THE SPRING ISSUE 2022
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HURLINGHAM THE SPRING ISSUE
CONTENTS Sayyu Dantata and Tomas Garcia del Rio in the quarter finals of the C.V. Whitney Cup
0 7_ P O N Y L I N E S The latest polo news, including the HPA chief executive’s column 12 _ L O V E A F FA I R Charlie Hanbury discusses the future of the family-run Lovelocks Polo Stud 14 _ O N T H E M O V E A look at how Roda Polo is using eWheels with great success 16 _T H I N K P I N K The exciting women’s charity tournament taking place this summer 18 _W O R L D O F T H E H O R S E How Cavago, a new platform for horse lovers, is set to change the landscape of the equestrian service industry 2 0 _P O L O P R I D E Rebecca Baldridge takes a look at how the Gay Polo League is working to promote visibility and inclusion within the game
66_ A HISTORIC WIN Justo Santamarina remembers Benjamin Araya’s record-holding
22 _ L I V I N G L I F E T O T H E F U L L
win at the Hurlingham Open in 1981
Honouring Sir Charles “Cow” Williams 26 _G L O B A L R E A C H
A deal between ESPN and Global Polo Entertainment is great for fans 2 8 _L O O K I N G T O T H E F U T U R E Avery Chenoweth on the National Intercollegiate Championship
C O V E R : P O R OTO CA M B I A S O P L AY I N G F O R S C O N E I N T H E G O L D C U P; S N O O PY THIS PAGE: @GLOBALPOLO/@AGUSFONDAPL
H U R L I N G H A M M AG A Z I N E Publisher Roderick Vere Nicoll
3 0 _P E A K P E R F O R M A N C E Healthcare company Clinova joins forces with Guards Polo Club
Executive Editor Peter Howarth Editor Jemima Wilson
32 _G A M E - C H A N G E R Héctor Martelli outlines the evolution of different polo styles and methods of play over the past three decades
Designer Iso Newman Chief Copy Editor Holly Quayle Deputy Chief Copy Editor Joel Barrick
3 6 _ R E M E M B E R I N G C L A R I TA
Contributing Photographer Tony Ramirez
A tribute to the late Claire Tomlinson S H O W M E D I A Editorial
4 2 _R I S E T O T H E T O P
Managing Director Peter Howarth
We meet Monkey Puzzle, a one-in-a-million mare
1-2 Ravey Street, London EC2A 4QP
4 6 _ FA S T A N D F E A R L E S S
+ 44 (0) 20 3222 0101
The young Generation Z players shaping the future of polo 51 _ R A I S I N G T H E B A R Lawyers Polo met up in South Africa following a two-year hiatus 5 7_ A C T I O N
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The Gauntlet of Polo; US Women’s Open; the Triple Crown;
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FOREWORD We have to thank Javier Tanoira for the fast, open polo we are enjoying today. Over 10 years ago, Tanoira wrote an essay on how boring it was to watch players tapping and controlling the ball, and laid out a number of suggestions to speed up the game. In Opinion, Héctor Martelli picks up on these ideas and explains how the game has reverted to “Anticipation, Initiative and Speed”. You can read about this style in the Action articles on the Triple Crown in Argentina and the Gauntlet of Polo in the US. Once again, Tanoira is ahead of the rest of us and is endorsing Roda Polo, which you will see on page 14. The polo has been really fun to watch as a result of these changes, but also due to a new crop of young players, as Sarah Eakin writes about in Features. On our cover is Poroto Cambiaso, who is the best young player in the world at only 16 years old. Another entertaining factor is the level of ponies being played. In Features, discover how Monkey Puzzle, who was bred in Ireland but ended up in Argentina, won Best Playing Pony in the Hurlingham and Argentine Opens – quite the feat for a foreigner! Finally, Blair Fitzsimons writes about Lawyers Polo, where ‘participation is more important than winning’ in the wonderful setting of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.
RODERICK VERE NICOLL PUBLISHER
TAUSEEF QADRI is the founder and
Covering international polo
RYAN FRENCH is a South African
A former showjumper turned polo
CEO of Cavago. He has worked in
for publications worldwide,
photographer. His goal is to offer
player, CHIP McKENNEY is founder
start-ups, equestrian real estate and
SARAH EAKIN started out as polo
a signature of realism throughout
and president of the Gay Polo League
Fortune 250 companies in London,
correspondent to The Independent
his work and produce images of
(GPL), the only LGBTQ-identified polo
Dubai and Singapore. Passionate
and later The Daily Telegraph.
dynamic energy and personality that
league in the world, with events in
about horses and horse people,
She was married to American polo
express not only the photographic
the US, England, Argentina, France,
he has travelled the world in search
professional Gary Eakin and covered
subject, but that singular moment
and its flagship event at the
of the best equestrian experiences.
US polo from the road for 20 years.
in time that is everlasting.
International Polo Club Palm Beach.
C H R I S S C O T T ; R Y A N F R E N C H ; J A M I E S A U LT S
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Chris Dawson at the Valiente Barn in Wellington, Florida, with his pony SantiagueÑa
ONE TO WATCH
CHRIS DAWSON I started playing polo in Hawaii when I was in my early 20s. I did not come from a polo family but thought polo was the coolest thing ever. I loved the horses – I fell in love with the horses when I was just a boy – and it’s a love affair that has stayed with me throughout my life. I am extremely lucky, as I get to play team practices with Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and other members of the Cambiaso tribe. Everyday 20+ goal practices are the most fun for me. My most memorable polo game was playing with Diego Cavanagh in Denver, Hawaii Polo Life vs Colorado. We were getting smashed and down by five goals in the fifth chukka. I remember praying ‘Please, we need an act of God!’ Out of nowhere, a huge thunderstorm popped up, marching its way towards us. Thunder and
lightning like crazy, everyone scattered, and the match was postponed. About three hours later, the sun was shining, and we were told to return to the field with our best horses to finish the match. I remember sitting in the team tent thinking it was crazy. At the throw-in, Diego Cavanagh stole the ball, scored six goals in a row and won the game for Hawaii Polo Life. Cavanagh never gives up – he is amazing. In Hawaii I only play low-goal, but in Florida I play 16-20 goals. My personal goal is to get organised to compete in the 22-goal and US Open in Florida. When I decided to play high-goal, I knew it was a different game requiring a different level of horses. For the past five years, I have been buying Adolfo’s bloodlines through J5 Equestrian. Powerful, easy and explosive! That said, the quality of the horse is very
important, but if you don’t manage the horses well, it’s pointless. A good horse is only as good as it is managed and cared for. Tatu Gomez Romero manages all my horse operations – without him it doesn’t work. Polo has taken me around the world, and I am very proud of my Hawaiian heritage. Polo has been played in Hawaii since 1880, during the reign of the last Hawaiian King, David Kalakaua. The friendship between Hawaii and Argentina is more than 200 years old, and the kingdom of Hawaii was the first nation to support Argentina’s independence. There is, and always will be, a special friendship between Argentina and Hawaii. Winston Churchill said it best: ‘A polo handicap is a passport to the world’. And the spirit of “aloha” is global. Polo and aloha are what Hawaii Polo Life is.
T H E C O R O N AT I O N CUP 2022 The Hurlingham Polo Association has confirmed that after a two-year absence, the Coronation Cup match will be played between England and Uruguay on Saturday 23 July 2022 at Guards Polo Club
in Surrey. It will be the first time Uruguay has played for the trophy, which dates back to 1911, with the Uruguay team captained
I am hugely excited to have recently been appointed as the new chief executive of the Hurlingham Polo Association following the retirement of David Woodd after some 22 years in the role. I have a huge debt of thanks to David, who has carefully stewarded the organisation throughout this time to the strong place it is today, and for his never-ending patience during my handover with him. I am looking forward to this season with a packed schedule of tournaments at all levels, and I plan to spend my time this year getting out and about to meet and listen to people throughout the polo world. We are busy in the office, planning for the year ahead and are currently focused on memberships and equine passports. We are also deep in the planning stages of the International Day, where we will host England vs Uruguay for the Coronation Cup, on its return to Guards on 23 July 2022. There is also a lot of other International activity, having attended the Inspired Arena International at Hickstead last month with England defeating Ireland – and at time of writing England’s defeat to South Africa at the Nedbank 14-goal test match in Johannesburg. England’s Women are about to play in the FIP Women’s World Polo Championship in Argentina, and we wish them the best of luck. We also have Internationals at Chestertons Polo in the Park and at the Beaufort in June. It feels as though it is going to be a busy season, hopefully mixed with fun, enjoyment and, importantly, an opportunity to reconnect with people who we may not have been able to see as much over the past couple of years.
by high-goal star David “Pelon” Stirling for the 24–26 goal match, while the HPA has named James Harper as the England captain. Tickets for the event are available at guardspoloclub.com
ALULA DESERT POLO The second edition of Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo – the only major polo tournament to be staged in the desert – saw four teams, representing Richard Mille, Bentley, Saudia and AlUla, battle it out in a unique arena drawn in the sand. Day one of competition saw Team AlUla (Adolfo Cambiaso, HRH Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Salman, Mohammed Al Habtoor) defeat Bentley (David Stirling, HRH Prince Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al Saud, Jean-François Decaux) by 7 goals to 5 in the opening game. In the second game, Richard Mille (Pablo Mac Donough, Melissa Ganzi, Noor Abu Khadra) beat Saudia (HRH Prince Salman bin Mansour Al Saud, Juan Martín Nero, Dr Hussam Zawawi) by 9 goals to 7. The second day pitted the winners against each other in the Grand Final, while the other two teams contested the Petit Final. Team AlUla beat Richard Mille 5-4 to take the trophy, and in the Petit Final, team Bentley held off Saudia 3-1 to claim third. Most improved player in the tournament was HRH Prince Salman bin Mansour (above), at the Unesco site Hegra.
I M AG E S O F P O LO.C O M ; S A M C H U R C H I LL / D E S E RT P O LO ; RYA N F R E N C H ; G A M E P O LO/ P R C 2021; P O LO M U S E U M A R C H I V E
HOOKED ON POLO GARTH KANIGOWSKI Having been introduced to polo by his father when he was young, Garth Kanigowski was recently voted in as chairman of Plett Polo, a club with excellent facilities in a world-class setting
THE POLO RIDER CUP The second Polo Rider Cup will be held from 8 to 18 June 2022 at the Polo Club of
My father was an active member of the Cape Hunt & Polo Club in Cape Town, South Africa, and we were very much weekend warriors – playing the ponies in summer and then drag-hunting them in the winter. It’s the collective of so many aspects of polo that make the game so special for me. The horse, the game’s competitive nature, the skills required, the camaraderie and, importantly, the focus on family that runs through polo communities. Polo also helps me to refocus. I can honestly say that polo has taught me many life lessons. My perfect game would be: arriving at the game in a state of mind that allows me to be entirely present. A tough and competitive game, played in the utmost manner of sportsmanship. Winning is important, but just by a goal or two, allowing one to sit with the opposition, have a beer and a laugh and discuss how the game could have gone either way. I am always thinking the next game is going to be epic. Fairly recently, I got to play a tournament with my father, brother and nephew, with a 60-year age gap between youngest and oldest. It was memorable and we won. The past few years have seen great improvements at Plett Polo Club. If you have been to visit us before, your return visit is overdue. If you have not, we can promise you good polo and warm South African hospitality.
Chantilly, in France. This year’s edition will again be played with a 10/12-goal handicap and 14 international polo clubs will take part. The final will take place on the last day (Saturday 18 June), and a Subsidiary Cup will be held during the tournament. Defending champions Polo Park Zürich (SUI), along with Hong Kong Polo Association (HKG), Las Brisas Polo Club of Chicago (USA), Hamburger Polo Club (GER), Evviva Polo St Moritz (SUI), Deauville International Polo Club (FRA), Polo Club of Chantilly (FRA) and Empire Polo Club of Coachella Valley (USA) will return to Chantilly, joining six newcomers to the Polo Rider Cup: La Araucaria Polo Club, Ellerstina and Coronel Suárez (all ARG), Polo Club Niederweiden (AUT), Preußischer Polo & Country Club Berlin Brandenburg (GER), and BP Polo Club Malaysia (MAS).
