Wellington Out Of Hunt For 2018 Equestrian Games

Equestrian Sport Productions, organizers of the Wellington Equestrian Festival, withdrew their bid this week to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

Wellington was one of five communities under consideration to host the games, regarded as the world championships of the equestrian industry.

Promoters cited recent decisions by the Wellington Village Council that they say could endanger local equestrian venues as evidence of a lack of support from the village.

But several council members expressed puzzlement over the withdrawal, noting that they had yet to see information on the bid in order to give support or withhold it.

“It wasn’t so much a lack of support for the games,” Equestrian Sport Productions President Michael Stone told the Town-Crier Tuesday. “It was that they are attacking the venues.”

Stone cited recent decisions by a majority of council members to revoke the master plan and compatibility determination of the Equestrian Village property, as well as an unusual hearing scheduled next Tuesday to examine and possibly reconsider a decision last October by the former council to approve a master plan that governs the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

“It makes it impossible to have a successful bid,” Stone said. “The mere fact that they are challenging the venues puts the bid in jeopardy.”

Stone said that the Fédération Équestre Internationale (more commonly known as FEI, or, in English, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports), which is the international body that governs the games, looks for support from the host government. “One Google search shows the reality of the situation in Wellington,” Stone said. “We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves, the United States Equestrian Federation or the FEI.”

But withdrawing the bid means Wellington could have a chance at the 2022 games, he said.

Mayor Bob Margolis said that the decisions cited by Stone didn’t necessarily mean that the council would be against supporting Wellington’s bid to host the competition.

“I don’t think one has anything to do with the other,” he told the Town-Crier Wednesday. “The actions taken and the hearing have nothing to do with the venues. It’s about the process.”

Margolis noted that Wellington’s government could change several times before the 2018 games. “How will it turn out? I don’t know,” he said. “Basing their decision on what happened yesterday and next week is shortsighted.”

Council members were expecting to hear a presentation on the games at Monday’s agenda review meeting, Margolis said.

“When [Village Manager Paul Schofield] and I met with Mr. Stone, we asked him to come in and make a presentation,” he said. “I told him what we needed was more information.”

Councilman John Greene echoed Margolis’ comments.

“I was disappointed to learn that they withdrew the application before we got a chance to see it,” he said.

Greene said he learned about the event when it was reported in the media.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “We were expecting that presentation. If they want us to lobby to make Wellington the host city, we were supportive of that. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any information. I was never provided one document. I was never asked for my opinion.”

But Stone said that the first he heard of a planned presentation was when it was reported in the Town-Crier.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known,” he said. “I was supposed to be in Switzerland on the 11th making a presentation to the FEI.”

Margolis said he favored bringing the World Equestrian Games to Wellington if the logistics could be worked out but that he had never received information on which to base any decision.

Stone said he had notified the village when he learned that Wellington was a contender but that it took a week to meet with the mayor and staff. “I never heard another word from them,” he said.

Margolis said that he thought the council was being used as a scapegoat.

“My understanding from talking to people in the equestrian community is that having the games in Florida during hurricane season and in the heat and humidity is not the best of actions,” he said.

Margolis added that he felt that the council was being used as an excuse, noting that a statement from Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo had singled out Margolis and Greene, as well as Councilman Matt Willhite, directly for the decision.

Greene agreed. “It’s a political agenda,” he said. “They are trying to throw us under the bus.”

Both pointed out that Vice Mayor Howard Coates, who was not named, had been more hesitant to show support than either of them at the June 22 council meeting.

But Stone said that despite repeated statements from the council members that they support the equestrian industry, they have not shown it.

“When they said they supported dressage, we believed them,” he said. “But no matter what they say about being supportive, their actions say different.”

Margolis disagreed. “It’s disingenuous to blame the actions of the council for this,” he said. “If the World Equestrian Games do not come to Wellington, they are 100 percent to blame for it.”


Above: The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.


