow as one of the top events in the sport over time.”
New York City native and last year’s grand prix winner at the first-ever Rolex Central Park Horse Show, Georgina Bloomberg, was eager to greet local, international, and equestrian media in her hometown while preparing to defend her title.
“As a rider, I’m really excited about this event. It’s a fantastic week not only for Show Jumping, but now also for Hunters, Dressage and Arabians and I’m so proud to be a part of it,” said Bloomberg. “As a New Yorker, I look at the skyline and really appreciate both the surroundings and being able to ride in such an incredible venue.”
Decorated dressage rider Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén of Sweden will compete at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show for the first time this year, and like Bloomberg, she is eager to participate in the second horse show held in Central Park since 1981.
“I’m incredibly excited to be here. As a kid I always loved New York City and enjoyed coming here, but I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to ride here,” she said.
While Silfvén admits she is in awe of the city, she maintains that the horses should handle the location with ease. “The atmosphere is exciting, but as all of the bigger shows have grown in size and scale many of the horses competing at this level are used to it,” she added.
The mounts of Bloomberg and Silfvén, who will arrive in New York City in the coming days, are in good company with the horses that call New York City home. Members of the NYPD Mounted Unit were on hand at Tuesday’s press conference to showcase a different kind of equine presence at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. The NYPD Mounted Unit is one of six charity beneficiaries of the event alongside the Central Park Conservancy, City Parks Foundation, GallopNYC, NYC Parks Enforcement Mounted Auxiliary Unit and The Police Athletic League.
Bellissimo has found success at his Florida-based horse show with an event called the Great Charity Challenge, which has raised more than $8 million in the past six years for charities within Palm Beach County. He has continued the charitable endeavors of IEG at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, giving a minimum of $30,000 in donations this year.
Alicia Kershaw, who is the Executive Director of Gallop NYC, a therapeutic riding program based in New York City, spoke to the presence of equestrian-based programs within the city and how pivotal donations are to organizations like GallopNYC.
“We help people with disabilities walk, talk, and learn so that they can live their lives as fully and independently as possible,” she said. “Two-thirds of our riders cannot afford to pay our fees. Disability can be a impoverishing circumstance for a family and so we very much welcome the financial support, but we also feel that we have a mission to show New Yorkers that horses are good for people. We are thrilled to be a part of an event that showcases horses in New York.”
As the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show gets underway this week, Bellissimo is already confident that the event has a bright future in New York City. “It costs several million dollars to host this event and it’s a long-term opportunity to make it a success,” he said. “We’re committed to doing just that over the next seven or eight years.”
Rolex Central Park Horse Show Schedule:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Gates open at 5:00 PM & VIP access open at 5:30 PM
6:00 PM – U.S. Open Arabians, presented by Aljassimya Farm
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
Gates open at 5:30 PM & VIP access opens at 6:00 PM
6:30 PM – U.S. Open $25,000 U25 Grand Prix
8:00 PM – U.S. Open (ROUND 1) $40,000 FEI Speed, presented by Canadian Pacific Railway
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Daytime gates open 12:30 PM & VIP access opens at 1:00 PM
Evening gates open at 5:30 PM & VIP access opens at 6:00 PM
1:30 PM – U.S. Open Dressage Grand Prix, presented by Breyer
6:30 PM – $5,000 Junior/Amateur 1.20M, presented by PwC
8:00 PM – U.S. Open $212,000 (Final) FEI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
Daytime gates open at 9:00 AM & VIP access opens at 1:00 PM
Evening gates open at 6:00 PM & VIP access opens at 6:30 PM
10:00 AM – Hunter Schooling – Free Admission / Vendor Area Open to Public
11:00 AM-12:00 PM – Land Rover Mini-Car Driving Experience for Children – Free Admission/Sign Up Required at Ticket Kiosk
1:30 PM – U.S. Open Hunters $50,000 Duchossois Cup for Professionals, presented by the Gochman Family, $1,000 Small/Medium Pony and $2,500 Junior/Amateur Hunter Classics
7:00 PM – U.S. Open $75,000 Dressage Freestyle, presented by Axel Johnson Group
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Gates open at 9:00 AM
10:00 AM – Equestrian Demonstrations – Free Admission
11:30 AM-12:30 PM – Land Rover Mini-Car Driving Experience for Children – Free Admission/Sign Up Required at Ticket Kiosk
1:30 PM – Dressage Master’s Class with Charlotte Dujardin, presented by Chronicle of the Horse and Breyer
Tickets for all events at the 2015 Rolex Central Park Horse Show can be purchased at http://bit.ly/1AV2imv.