POLO HALL OF FAME For the 33rd year of inductions, Tommy Biddle Jr and Cornelius Vanderbilt (“CV” or “Sonny”) Whitney (right), have been elected to receive Polo Hall of Fame honours. Biddle became the fourth player in arena history to achieve a 10-goal handicap, while also maintaining an eight-goal outdoor rating. Whitney rose to a six-goal handicap during his playing career from 1917 to the 1940s, winning the US Open three times. The C.V. Whitney Cup was established in 1979, originally played as the handicap side of the US Open Championship and today played as part of the USPA’s Gauntlet of Polo series.
Camilo “Jeta” Castagnola was raised to 10 goals in Argentina on his 19th birthday – December 13, 2021. Facundo Pieres was 19 and 7 months and Adolfo Cambiaso was 19 and 8 months when they reached that handicap. Jeta’s cousin, Poroto, is 16 years old and 9 goals. If he continues to play well, he could become 10 goals at the age of 17!
For the 2023 season, the US Women’s Open will be raised from 22 to 24 goals. The Silver and Gold Cup in Dubai will be played at 20 goals, up from 18 in 2022.
SADDLE UP WITH… JOSH HYDE Sandpolo is celebrating 15 years on 8-9 July at Sandbanks Beach, where 6,000 spectators are expected for the two days of polo, beach and sun.
COUNTRY: UK HANDICAP: 0 (UK); 1 (USA) AGE: 17
International Olympic Committee, FIP announced on 22 March that Russian and Belarusian teams and/or athletes will not be admitted in the tournaments organised by the federation, until the attacks on Ukraine cease.
When and how did you start to play polo? I’ve been around polo and horses for as long as I can remember. My dad had a lot of horses when he was in his prime polo years, so there was always something to do at the stables. But I first played pony club polo when I was 7 years old with my twin brother and friends, which was great fun.
The HPA has entered into a partnership with Riders Minds (ridersminds.org), which provides an online bespoke resource dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of all horse riders, drivers and equestrians.
What makes polo special for you? It’s what I’ve grown up around, with my dad having a successful career and also my brother Jack, who’s only 23 and 5 goals. He definitely has the talent and time to go a lot further, and will definitely be one of England’s best talents.
The Polo Charity was set up in 1992. In 2021, just over £121,000 was given to a number of registered charities, clubs, polo schools and individuals of the polo community. That brings the figure for donations made to £602,297 in total.
Who do you respect most in polo? I respect the obvious – 10-goalers and the icons of this sport – but I hugely respect my family, especially Jack who
is one of the biggest reasons why I am here playing in this level of polo. What is your most memorable polo game? That definitely has to be the final of the C.V. Whitney Cup, because not only did we win, we also beat the two Cambiasos, which is definitely something to remember. Not a lot of people will be able to say that! How did you get the job with Park Place? I got the job from playing a 6-goal against Ash Price, and after that game she asked if I could come play a practice/trial for the 0-goal position in England, and to be Andrey Borodin’s substitute in America. I’m sure you could imagine my reply! I hope we can carry this momentum through the Gauntlet and bring it to England for the four 22-goal tournaments.
A G U S F O N D A ; G L O B A L P O L O E N T E R TA I N M E N T
Following the recommendations of the
POLO IN THE PARK After a two-year break, Chestertons Polo in the Park is
LOVE OF MY LIFE BY FACUNDO PIERES
set to return to London’s home of polo this summer at Hurlingham Park beside the River Thames. The world’s largest three-day polo festival will be kicking off London’s summer social calendar from Friday 10 - Sunday 12 June.
PONY’S NAME: OPEN AZARENKA SEX: MARE ORIGIN: ARGENTINA
This year, England will play Argentina on the opening day and Chestertons Polo in the Park will hosts its first International Women’s Match (England vs USA) on Saturday’s Ladies Day. The Fulham Food Festival will also make its first appearance at the event. Over the course of the festival, there will be six
Open Azarenka is by Rusita, one of our top breeding mares,
city teams competing, from Sydney and Buenos Aires to New
and her sire is Sportivo. This is one of the most important
York, Zurich, Dubai and London. Visitors will get the chance
bloodlines in Ellerstina’s breed.
to enjoy exhilarating polo matches alongside an assortment
We usually give embryos to people who work for us,
of delicious food, drinks and great company.
and in Azarenka’s case, we gifted her embryo to Ellerstina’s physical trainer, Pablo Erbin (The Champion), as he has been with us for many years and is a very good friend. We let him choose from two daughters of Rusita and two daughters of La Magia, and he chose Azarenka, so he was very lucky. It is quite a funny story, though, as Pablo sold half the DAVID LOMINSKA; CHESTERTONS POLO IN THE PARK
mare to Negro di Paola, who made her, and then when she was six years old, I bought her back. I always joke that I gifted her to Pablo, and he sold her to me! She began playing in Argentina when she was seven years old, and when she played in the Open she was really good. However, she had quite a big injury during her first or second year playing, and she struggled a bit with pain
FREDERIC ROY 1955-2022
at that level of polo. I brought her to Palm Beach in the US after she’d had
The polo community was saddened to learn of the death of
a few years of not playing too much, and hopefully with
Frederic Roy, editor and publisher of The Morning Line, due
the different style of polo here she can play a bit more.
to Covid-19. A regular on the Florida polo scene for decades,
It is her first season of 22-goal polo in the US and so far
Roy could be seen either walking or riding his Segway along the
she is doing great.
sidelines, as he distributed his daily publication to spectators.
She has always been a naturally talented, complete
The Morning Line was enthusiastically received by polo fans,
mare and she does everything right. She has a lot of mouth
publishing schedules, team rosters and results of the many
and sides, as well as speed and power. She always gives
major tournaments in Florida as well as reporting results
her best and puts a lot of effort into every play.
from around the world.
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LOVE AFFAIR Following a record number of Lovelocks horses playing in the 2021 Triple Crown, Charlie Hanbury looks ahead to the future of the Lovelocks Polo Stud Lovelocks is a family-run stud that breeds polo ponies in both England and Argentina. Having started off as a hobby in 1991 with one of my dad’s old mares, we have grown dramatically and have now sold horses to more than 20 different countries all around the world. Lovelocks now breeds between five and 10 horses each year in England, and 10 to 20 in Argentina. When we started in Argentina in 2010, we incorporated genetics from the
best breeders in the world: Ellerston, La Dolfina and Ellerstina. We bought some stallions including Open El Padrino from Ellerstina, and we bought three stallions (Nutbush, Botox and Christian) over from Ellerston in Australia to cover our mares. During the past 12 years, we have learned a lot and have narrowed down our genetics to ones we believe give the highest rate of success. We now breed from only four or five mares per season in Argentina.
Breeding takes a long time, and you need to be extremely patient. Over the years, we have managed to mount my brother and me to play the high goal in England and Argentina, as well as sell to the best players in the world. I am always extremely proud to see the Lovelocks brand on horses playing all over the world. To have won prizes such as the Best Playing Pony in the US Open last year was amazing. I get an incredible buzz
HELEN CRUDEN; IMAGESOFPOLO.COM; YOANNA HANBURY
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LOVELOCKS PONIES TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS YEAR UK Lovelocks Sumatra Lovelocks Fidel Lovelocks Cubic Lovelocks Mirage ARGENTINA Lovelocks Drogba (Barto Castagnola) Lovelocks Malouda (Poroto Cambiaso)
watching the foals of mares I used to play – sometimes playing better than their mothers did. We still have some horses that we can track back four generations to mares my father bred. It is very important to have good genetics, but I believe they are only half the story: you need a good organisation. We have an incredible team working for us behind the scenes and from the day the foals are born we take everything into consideration to give them the best possible chance of success at the highest level. Lovelocks had a great year in 2021. In America, Lovelocks Camusericht won every prize possible playing with Adolfo Cambiaso (BPP in the USPA Gold Cup, BPP in the US Open, IPC Horse of the Year and Best AACCP). We also started a partnership with Catalina Genetics in Australia, under which our first clones were born. We had a record number of horses play the Argentine Open: Lovelocks Drogba, Lovelocks Sex, Lovelocks
Fulham, Lovelocks Camusericht, Lovelocks Journalist, Lovelocks Wimbledon and Lovelocks Sharapova. Four of them played in the final at Palermo, which was very exciting for us as a family. It is the ultimate goal for any breeder to have their horses on display at the greatest tournament in the world. I believe we have some really exciting prospects coming through the system and we should be seeing some new Lovelocks stars this coming season both in the UK and in Argentina. My family and I have put a lot of time and effort into the Lovelocks breed and our goal was always to see our horses perform at the highest level with the best players. Fortunately, we were able to have a record number of Lovelocks horses in the 2021 Triple Crown, and I hope to have many more in the future. It looks like times are changing in polo and new stars are emerging. Hopefully they will continue to ride Lovelocks horses for many years to come.
Opposite: Charlie with his family and Lovelocks Hanky Panky. Above: Charlie riding Lovelocks Chekhov. Below: Charlie and Catinka with Lovelocks Chips
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ON THE MOVE Javier Tanoira’s Roda Polo is using eWheels to great effect on the field March 2022 marks the first anniversary of the launch of Roda Polo, a new sport that has hit the ground running. One year on from its launch, it seems appropriate to review the year that has been, as well as look forward to all the developments still to come. An interesting evolution is happening – those who are used to playing traditional polo on horseback are also now using the eWheel as an easy “charge and go” method of practising, improving, stick and balling… Not
only is it a phenomenal workout, it also improves and helps hand/eye co-ordination as well as providing a means by which friends (polo players and non-polo players) can gather together and enjoy this new take on a team sport. Never before have so many aspects of polo been accessible to so many. Roda Polo is a sport that promotes good values: it is a sociable and fun environment, it is all-inclusive, and it promotes physical exercise, outdoor activity and team values.
