Second-Annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show Enjoys Five Days of Top Sport in the Heart of New York City

New York, NY – After five days of multi-disciplinary equestrian sport in Central Park’s Wollman Rink on Sept. 23-27, the Rolex Central Park Horse Show capped a successful and historic second-annual event on Sunday.
Wollman Rink was transformed in a matter of days to an international-level equestrian facility thanks to the work of Mark Bellissimo’s International Equestrian Group (IEG) and many New York City organizations, including New York City Parks and Recreation, Central Park Conservancy, The Office of the Mayor of New York City and the Trump Rink Organization.

The Rolex Central Park Horse Show
“Last year, we introduced this event to New York City and I am proud to see its growth this year. From the level of riders, to ticket sales and media attention, we made progress in every area,” said Bellissimo. “I have to thank my team at IEG and the many local groups that helped make this event possible. It is a huge undertaking and took hard work from every angle to make it a success.”

More than just a successful event, Bellissimo has plans to continue and expand the U.S. Open to be a true celebration of the horse in one of the world’s most exciting cities.

“We introduced the U.S. Open because we believe that it will turn into something spectacular. It’s our goal to expand its reach, educate the public on the power and magic of horse sport, and introduce more disciplines to engage a broader audience,” added Bellissimo. “I don’t think there is any city setting in the world that rivals this. You can really feel the energy of the community – we aren’t tucked away behind tents and trees, we are here overlooking the Manhattan skyline. This will be one of the greatest show jumping events in the world in a couple of years and we’re excited to see that happen.”   

Cynthia Richardson presents awards during the U.S. Open Arabians
The Rolex Central Park Horse Show opened with a new event in 2015. The U.S. Open Arabians, presented by Aljassimya Farm, took center stage to show off the best of the Arabian breed in both mounted and halter classes. Gold, Silver and Bronze Champions were crowned in 10 classes, including the crowd favorite Native Costume Class.
“It’s a very exciting time for Arabians,” said Cynthia Richardson, president of the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). “We were really excited to be part of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, and I think that this is a great step forward into the future for us to be able to introduce more horse events to the general public. I appreciate the Bellissimos for adding us this year.”
Competition continued on Thursday with Ireland’s Conor Swail and Simba De La Roque winning the $40,000 FEI Speed Class, presented by Canadian Pacific Railway, and Nicole Bellissimo topping the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix with Harley David. Thursday’s opening night of show jumping served as a preview to Friday’s highlight event, the $212,000 U.S. Open CSI 3* Grand Prix, presented by Rolex.

Nicole Bellissimo and Harley David
Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Believe reigned victorious over a two-horse jump-off to claim the grand prix win, and his first-ever Rolex watch in front of a packed grandstand. Horse-sport fans also enjoyed coverage of the event on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, Sept. 27.
“I’ve been wanting this since I was very young and I’ve been close a few times this year,” said Bluman of his new Rolex watch. He also claimed the inaugural U.S. Open title for the most cumulative points throughout the two days of show jumping competition and was presented with a $25,000 rider bonus for the honor.
“To be able to win today in Central Park after winning the Championship, it was a lot of pressure, but I am very pleased tonight,” said Bluman after the class.
Daniel Bluman and his U.S. Open trophy

Earlier in the evening on Friday, Jennifer Gates and Everest De Muze won the $5,000 Junior/Amateur 1.20m Speed Class, presented by PwC, and six-time Olympic Gold Medalist Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW earned top score in the U.S. Open Dressage Grand Prix, presented by Breyer.

Saturday competition at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show marked another first for the event and introduced hunters to the streets of Manhattan. Offering classes for ponies, junior/amateur and professional hunters, the day kicked off with a $1,000 Pony Hunter Freestyle, where riders completed their rounds to music of their choice. IEG presented this innovative twist to show jumping competition in an effort to excite both riders and spectators.

Sophie Gochman and Bit Of Love were named the winners set to the tune of Royals by Lorde. Giavanna Rinaldi and Taken topped the $2,500 Junior/Amateur Hunter Classic, presented by Meralex, before Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy conquered the U.S. Open Hunters $50,000 Duchossois Cup, presented by The Gochman Family.

Sophie Gochman and Bit Of Love
When the sun set over Central Park on Saturday, five countries were represented in the
U.S. Open $75,000 Dressage Freestyle, presented by Axel Johnson Group. Germany’s Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW were the ones to beat again after taking top honors with a score of 80.333%. 

Axel Johnson Group was one of roughly 32 mostly corporate sponsors that stepped up to support the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. “Rolex took a very blind bet on us, and it is very rare that they put their brand on anything that is unproven,” said Bellissimo. “When we first proposed to them that we were going to do something in Central Park, they didn’t flinch. We have great partners, especially with our mostly corporate group of sponsors this year, and we have turned this into something very special.”

Mark, Katherine and Paige Bellissimo


Sponsors from all corners of the U.S. and beyond helped to make the second-annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show a resounding success. VISIT FLORIDA is proud to call Florida the heartbeat of equestrian sport and was honored to continue their support of varying equestrian disciplines through the Rolex Central Park Horse Show.

“Florida enjoys a rich history of equestrian tourism that infuses a significant economic impact to the local communities,” said Paul Phipps, Chief Marketing Officer at VISIT FLORIDA. “Our partnership with the Rolex Central Park Horse Show provides a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Sunshine State’s assets with horse enthusiasts from around the world who attend this prestigious event.”

Charlotte Dujardin and Renaissance Tyme

Following the theme of promoting the horse in New York City, IEG made donations to six local charities in honor of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. Charities included the NYPD Mounted Unit, GallopNYC and NYC Parks Enforcement Mounted Auxiliary Unit, in addition to the Central Park Conservancy, City Parks Foundation, and The Police Athletic League.

The Rolex Central Park Horse Show concluded on Sunday with a Charlotte Dujardin Master’s Class, presented by The Chronicle of the Horse and Breyer. The world’s number-one dressage rider gave spectators and viewers tuning in via live stream an inside look at how she prepares her horses for top competition.

Preceding Dujardin’s Master’s Class, horse-sport fans of New York City and beyond were welcomed into Central Park for admission-free demonstrations, including a versatility exhibition of the Arabian Horse, United States Pony Club mounted games, a show jumping clinic with Candice King, and the Land Rover Mini-Car Driving Experience.
Land Rover Mini-Car Driving Experience
While Central Park provided a fairy tale setting for equestrian activities after the last horse show was held there in 1981, the event’s VIP allowed onlookers to watch in style. VERANDA magazine was the sponsor of the interior design of the VIP tent including chandeliers from Hinkley lighting and carpets from Nourison.

The Rolex Central Park Horse Show concluded Sunday, September 27, but show managers are already making plans for the return of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in 2016 with more competition showcasing varying disciplines of horse sport in the heart of New York City’s iconic Central Park.

Photos by Rolex/Kit Houghton, Josh Walker for The Chronicle of the Horse, Meg Banks for Equestrian Sport Productions, and Lindsay Brock for Jennifer Wood Media.