The producer of the Winter Equestrian Festival on Friday bought one of the sport’s major media publications.
Along with the 76-year-old weekly magazine, Mark Bellissimo gets The Chronicle of the Horse’s website and any other media stemming from it, such as mobile applications — and increasing its digital presence appears to be one of his goals, along with expanding its business opportunities.
“We dared to hope that this was really the shot the company needed — the connections, business experience and outside the box thinking that Bellissimo brings,” Beth Rasin, the Chronicle’s executive editor, wrote Thursday on the Chronicle’s website of Bellissimo’s pitch to buy the company.
Bellissimo was unavailable for comment Friday, and the price he paid was not immediately undisclosed. He purchased the Chronicle independently — not as part of Equestrian Sport Productions or other companies he leads to run either the massive Winter Equestrian Festival or Global Dressage Festival.
“I am committed to keeping the organization’s core mission of being the most trusted resource for equestrian sport by offering independent journalism and the highest editorial integrity,” Bellissimo said in prepared statement issued by his publicist, Jennifer Woods Media.
Founded in 1937, the Ohstroms, a prominent family among equestrians in Virginia, owned the Chronicle for 61 years before Bellissimo’s purchase.
In her article Thursday, Rasin said she was “a bit worried” when Bellissimo expressed interest in buying the publication based in Middleburg, a Northern Virginia town about 40 miles northwest of Washington. That concern quickly passed.
“I don’t think anyone expected that he would walk in, shake hands, sit down and say, simply and openly, ‘I want to be clear that I have no interest in changing the editorial direction or having any impact on that. I’m not looking to use the Chronicle to promote my shows,’ ” Rasin wrote.
The Ohrstroms “were determined to place it in the hands of a good steward, someone who would carry it into the future while honoring its past, who would understand the value of the print as well as the possibilities of the website,” Rasin wrote.