The Covid-19 pandemic years of 2020-21 created a solitary environment for many children and young people who were suddenly isolated for long periods of time, and this activity has helped them to reconnect with each other and with outdoor sport, and ultimately gain confidence. Because of these reasons, Roda Polo has crucially gained the support and approval of the Argentine Polo Association, which shares many of the same values and supports the
F E R N A N D O S A N TA M A R I N A ; J O S É P E R E Y R A LU C E N A
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Opposite: Javier Tanoira followed by Beltrán Riglos and AAP president Delfin Uranga at Palermo. Below: Milo Torralva on eWheels
benefits that it brings to young people. Working with the AAP, it was possible to bring our idea to the “Cathedral of Polo”, Palermo. During November and December 2021, Roda Polo’s eWheels lined up on the field-facing side of the stands, ready to offer free lessons, as well as fast-paced and exciting exhibition matches at half time. Watching them spill on to Ground One at Palermo was a historic moment for polo – welcoming eWheels to these hallowed grounds in Buenos Aires gave further approval to this sport. On the day of the final, 30 youngsters had the opportunity of a lifetime – to play on that field at half time, following in the footsteps of their heroes in the sport of polo, but simply using a different mode of transport. This was the greatest achievement for Roda Polo, and the point at which it gained official approval from the polo crowd and reassured polo players and polo clubs that the use of eWheels does not cause damage to the fields. If the most high-profile field in the world – during the most high-profile tournament in the world – was welcoming the eWheels, then this was confirmation indeed that no one needed to raise any concerns about potential field damage. Here was the proof: eWheels do not damage valuable polo grounds. A month ago, we finished writing the first set of Roda Polo regulations, with the official stamp of approval from the AAP. We are now in talks with the USPA, HPA and the FIP to also approve them so that the same rules can be rolled out worldwide during 2022. This is key, and opens the door to one of Roda’s future goals for the sport – organising international competitions, like we already see in traditional polo. The fact that it is a sport invented by youngsters for youngsters means that we remain respectful and considerate of their opinions, feedback and time. Therefore, the
A GLOBAL TOURING SCHEDULE WILL SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS EXCITING AND ACCESSIBLE NEW SPORT
duration of matches and tournaments, the way of rewarding and umpiring players, and the concept of competition are all still variables that are under constant revision. Roda Polo, born during the boom of the digital world, will evolve into a sport where a number of elements can all co-exist in the modern world. This year, Roda Polo Roadshow 22 will be officially “on tour” and coming to a polo club near you. A global touring schedule sees the eWheels heading out into the world so we can spread the word about this exciting and accessible new sport – and also, most
importantly, provide youngsters the chance to give it a go. First on the tour map are France, Spain and the UK. Within the UK, it is hoped that we will be present at some of the most high-profile clubs as well as organising exhibitions on the most high-profile days – watch this space for more news on dates and venues coming soon. And after the UK? Well, this is only just the beginning for Roda! For more information on Roda Polo, visit its Instagram pages: @roda.polo @rodapolo_clinics
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The grounds of Acquedotto Romano Polo Club
THINK PINK Marco Maximilian Elser on how the Acquedotto Romano Polo Club is set to host its first women’s charity tournament for Komen Italia After over two years of lockdown due to Covid-19, Italy’s polo activities are back. Following the Duke of Sussex charity game at the Rome Polo Club in May of 2019, there will be another event in Rome this year. For the first time, there will be a charity women’s tournament – from 28 June to 3 July at the Acquedotto Romano Polo Club (arpc.it). Polo for the Cure will be in aid of breast cancer research charity Komen Italia (komen. it). It will be a 14-16 handicap tournament beginning on 28 June, when all the female polo players will parade from Piazza del Popolo to Via Condotti on horseback, accompanied by the Italian cavalry, the Lancieri di Montebello. The famous fashion brand Fendi (which was made into the brand it is today by five
sisters, the daughters of its founders) will then host a cocktail party for the players and its most important clients and sponsors at its flagship store in Largo Goldoni. Matches will begin on 29 June and finish on 2 July, and while all games will be open to the public, the 2 July event will be the “big day”, where proceeds from ticket sales will go
to Komen. Besides polo matches (with players coming from all over the world), there will also be an exhibition of the Lancieri di Montebello, the US Marines presenting the Color Guard to celebrate Independence Day for the American community in Italy; an acrobatic airplane show; and, of course, fireworks at sunset – what Independence Day celebration would it be without them? Copious amounts of wine (pink rosé, to honour Komen) and beer will be offered by Santa Margherita and Peroni. Many ambassadors are expected to attend, as well as famous women who have experienced breast cancer. Lavinia Elser, one of the youngest players of the tournament, said: ‘I am excited to play in this event to promote women’s wellbeing.’
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WORLD OF THE HORSE Tauseef Qadri explains how Cavago is the product of a desire to share the best that the equestrian service industry has to offer, while celebrating horse cultures around the world
‘Cavago is a platform created for horse lovers by horse lovers,’ says CEO Tauseef Qadri. The technology company is aiming to connect riders of all levels to equestrian adventures, disciplines, horse breeds, schools and facilities around the world. Cavago enables discovery and opens up access to the length and breadth of the horse world, spanning over 500 breeds and more than 120 different disciplines associated with the horse. The platform allows riders of all levels to find what they are looking for – whether it is high-level trainers in their local area or adventure safaris in Africa. There is dune riding in the Middle East, off-the-beatentrack trails around volcanoes in Iceland, and polo classes in Argentina. With just a few clicks on the website mycavago.com or in the app “Cavago”, you can find just the type of equestrian experience you are looking for. The platform already hosts more than 250 horse facilities in over 40 countries, and more are added every day.
It is Qadri’s own passion for horses that has led him to create Cavago. The CEO has a long history of riding and working with horses in multiple countries. He grew up practising dressage in Saudi Arabia, then travelled the world visiting and working in different equestrian facilities. During his years at a boarding school in Warwick, he encountered polo, which he is still practising today on the other side of the world in Singapore. ‘We have a very passionate team in Singapore, mostly of riders and polo players,’ Qadri explains. ‘As a matter of fact, before the day starts at the office, some of us play chukkas at a local polo school, Colts, and then we have our first meeting of the day over coffee.’ A dream job! Cavago was born out of Qadri’s international experiences as a rider, but also from his time working in horse facilities, where he gained an understanding of the needs of specific administration systems. Cavago is therefore developed as a tool for
equestrian facilities, such as stables or training centres, that allows for easy incorporation of digitalised booking and administrations systems in their operations. ‘I often say that horse businesses are very good at working “in” the business rather than “on” the business,’ he points out. ‘They have become very good at managing the horses and their performance. However, in an age of digitalisation, they lag behind. ‘The tech industry hasn’t given much attention to the horse world. Plus, there is reticence in the equestrian industry to engage technology firms.’ He feels that the horse world needs to embrace it, particularly because their consumers, horse lovers in many cases, are evolving with the trends and hence are tech-savvy. Some of the renowned properties available on the app are Yeguada Cartuja, where horse lovers can experience the birthplace of the iconic Andalusian horse breed at a monastery dating back to 1475 in
OKAPUKA HORSE SAFARIS; INGELA LARSSON SMITH
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Left: Okapuka Horse Safaris, Namibia. This page: Tauseef Quadri riding a young Lusitano bridleless in the UK
Jerez, Spain; and Al Jiyad (Dubai), where riders can experience authentic desert heritage mounted on Arabian horses. Similarly, one can learn polo in the heart of the Singaporean urban jungle at Colts Polo and Riding School, probably the largest academy in Asia. Elite, Olympic-level coaching and equestrian clinics in places such as Monte Velho are also added to the platform. This is where the current Portuguese national horse and riders are based, who represented their country in the Olympics. ‘Uniquely, one can learn specialised showjumping at elite facilities such as PHR Equestrian with Grand Prix riders and horses in Madrid or Monterosato, where an aspiring equestrian can combine it with a holiday in Fermo, Italy. These facilities are all listed on Cavago,’ he says. In addition to the riding options, Cavago is aiming to connect to the local culture around the equestrian opportunities. Experiences and riding classes on the platform come with
MANY EQUESTRIAN ACTIVITIES ARE D E E P LY R O O T E D I N THEIR COMMUNITIES references to the local culture, such as food, music and everything else that the area has to offer. Many equestrian activities are deeply rooted in their communities and local history, with fascinating traditions that Cavago believes riders would enjoy. By promoting the overall experience of an area, Cavago aims to create a positive impact on the broader community. Many communities have been hard hit by the travel restrictions resulting from Covid-19, so it is time to bring back more tourism and travellers for the benefit of the whole local community. Cavago celebrates the myriad of local equestrian
cultures and supports the growth of agritourism and driving sustainable economic models, especially in the rural context. Qadri, who holds an MSc in sustainable development from SOAS University of London and a postgraduate degree in artificial intelligence and business from MIT, is very excited about the impact Cavago will have on the equestrian industry as the platform continues to scale and make a difference to horses and horse lovers around the world. Cavago is growing fast, both as a platform and as a company. More offices are being added, which brings Qadri back to one of the places he calls home: ‘I first discovered the joy of polo when I was in boarding school in Warwick, England. I had the chance to ride in several polo clubs, including professional establishments such as Dallas Burston and Coworth Park. Decades later, Cavago is now setting up an office near Warwick, where my admiration for horses and, indeed, the incredible sport of polo was initially nurtured.’
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POLO PRIDE Winston Churchill famously called a polo handicap a ‘passport to the world’. Likely more so than in any other sport, polo players enjoy a close-knit international community, with enthusiasts from around the world bonding over their shared love of the sport and the four-legged athletes who make it possible. The Gay Polo League’s president and founder, Chip McKenney, was already an accomplished horseman and showjumper when he first picked up a mallet at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. As happens with so many, he was hooked from the first swing. With McKenney’s immersion in the sport and increasing skill on the pitch, polo came to play a central role in his life. He also had a keen understanding of how sport could bring people together to advance tolerance and acceptance. After all, on the playing field, it’s skill and camaraderie that count. In 2006, McKenney founded the Gay Polo League (GPL) to promote polo as a means to advance visibility, inclusion and pride for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer (LGBTQ). Any doubts he had regarding the welcome the GPL would receive were quickly dispelled when the United States Polo Association (USPA), the governing body of the sport in the US, granted the league official status as a USPA-sanctioned club. Sixteen years after that auspicious beginning, the GPL has become a truly international organisation, boasting players from 15 different countries. By 2010, the GPL had gained critical mass and held the first annual International Gay Polo Tournament at Marc and Melissa Ganzi’s Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. The event took off with a vengeance and, in 2015, the
ABI HANCOCK – ART OF POLO; SARA COLE
Rebecca Baldridge describes how the Gay Polo League is changing the face of polo around the world, one chukka at a time
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tournament moved to the International Polo Club of Palm Beach, the premier venue for high-goal polo in the United States. Today, the annual GPL tournament has become one of the highlights of the Palm Beach social season, with crowds reaching as high as 4,000 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. When GPL says “international”, they mean it. The club held its first tournament abroad in 2016, at Argentina’s Chapa Uno Polo Club in Pilar. It was arranged by legendary 10-goaler and four-time Argentine Open winner Eduardo Heguy, and the GPL players also enjoyed three days of polo at El Remanso Polo in Pilar. In 2018, GPL played a tournament at Zacara Polo near Windsor in the UK. The GPL also
sponsors an annual trip to the Argentine Open in December, which includes a week of practices and matches in Lobos with professional Andrés Laplacette. The GPL added a new international venue in September 2021, with the first annual St Tropez Polo Tournament at the St Tropez Polo Club. The tournament, which featured players from seven countries, is set to become an annual event. McKenney explains: ‘The vision is to develop international LGBTQ+ polo events. We’re always open to new partnerships with polo organisations that share our desire to create outstanding polo experiences.’ Every year since its inception, the club has expanded its membership and reach.
In 2017, it became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organisation, making it possible to offer financial support to help LGBTQ organisations serve their communities. The Gay Polo League will continue to promote diversity and inclusion both in the US and through tournaments around the world, as these are values that enhance all they touch, says McKenney: ‘GPL celebrates the wonderful differences people bring to the shared passion for polo.’ Along with the second annual St Tropez Polo Tournament set for September of this year, and the Argentine Open in December, the GPL looks forward to expanding its international reach and promoting diversity, inclusion and pride around the world. Opposite page: Chip McKenney. Left: GPL players took part in a tournament at Zacara Polo in 2018
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LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL George Gemmell reflects on how Sir Charles “Cow” Williams’ infectious enthusiasm and zest for life won him admiration all over the world – he will be sadly missed
Sir Charles Williams, better known as “Cow”, was perhaps one of the most enthusiastic sports supporters of all time. When Cow was in the stands, spectators were treated to an alternative commentary, which was sometimes more entertaining than the match they were watching. Cow believed polo should be played at top speed, with players hitting the ball as hard as possible, and nothing excited him more than a long shot towards goal. Cow was born in humble surroundings in Barbados in 1932. Although it is now a glamorous destination, 1930s Barbados was more known for agriculture than beaches. Cow told stories of his childhood, where he often went to school barefoot, and any time not at school was spent helping on the farm. After leaving school at 16, Cow worked in agriculture, before buying an old Caterpillar bulldozer and starting the CO Williams Construction company, which eventually grew to be one of the largest construction companies in the Caribbean. Cow’s motto was “We’ll move the Earth to please”, and he has done just that in many nations throughout the Caribbean. The Hess oil terminal in St Lucia, the hydro-electric dam in Dominica and Port St Charles in Barbados are just a few examples of where Cow left his mark. Cow inherited his love of polo from his father, but did not start playing until his early 30s, when he had managed to save enough to buy a few horses. Back then, the highlight of the season was home and away
matches against Jamaica. Cow had managed to accumulate a string of three horses and decided to try out for the Barbados team that was touring Jamaica. He asked his father if he might borrow a horse so he could have one for each chukka, and his father replied saying it would make little sense to lend him a pony as they were both vying for the same spot. Nevertheless, Cow made the team, and this led to a life-long love affair with Jamaica, where he eventually married his wife, Mary-Ann, in 2000. One day, Cow came across three English polo players (Harold Bamberg, Victor Law
and Mark Vestey) who were on holiday, and invited them to come and play a match. This generosity was reciprocated, and that summer Cow crossed the Atlantic to experience polo in England. He liked what he saw, and the following summer he brought over several ponies and played the next few seasons at Cowdray. Unfortunately, he could not put off work in the Caribbean, so he would leave Barbados on a Friday evening and play over the weekend before flying back to Barbados on Monday. Cow loved these trips and always stayed at the Park House Hotel, which he called a second home. One evening in the bar at Park House, Cow met Mickey Moseley and they quickly struck up a friendship. An invitation was extended for Mickey’s Cheshire team to tour Barbados and this trip became an annual event. Through Cow’s generosity, many other teams and players have since enjoyed playing in Barbados. In the early 1990s, Cow’s trips to England stopped and it wasn’t until 2006 that he returned. At the time, the Apes Hill golf course was being built in Barbados, and after watching the Gold Cup final, Cow decided to sponsor a team for the following season. He approached Luke Tomlinson to captain the team, and in 2007 the Apes Hill team – consisting of Luke Tomlinson, Ed Hitchman, Tom Morley and Mark Tomlinson – took to the field. The team played the 2007 and 2008 high-goal seasons together, wining the Queen’s Cup subsidiary in 2008.
