Spring 2024

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Three Centuries of The Horse in Bronze 57 Jermyn Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6LX T : +44(0)20 7629 1144 E : contact@sladmore.com W : www.sladmore.com 12 June – 12 July 2024 BARYE • BAYES • BONHEUR • BOURDELLE • BUGATTI COLLIN • DEGAS • FIDDIAN GREEN • HASELTINE • LANGTON MEISSONIER • MENE • PARKER • ROCHE • ROUD • WILLIS GOOD
Clockwise from top left: Cheval au Galop sur le Pied Droit , c. 1880-89 by Edgar Degas, French, (1834–1917), bronze. Height: 12 in (31 cm); Mighty Horse 2021, by Nic Fiddian Green, bronze, limited edition of 3, 12 ft high; Polo Player , 1882, by Walter Roche, (Irish, 1847-1921), bronze. Height: 12 in (31 cm); Turkish Horse No. 2, Left Leg Raised c. 1850 by Antoine-Louis Barye, French, (1795-1875, bronze. Height: 12 in (30 cm)



The latest polo news including this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, a showdown for charity and a new book on a part of polo’s history


The U.S. Polo Assn.’s 40-Goal Polo Challenge raises half a million dollars for injured polo players and their families


FIP president Piero Dillier explains why bringing the Polo World Championships to the Middle East is a historical milestone


Polo.horse co-founder Aki van Andel on his new online platform dedicated to helping people nd, buy and sell polo horses


The growth of Schools and Universities Polo Association events in England


Gstaad Polo Club director Pierre E. Genecand on why the Hublot Polo Gold Cup continues to be an unmissable event on the social calendar


His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur is the latest U.S. Polo Assn. Global Brand Ambassador


Justin Gaunt explores why there are fewer big club sponsors in polo


Former 10-goal player Memo Gracida on how polo has changed and how we can have a positive impact on the future of the sport


Jemima Wilson discovers how the Richard Mille Desert Polo in AlUla is leading the charge for the development of polo in Saudi Arabia


Publisher Roderick Vere Nicoll

Executive Editor Peter Howarth

Editor Jemima Wilson

Designer Jason Morris

Chief Copy Editor Lucy Frith

Tom Á s Panelo playing in the Gauntlet went to 10 goals


Stewart Armstrong explores how a pipeline of quality American breed ponies is needed to propel young players to the top handicap


Ruso Sorzana on how he is building a brand that combines his passion for polo with his multicultural way of life


Dillon Bacon on playing in both low- and high-goal polo


Gauntlet of Polo, Women’s Argentine Open, Women’s US Open, Bryan Morrison Trophy, Triple Crown and Kerry Packer Cup


In 1924, an exciting Olympic Polo tournament played out in Paris

SHOW MEDIA Editorial

Deputy Chief Copy Editor

Holly Quayle

Copy Editor Polly Rappaport

Contributing Photographer Tony Ramirez

Managing Director Peter Howarth 1-2 Ravey Street, London EC2A 4QP + 44 (0) 20 3222 0101 info@show.london show.london


+44 (0) 771 483 6102

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One of the aspects I enjoy most about publishing Hurlingham is coming up with ideas for articles. There are a number of different sources, but mostly they come from players. They are a dynamic group, with a variety of interests, different backgrounds and a lot of ideas on the game.

Have a look at Stewart Armstrong’s article on what he thinks is critical to help young players reach a top handicap. Back on the polo fields in Wellington, Memo Gracida shares his views on how the game has changed and what must be addressed to help the sport. In the past three years, Dillon Bacon has won the Queen’s Cup twice. Last summer he won the 8-goal Archie David and says it was more rewarding and fun than the 22-goal.

One of the key challenges for the game is attracting sponsorship for clubs and tournaments. Pierre E. Genecand describes

how for the past 25 years the annual tournament in Gstaad has continued to have a stable of luxury sponsors and a sellout crowd. While former director of SaintTropez Polo Club, Justin Gaunt, explores why there are now fewer big club sponsors, and has some ideas to attract more brands and patrons.

On the cover, we have Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso who played against each other in the three Gauntlet finals. We tip our hat to Bob Jornayvaz and to the Valiente organisation for supplying so many top calibre ponies for both teams in all finals. In the Action, Alex Webbe writes about the Gauntlet and there are articles on the Triple Crown in Argentina, the two big Womens’ Opens and the Kerry Packer Challenge Cup. I hope you enjoy the spring issue and if you have any good ideas for articles, let me know…


PIERO DILLI ER, a proud polo enthusiast born in Switzerland, has played polo in 36 different countries around the world. In 2022 he was elected as the president of the Federation of International Polo and is committed to fostering the growth and development of polo on a global scale.

TATIANA FRAYSSINET hails from a distinguished polo dynasty, where her childhood fostered a deep love for horses and polo photography. Evolving into her career, she is now an equestrian photographer, accompanying top polo teams and players worldwide. Beyond polo, she explores artistic photography, enriching her visual repertoire.

PIERRE E. GENECAND has been president and organiser of the International World Cup Show Jumping Geneva for 14 years, president of Polo Club Gstaad since 2006, and the Hublot Polo Gold Cup Gstaad since 2008. Living between Switzerland and Argentina, he has been playing polo and breeding polo ponies for 24 years.

RAJKUMAR SINGH is a professional photographer who started his polo photography in India in 1994. He has since covered polo tournaments all across India including in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Ludhiana, Patiala and in Malaysia (for the World Cup in 2011).

GENGHIS KHAN RETREAT ACTIVITIES Mountain Biking WELLNESS ARCHERY JOIN US August,2024 4-6 Goal Tournament in the Mongolian Steppe @genghiskhanretreat www.genghiskhanretreat.com
@USPOLOASSN | USPASHOP.COM @USPOLOASSNUK | USPOLOASSN.CO.UK U.S. Polo Assn. is proud to be the Official Apparel Jersey Partner of the 2024 Chestertons Polo in the Park!


GLEN A. HOLDEN (1927-2024)

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Glen A. Holden Sr. on the morning of 18 April. He would have been 97 in July.

Inducted into the Museum of Polo’s Hall of Fame in 2002 to recognise his incomparable contributions to the sport, Holden was a force on and off the eld for 60 years.

Among his highlights as a player, Holden notched many wins as the patron of his famed Gehache team, including the 1993 US Open Championship with Memo Gracida, Mike Azzaro, Ruben Gracida and Joe Wayne Barry, the Paci c Coast Open and the Governor’s Cup.

He was a leading force in the development of international polo as a founding member of the Federation of International Polo and served as its president from 1997-2005. Holden also served 10 years as a USPA governor and was also a long-time director of the Polo Training Foundation, as well as co-founder of “Polo on the Mall” in Washington, DC.

Holden was an advocate of California polo, serving as Paci c Coast Governor from 1976-1985, and his substantial efforts secured the long-term stability of the Santa Barbara Polo Club.

A true champion of polo, he was totally dedicated to its betterment and supported it faithfully. He served as the United States ambassador to Jamaica from 1989-1993.