  1. Wellington Councilman John Greene: the dressage complex is ‘not compatible’ with current zoning. Greene was asked 2-3 times at the last council meeting, if he wanted the dressage complex torn down and his response was, it’s ‘not compatible’ each time.

    What does that mean? TEAR IT DOWN.

    ‘The three’ (whom I voted for) want the dressage center torn down and probably the stables, too.

    When I voted for ‘the three’ it was to counteract the excess height given to Bellissimo’s hotel/condo, the large commercial area and the poor planning at the road intersection for horse/rider/vehicle safety.

    I did not vote for ‘the three’ to dismantle equestrian events on this parcel of land and to continue to bullwhip Bellissimo and his partners.

    Bellissimo has arranged charity events that have benefited many organizations AND our local schools. He has tried to bring in the everyday public to the horse shows, which those who oppose Bellissimo described as circus events — fire eaters, jugglers, face painters, etc — but that was to attract the public, not to denigrate the sport. Bellissimo wanted an audience for the sport.

    What the Jacobs seemingly have wrought is division in this community. Many, many of us were unhappy with the many decisions the previous council made even beyond equestrian decisions. In order to make a change, I voted for ‘the three’ and also signed the petition the Jacobs had circulating. MY BAD, as the saying goes.

    Thoroughly disgusted with ‘the three.’ They bring no unity, no compromise; even though Bellissimo had pulled the hotel/condo and commercial area from his master plan.

    Wellington is in for a very rocky ride in the next four years. My vote has solidified for Gerwig and Coates, if they both decide to run in the next election.
    And in the election beyond that, I will support candidates who seek unity, compromise and sustaining Wellington as the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World. Currently, we do not have a council which supports that claim.

  2. I agree. It is our job to make this council do what is best for Wellington and not just the Jacobs family.

    The trio of Margolis, Greene amd Willhite ran as reformists. I feel like a fool because I voted for two of them. I had no idea they would be so flagrant in repaying.

    I agree with allegations they are corrupt and mis-allocating funds for lawsuits on behalf of the Jacobs and destroying the equestrian industry because the Jacobs don’t want all the “undesirables” in town driving down his road.

  3. I am commenting on all the related articles because things need to be said.

    The three known as the Jacobs stooges are putting this village at risk. We will lose our tax base and jobs and our taxes will go up.

    Of course Bellissimo cannot pursue these games. The council us trying to destroy the venues.

    During the election the Jacobs stooges all attested that that they supported the new dressage arena. But I watched the council meeting on Tuesday and was thoroughly disgusted. John Greene was squirming from the questioning by Howard Coates regarding the new dressage facility.

    But Coates forced him to show his true intent: Get it torn down because Jeremy Jacobs wants it torn down.

    And you can bet that is the intent of Margolis and Willhite. This is a well orchestrated trio.

    It it is said that once a Marine always a Marine. But it is sad to see that is not the case with Matt Willhite. Politics have taken honor and valor out of him. I was Army and we left no man behind. Willhite is leaving the Village behind.

    As Howard Coates said, this council is taking a scorched earch approach against Wellington residents on behalf of the Jacobs family.

    And I salute the Crier for keeping residents informed.

    And a thank you to council members Howard Coates and Anne Gerwig for standing up for the people against this well-funded and well coordinated assault against the equestrian industry.

  4. A lost opportunity. We need to get this council back in touch with the real Wellington.

  5. I am very disappointed and confused with Margolis, Greene and Willhite. We need to have a community forum with the council to explain what the people want. We do not want the equestrian industry done away with.

  6. I am appalled at what this village council is doing, and I encourage everyone to attend or watch on TV (Channel 18) what is going on at the meetings. I feel used by Margolis, Greene and Willhite because I voted for them thinking they were honest and would do what is right for Wellington and clean up government. I was terribly wrong and am concerned my grandkids will pay the price. This council is driving business out of Wellington. I am afraid Wellington will be the tropical version of the dead city I grew up in: Detroit.

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