Previous page, left to right: Cow in 2015 at the Gold Cup; Cow in Barbados. Below: the Queen’s Cup. From left: Charlie Hanbury, Mark Tomlinson, the Queen, Pat Doherty, Sir Charles “Cow” Williams, Juan Gris Zavaleta and Luke Tomlinson
In 2009, a line-up of the two Tomlinsons, Charlie Hanbury and Juan Gris Zavaleta was put together and the team went on to win the Queen’s Cup in a final against Sumaya. Judging by how Cow partied that night, it was one of the best days of his life. In 2000, Cow was knighted for services to sport and construction. At 82, he held the
Guinness World Record for being the oldest active polo player – an achievement made more special as the match had been played with his two sons and grandson. Cow was elected a Life Member of the HPA in 2016 and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He played his last competitive game of polo at the age of 84.
IN 2000, COW WAS KNIGHTED FOR SERVICES T O S P O R T A N D C O N S T R U C T I O N . AT 82 , H E HELD THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR B E I N G T H E O L D E S T A C T I V E P O L O P L AY E R
Cow was passionate about breeding and was a champion breeder in Barbados for multiple years. He loved fishing and holds the record in Trinidad and Tobago for the heaviest yellowfin tuna. In 2017, he won the Barbados International Fishing Tournament, which qualified him to fish in the Offshore World Championships in Costa Rica. It would be fair to say that Cow lived life to the full, right up until the end. The projects Cow created will carry a lasting legacy in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean. His familiar greeting of ‘What’s happening, Gunner?’ and his enthusiastic support will be missed from the sidelines and clubhouses of polo fields all over the world.
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GLOBAL REACH Avery Chenoweth explains how the new deal between Global Polo Entertainment and ESPN gives viewers a virtual ticket to an “access all areas” worldwide experience of polo
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Global Polo Entertainment has signed a groundbreaking deal to bring the sport of polo to millions of homes and viewers in the United States, and around the world. The deal between Global Polo Entertainment and ESPN will give the sports entertainment giant domestic distribution rights across the United States, to present a cornucopia of polo events – including the top official USPA events – to its viewers on ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPNU, as well as on-demand at espn.com. The arrangement creates a relationship between the ESPN family of brands and Global Polo Entertainment, a subsidiary of USPA Global Licensing, the official licensor for the U.S. Polo Assn. brand. Global Polo Entertainment oversees and creates content for Global Polo TV, corporate sponsors and other made-for-television shows that are distributed internationally. The mission is to improve accessibility of the sport and cultivate new consumers, as well as deliver content to current global apparel fans. The deal gives ESPN access to championship-level polo in the States, and introduces polo to a new audience. And, through distribution tributaries, all of those tournaments will be seen globally. The goal is to create a worldwide experience of polo via storytelling using
N E W FA N S C A N WAT C H H I G H L I G H T S OF A GAME ALONG WITH STORIES television programming where the viewers are introduced to players and learn about their stories; to give fans and tourists, newbies and veterans, a virtual ticket into an overarching experience is rare among sports brands. With ESPN distribution channels in play, GPE will present millions of fans and consumers with a heady new opportunity to embrace polo, everywhere. The selection in 2022 includes the Gauntlet of Polo, the US Open Women’s Polo Championship, and the 2022 FIP World Polo Championship, an international tournament that will be held in Wellington, Florida, on 26 October to 6 November, 2022, at the International Polo Club, and available on ESPN2. On 4-9 April, the 100th anniversary of the National Intercollegiate Championships was held at the UVA Polo Center and aired on ESPNU, carrying the men’s and women’s finals. ESPN will also run a series of shows produced by the in-house creative team at Global Polo Entertainment, called The Global Polo Show presented by U.S. Polo
Assn. This 30-minute programme includes interviews and stories about the polo lifestyle and will be available at espn.com. To enhance the viewers’ experience, Global Polo Entertainment is presenting the polo games in a 90-minute curated format so new fans can watch the highlights of a game along with stories that may resonate with other sports. J Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing, said, ‘We enlist many professionals within the sport to maintain the high level of authenticity we demand. We’ve been lucky to continue to work with Adam Snow, the 10-goal American player and Hall of Famer, as well as Matt Coppola, American polo player and previous Gauntlet of Polo participant, and Meghan Gracida, the USPA Women’s Committee chair and American polo player.’ In addition to the quality control, Prince adds, ‘It’s our mission to share diversity, philanthropy and the different levels of polo that are available in the United States with our global audience.’
Opposite: Matt Coppola with Adam Snow at the C.V. Whitney Cup final. This page: umpire Julian Appleby
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LOOKING TO THE FUTURE The 2022 National Intercollegiate Championship celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the tournament by airing the finals on ESPNU, says Avery Chenoweth The day of the finals of the 2022 National Intercollegiate Championship, part of the I/I programme, was one of firsts: the first time in five years that the University of Virginia women won, the first time in 10 years that the UVA men won, and the first time since 2012 that both won on the same day. The 9 April afternoon at the UVA Polo Center was also the first 100-year celebration of the NICs. The NIC is celebrating 100 years of action with a remarkable first in the history of polo. It’s the first time that the Women’s and Men’s finals will air on ESPNU. Hosted at the Virginia Polo Center, players will ride into living rooms around the United States, and, in time, around the world.
Another first this year was the introduction of Division II at the college level. After more than 10 years of internal debate, the free time during the pandemic allowed organisers to select teams and arrange logistics for a second set of tournaments. In this inaugural year, the University of Connecticut won the Division II Women’s national championship, and Babson College won the Men’s. Breaking out Division I and II enabled the USPA’s vision of welcoming new colleges and players, while encouraging competition at the highest levels. After she returned from the first-ever Division II Intercollegiate Championship tournament, Liz Brayboy, the USPA Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Committee
chair, reported: ‘This evolution of intercollegiate polo in the US speaks volumes for the growth of the sport among young players. As we celebrate 100 years of tradition for intercollegiate and interscholastic polo, the growth in the sport is reflected in the need for an additional division at the college level.’ This expansion has yielded substantial structural changes. Today, according to the USPA, a total of 30 colleges and universities are competing, representing a record 48 collegiate teams with 28 women’s teams and 20 men’s teams. The teams span from east coast to west coast and include private and large public colleges and universities. Once known as the cavalry-practice game for
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P L AY E R S O F A L L BACKGR OUND S H AV E A CHANCE TO LEARN THE SPORT AND COMPETE Opposite: UVA, men’s and women’s teams with coach Lou Lopez. This page, from top: Babson College team captain Beto Aguilar shaking hands with Skidmore’s team captain Ben Bruce; the 1922 Princeton team. From front left: Alton P Hall, Edgar H Stabler and William T Fleming
K R I S W O O T E N ; D AV I D M U R R E L L ; U N I T E D S TAT E S P O L O A S S O C I AT I O N
empires and dominated by men, today some 60 per cent of players in the I/I programme are women. To appreciate just how far the sport has come, we need only return to the first NIC game. When Princeton beat Harvard on 19 April 1921, in the first NIC victory, then beat Yale in 1922 (both for the John R Townsend Men’s Intercollegiate Polo Trophy), the concept of collegiate polo was just getting started. In the early years, college teams were built around wealthy players who provided their own horses. In many cases, games were played in military armouries, with polo drawing large crowds and making newspaper headlines. Indeed, if we plant one goal post in 1922, and the other in 2022, framed between them we would see the story of democratising polo – a development that would have raised more than a few brows in the Roaring Twenties. When Rock the Boat was on the radio, the 1976 NIC featured the first women’s tournament. Yale women’s team won the Katydid Farm Women’s Intercollegiate Polo Trophy, donated by Katrina Hickox Matheson, whose son and brother played polo at Yale.
Today, players join non-profit or independently run clubs affiliated with their universities. They work to play. Some are freshmen who haven’t ridden before. They muck stalls and groom and feed ponies owned by the club.
Rather than the wealthy few, players of all experiences and backgrounds have a chance to learn the sport and compete at the highest levels. A majority of these programmes are supported by U.S. Polo Assn., which provides a raft of essentials, including gear, uniforms and funding to participating college teams. Looking back over the century of changes, Brayboy said, ‘I/I polo has evolved from male players bringing their own horses to elite universities to high school and college programmes across the country providing opportunities for players of all types to learn and love the sport. This is truly a celebration of 100 years!’ When ESPNU and ESPN on demand carry the 2022 NICs from Virginia Polo Center, it will be the first time millions can see the sport. They will see what the fans already know: that the heart of polo is anchored in player and pony, in the courage, and confidence and love they share. If we plant a goal post in the future, at the NICs in 2122, what additional changes might we see then? While we might recognise the sport of polo, it is not at all clear that we would recognise ourselves.
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PEAK PERFORMANCE Arsalan Karim, co-founder of Clinova, has announced a new partnership with Guards Polo Club
Left: Clinova’s O.R.S Hydration Tablets are used by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Above: Clinova’s Arsalan Karim (right) with Adolfo Cambiaso
Polo has been a great platform for Clinova. It started by partnering with British Polo Days, and due to the ongoing success of the partnership, last autumn it extended its association with the game by partnering with La Dolfina in the Argentine Open. Building on that success, it has now announced a new partnership with Guards Polo Club by becoming its official hydration partner for the 2022 season. Clinova’s O.R.S Hydration Tablets electrolyte formula is designed to support your hydration needs for optimal performance. O.R.S has long been a sports performance leader on the world stage, with partners including Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and La Dolfina Polo Club. With this new partnership, Guards joins
La Dolfina in placing O.R.S at the top of world-class polo. From chukkas to top tournaments, Clinova’s flagship O.R.S Hydration Tablets will be a staple of Guards Polo Club’s hydration regimen. In the upcoming Cartier Queen’s Cup, Clinova will have the opportunity to provide its O.R.S Hydration Tablets and Coolers to players and fans alike. Arsalan Karim said: ‘Guards Polo Club is one of the world’s top polo clubs. At their elite level, Guards have a long tradition of success. Each time players take the pitch, they elevate their game. We’re excited for O.R.S to be a part of that.’ 2022 has seen O.R.S Hydration Tablets reach new heights. Last month, Clinova
secured a deal to make O.R.S Hydration Tablets available on board all Emirates flights to keep passengers hydrated. This announcement comes at a time of significant growth for Clinova, with its health search engine Caidr growing rapidly. Clinova recently announced that the former global chairman of investment banking at J.P. Morgan, Alessandro Barnaba, was joining its advisory board to advise on its next phase of growth. Clinova is backed by some of the biggest names in healthcare, including John Molter, former global head of customer sales at Procter & Gamble; Ernesto Levy, former head of Novartis’ consumer division in the United States; and John Honey, former senior vice-president at Reckitt Benckiser.