Glen’s compassion, wisdom and generosity was also felt well beyond the sport and around the world. His in uence has been profound and with his passing we lost one of the most exemplary leaders of the sport. He will be sorely missed. By Alex Webbe

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A stylish ceremony celebrated the 2024 inductees into the Polo Museum’s Hall of Fame. Highlighting the newest members was Jeff Blake, three-time US Open and USPA Gold Cup champion, as well as winner of the Paci c Coast Open, Silver Cup, National Twenty Goal, Butler Handicap, Challenge Cup and Sterling Cup trophies. Other recognitions included Posthumous Hall of Fame honouree Hubert Win eld “Rube” Williams, a Texan who was on the winning West team in the 1933 East-West series; Iglehart Award winner Vicki Armour, renowned as one of the best female polo players and trainers of the ’80s and ’90s; and Iglehart Award winner Dick Latham who was involved in serving the USPA. Horses to Remember honouree of the early pre-Hartman era was Royal Diamond, a treasured pony of Hall of Famer Harry Payne Whitney, and phenomenal chestnut thoroughbred gelding Flash.


Habtoor Polo Team clinched both the coveted Silver and Gold Cups in Dubai in February. The Silver Cup nal featured an intense showdown between Habtoor Polo and UAE Polo. While Habtoor Polo dominated the match from the beginning, UAE Polo staged a comeback in the closing chukka, narrowing the score gap. However, the cohesive teamwork of Habtoor Polo prevented UAE from seizing the lead. The thrilling Gold Cup nal saw a close start between Dubai Wolves and Habtoor Polo. The score was levelled in the nal chukka, leading to Habtoor Polo scoring victory in an extra chukka.

From left: Tim Gannon, Jeff Blake, Adolfo Cambiaso and Bartolom é Castagnola at the US Open, 1999




Nicky Sen first picked up a polo mallet close to Lake Chiemsee, south of Munich, many years ago, and it was love at first sight

Polo is special for me as the connection between rider and horse in this adrenalinefuelled game is so unique. If you have confidence and mutual trust, your horse will go that extra step for you in the match. My teammates are also very important to me –I think Santiago Chavanne and myself built up a very nice team with our grooms and David Kafka as our trainer. We take it seriously, but we don’t forget to enjoy it and realise how privileged we are to be a part of this sport.

One of my most memorable moments in polo was during the Presidents Cup in 2022 when I played my mare Origami, who played the final of the Palermo Open with Adolfo Cambiaso just the day before. This year, I am excited to play 15-goal tournaments for the first time in the UK with my Amanara team. At the end of July we will go to Sotogrande to play the medium-goal cups, and the Open de France can’t be missed in our polo season.

Together with Isabel de Estrada, an Argentine journalist, I founded an NGO named Zorba, with the goal of respectful treatment of horses in Argentina. Every horse deserves to be treated with the utmost ethical care, especially when the time comes for a horse to retire or when they are no longer able to meet our needs.

This understanding and respect for horses is not yet anchored in the minds of all horse people. Fortunately, we are receiving great support from the equine community. For more info, please get in touch via Instagram @fundacionZorba


The Queen’s Cup Pink Polo 2024 tournament, a charitable women’s polo event dedicated to supporting breast cancer initiatives, took place at the Thai Polo and Equestrian Club in Pattaya in February 2024, between the Thai Polo team from Thailand (Caroline Link, Jessica Chua Nodland, Lucie Venot and Milagros Sánchez) and the Jamjar team from Malaysia (Lorraine Lisette Clewits, Adilla Jamaludin, Pearl Venot and Elena Venot). Thai Polo emerged victorious after a close game, defeating Jamjar by just half a goal – 5 to 4½. Before the polo action commenced, there was an exciting show-jumping competition, and the highlight of the event was a glamorous fashion show on horseback featuring models led by Pink Polo’s founder, Nunthinee Tanner.


The equestrian events of the upcoming Paris Olympic Games 2024 will conclude on 6 August with the crowning of the show-jumping competition at Versailles. On the following day, 7 August, the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly, in partnership with the Fédération Française de Polo and presented by U.S. Polo Assn., is organising the Paris Games Polo Challenge 2024, in tribute to the opening match of the fourth Olympic Polo Tournament at the 1924 Paris Games, which will pit the United States team against France. The event will be broadcast on ESPN platforms.

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There are close to 20 teams showing interest in the 22-goal season in the UK. Gold Cup winner UAE are back, as well as the Queen’s Cup winner Murus Sanctus. Dubai will eld two teams. La Dol na will make its English debut with two teams. Newcomers are Ferne Park, Gaston, Shoreline and White Crane.

Paco de Narvaez Jr, 16, playing for Valiente with the number 3 on his shirt, was named MVP in the US Open. This is quite the feat when you consider who else was on the eld – two Cambiasos and Tomás Panelo. Paquito’s Antu Walung Chavetita won Best Playing Pony in the Gold Cup and US Open nals.

20-goal polo will return to the La Bourgogne Club in Aiken from 14-29 September 2024. There will be $50,000 in prize money. The tournament supports the AFM Give Me Wings Foundation, which helps families through the grieving process of losing a child and gives youth advanced driving instruction.

The AAP has updated the Excessive Use of Whip Rule. A) A player can use the whip when the ball is out of play, always keeping his left hand on the reins; B) During the play, the whip can be used with the left hand and not over the shoulder. It can’t be used more than twice.



HANDICAP: 5 (US) 4 (UK) & 3 (ARG)

When and how did you start to play polo?

I started playing polo in Argentina when I was six years old, at La Mariana.

AGE: 17 Agustin) and the US Open. I was on the winning team La Dolfina, playing in both with Poroto Cambiaso and Tomás Panelo.

What level of polo do you play?

The USPA is partnering with Greenway Pictures and Boardwalk Pictures for a docuseries that will feature the US Open Polo Championship and high-goal polo at the USPA National Polo Center. The series will be streamed on Net ix. It will focus on the world of polo and some key players.

The National President’s Cup was rst played in 1969 as the Eight Goal Inter-Circuit, at Brandywine Polo Club, Pennsylvania. In 2024, 46 teams played in eight qualifying tournaments and the winners ended up in Wellington for the playoffs. Concord Equity Group beat Audi in the nal 12 to 5.

What makes polo special for you? It’s special for me as I get to share it with my family – it’s a passion that has been in my family for a very long time. The horses also make it special for me.

Who do you respect most in polo?

That would have to be the horses, and the people who take care of the horses day after day so the players can perform at great levels. I respect those who make a lot of sacrifices and are very disciplined in the sport.

What is your most memorable game?

It is a toss-up between the finals of the USPA Gold Cup (above - Rufino holding the Cup with, from left, Florencio, Celina, Celistino and

I am currently playing the high goal in the US, in the US Open Championship. I’ll also be playing high goal in the UK season for Park Place.

Who is your favourite pony and why?

That would have to be Pony Yamaha, she is currently playing the US Open Championship with me. She is out of Van Kawasaki and by Dolfina Popular, which has a great bloodline. She is definitely the best that I have right now. My ponies are bred at Trenque Lauquen on our family farm called La Celina. The breeding prefix is Pony.

What are your plans for the summer?

Playing high-goal polo in England, in the Queen’s Cup and the British Open.



Peter was an accomplished polo player, show jumper, amateur jockey, course builder, polo coach, tournament director and more. But above all, he was my close friend, tragically taken from us at the end of the third chukka in Kuala Lumpur on 8 February. We met in 1972 in Singapore, two teenage boys riding in an arena, and we went on to compete across the globe. In the words of my mentor, Marcos Uranga, ‘It was the beginning of a wonderful party.’ Pete’s in uence in the equestrian sport was colossal. He played a huge role in Malaysian polo, partnering me as my tournament director in the FIP Snow Polo World Cup and Super Nations Cups in Tianjin, China, from 2012 through 2014. He was also pivotal to our family team, La Sarita, over 18 years. By Asad Jumabhoy


Polo and Gatsby go together like scotch and soda. Mickey Rathbun’s new book, The Real Gatsby, ties the knot even tighter. Her grandfather, George Gordon Moore, was a polo-playing mining tycoon who may well have been the model for Jay Gatsby. Moore gravitated toward places like Long Island, New York, where, to borrow F. Scott Fitzgerald’s phrase, ‘people played polo and were rich together’. As Rathbun explains, Fitzgerald was inspired to write The Great Gatsby by the social world of polo legend Tommy Hitchcock, Moore’s housemate, business protégé and the model for Gatsby’s rival Tom Buchanan.