How it works
Game-changer I L L U S T R AT I O N : P H I L D I S L E Y
P E P E S A N TA M A R I N A
Héctor Martelli explores how the evolution of different styles and methods of play has influenced the game of polo over the past three decades
Below: Venado Tuerto, 1950. From left to right: cousins Juan and Roberto Cavanagh with brothers Enrique and Juan Carlos Alberdi. Next page: From left: Adolfo Cambiaso and his nephew, MVP Barto Castagnola in the final of the Argentine Open
By the end of the 1990s, the way of playing polo was completely different from that observed at the beginning of the decade. This difference gradually increased from the first decade of the 2000s onward – a change that remains to this day, despite the new and healthy trend renewed by the formation of the 40-goal La Dolfina team in Argentina. The previous modality of the ’90s was based on open and fast polo, built on the basis of three basic foundations: anticipation, initiative and speed. This was notably asserted and explained by Juan Carlos Alberdi, an outstanding 10-goal player; seven-time Argentine champion as a member of Venado Tuerto; and winner of the Copa de Las Américas in 1950 with the Argentine National Team. Regarding the first foundation, anticipation, Alberdi illustrated it by saying that the ball ran faster than the horse. That is why sufficient anticipation in the shot should always be had, directing the ball to the best-placed teammate on the court, thus initiating an attack without delaying the play. The player who anticipated and hit the ball first, before the opponents were positioned, avoided his teammates being marked, and thus the cancellation of them. The second foundation, initiative, meant that a player had to go and take an opponent, thus preventing the opponent from taking him. It is very different for the game to take the opposite. The player who takes initiative with action will surely win the rally. He who loses the initiative, allowing himself to be taken, can lose the move even if he has anticipated it. The arguments explained above must be executed very quickly. Speed is necessary so as not to lose anticipation and initiative, interpreting speed as both a mental and physical attribute, in the sense of
anticipating the move mentally and performing it at the same time. With this type of game, very open matches were made, with fast runs that crossed the length of the field in no more than four hits, appealing not to turn the ball, hitting effective backhanders and committing few fouls. In my opinion, the type of play practised from the middle of the first decade of this century lost those three important foundations. This has an explanation. As a starting point, there is no anticipation by not hitting first, abusing the control of the ball. Although there are cases of players who dazzle in their ability, causing the amazement and delight of the spectators, they end up falling into an individualism that rarely allows them to resolve a play well.
Therefore, there are fewer backhands and more laps with the ball, losing the surprise effect by delaying the attack too much. The players are not positioned to receive passes, the rows of players from the same team abound in many moments of the matches, playing a tedious “little train”, before the rival’s sticky mark, the ball is left to a partner and, instead of running forward to receive a pass, he turns and gets back in position to play it again. In this way, anticipation is lost. Also, there is less initiative. Today, much is avoided. By players not hitting the ball first and lacking initiative, the speed of the game drops considerably, only occasionally observing a run. What has been developed so far is valid for the Argentine high goal and, by cascade effect, it reached the lowest levels.
This type of game became more common with the first La Dolfina team in 2000 (Cambiaso, Castagnola and the two Merlos brothers), and continued with the second team from 2005-2009 (Cambiaso, Castagnola, Aguerre and Monteverde). However, through the line-up change in 2010 (Cambiaso, Stirling, Mac Donough and Nero), under the technical direction of Fernández Araujo, that closed game mode changed into something more similar to the previous one. Fortunately, the excellent results obtained by the latest version of La Dolfina – now multi-champions – have tempted other current teams in the Triple Crown, which are redeveloping, albeit very gradually, towards the game that Alberdi touted. An example of this is the game developed by La Natividad in the 2021 season. Notwithstanding this, if we compare the professional polo of the major tournaments (not exceeding 22-goals) around the rest of the world, the difference is greater and very understandable. Outside, each team is normally made up of three professional players, two with a high handicap and one with a low or medium goal. The fourth is an amateur
L E T ’ S H O P E T H AT T H E E X A M P L E S H O W N BY T HE N OW-D I S S O LV E D L A D O L F IN A T E A M H A S S TA R T E D A D E F I N I T I V E R E T U R N T O T H E P L AY O F “ O L D P O L O ”
player with no more than two goals and the financier of the team. In this way, the matches are transformed into contests of two against two or two and a half against two and a half. There may also be formations of three polo players with a more distributed handicap, where the technical difference of the protagonists is decisive. In this type of polo, the two high-handicap professionals monopolise possession of the ball, with a superlative strike, because if they do not do so, they are very likely to lose that possession, passing it into the hands of the opponent. The ball must end up in the goal as much as possible, as if it does not, it is likely that it will change that possession to the opponent, who will definitely use
the same tactic to achieve his goal. Against this background, the game becomes very tangled and very slow. However, I believe that we should not make the mistake of comparing the Argentine high-handicap polo with the one played abroad. The same figures also shine, but due to the circumstances of the competition, we are forced to use the protagonists to leave the game system proclaimed by Alberdi, and that it does him so well in the view of the spectator. Let’s hope that the example shown by the now-dissolved La Dolfina team has started a definitive return to the play of “old polo”, which has surely contributed to the La Natividad team winning two Triple Crown Opens.
M AT I A S C A L L E J O
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REMEMBERING CLARITA David Gemmell pays tribute to the late Claire Tomlinson, who inspired so many with her tenacity and talent, as well as her love and understanding of the polo ponies she bred and played
he Parish Church of St Mary with its elegant spire dominates the charming Cotswold market town of Tetbury. And it was here, on 24 January, that a great gathering of folk assembled to bid farewell to a rather special lady. There were polo players of many different generations, and there were hunting folk from not only the Beaufort but all the Cotswold packs. Then there were the farmers and the farm workers from the surrounding countryside, and indeed so many more whose lives had been touched by Claire Tomlinson. It was a very special occasion, and when Rose Farquhar sang I Dreamed a Dream from high up in the eaves of the church, we were all deeply moved, as somehow this wonderful song summed up Claire’s life. In 1972, on a cold and wet January morning, I received a phone call from Claire asking if I would be available to play in her Los Locos team for the coming season. ‘You will need some better ponies,’ she said, so I travelled to Eduardo Moore’s estancia in Argentina to meet up with Claire. As the sun came up over the Argentinian Pampas, Eduardo took off in his little Cessna in our search for ponies. We landed in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road mercifully free of traffic. The telephone poles seemed to miss the wing tips by mere inches. A great line of ponies awaited us. Claire tried every pony, then, after a typical Argentinian barbecue, she seized
a moment for a siesta in the ladies’ loo, the only cool place on a hot day. Once the heat of the afternoon lessened, chukkas were played on the ponies she liked. By now the sun was well down, and there was a mad scramble to fly back to Eduardo’s estancia before nightfall. As darkness fell, the little Cessna was greeted by grooms and farm workers with flares and torches to guide us back to Eduardo’s polo ground and safety. Claire had bought a rather dubious and very old car, and it was in this that we set off in search of more ponies. The dirt roads were appalling, and with a following wind she drove with tremendous determination in her own personal cloud of dust, attacking the deep potholes with great aggression. Needless to say, the engine began to migrate from the chassis and dreadful noises and vibrations erupted all around us. Claire being Claire, she somehow discovered a garage in the middle of nowhere. She had a wonderful way of getting people to do what she wanted, and she did this in a most charming manner. The owner of the garage, who was very old, was certainly mystified by this lady plastered in dust and wearing bombachos and a beret. However, as soon as Claire explained the whole episode was the fault of the car and, indeed, the navigator he was enchanted,
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and by the end of the day the engine was re-united with what was left of the car. Claire had a very special bond with Argentina – how she loved that country and its people, and how they loved her. By 1972, Claire and Simon were living at Fairford and playing their polo at Cirencester Park. Simon had left the army, and all their energy went into building their Los Locos team into a most formidable outfit. Through the 1970s, they swept all before them in low-goal and medium-goal polo, and in 1979 they fielded their first high-goal team. There were problems before they were permitted to take part, as women were forbidden to play high-goal polo. However, Claire, with the help of her father – who was formidable – succeeded in getting this rule changed. The first tournament of the high-goal season was the Queen’s Cup at Windsor. Claire must have been under great pressure, and indeed had much to prove after her success in being allowed to play. Los Locos were rank outsiders, but had the advantage of having played as a team for a number of years. She had been most astute in finding Juni Crotto, a charming Argentinian, as the fourth player to make up the team. Crotto only had one eye, but one would never have known this when watching him play, a powerful striker of the ball and a great organiser of the team. His long hitting suited Claire’s game
perfectly, as she played at number one. She was well mounted, had great anticipation and was accurate in front of goal. She was a nightmare for the opposition backs to mark. And so it was, that after some fierce contests Claire’s Los Locos found themselves, to their great surprise, in the final of the Queen’s Cup.
Previous page: Claire Tomlinson. Opposite: the Queen’s Cup in 1979: Claire, the Queen and Col William Gerard Leigh, chairman of Guards Polo Club. Left: Royal Windsor, 2010. From left: George Gemmell, Ignacio Toccalino, the Queen, Khalaf Al Habtoor, Claire and Mark Tomlinson. Top: Claire Tomlinson and Prince Charles
From left: Mark, Claire, Simon, Emma and Luke Tomlinson at the 2006 launch of the England team
A N D I F FAT E R E M E M B E R L AT E R , A N D C O M E T O C L A I M H E R D U E , W H AT S O R R O W W I L L B E G R E AT E R , T H A N THE JOY WE HAD WITH YOU The opposition in the final was Galen Weston’s Roundwood Park, who had so far crushed all opposition. In a nail-biting contest, Los Locos hung on to win. In those days, The Times had a polo correspondent, and he rather splendidly ended his article by writing, ‘So for the first time in the history of high-goal polo, the Queen received a curtsey from the team member going forward to receive Her Majesty’s Cup’. The Queen’s Cup victory was perhaps a turning point for Claire. She went on to gain a handicap of five goals – a feat never before or since achieved by a woman – and she continued to play at a high level with
great success. But now she began to throw her boundless enthusiasm into coaching and developing her two boys, Luke and Mark, and it is down to her that they have become leading international players, while Emma, her daughter, a leading equine vet, was encouraged to pioneer a successful embryo-transfer business. In 1989, she and Simon revived the old Beaufort Polo Club, which soon became one of the leading clubs in the country, and at the same time established the largest breeding and training enterprise for polo ponies in Britain. In 1993, she helped to develop a world-class coaching system for the HPA, and she coached the England team in 2001 and 2004. Of her many achievements, I believe Claire would wish to be remembered for her love and understanding of the polo ponies she bred and played with such skill. In a game where players ask so much of their mounts, even in the tightest situations, she was sympathetic and at one with her pony. They trusted her, which is why they performed so well. There are many young players out there today who will be aware of how much they owe to Claire, and for those of us who played our polo from the 1970s through to the millennium years, she blazed a trail that none of us will forget.
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RISE TO THE TOP Richard Tyrone describes the incredible experience of producing and training his once-in-a-lifetime mare, Monkey Puzzle
Polito Pieres on Monkey Puzzle in the 8th chukka of the Argentine Open final, being chased by Pelon Stirling
grew up watching my father play polo as a professional in the 1990s and early 2000s, and I instantly fell in love with the sport, in particular the horses. I was lucky enough to go on many trips with my father within the UK and abroad searching for polo ponies to buy for prospective patrons. This is when I started to learn about selection and having an eye for what composition makes up a polo pony at all levels. My first polo matches and chukkas were with the Berkeley Pony Club. I started playing professionally aged 16 based out of Beaufort Polo Club. My parents were adamant that once I left school aged 18, I had to mount myself. Once this became a reality I quickly became aware of how difficult the process was. I have been lucky over the years to gain experience from many recognised producers of polo ponies such as Carlos Gracida, Jim Gilmore, Ross Ainsley, Jorge Mac Donough, Ruso Heguy, Broncos and AlegrÍa Polo Team. What I learned from these individuals and organisations was invaluable. The most important experience I gained from each of them was the opportunity to sit on world-class polo ponies – you only know what it feels like to drive a Ferrari when you
have done so. I was fortunate enough to sit on mares such as Claret, Lizzie, Champagne, Jackie and Sheltie from Ellerston, and Bruma and Mexicana from Carlos Gracida. Spook from Broncos. These ponies changed my view on polo and I realised that my horses at the time were light years away from them. My current breeding programme is very small. I try to select polo-bred stallions that I believe have good pedigree, attitude, movement and conformation and cross them with proven thoroughbred polo mares. I breed out of two or three mares a year on our family farm, Curraghmore in County Waterford in Ireland. I also retrain many Irish thoroughbreds off the track or bred to race into polo ponies. I believe searching for the high-goal polo pony athlete is definitely a numbers game. Only a small percentage have the ability to compete at that level. However, if you can train horses that present the player comfortably at the ball to hit it, they can operate efficiently at all levels of polo. To produce these ponies, selecting the right model in the beginning is crucial. They have to have the right shape and leg, neck, hip and shoulder conformation to be able to complete polo moves with ease.
SEARCHING FOR THE HIGH-GOAL P O L O P O N Y AT H L E T E I S A N U M B E R S G A M E . O N LY A S M A L L P E R C E N TA G E H AV E T H E A B I L I T Y T O C O M P E T E AT T H AT L E V E L They have to have a low centre of gravity and, most importantly, they have to have extremely calm and willing attitudes. They need to want to be trained. As David Morley once described to me, they should give you the sensation that you are on a hover board and you can go anywhere at any point in time. I started buying thoroughbreds in Ireland with my father when I was 16 years old. It was a steep learning curve in trying to make them. The amount of mistakes I have made could fill 20 novels, and I am still making mistakes every day. I try to give my ponies lots of time without really expecting to put a season of pressure on them until they are seven years old. I don’t think the horse is on average mentally mature enough until this age to cope with this type of pressure. Every horse is different and the trainer must gauge this and make their own decisions. When training my horses, I try to train them to be correct focusing on balance and head position. In the initial stages, it’s all about getting them to accept the bit, as polo does often mean pressure is put on a horse’s mouth, and if they aren’t ready to accept this then it will always be a challenge for them to remain comfortable and correct. There are many different ways of sourcing polo prospects. Breeding naturally or through embryo transfer. Retraining thoroughbreds off the track or even cloning. What is the best route? To be totally honest, I am not sure, but what I do know is that if you spread your bets and do a little of everything, your prospects will be interesting.
Her lateral ability is out of this world. She can turn inside herself at full speed, always accelerating quicker out of a corner than she came into it. Her acceleration is phenomenal, so you can always get the jump on your opponent. This alone would class her as a top mare, but what sets her apart is her stamina and desire to win every play for her rider. She never gives up and never gets tired. Her heart is extraordinary. She came out to
In terms of building a string to mount yourself, I have no doubt that the best route is to buy proven polo-playing prospects. This option simply reduces your risk of making mistakes. It also saves your time – our most valuable commodity on this planet. I have been very fortunate to breed and train a true polo pony champion. Monkey Puzzle was bred out of an Irish thoroughbred mother named Cheeky Monkey by a stallion named Osh Kosh. Osh Kosh’s father, Catisfield Kid, sired famous mares such as Cordelia and Habana, who both played the Argentine Open. Cheeky Monkey is by a son of Sadler’s Wells. Sadler’s Wells is a champion Irish thoroughbred stallion who sired Galileo. Galileo was statistically the most successful thoroughbred stallion in history. Cheeky Monkey was a phenomenal mare to play in her own right and, to be totally honest, probably the best playing mare I ever owned. While she was being broken from day one, Monkey Puzzle showed a freaky type ability that I had never experienced before from a mare of her age. She was, however, hyper and through learning from mistakes I gave her plenty of time and didn’t play her in any major competitions until she was seven years old. I played her for four full seasons, having the time of my life. She was more than a Ferrari – more like a go-kart with jet engines. When playing her, you literally do feel you can get to every single play and sometimes it’s a bad thing for your teammates!
play three times in the semi and final of the Hurlingham Open. The last two league games and final of Palermo. She played 11 minutes in total during the Argentine Open final, more than any other mare that day. Polito was looking for horses to rent to play the final of the Gold Cup and my cousin, Tommy Beresford, contacted me asking if Polito could rent her. He did and then, a few days after the final, he contacted me offering to buy her. We did a deal and she took six weeks’ holiday before being flown to Argentina. This was very exciting for me as her breeder and trainer, knowing she would be in his string to play the Open, and for my family who fed her and looked after her when I was away. There were so many people involved in nurturing her to the stage when she was ready to compete at that level with one of the top polo players in the world.
It couldn’t have gone better. She won BPP in the Hurlingham Open and best mare of the tournament. She also won the Lady Susan Townley Cup for best playing pony of the final of the Argentine Open and was awarded the American Polo Pony Association’s Best Playing Pony of the final. On top of that, the La Natividad team who she competed for under Polito Pieres won both the Hurlingham and Argentine Open tournaments. She is the first mare in polo history to win the BPP of Hurlingham and the Argentine Open in the same year. The stars couldn’t have aligned any better. I never thought it was possible to be involved with a mare like Monkey Puzzle, and I will savour it for life because the law of averages means my luck of producing another may have run out. We will give it a go nonetheless!
W H AT S E T S H E R A PA R T I S H E R S TA M I N A A N D D E S I R E T O W I N E V E R Y P L AY F O R HER RIDER. SHE NEVER GIVES UP OR GETS TIRED. HER HE ART IS EX TR AORDINARY
Opposite, from top: Richard Tyrone on Monkey Puzzle in 2020 with Santos Merlos in white; Tyrone in the final of the 2021 Royal Windsor with Poroto Cambiaso looking on. Below: Polito Pieres with Monkey Puzzle and the Lady Susan Townley Trophy, 2021 Palermo
Fast and fearless @AGUSFONDAPL
Combining speed, precision and lightning changes of direction with the ability to handle pressure well beyond their years, Generation Z players are changing the nature of polo, says Sarah Eakin
he draw for the 22-goal USPA Gold Cup is underway at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, offering sumptuous paella and an open bar, which is almost empty: a possible reflection of the fact that many of the players in the room are – even if they wanted to be – not old enough to be served. The sight of one or two young, lightly handicapped – aka “ringers” – in the high goal both in the USA and the UK has been par for the course for many years. Now, the high-goal teams are peppered with young players from Generation Z, and they are changing the nature of the sport. ‘Cambiaso, I have to take my hat off to him. He’s still a threat and from what I’ve seen, he’s still the best,’ observed Julian Hipwood from his seat as coach to the 22-goal Dutta Corp/Show+ team, featuring 21-year-old Joaquin Avendaño, whose brother Benjamin is also a young US player. ‘Although, the younger set, I enjoy watching them more. I appreciate Poroto and the Castagnolas, especially for their finesse and horsemanship. They don’t hang around – they go.’ Scone’s opening 22-goal polo game in the Gauntlet of Polo saw Cambiaso on the field with teammates in the shape of a 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds. One of them was his son, Poroto, who, on nine goals at his age, is in a league of his own – but there are many other teenagers making their mark in the Florida high goal. Also playing for Scone that day (as a substitute for the Scone patron) was the 15-year-old son of Miguel Novillo Astrada, Miguelito, and one 16-year-old, Keko, the son of Matias Magrini. All of them are sons of Argentine polo players who have reached 10 goals. A coincidence? No, these days it is the norm. Magrini plays alongside his son, Santi – the oldest, at 20. ‘It’s fun playing with your father, of course,’ said Santi, who, like his brother
Keko, was born in the US and has the advantage of American citizenship. ‘He can get tough sometimes, but it’s really fun.’ Also featuring prominently in the high goal are the two sons of Luis Escobar, Nico and Lucas, who grew up in Wellington, but like the Magrinis and the other young players with Argentine associations, spend some three months each year in Argentina. Experience playing on the polo fields in Argentina is a rite of passage for any aspiring polo professional. But for many of the new crop of players, being an American on home turf, rather than giving them a disadvantage – as has been the reality in the past – can actually give them an edge. ‘For four months, the best players in the world come here,’ said 19-year-old Lucas Escobar. ‘So, we grew up watching them and at
©DAVID LOMINSKA; AGUSTINA FONDA
Opposite: at speed – Poroto on the near side in the final of the C.V. Whitney. Above: Adolfo (left) and Poroto Cambiaso. Left: Nico (left) and Lucas Escobar
W H AT ’ S S O N I C E A B O U T T H E YO U N G P L AY E R S I S E V E N W H E N T H E G R O U N D ’ S BAD, THE Y HIT THE BALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HEAD
him. Last year, playing the high goal with Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres for Pilot, and now with Poroto and Adolfo – it’s amazing.’ While Keko’s achievements to date are the stuff players dream of, he appears to be grounded in a reality that could be attributed to a seasoned professional. His plan is ‘to try to get organised with horses and to keep on playing at the highest level I can’. Julio Arellano, whose daughter Hope, at 18, has an 8-goal women’s handicap, is coaching Park Place, sporting young players USA’s Cody Ellis and US high-goal newcomer, England’s 16-year-old Josh Hyde. ‘He has an excellent attitude,’ says Arellano. ‘It’s amazing that he got here and the first tournament that he played is a high-goal tournament and they won it. I’m super happy for him.’ Miguel Novillo Astrada is one of several players who is playing high goal at the same time as his offspring, and he recognises that the younger generation benefits from a different approach to the game. ‘There are a lot of young players,’ he says. ‘I think they are second and third generations of professionals and they started doing things much earlier and more professionally.
Left: Keko, Matias and Santi Magrini
a young age, we got an opportunity to play with them as well in the high goal. I would say that we have a disadvantage not being from Argentina, but we also have an advantage because we get to play in teams with the best players in the world. ‘I’ve been fortunate enough to play with Facundo Pieres, Sapo Caset, Nico Pieres and Pelon Stirling. You could say I have a disadvantage, but I also have an advantage because if I wasn’t American, I probably wouldn’t have been on those teams,’ he says, referring to the USPA rule that gives high-goal opportunities to US players. ‘For Argentina, you have Lucas Criado Jr, who for me plays seven goals every single day – he’s a hell of a player,’ says Lucas. ‘And “Macky” too plays seven goals,’ he said of his fellow American young player, Mackenzie Weisz – both Weisz and Criado play off five. Keko Magrini is a US citizen but has connections to Poroto Cambiaso and his father, Adolfo. ‘I grew up in La Dolfina,’ he says. ‘Cambiaso and my father – for sure they were my idols. I used to play a lot with Poroto. This is my first season playing high goal here with
T H E Y O U N G E R S E T, I E N J O Y W AT C H I N G T H E M M O R E . . . E S P E C I A L LY F O R T H E I R FINESSE AND HORSEMANSHIP
‘They train in a different way than we used to do and that’s why they are so young and so good. They can be high goalers before they are 20 years old and I think that their life – fathers playing, good horses and training – that is making the difference.’ Horsepower is always a factor in polo, but horses that stand out are fewer than they used to be and there is a more level playing field of speed coupled with lightning changes of direction, exploited by this seemingly fearless crop of young players. ‘These boys now, they gallop flat out, and they all do the stuff Cambiaso did – stop, turn, gallop, turn around,’ says Hipwood. ‘They fly and they hit the ball well.’ As the game on the field has got faster, so has the game off it, where the next generation of players typically hone their skills. ‘Our dads would be on the field playing a game and we’d be on the field behind playing a foot mallet game,’ recalls Nico Escobar.