The 11-year-old Badalona Breeze was bred by Peter and Susan Jones by Irish thoroughbred Big Bad Bob, out of Rose Mandarin, by Tiger Hill. She raced ve times under rules for Mick Appleby, before being retrained by me for polo. Her name was a bit long-winded for an everyday name, so I called her Viento, but Chris Mackenzie spelt it Biento when he started playing her!

I rescued her from a eld in Milland in 2017 during the very wet autumn, where she was knee-deep in mud. She had just been bought from a racehorse trainer – had never played polo at this point – and her new owner didn’t have room to keep her because their paddocks were so muddy.

She stands out on the polo ground because she is a very willing horse, as well as being fast, having a big heart and she always tries. She umpired in the high-goal for three seasons.

In 2022, Chris Mackenzie tried a few of my horses and had three vetted. Unfortunately, Viento failed the vetting, but Chris liked her enough to offer to buy her. He took her to Sotogrande and won a BPP rug in the Copa de Plata, and the pair also won Most Valuable Player and ROR Best Playing Pony following their performance in the 2023 Coronation Cup.

In January 2024, she was awarded the ROR Elite Award for polo at the Retraining of Racehorses Awards in Newmarket, showing she is a fantastic ambassador for the huge number of former racehorses who have found their second careers playing polo.

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Above: Brothers Bricks (in grey) and Derek (in red) Chagwe at the 2023 Coronation Cup


The U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Polo Challenge raises nearly half a million dollars for injured polo players and their families

On 17 February, 2024, the U.S. Polo Assn. was title and of cial apparel sponsor of the U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Polo Challenge, the marquee fundraising event of the Polo Players Support Group (PPSG), hosted at the USPA National Polo Center on the U.S. Polo Assn. Stadium Field 1.

The action-packed day was full of activities for guests to enjoy, all to bene t the PPSG, including the premiere event, a 40-Goal match between two balanced teams of some of the world’s best polo

players, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Poroto Cambiaso, Jero del Carril, Magoo Laprida, Tomy Panelo, Polito Pieres, Tomás García del Río and Hilario Ulloa. There was also an opening ceremony, a trophy ceremony and the Future 10s kids match, followed by a charity dinner and auction at the NPC’s Pavilion. All activities and auction bids, including signed player jerseys among other high-value items, contributed toward the PPSG mission to support the polo community in times of need, raising more than $450,000.

U.S. Polo Assn. provided branded performance jerseys to all competing players alongside a monetary donation for the PPSG, a 501 (c)(3) organisation dedicated to providing nancial assistance to ill or seriously injured players and grooms in the polo community. In 2000, the 40-Goal Rob Walton Bene t was created to raise money for 8-goal Polo Hall of Famer Rob Walton, who was paralyzed in a polo accident in 1995. In the inaugural event, many of the best polo players in the world donated their


time and efforts to play this exhibition match and raise funds.

Inspired by the Rob Walton Bene t, the PPSG was founded, and created the annual U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Polo Challenge to raise funds to help members of the polo community in nancial crisis caused by physical injury or illness. Since its inception in 2002, the PPSG has helped recipients and their network of family and friends with their collected donations of more than $3 million.

‘As title and of cial apparel sponsor of the U.S. Polo Assn. 40-Goal Polo Challenge, this event plays a crucial role within the polo community, which aligns with our sport-inspired brand’s mission to support the sport of polo,’ said J Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing, the company that manages the U.S. Polo Assn. brand. ‘We also love that U.S. Polo Assn.’s authentic connection to the sport of polo and the polo community can be highlighted through supporting organisations like the Polo Players Support Group at the USPA’s world-class National Polo Center.’

David Offen, president of the Polo Players Support Group, commented: ‘Since its inception in 2002, the PPSG has awarded over $3 million to 111 different seriously injured or ill players and grooms. The PPSG is grateful to all our sponsors, whose generous support is crucial to our mission. We are also grateful for the players who donate their services, and their patrons who allow them to play. We are fortunate to have such a magni cent facility to host our event at and it is always a pleasure to work with the team at NPC.’

Indeed, a poignant cause and a signi cant opportunity to give back to the polo community.

Opposite, from left : Michael Prince, Polito Pieres and Peter Orthwein Right : Myla Cambiaso, who played in the Future 10s kids match. Below : Rob Walton
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Bringing the Polo World Championships to the Middle East, the Federation of International Polo is not only marking a historical milestone but actively investing in the future of the sport, explains FIP president Piero Dillier

The setting up of a Polo World Championship has been one of the Federation’s keys to success publicising the game and creating more public awareness.

However, in order to reach the largest number of countries able to participate, the early FIP organisers decided to limit competition to teams rated between 10 and 14 goals. And, in an attempt to nullify the factor of the horses, they devised the then-revolutionary idea of split strings of

horses – assigning matched strings to each team by the luck of the draw.

‘Never before in the history of the game have teams from around the world been able to travel to one location without their horses and feel con dent that they will be able to play on quality mounts and have equality with other teams,’ FIP’s founder Marcos Uranga said at the time.

In 2024 FIP called for bids to host the 2026 World Polo Championship and two

National Polo Associations came forward –the United Arab Emirates Polo Federation and the Saudi Polo Association. The UAE Polo Federation won the nomination, and the Saudi Polo Federation will host the play-offs for Zone E.

Hosting the 2026 Championship in the Middle East represents a momentous occasion for the transformative potential it brings to the sport’s future. With polo experiencing exponential growth in the

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region, boasting a number of clubs, players and tournaments and a young, enthusiastic demographic, the tournament is poised to unlock a brand-new audience for the sport.

This aligns perfectly with FIP’s strategic objectives of diversifying the geographical reach of polo and fostering cultural exchange. By bringing the championship to the Middle East, FIP is not only marking a historical milestone, but actively investing in the future of the sport. The enthusiasm and dedication of the region’s polo communities guarantee an unforgettable championship experience for players, fans and the sport as a whole.

A brief history of the FIP World Polo Championships

The rst World Championship was held in Buenos Aires in 1987. Five teams played: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Spain. Argentina defeated Mexico in the nal and became the rst of polo’s modern World Polo Champions at the 10 to 14-goal handicap. Mexico won the silver medal and Brazil the bronze.

In 1989, the second FIP World Polo Championship was played in Berlin, at Maifeld, the very stadium that had been the site of polo’s last appearance in the Olympic Games. By then the geographical zones had been established in which national teams engaged in play-offs to qualify for the nals: Zone A, North and Central America and the Caribbean; B, South America; C, Europe; and D, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

A talented US team beat England by one goal for a 7-6 nal score. The resulting publicity raised the visibility of the FIP among US polo players.

The third FIP World Polo Championship was played in Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal, in Santiago, Chile, in 1992. In the nal, Argentina beat the host country 12-7 for their second World Polo Championship.

In 1995, the fourth World Polo Championship was held in Switzerland. Brazil fought gamely to meet Argentina in the nal. Now it was Brazil’s turn for triumph. They pulled off a win 11-10 to assume the mantle of World Polo Champions.

The fth World Polo Championship, in 1998, was held at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in California. James Easton,

a member of the International Olympic Committee, presented Argentina, the winning team, with a historic Olympic trophy.

The FIP sixth World Polo Championship was held in Werribee near Melbourne, Australia in 2001. It featured eight national teams that quali ed through a demanding and highly competitive zone play-off system, which included 24 country teams participating worldwide. Brazil narrowly defeated Australia by one goal (Brazil 10, Australia 9) in an exciting tournament that any of the eight nalists could have won.

In 2004, the seventh World Polo Championship was held in Chantilly, France. The tournament included eight teams. The qualifying rounds had 28 countries competing. All the games were very competitive. Brazil was not ready to give up the title and defeated England in the nal game (10-9) in a sudden-death play-off.

In 2008 the eighth World Polo Championship was held in Mexico at the magni cent setting that is Campo Marte in Mexico City’s grand Paseo de la Reforma. On the nal day, Chile spectacularly came from behind to triumph over reigning champions Brazil to earn gold medals for the rst time in the competition’s history. Mexico beat Spain to take third place.

The ninth World Polo Championship took place at Estancia Grande in San Luis in Argentina, 2011. Argentina beat Brazil 12-11 in the nal, thus the Argentine team won the championship for the fourth time.

In 2015 Chile organised the 10th World Polo Championship once more at the San Cristóbal Polo Club, and was the winner for the second time, beating the USA in the nal.

The 11th World Polo Championship was hosted by Australia at the Sydney Polo Club in 2017. The nal game saw Argentina beat Chile in overtime to win the Championship for the fth time.

Finally, in 2022 the United States Polo Association hosted the 12th World Polo Championship at its recently acquired National Polo Center. The nal game saw Spain beat the USA in overtime. Two milestones were established – it was the rst time that a European team won the Championship, and the rst time a woman played in the nal game.

Opposite: From left: Malcolm Borwick, Delfín Uranga, Walid Marhoon, Saeed Bin Drai, Piero Dillier, Saeed Abdullah Al Qamzi, Adrian Simonetti and Carlos Men é ndez Behety. Below: FIP president
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Piero Dillier


Founded by two Dutch polo players, Polo.horse is an online platform dedicated to helping people find, buy and sell polo horses, explains co-founder Aki Van Andel

TALK 16 hurlinghampolo.com
YERBERA Argentina | $8,000 | 7 yrs ROXIE Spain | $27,349 | 8 yrs BAMBINA Spain | $26,300 | 6 yrs
United Kingdom | $12,471 | 14 yrs SOLD


Jim Souren and I came up with the idea for Polo.horse three years ago. We are both entrepreneurs active in real estate and online business/startups. When we were brainstorming ideas of how we could combine our business experience with our passion for horses and polo, this marketplace idea popped up.

Other equine sports, such as dressage and showjumping, use platforms such as E Horses, which are very successful. At rst, we tried creating our polo platform together with them, using their backend, instead of inventing the wheel on our own again. But unfortunately, there wasn’t a t in vision and budget so we decided to build our new platform from scratch. We started building it at the end of 2022 and soft launched our beta version at the end of 2023. We keep it simple, and only essential info is requested.

Our potential users are breeders, breakers, pilots and, of course, the players and patrons. All these people are part of the Polo.horse-making process. In all these steps, there is a potential horse sale or transaction. We believe, by having an easy-to-use mobile-friendly website, we can disrupt the current acquisition system for polo horses.

play a game on the horse before buying. The last two are the most important, I believe.

Our vision is not just to sell online, but to bring buyers and sellers together and inform them. We now have sellers from seven countries (Argentina, UK, Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia and Denmark), who have registered and posted approximately 50 horses. We aim to continually have around 100 horses active online that are for sale from April 2024, and eventually grow this to 1,000 horses per month in the coming years. We have about 65 visitors on average per week, and 52 registered users/sellers.

The global market potentially consists of 40,000 registered and unregistered players, owning ve horses on average. Fifty per cent of the players buy at least one horse per year, so that’s 20,000 horse transactions per year, minimum. Adding breeders, breakers and pilots, there are more predicted transactions.

Opposite: Finding and buying suitable new polo ponies is made a much smoother process through online marketplace Polo.horse.

We are still in our beta version, and the polo community is slowly learning about Polo.horse, but I would like to emphasise that we started this platform to create more transparency around buying and selling polo ponies. We wondered why a price couldn’t just be given to a horse, as there would be if you search and buy or sell a car online? Unfortunately, a lot of patrons have had bad experiences buying horses, with examples such as sellers having a different price for different buyers, or suddenly adding a fee on top at the end. We all know the stories. In the end, it discourages new players, and that is bad for the sport.

Currently, we are trying to validate our system in the polo world. We know some will not like it as the middleman can now be cut out – anybody can upload their horse online and have access to potential buyers. Currently horses are mostly traded via pros to their patrons – so direct clients or within polo teams – network-based sales, basically. Most people want to ride the horse once, stick and ball once, play a practice and preferably

While in our beta version, the platform is free! But if we have enough interest and the website gets traction, we could apply a pay-per-add system for private or smaller horse sellers, and a subscription model for bigger sellers, breeders and trainers, where you can upload as many horses as you want for a xed monthly fee.

For now, we focus on playing polo horses that people want to sell or buy, but in the future we could add breeding horses, foals, embryos, green horses etc. Perhaps also connect to auctions, so our users can join the bidding in real time. What’s more, we could add a lease or rent section, as that is a separate business model used in polo, where owners can upload the string they have available to rent out.

You don’t need to create an account to check out and browse the horses, and save them in your favourites, but when you register as a user, the functionality is even better, as you can save and see your selected favourite horses anytime. We are also adding a video option to enhance the user experience even more. If you want to upload horses and sell them, you need to create an account so potential buyers can contact you. Horses that have been sold or have been online for over a certain period of months will disappear to ensure ads are always up to date. polo.horse

TALK 17 POLO.HORSE follow @hurlinghampolo
Below: Founders Jim Souren and Aki Van Andel


Nigel Mercer explains how the Schools and Universities Polo Association tournaments continue to grow, with as many as 180 teams playing in the SUPA Winter Arena Nationals and Summer Grass Championships each year

Thirty years ago, if someone had suggested that 160 teams would play four chukkas of polo over a four-day tournament, the general consensus would have been that they were joking. Indeed, when Schools and Universities Polo was rst conceived in 1991, the rst large tournament had just 25 teams.

Nowadays, it’s commonplace to have 180 teams in the universities Winter arena nationals and 175 at the Summer grass championships (a world record for an equine

team sport). SUPA originated to promote and develop polo in schools and universities. At rst it was small-scale; only very few public schools played polo and, typically, only the two largest universities, Oxford and Cambridge, hosted “varsity” matches once or twice every year. That changed over the next 20 years, as word got about that this was a new and exciting way to learn to play polo.

Arena polo and SUPA also grew alongside each other, with the possibility of

playing polo in the UK that was more suited to term-time. Above all, it was affordable, not just for students but for coaches and horse hirers alike who could now conduct their businesses throughout the year with ever-growing numbers of students attending taster days, lessons and practice chukkas.

SUPA has evolved into a charity that is run by a dedicated band of volunteers who organise more than eight schools and universities national tournaments every year.



There are a total of 60 schools and 51 universities currently registered in the UK. With these numbers, the incredibly complex match schedules and leagues all had to be worked out on paper in the early days; however, recent years have seen advances in tournament planning that, combined with an ef cient website, means that the process is more streamlined.