Above: Miguel and Miguelito Novillo Astrada
Reactions need to be quicker in a stick mallet game now, as rather than being on foot, these youngsters are learning to play on eWheels. Not only are they fearless, but they seem to handle the pressure as well. Keko Magrini was employed to take 30- and 40-yard penalties for Scone. ‘They [Poroto and Adolfo] asked me one day if I would shoot them and I told them of course and I was happy with that,’ said Keko. ‘I always hit them, so I was fine.’ Hipwood, who played polo for the best part of his life, has seen more than one generation come through the sport. Generation Z, though, has made him think: ‘What’s so nice about the young players is even when the ground’s bad, they hit it in the middle of the head. I love that click when it was no effort and the ball just flies. ‘It just makes you wonder how much better it can get. But obviously, things do improve. What’s polo going to be like in 10 or 20 years’ time?’
Raising the bar Blair Fitzsimons describes how, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the fun and friendly Lawyers Polo organisation reconvened in March 2022 for a fantastic trip to Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
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oogle “lawyer jokes” and the picture painted is rather unflattering. Ruthless, rude, and unscrupulous. Not people you would want to hang out with. A certain group of polo-playing attorneys from all reaches of the world, however, defies the stereotype. Known as Lawyers Polo (LP), this group of lawyers is friendly, fun, courteous and respectful. ‘The idea of Lawyers Polo,’ reads the website, ‘is to bring together lawyers, businessmen and polo players once a year, in one city around the world, in one beautiful club, to mingle, to chat, to network, to discuss about law, about business and about polo. The sport we love.’ Says long-time LP member Tommy Rinderknecht from Zurich: ‘We [not] only have the polo, we have our professions together, and that makes the event very special, very friendly, and not overly competitive.’ Polo players who are not “overly competitive”? And lawyers to boot? That’s right. Lawyers Polo is truly a gentleman’s and woman’s game. Piero Dillier, also of Zurich, likens Lawyers Polo to ‘the old days’ where ‘participation [was] more important than winning… No one remembers who was winning, but everyone remembers who was participating.’ Lawyers Polo came into being in 2008 with the first tournament in Buenos Aires. It all started during an International Bar Association annual meeting when a group of attendees discovered that they all shared a passion for polo. After Buenos Aires came Madrid, Toronto, and Dubai. At that point, its co-founders, Argentinian Eduardo Bérèterbide and Canadian Justin Fogarty, decided to cut loose from the IBA. Today, the group numbers 380 with players from 25 countries. Criteria for joining is that one has some nexus to the
legal profession. My attorney husband, Joseph, and I first joined the group in Dubai at the Desert Palm Polo Club. Later came King Power in Bangkok, Chantilly in France, Santa María in Sotogrande, PGH La Palmeraie in Morocco and, just recently, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Over the years, we have developed incredible friendships as the bond among the group continues to strengthen. Birthdays are celebrated; achievements on the field – wherever they may be – touted. Business deals thrive. ‘It is so international,’ says Elspeth Talbot-Rice of England, ‘and we’ve got people from everywhere and so you learn so much from them all the time. The polo is second, but the people are first.’ Indeed, Lawyers Polo is like a family. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Lawyers Polo finally reconvened in March 2022 in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Located roughly six hours east of Cape Town in what is known as the Garden Route in the Western Cape,
Plettenberg Bay is a delightful hamlet of beautiful sandy beaches, lush green fields and cragg y outcrops. A vacation spot for not only South Africans but tourists from all over Africa and Europe, “Plett”, as the locals call it, is easily reachable by air via Johannesburg or Cape Town. The town abounds not only with restaurants and shops, but also an array of excursions ranging from surfing to hiking to boating tours in the bay. A polo spouse’s heaven. The Plett Polo Club was our host while home base was the Kurland Estate, a 700-hectare family-owned property located just a few kilometres east of Plettenberg Bay. Charmingly picturesque with classic Cape Dutch architecture, rose gardens, views of the expansive green fields and the Tsitsikamma mountains in the distance, the Estate sports a 12-suite hotel, five-bedroom villa, pool and spa plus five playing fields. Homey and laid back, it was the perfect setting for fun and fellowship over long morning coffees on the veranda or at our rather vivacious nightly dinners.
Previous page: the players at the Behr family home. This page, opposite: Tommy Rinderknecht (left) speaking with Buster Mackenzie. This page, top: Piero Dillier from Switzerland. Below: Americans Paul Hobby (blue) and David Tafuri
OV ER THE Y E A R S, WE H AV E DEVELOPED INCREDIBLE FRIENDSHIPS AS THE BOND AMONG THE GROUP CONTINUES TO STRENGTHEN
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W H E N T H E I N T E R N AT I O N A L WA S F I N A L LY P L AY E D , I T W A S A S P E C TA C L E T O S E E A N D B E S E E N E B AT I L I S . F U L O C A ; I S . U M AUTURBI
This page, from top: South African Vaughn Richardson’s team tent; Xavier Doumen (France) and Rodrigo Sol� Torino (Argentina); founder Eduardo Bér�terbide and the chairman of Plett Polo, Garth Kanigowski
Also perfect was that polo was a stone’s throw from the hotel. As one can imagine, it is a challenge to find enough good rent horses for 10 teams. South African polo players are rightly proud of their fields and horses at Plett. South Africa has a strong legacy of thoroughbred breeding reflected in the high quality of horses for rent. Buster Mackenzie, a local horse trainer and professional polo player, supervises a vast operation of quality horses from his stable yard next to Kurland, where he offers horses for both polo and pleasure
riding through the forests and beaches of the Garden Route. Overseeing it all, from polo games to dinners, were Plett Polo Club incoming chairman Garth Kanigowski and his wife Sheelagh, for whom no detail was too minor. The Kanigowskis, the Behr family who own and manage the Kurland Hotel, and indeed everyone we came into contact with over the week exuded a South African friendliness and hospitality that were perfectly in keeping with the spirit of Lawyers Polo.
But Lawyers Polo is not just about polo. Organiser-in-chief Eduardo Bérèterbide goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure a robust experience. The week in Plettenberg Bay opened with a black-tie party, followed by a dinner at a local winery, organised hikes and horseback rides into the forests. One evening featured a political talk with Tony Leon who led the opposition party to Nelson Mandela. Joining him for the discussion was LP member David Tafuri, attorney and CNN contributor, who brought a personal perspective to the crisis in
RYA N F R E N C H ; E I G H T F I V E P H OTO G R A P H Y
Below: The Baron Field on the Kurland Estate where Plett Polo is located
A N O T H E R I M P O R TA N T C O M P O N E N T OF THE LP EXPERIENCE IS GIVING BACK TO THE HOST COMMUNITY
Ukraine. Bérèterbide opened the discussion by saying, ‘We have the obligation in these difficult times to learn more about the world we live in… Also, we want to learn more about this beautiful country, South Africa. We don’t want to be here just as passengers on a train and after two or three days we leave without knowing where we were.’ Another important component of the LP experience is giving back to the host community. In Plettenberg Bay, the group supported the Sabrina Love Foundation, established to provide care for special needs
children, and a children’s band symphony with the goal of uplifting children through music. South African philanthropist Tony Lubner worked together with LP members Tommy Rinderknecht and Miguel Caetano. With their leadership, the Lawyers Polo members raised funds to buy a new bus to transport 30 children to school, in addition to the purchase of musical instruments. All 10 teams at Lawyers Polo in Plett were well-appointed with Hurlingham Polo 1875 apparel. Lawyers Polo and Hurlingham Polo 1875’s CEO, Simon
Hawkins, are already working together in the future LP tournaments, including the next exciting destination: Fred Mannix’s La Alegria polo club in Pilar, Argentina, the first week of December 2022. Finally, with such a fun-loving group of polo-playing lawyers, it was inevitable that they would come up with their own bad lawyer joke. When asked if it was a challenge to umpire a polo game among lawyers, one player remarked, ‘Don’t worry! We only argue when we are getting paid!’ Perhaps one day, that one will show up in a Google search.
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Diego Cavanagh (blue) in the semi finals of the US Open followed by his three teammates and the four La Elina players (pink)
58_GAUNTLET OF POLO April 2022 saw Pilot and La Elina together in the final of the US Open in which Facundo Pieres demonstrated great play. He scored goal after goal to earn victory for Pilot in a strong close to the high-goal season at International Polo Club, Wellington, Florida. 60_WOMEN’S US OPEN Hawaii Polo Life took on Blue Water in a fight for the final trophy in the
US Open Women’s Polo Championship that treated spectators to many twists and turns. Hawaii Polo Life stormed ahead in a fast and exciting second half that saw them take the crown for a third time in four years.
6 2 _T H E T R I P L E C R O W N La Natividad met La Dolfina for an exciting close to the 128th Argentine Open following a tournament full of unexpected and surprising results. A hard-fought final saw
the young Castagnola brothers and the La Natividad team taking the coveted title.
64_WOMEN’S ARGENTINE OPEN La Dolfina BP and El Overo Z7 UAE went head to head in Palermo in a thrilling final for the Women’s Argentine Open title. Reigning champion El Overo Z7 UAE was put through its paces and a stellar performance from La Dolfina BP saw the team emerge victorious.
ACTION GAUNTLET OF POLO, INTERNATIONAL POLO CLUB PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, USA, FEBRUARY-APRIL 2022
GAUNTLET OF POLO Alex Webbe reports on the thrills and spills of the 2022 high-goal season in Florida
Twenty teams, three tournaments and 81 matches were hosted by the International Polo Club Palm Beach for the 2022 highgoal season in Wellington, Florida. The culmination of the season saw Argentine 10-goaler Facundo Pieres score eight times in leading the Pilot team to a decisive 11-6 win over a La Elina line-up that featured Jared Zenni and three Obregon brothers. At the end of the day, however, the honours would belong to Facundo Pieres, who not only earned MVP honours for the US Open final but also for the three-
tournament Gauntlet of Polo. Physical tournament play had already sent some of the game’s top players to the sidelines, including 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Polito Pieres, and although tournament favourites Scone (with Sapo Caset replacing Cambiaso), Park Place and Pilot, Jared Zenni (6) was forced to reorganise his La Elina roster, and did it without the luxury of a 10-goaler to replace the departure of Caset. Zenni brought in three Obregon brothers with Facundo Obregon (6), Geronimo
Obregon (5) and Juan Martín Obregon (5). Pilot rolled over early opponents, with Facundo Pieres setting the scoring pace, and remained undefeated and never seriously challenged until facing the Park Place combination of Hilario Ulloa and Juan Britos in the semi-finals. In a low-scoring defensive battle that was tied five different times, Pieres broke through the Park Place defense to score the winning goal in overtime for the 8-7 win. On the other side of the bracket, it was the underdog La Elina, a team organised just
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Opposite: MVP in the 2022 Gauntlet of Polo, Facundo Pieres on One Magnifica in the final of the Gold Cup. Below: From left: Stewart Armstrong, Curtis Pilot, Mackenzie Weisz, Matias Torres Zavaleta and Facundo Pieres in the US Open final
weeks earlier, who edged Aspen Valley in the quarterfinals and Tamera in the semi-finals to earn a berth in the 2022 US Open final, touting a an impressive 5-1 record and the tournament’s leading scorer in Juan Martín Obregon. Facundo Pieres displayed superior horsepower from the opening chukka, scoring the first two goals before the La Elina defenders could react, seemingly untouchable as he raced down the field with the ball for the first two goals of the game. Zenni finally got La Elina on the scoreboard with a goal from the field. Pilot broke it wide open in the third. Pieres scored consecutive goals to put Pilot on top, 6-2, as La Elina struggled to stop the onslaught. Matias Torres Zavaleta and Mackenzie Weisz each added a goal while holding La Elina scoreless. In an effort to clear a shot on goal from Pilot, Zenni’s attempt to move the ball from in front of the goal hit his horse’s leg and was deflected through the goal posts to end the scoring in the third period with Pilot in the lead, 9-2. Zenni and Juan Martín Obregon each scored a goal in the fourth, but the physical style of play that La Elina was known for was missing. Pieres scored Pilot’s only goal of the chukka for a 10-4 advantage. Zenni and Pieres traded penalty goals in the fifth, with Zenni adding the only goal of the sixth chukka in the 11-6 Pilot victory. Pilot downs Park Place 11-10 to win Gold Cup Following a spotty performance in C.V. Whitney Cup play, Facundo Pieres led Pilot to a perfect 5-0 record that culminated in an exciting overtime win over Park Place in the USPA Gold Cup championship game. After leading for the opening three chukkas of the final, Park Place rallied to tie the
Z E N N I F I N A L LY G O T L A E L I N A O N T H E SCOREBOARD WITH A GOAL FROM THE FIELD. PILOT BROKE IT WIDE OPEN game 9-9 in the fourth. Britos and Pieres each added a goal in the fifth, 10-10, followed by a scoreless sixth. Pieres scored his 10th goal of the game in the overtime period for the 11-10 championship win. Pieres earned MVP honours with his Open Azarenka named Best Playing Pony. Park Place captures C.V. Whitney Cup For the second year in a row, Park Place scored a win in the final of the C.V. Whitney Cup as the USPA’s high-goal tournament season got underway. Scone, Pilot and Park
Place established their positions as top-tier teams. All three teams made their way through the quarterfinals with Dutta Corp rounding out the field. Wins by Park Place and Scone set the finals where Scone took the early lead behind five goals from Kristos Magrini and a pair of goals from Poroto Cambiaso. Britos and Ulloa rallied in second-half play with a solid defensive effort that held Scone to a single goal from the field in a 14-11 Park Place win. Britos was named MVP, with his El Overo Indigena picking up Best Playing Pony honours.