Schools’ tournaments are run separately from universities and are categorised as Seniors, Juniors and Ladies, with national championships on grass and in the arena. Universities have a Winter and a Summer

championship every year and there are also lots of opportunities for students to play locally at the clubs where they train.

These events are the highlights of the year for more than 800 SUPA players. Lasting friendships are made, and at university level, the parties and the campsite atmosphere at the Summer nationals are legendary.

SUPA has forged extremely healthy and close relationships with the HPA, the governing body of polo in the UK, and other similar organisations worldwide. Students and schools also have opportunities to play in international matches with our intercollegiate and scholastic counterparts from around the world. Recent years have seen trips to the USA and India, with visitors from China, Pakistan, the USA and trinations matches with Scotland and Ireland.

Some school and university students already play at regular HPA clubs and can join SUPA at a reduced rate, enabling at least three extra tournaments each year. So, even if you are a student who plays at a regular club level, what’s not to like about playing in an exciting SUPA tournament in front of 600 or more of your peers?

As SUPA has grown, the core aim, to develop and make polo accessible and inclusive for as many schools and university students as possible, is being achieved. The advent of sponsorship across various areas has helped enormously. It is hoped that this will go from strength to strength as promotion of the business model and ethos goes global. supa.org.uk

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Opposite: A Schools tournament, 2023. This page, from top: Spectators at the Winter Tournament, 2023; Archie Heseltine (in blue) and Wilfred Bates (in red) in a Junior HPA match


Director of Gstaad Polo Club, Pierre E. Genecand, describes how the annual Hublot Polo Gold Cup in the Swiss mountains of Gstaad continues to be a key sporting event on the social calendar of the jet-setting elite


For more than 25 years, the famous mountain resort of Gstaad has hosted a polo tournament every summer. The 2024 edition will take place from 22-25 August, with the event being held in the middle of the Gstaad-Saanen airport, which is very popular with the many VIPs who reside in the resort.

We are trying to organise a dream tournament for the four teams invited to play in this 14-goal competition. For the past 19 years, I have taken over the presidency and overall organisation of this event, raising the bar as much as possible with a choice of prestigious partners. These include title sponsor Hublot, Gstaad Palace, Kielder Agro Group, Aston Martin, Albinati Aeronautics, Dassault Aviation and many others. All of them have been with us for many years.

In order to attract such high-status sponsors, rstly you need to have a good network of worldwide contacts in your mobile. Then you must only speak with the owner or with the CEO of each rm, never anyone below. Then, have a meeting or a lunch with the owner or CEO without speaking about the tournament, choosing interesting subjects to discuss regarding their rm. At the end of the meeting, they automatically ask about the polo and already say they are interested in coming.

In the large VIP tent we serve more than 400 lunches per day from a huge buffet prepared by Gstaad Palace. There is also a big gala night on Saturday evening. During the last tournament we welcomed a total of 1,340 VIPs, and our guests have exclusive access to a terrace overlooking the eld to watch the games.

Around the tent we have an exhibition village where the public can stroll around and enjoy food stands and children’s attractions. Throughout this long weekend, players, sponsors and VIPs will be treated to a multitude of activities around Gstaad, including evenings in the mountains, numerous cocktail parties and the grand parade through the village on Friday.

With the sole aim of staging a tournament of the highest sporting and social calibre, the Polo Club Gstaad is determined to maintain polo as the elite and prestigious sport it deserves to be.



Opposite: Raúl Laplacette. Below: The Gstaad polo field boasts a picturesque Alpine backdrop.


Combine exhilarating polo action with spectacular mountain views, world-class hospitality and a glamorous gala evening that attracts the social elite, and you have a winning formula for enticing the highest-calibre sponsors and guests year after year, as demonstrated by Pierre E. Genecand with the Hublot Polo Gold Cup in Gstaad.

Visiting Gstaad in summer is an enchanting experience –a chance to marvel at the peaks when they are not blanketed by snow. As far as polo fields go, the field in Gstaad is one of the most picturesque of locations, set against Alpine countryside on the Gstaad-Saanen airfield.

Lunch is a feast of a buffet, prepared by Gstaad Palace – one of the most luxurious hotels in Gstaad – and the Saturday night gala is an indulgent four-course dinner with live entertainment giving guests a chance to don their finest black-tie attire and party the night away, dancing into the early hours at the afterparty in the GreenGo Club.

And the polo itself is known for intense rivalry between the players, especially the highestrated players, 7-goal Martin Aguerre Jr, who played for team Hublot last year, and 6-goal Raúl Laplacette, who has won the tournament for the past two years for team Clinique La Prairie and team Gstaad respectively. Official timekeeper Hublot has supported this event for over 15 years, thanks to its friendship with Pierre Genecand, the incomparable venue, refined crowd and first-rate hospitality. Dates for this year’s tournaments are 22-25 August – mark it in your social calendar now.

Jemima Wilson

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Below : Director of Gstaad Polo Club, Pierre E. Genecand


His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur is the latest U.S. Polo Assn. Global Brand Ambassador


As the current Maharaja of Jaipur and a professional polo player, Sawai Padmanabh Singh (Pacho) has played for and captained the Indian National Polo Team and has participated in tournaments the world over, winning almost every major polo tournament in India and becoming the youngest player to win the Indian Open.

Pacho’s spirit of sportsmanship and elegant style on and off the eld have led him to be the latest ambassador for the U.S. Polo Assn., the of cial brand of the United States Polo Association (USPA).

‘It’s an honour to be selected as Global Brand Ambassador for the U.S. Polo Assn., a brand that is so popular and respected in my home country of India and authentic to the sport of polo,’ said His Highness. ‘I look forward to representing the brand with great enthusiasm at sporting and fashion events, and on social media for fans and consumers around the world.’

His active passion for polo has helped popularise the game in India. He is actively working towards promoting polo in Jaipur to draw in more international visitors through various initiatives, such as high- and low-goal tournaments, ladies’ polo and junior polo. To keep the rich legacy of his family’s contributions to the sport alive, he has recently revived the historic Jaipur Polo

Team, revered as one of the greatest teams in the world during its time, and winning every major polo tournament including the World Cup in 1957 at Deauville, France.

As patron of the Rajasthan Polo Club, Pacho has instituted training programmes for teenagers to learn riding and polo at nominal rates, with special programmes for girls, as well as ‘Out of Hat’ series for aspiring young players. As a result, Jaipur sees polo fans from many different demographics coming to watch and support polo games.

The scope of Pacho’s role as a U.S. Polo Assn. Global Brand Ambassador is designed to highlight talented polo players and the authenticity of the brand around the world. He will be out tted in U.S. Polo Assn. apparel and performance gear both on and off the eld; share his polo-related and other daily activities on social media; participate in sporting and fashion events on behalf of U.S. Polo Assn.; as well as engage in media requests for interviews and campaigns.

‘U.S. Polo Assn. is proud to welcome Pacho to our outstanding roster of Global Brand Ambassadors,’ says J Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global, which manages the multi-billion-dollar brand. ‘U.S. Polo Assn. is a brand that spans 190 countries, including more than 500 stores in India alone, and Pacho is a perfect

representative of a global polo player that encompasses what our sport-inspired brand is all about – global, vibrant, authentic and exciting.’

U.S. Polo Assn. will also launch a capsule collection of premium polo shirts, sports pants, oxfords and accessories, inspired by Pacho, that he will promote as a U.S. Polo Assn. Global Brand Ambassador. As one of India’s leading casualwear power brands, U.S. Polo Assn. has launched an exclusive website to provide easier access to its offerings. Its bricks-and-mortar growth is also exploding in India, with 100 more stores planned in the coming years.

‘We are thrilled to have His Highness, the Maharaja of Jaipur as a Global Brand Ambassador for U.S. Polo Assn., one of the most important brands in India,’ says Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and CEO, of Arvind Fashions Ltd. ‘Pacho’s stature, popularity, sportsmanship and passion are all an excellent representation of our global, sport-inspired brand.’

He adds: ‘The combination of having His Highness as our Ambassador, alongside our new, iconic Legends Campaign, our exciting India website, as well as our revamped stores – it’s an incredible time for U.S. Polo Assn. consumers to be immersed in our unique brand story in India and around the world.’ uspoloassn.in

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Opposite: Pacho on the boards, with Ravi Rathore in red at the Rajasthan Polo Club. Right, from top : Pacho at the Diwali Celebration at City Palace, Jaipur, 2023; Sailesh Chaturvedi, MD and CEO of Arvind Fashions Ltd with Pacho


Former director of St Tropez Polo Club, Justin Gaunt, explores why there are now fewer big club sponsors in polo, and suggests how to attract more sponsorship to benefit polo clubs

TALK 24 CAROLINE MORANDI hurlinghampolo.com

I was recently asked the question, ‘Why are there no big club sponsors in polo anymore?’

The rst answer is that there still are some, but with lower budgets. When we rst began with the club in St Tropez in 2014, we worked hard on sponsorship, as it was at that time one of our biggest sources of revenue for the club and we managed to reach six gures.

Polo has a multitude of problems that prevent proper sponsorship. Firstly, we are still considered an elitist sport without television coverage, which will always be the case, so we need to accept that narrative.

Secondly, we seem to have forgotten what our market is. We have access to the wealthiest and most intelligent company directors and owners, yet we cannot ask a simple question such as, ‘What can I do for you?’ Not talking with our clients to understand their needs is what is missing from polo today.

We know the only sector to survive the crash, Covid and other world hiccups, has been the luxury market, and polo is a luxury market. But we are marketing our sport towards existing companies that have smaller budgets, or companies that have not been shown suf cient returns on their investment. Club marketing teams seem to relax once they have obtained a sponsor and show little or no drive in keeping them informed, communicating, organising events, meeting the clients they need to meet, and discussing with the patrons any interesting connections they might have.

There is also the problem that there are a huge number of companies that are involved with polo on a daily basis and yet they return nothing to the sport and are under no scrutiny, obligation or pressure to do so. Everyone who earned large amounts of money from the club in St Tropez, directly or indirectly, was expected to give something back. We also have a large number of companies that would like to get involved with the sport and don’t know how.

It is true that companies seem to have smaller budgets for advertising, especially on a demographically “older person” sport, but they seem to have far bigger budgets than they previously enjoyed for things like company lunches, or team building days or weekends. The dilemma for the majority of

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Opposite: Players in front of large billboards at the St Tropez Polo Club. Above: Justin Gaunt. Below: A polo parade in St Tropez



clubs in England is that company days are billed by individuals and not clubs, as the clubs do not own horses and sublet their polo schools to individuals. We end up in the situation where the club does all the work and private individuals look after the clients and reap the rewards and – as there is little control – the chances are that these clients could be disappointed with their experience.

Most people might say St Tropez is much easier than England. In some ways, they are right. It was very easy to have large dinners with all the teams, patrons and sponsors in order to forge relationships. The Sunday night nals dinners I organised in St Tropez may have seemed mundane to a lot of people, but every patron, every team, every sponsor came. Sponsors were interviewed and made to feel important.

We could do the same in England, but it would require a more centralised approach with standards, nder’s fees and other incentives to players or the public to pass sponsors to clubs for proper money rather than peanuts for themselves. I believe nobody has accurately researched our potential and I don’t believe we are targeting the right companies today. We have a lot of people making a lot of money but not returning anything into the sport. This needs to change. If we are serious about proper sponsorship, somebody needs to make rules and these rules need to be adhered to.

Low offers of sponsorship that have been accepted by desperate individuals under pressure for a result destroys our market. There need to be rules, minimums, tailored packages, clever add-ons and unique experiences. Infrastructure needs to be modernised in order to accommodate the clientele we are looking for. Short-term and cheap deals have made it increasingly hard for the future. Agents and clubs need to work together, with the biggest clubs hosting the highest levels and setting strict guidelines.

We had a very hard time in the St Tropez club trying to nd PR and marketing personnel who really understood the world of polo – who understood what the patrons and sponsors wanted, and who knew how to remain professional in those situations without suddenly being these people’s best friends and going out to party with them.


Following up with all your clients and keeping them informed is vital. Staying professional is paramount. Introducing your sponsors to the right clientele is a priority, not sipping champagne with them.

The model of the Rider Cup shows that single-tournament sponsorship can be a lucrative business, but again, the rewards are all to the bene t of the individual and not the clubs. This model, I believe, is the most pro table but must be overseen by the clubs with strict guidelines, three-year contracts and the foresight to keep the image and relative price high to attract the real luxury market back to our sport.

Our sport seems to have become one of many individuals, with a much more limited group of sel ess people than in the ’80s and ’90s, who prioritised their sport and clubs over their own nancial gain. Players forget that an af uent club that can invest in itself will assure their professional futures.


A sponsor’s stand at St Tropez Polo Club

We also need the patrons to help, as they, not us, are smart at making money. If we ask them what they need and they are in a position to help, everyone’s a winner. Nobody questions price when they are satis ed with quality, service and a unique experience. This is where we need to aim if we’re to succeed. conceptpolo.com

TALK CAROLINE MORANDI 27 follow @hurlinghampolo

Past master

Back on the polo fields in Wellington, former 10-goal player Memo Gracida shares his views on how the game of polo has changed and what must be addressed in order to secure a positive and thriving future for the sport in the US



Guillermo “Memo” Gracida Jr arrived in Texas in 1977 from his home in Mexico City to begin a legendary polo career that saw him win – among a string of worldwide victories – 16 US Open Championships. He has held a 10-goal handicap for the longest – 21 years. And at 67, he has not hung up his spurs. This winter, he returned to Wellington to compete in the Monty Waterbury, a tournament he last won in 1998 alongside his brother Carlos.

I am passionate about the sport of polo and want to share my views for positive reasons, to preserve the future of the game.

Being a scholar and a student of this game, I always felt that polo should be a team sport. That is the main thing that has changed. There are a lot of individual players carrying the ball all over the field while the lower-rated players are used as blockers. They do not have to think and they do not participate in the true sense of being part of a team. There is a knock-on effect from that in that they come to believe that this is what polo is so when they go back to their home clubs, they are going to bring that style of polo back with them. There is no formation or growth in these young players because of this. For the future of American polo, we need to nurture young players and teach them about teamwork, horsemanship and how to build a polo organisation when their turn comes.

When I was playing in the high-goal team, captains tried to get the most out of the players to enhance our chances of winning.

Polo is the oldest team sport in the world. Today, you see a lot of players who want to do it all themselves. This type of polo goes against the essence of the game and makes it dull for spectators. These guys are way more talented than we were – but they apply their talent in a different way. They work and try so hard but they get frustrated. There is only one player that is continually dominating the game and that is Adolfo Cambiaso. He can read the game and so he can play individual polo, but he can also play team polo depending on the

nature of a specific game, the team and the fields. Other players do not understand that to take over the game by yourself is nearly impossible. There is a famous saying: players win games but teams win championships. It is more fun and more productive to go to the field as a fully functioning four-man team where everyone has the opportunity to contribute positively to the game.