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US WOMEN’S OPEN Hawaii Polo Life claimed its third US Women’s Open title in four years, with another convincing win at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach Florida, reports Jemima Wilson
Hawaii Polo Life went into the US Open Women’s Polo Championship final as the only undefeated team, and they lived up to their reputation, bringing their impressive run through the tournament to a strong close with an 8-3 victory against Blue Water, leading the game from start to finish. Right from the opening throw-in, Hawaii Polo Life controlled possession to outshoot Blue Water 17-6, and 10-goaler Hazel Jackson demonstrated outstanding play with three goals and four assists to
contribute to all but one of her team’s goals. The game was primarily decided in open play, where not only was Hawaii Polo Life’s attack unstoppable, but its large lead was backed up by a robust defence, which meant Blue Water could only manage to score one field goal in the game – its other two goals were scored from penalties. It only took a few moments in the first chukka for the dynamic duo of Hazel Jackson and Mia Cambiaso to connect and score Hawaii Polo Life’s first goal of the game,
asserting their superiority and showcasing their exceptional horsepower from the word go. By the end of the first chukka, Hawaii Polo Life had retained its dominance, outshooting Blue Water 6-0, keeping them pinned in their own half and adding two more goals – the last coming from a Penalty 2 conversion from Jackson, which took Hawaii Polo Life to an impressive 3-0 lead. Despite drawing attention from the Blue Water defence, Jackson set up consecutive goals for Cambiaso and Pamela Flanagan,
G L O B A L P O L O E N T E R TA I N M E N T
extending Hawaii Polo Life’s lead to 5-0 at the end of the second chukka. Blue Water found their first rhythm of the game just before the end of the first half, when Izzy Parsons broke through to score the team’s first goal on a Penalty 2. Hawaii Polo Life looked set to continue to thwart Blue Water’s chances of scoring in the second half, and when the fourth Hawaii Polo Life member Cecily Coors scored her first goal of the final on a pass from Jackson, the title looked secured for Hawaii Polo Life as the clock counted down. Despite Parsons and Kylie Sheehan pushing through to score in the final chukka, Jackson showcased her sensational 10-goal talent by scoring her third goal to clinch an 8-3 victory and raise the covetable US Open Women’s Polo Championship trophy. Hazel Jackson was named Most Valuable Player, while Best Playing Pony was awarded to Bionica, played by Mia Cambiaso and owned by J5 Equestrian and La Dolfina.
This page: Pam Flanagan in the final. Opposite, from left: Hawaii Polo Life: Hazel Jackson, Mia Cambiaso, Pam Flanagan and Cecily Coors with Chris Dawson
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THE TRIPLE CROWN M AT I A S C A L L E J O
The 2021 Triple Crown reached its climax at the game-changing Argentine Open final, with the dynamic La Natividad team storming to victory to claim the coveted trophy from La Dolfina, reports Héctor Martelli
The 2021 Argentine Triple Crown was indeed exciting, with several surprises, newcomers, injuries, unexpected wins and defeats. Indeed, it was one of the best seasons of recent years, and the 128th Argentine Open was fantastic. However, there was no 40-goal team – La Dolfina, the absolute dominant force since its inception in 2010, lost Pablo Mac Donough and Juan Martín Nero, who joined Corinne Ricard’s 39-goal Murus Sanctus, along with Facundo Sola and Guillermo Caset. Cambiaso and Stirling remained with La Dolfina, and brought in Francisco Elizalde and Diego Cavanagh to make it to 38 goals. Ellerstina (39) and La Natividad (36) had no changes. The remaining teams were between 28 and 38 goals. The Tortugas Open, as usual, was played as a round robin – the winners of each league played for the main trophy and the losers for the Subsidiary. The first winners were Ellerstina; they beat La Dolfina to claim the tournament for the third consecutive year. This was followed by the Hurlingham Open, where leagues were composed in accordance with the team standings of the Tortugas Open. Ellerstina and La Dolfina were top seeds. As expected, the four highest-rated teams reached the finals,
T H E L A S T S TA G E WA S T H E A R G E N T I N E OPEN, BUT NO ONE EXPECTED IT COULD BE SO GAME-CHANGING although Ellerstina lost one game and did not have Nico Pieres due to an injury. Ellerstina played against Murus Sanctus, while La Dolfina met La Natividad. The first surprise came up in this stage of the tournament as La Natividad defeated Cambiaso’s La Dolfina. Murus Sanctus upset Ellerstina, but this was not a surprise at all. It is worth noting that after 13 years and 35 finals, a Triple Crown final had neither Adolfo Cambiaso’s line-up, nor the Pieres family’s team. The second blow came in the final, with La Natividad claiming their first major title ever, making a dream come true, seeing as they qualified to play Palermo for the first time just three years ago. The last stage of the Triple Crown was the 128th Argentine Open, but no one expected it could be so game-changing and surprising. Lower-rated teams beat some of the “four greats” and a large number of injuries hindered some teams – Ellerstina,
La Dolfina, Murus Sanctus and La Dolfina Brava – leading them to replace original members with lower-rated players. Ellerstina – again without Nico Pieres – and La Dolfina went head-to-head in League A, with the latter victorious and stepping into the final. Meanwhile, Murus Sanctus and La Natividad decided League B, and La Natividad earned a ticket to the championship match. The final of the Argentine Open was a memorable game that will go down in history – a mix of Cambiaso’s experience and La Natividad’s skills, but while La Dolfina displayed tight play, La Natividad played superior open and quick polo. At the end of the day, the extremely young Castagnola brothers engraved their names on the most coveted polo trophy in the world for the first time, alongside Pablo Pieres and Ignatius du Plessis. What’s more, the Castagnolas and Pieres were deservedly raised to 10-goals.
Opposite: MVP Barto followed by brother Jeta Castagnola and Fran Elizalde (in blue) in the final at Palermo. Left: the Castagnola brothers, Pieres and du Plessis claimed the 128th Argentine Open for La Natividad
ACTION WOMEN’S ARGENTINE OPEN, ARGENTINA, DECEMBER 2021
La Dolfina BP led a relentless attack to reclaim the Women’s Argentine Open title with a dynamic 12-5 victory over El Overo Z7 UAE, reports Jemima Wilson
M AT I A S C A L L E J O
WOMEN’S ARGENTINE OPEN
CONTINUING THEIR DOMINANCE IN THE FOURTH CHUKK A, CLARKIN CONVERTED A G O A L F R O M T H E P E N A LT Y L I N E
Despite a gutsy performance by reigning champion El Overo Z7 UAE, the final result of the 5th Abierto Argentino Femenino on Field 2 at Palermo saw La Dolfina BP convincingly reclaim their place at the top of women’s international polo. Returning with gusto to the polo field after a two-year-long maternity absence, 10-goaler (ladies handicap) Nina Clarkin made a remarkable comeback to dominate the game against La Dolfina BP’s biggest contender, El Overo Z7 UAE – a formidable team including two 10-goalers, Lía Salvo and Hazel Jackson. Managing the game from the outset, Nina Clarkin ended the day with an impressive 7 goals, converting 80 per cent of her penalty attempts, and she led the relentless attack that resulted in an 8-goal advantage by the fifth chukka. But it was not only La Dolfina BP’s consistent scoring that secured the 12-5 win; the team’s defence against the strong El Overo Z7 UAE attack was also crucial to their success, keeping El Overo Z7 UAE off the scoreboard in three separate chukkas, and blocking Jackson and Salvo from producing a number of goals. The first goal of the game came from Milagros Fernández Araujo, who scored early for La Dolfina BP, followed by the second goal from Clarkin. Candelaria Fernández Araujo continued to push the early momentum in favour of La Dolfina BP, scoring the team’s third consecutive goal at the start of the second chukka. Hazel Jackson responded with El Overo Z7 UAE’s first goal of the match, but despite Lía Salvo finding another goal for El Overo Z7 UAE, Clarkin proved to be unstoppable, adding two more goals for La Dolfina BP. The third chukka saw Jackson and Salvo
contribute to goals for El Overo Z7 UAE, but Candelaria Fernández Araujo and Mia Cambiaso expanded La Dolfina BP’s lead by three goals, increasing their advantage to 7-4 at halftime. Continuing their dominance in the fourth chukka, Clarkin converted a goal from the penalty line, and Cambiaso scored her second goal of the day for La Dolfina BP. Salvo converted one last penalty opportunity
Opposite: Airborne. From left: Milly Hine, Hazel Jackson and Mia Cambiaso (in white). This page, from left: Mia Cambiaso, Milagros Fernández Araujo, Nina Clarkin and Candelaria Fernández Araujo
for El Overo Z7 UAE, but as Clarkin continued to shine in the fifth chukka – adding two penalty conversions and another goal from the field – El Overo Z7 UAE was unable to respond with a successful offensive counterattack. Clarkin was named Most Valuable Player for her impressive 7-goal performance, and she also claimed the AAP Award for Best Horse of the Final with Go Happy Eight.
Coronel Suárez – 1981 Hurlingham Open and Argentine Open winners at Palermo. From left: Benjamin Araya, Alberto Heguy, Alfredo Harriott and Celestino Garros 66
ARCHIVE The final of the 128th Hurlingham Open took place last November with an amazing final between La Natividad and RS Murus Sanctus, but the final was not the only noteworthy event taking place at The Hurlingham Club. Every year before the final match, there is a traditional lunch, where players who have won the Open are invited. Last year, Benjamin Araya was invited because in 1981 he was the youngest polo player to win the Open, at 18 years and 3 months. Camilo Castagnola won in 2021 at 18 years and 11 months, so Araya still holds the record. When he was asked about what he remembered about the match and the tournament, he said it was a rematch of the final of 1980. In that game, his team was winning, but due to the rain, the match was suspended. The game continued three days later, and they ended up losing by one goal. Araya also said that the following year he
was even more focused and determined to win the tournament. His team won the Open against a very strong team, Mar del Plata, whose line-up was Alfonso and Gonzalo Pieres, Gonzalo Tanoira and Alfredo Goti. This final was remembered as a closely fought game, and Coronel Suárez emerged victorious with a two-goal lead and exceptional play by Araya. ‘For me it was special because Hurlingham was the club where I played and kept my horses, so I really wanted to win at home,’ remembers Mr Araya. Araya received a Hurlingham jacket from Kirsty Hayes, the British ambassador to Argentina, and from Fernando Kelly, the president of the Club. The Club decided to honour all the players who won the Hurlingham Open in the past and didn’t receive the traditional jacket at the time.
P E P E S A N TA M A R I N A
Justo Santamarina pays tribute to Benjamin Araya’s part in winning the Hurlingham Open in 1981, as the youngest player to claim the title
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