The way the rules are now being interpreted means the line of the ball is not respected. Everybody turns on the ball. The umpires are completely lost and I do not blame them. Either you put the whistle in your pocket and let them play or you have to blow 20-25 fouls. The game is so entangled.

In our day, four or five fouls per team was too many. Polo has become kind of ‘hell for leather’ and ‘go for it’. You crash, cross the line and slash hook and get hit in the face with a mallet because the guy is turning and appealing for fouls, and so it continues.

I am surprised there are not more accidents and, in fact, there have been several incidents on the field recently – with players getting hurt from needless actions – that reflect the current unnecessary danger in the way the game is being played. Sometimes you see all eight players close enough together on the field that you could throw a blanket over them. They turn their horses without any caution about hitting somebody with the horse’s face or with the back or the hips. It’s not my style of polo.

It is important to nurture young players and also sponsors. If the sponsors have fun, then we’ll have more of them, more teams and more jobs. Every year there are fewer and fewer sponsors stepping up or competing in the high-goal level. It is hard for anybody to play this type of polo and that could backfire in the long run.

My brother Carlos and I were passionate about the sport and we held our clinics to

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Palm Beach Equine’s Santino Magrini (left) and Bull Market’s Memo Gracida on the nearside in the final of the Monty Waterbury


bring people into polo. Many important sponsors emerged from these clinics in the ’90s and 2000s – Tim Gannon, John Goodman, Tom Barrack, his son TJ, Joachim and Max Gottschalk, George Rawlings, Lyndon Lea and Guy Wildenstein. They – and overseas sponsors – all came from our invitations to the La Herradura Classic. These polo enthusiasts would go on to build organisations and clubs all over the world. On top of that we helped Mike Azzaro, Julio Arellano, Hector Galindo and Luis Escobar. Some of the Heguys played with us and we were a big part of Pite and Sebastian Merlos’ progression in the sport.

We helped younger players like my son Julio and were part of their growth and development, and they learned how to play team polo. They learned how to take care of horses and make their own horses. They learned how to form their own teams and how to look after the sponsors, which is also very important. This kind of mentoring is vital for the longevity of polo and it seems to be lacking in the high-goal community.

Professionals need to take responsibility for creating more sponsors by making it more enjoyable for them. When the game finishes, the players go their separate ways. There is no camaraderie like there used to be. You don’t

see club parties or asados or gatherings other than the draws, which used to be huge events.

Nowadays, it is strictly business in Wellington and there is something missing. The sponsors would enjoy playing with other people and to socialise in practice games. But it seems the players are so focused on the business that they don’t allow any outsiders to step into their office, so to speak. The sponsors are boxed into playing with the same people over and over. That is not good for the sport. At the end of the day, sponsors are amateur players and amateur players take up sport for the recreational fun.

The number of horses should be limited in the game of polo because now it has become a game of quantity, not quality. Not many

people can compete against a team that has 100 or even 200 horses. In our day, we had 40 horses for the entire team for the whole season. Now it is more like 40 per player.

That part of the horsemanship in the game has gone because any horse can play two minutes. Not many can play a full seven and a half minutes. The player now plays the horse for two minutes. If it is going well, they play half a minute more and if it is going badly, they play half a minute less and they change.

Horse welfare is also impacted in today’s game. Sending players off the field is very harsh on the horses that are left to cover for an absent team member. Also, when you build your attack from the back and try to go to goal, you will have someone in front of you and seven out of 10 times, you will hit a horse. Sometimes the umpires call it and sometimes not, but it is the complete anti-essence of polo and is detrimental to the sport’s image. Animal welfare is under public scrutiny in modern-day equestrian sports, as it should be, and those involved in imposing the rules and setting standards need to remember that.

I am alarmed that polo’s foundations are not strong enough. There are three important sponsors underpinning the high-goal level in the Gauntlet of Polo in Wellington and that is

Right: From left: King Charles, Guy Wildenstein, Memo and Jesus “Chuy “ Báez. Both King Charles (4 goals) and Guy Wildenstein (3 goals) were good amateurs. Below: Memo Gracida with HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 1997

not enough depth. The investment the USPA made in the National Polo Center is important and needed to be made. However, without stabling or practice fields, it is a challenge for new teams to set up shop from scratch in Wellington. If a team plans to play in Florida, the first investment has to be a polo field and barns to have a base to operate from. Before these sponsors even step on the field, the investment is astronomical and that applies also to the professionals.

I am very proud of the Argentine polo community and they deserve their rewards. The Association is well run and has relied on former high-goal professionals’ involvement at the highest levels of command. Argentina is having a well-earned boom in polo. Their polo is bigger and better, with more participants, more teams and more horses.

It has always been tougher for American players compared to their Argentine counterparts. To play polo you need a godfather, whether it’s in your family, in a sponsor or in a player that puts you under his wing. In the USA, there has been a history of top players taking the time to mentor young players – something that is essential if you do not have the support of a polo dynasty as many of the


players in Argentina do. I don’t see that happening anymore. Players are not looking around to see what they can contribute and who they can help to ensure the legacy of the game.

I am passionate about polo and I was lucky to come into the sport when I did. In my time there were great teachers –the Harriotts, the Heguys, the Dorignacs

and, before me, Tanoira. All those players were magnificent teachers on their own, because they wanted to play team polo and they were willing to share their knowledge and give back to the sport that they loved and respected.

We need to go back to the essence of the game. The game of polo is about anticipation, speed, quick thinking, good horses, spacious runs up and down the field where you can see the adrenaline and excitement. There is nothing more exciting to watch than a run with two super talented players. We need to put time and energy into building a stronger base for the future and that means giving consideration to the days when polo was a sport with camaraderie, horsemanship and, most importantly, teamwork.

We, as the older generation, are responsible for the maintenance of the heritage of polo by sharing and spreading our knowledge and love for the game to future generations. That is why I choose to share my opinions, to start a conversation on the current direction of polo and whether it needs realigning with core values to ensure a bright future for the sport and preserve its legacy for future players and sponsors to enjoy.

Above: Memo in black, with his brother Carlos. Right: Winners of the USPA Piaget Gold Cup. From left: Julio Arellano, Hilario Ulloa, Yves George Piaget, Beverly Rawlings, Adolfo Cambiaso and George Rawlings

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Jemima Wilson explores how the Richard Mille Desert Polo in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, is going from strength to strength, leading the way for world-class polo to be developed in the region

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A game of Desert Polo, played against a spectacular backdrop in AlUla, Saudi Arabia

From the visionary construction of new supercities, to bids to host some of the most high-profile global sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup tournament in 2034, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious “Vision 2030” roadmap is gaining huge momentum. And sports are a key driving force. The aim? To create a diverse and vibrant society, in which everyone can pursue their passions, drawing on Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and culture.

The country’s close affinity with horses can be traced back thousands of years, to when the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Desert refined the pure Arabian breed. As part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to revive this historic relationship – and to put itself on the map as a world-class destination for all major equestrian disciplines – developing polo has become a key focus at the AlFursan Equestrian Village in AlUla.

Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in north-west Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a Unesco World Heritage site, characterised by

magnificent rock formations jutting out of the desert. A juxtaposition of tradition and modernity, it is home to the archaeological site of Hegra, known for its ancient tombs, as well the ultra-contemporary Maraya, or “mirror”, building – a 500-seat concert hall, community centre and event space.

Three years ago, in 2021, AlUla’s spectacular landscape became the striking backdrop for the inaugural Richard Mille Desert Polo tournament held in partnership with the Saudi Polo Federation (SPF). Fast forward to January 2024 and this year’s tournament saw the third edition grow in size, profile and exposure, with eight mixed teams (AlUla, Richard Mille, Saudia, SAB, Bentley, Dadan, Kaybar and Tayma) competing for the coveted trophy.

Comprising a total of 24 male and female players from 12 countries, the teams were made up of international patrons and royal dignitaries, along with a selection of the world’s best polo professionals – 10-goalers

Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough among them. Top rated 10-goal female player Nina Clarkin, nine-goal Lia Salvo and eight-goal Mia Cambiaso were also part of the team lineups.

To inspire more women to take up the sport of polo in Saudi, Clarkin and Salvo held a women’s polo clinic for guests of all levels, helping participants improve their swing and play a fun chukka at the end of the session. Clarkin’s first impression of AlUla was that the history and heritage is ‘mind blowing’, and that the Desert Polo is a fantastic initiative to show that female players are coming to play in Saudi and performing at a good level.

‘I’m very happy to have the opportunity to be here and to hopefully pave the way for more of the same,’ she says. ‘I’m embracing the opportunity to try something different to what I’m used to. I’m also, unsurprisingly, very competitive, so for me it’s exciting to be playing against some of the best players in the world.’


Indeed, experiencing the tournament is not only about playing polo, but also about discovering the uniqueness of AlUla. ‘Thanks to polo we have been able to come to AlUla, which we wouldn’t have visited otherwise,’ says Pelon Stirling. ‘I enjoy playing here as I enjoy the location and its heritage and culture. Seeing the rocks and the desert landscape is fascinating, as well as the chance to visit world-class restaurants and hotels.’

And the 10-goaler’s thoughts on playing arena polo? ‘Playing arena polo is different for me, but I get used to it, and I like to have a new challenge! It’s still a horse and a polo ball, but you don’t have the same control of the ball as you do playing on grass. This is one of those places where you have to come and tick it off your list, as you will have a totally new experience playing polo somewhere you’ve never seen before.’

Patron Nicky Sen echoed this enthusiasm: ‘I followed the founding of this tournament with a lot of interest, as I’m stunned by the beauty of this place and how professionally they have built it up in a short space of time,’ she explained. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it, and this location is so unique – it’s magical. The arena is very high quality, with the best possible sand brought in, and my horses have been fantastic –plus the cultural events here in AlUla are amazing. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to play here with some of the

best players in the world, and it’s nice to be part of the change in the position of women in Saudi Arabia. This is my first time playing arena polo – everything is different, it’s like tennis or padel. But I’m starting to love it!’

The most exciting announcement is the plan for a long-term partnership between the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and La Dolfina polo team founded by Cambiaso. La Dolfina is working with the RCU to position AlUla as a regional hub and global destination for equestrian activities, with a focus on the La Dolfina Polo Academy. The

bigger master plan will see facilities built for dressage, show jumping, endurance and horse racing, along with 400 stables and sand pens for turnout included in the vast 705-acre site.

The Alfursan Equestrian Village will expand its facilities to develop the polo academy to teach basic skills for beginners of all ages, right up to enabling advanced players to play competitive polo. Plans will be aligned with AlUla’s destination calendar and, with the welfare of the horses being paramount, there will be a break in July and August, when it becomes too hot.

Village in AlUla

Opposite: Sayuu Dantana rides off against Pablo Mac Donough. This page, from top: An ancient tomb in Hegra, AlUla; future plans for the Equestrian
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Pelon Stirling explains, ‘This year around 30 horses came to AlUla from La Dolfina, which is a massive step forward for the local people to have one of the best breeding lines in polo to grow the polo here. In the future, they plan to build two or three fields as part of the huge development of the Equestrian Village. They want to show that La Dolfina is a partner of AlUla to showcase AlUla polo in Argentina and the rest of the world’.

While polo is still relatively small in Saudi Arabia, up-and-coming Saudi player HRH Prince Salman bin Mansour Al Saud will be promoting Saudi polo around the world this year, as the patron of his new SMA polo team. Participating in the AlUla Desert Polo, his Highness said: ‘It’s genuinely a dream come true to see this sport come from England to Saudi. AlUla is a networking hub of the world, and today I’m extremely happy to raise the banner for polo in AlUla. They are hosting an amazing and very complex event in the middle of the desert, in a destination that has only relatively recently been discovered.

‘It is always a pleasure to play side-byside with La Dolfina but this week it was not


just about playing, but building friendships and lifelong bonds. Hopefully Poroto and I will go for it as the next generation of players and share our passion and innovate the sport from now on. By 2035 hopefully the equestrian village will be built here in AlUla, and will be one of the most prominent polo destinations in the world. But before that, we have several polo fields being built in Riyadh, which is going to innovate polo in Saudi, and every day we are learning new things to ensure polo will have a bright future in Saudi.’

At the end of this year’s tournament, Melissa Ganzi’s Saudia team, including teammates Sayuu Dantana and Adolfo

Cambiaso, claimed the trophy, winning 9-5 against Johanna Hanbury, HRH Prince Hamza bin Abbas and Pablo Mac Donough playing for team Richard Mille. Known for her success in the Snow Polo St. Moritz, Ganzi first competed in the Desert Polo in 2022, as the first international woman to play in AlUla.

‘The first time I played for team Richard Mille, we reached the final but we lost a tough, hard-fought game, and one of the ponies I played won best playing pony,’ she recalls. ‘It was such a great experience, I didn’t think it could get any better, until this year! There were many improvements, and the arena sand was incredible to play on. I have also enjoyed discovering the area more, as this time we’ve had more time to explore – the old town is spectacular, and we’ve been to some fantastic restaurants here, too.

‘The plans for the new equestrian community are very ambitious, and it looks set to be a real world-class destination. I think Desert Polo will become a popular event on the polo calendar, and right now it fits in nicely between Kitzbuhel and St Moritz. Even in its beginnings, there are spectators coming here and then playing or watching in St Moritz. The contrast between St Moritz and AlUla is very cool.’

With resoundingly positive feedback from players and spectators, the Saudi Polo Federation’s chairman, Amr Zedan, reflected on the success of this year’s event: ‘From our side, the role of the Saudi Polo Federation is to promote, develop and regulate the sport, and in partnership with RCU we have been able to put on an excellent exhibition tournament – along the lines of what happens in St Moritz but in the desert.’

‘We have the RCU to thank, as we have had the best team in the world and the best players in the world to showcase what Saudi has to offer. We now have upcoming projects to grow polo in AlUla, with the huge new Equestrian Village, as well as the Royal Diriyah Equestrian and Polo Club in Riyadh. We are open for business for anything to do with polo here. Polo is also a rare sport where men and women can compete equally, and we want to showcase what polo has to offer for everyone in Saudi, both on and off the field.’

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Below: Adolfo Cambiaso, Sayuu Dantana and Melissa Ganzi lifting the trophy presented by Saudi Polo Federation chairman Amr Zedan
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Pathway to 10

An abundant pipeline of quality polo ponies in the USA is crucial for attracting the best trainers to help promising players reach the top of the handicap scale, says Stewart Armstrong

During my formative years in polo, the San Antonio Polo Club was home, during the winter months, to some of the best horsemen in the polo community. Many of the best were retired high-goal players who made their living as horse dealers. They were also reservoirs of knowledge with regard to becoming a high-goal polo player and they attracted young players interested in learning more about horsemanship.

Today, thoroughbred polo pony prospects in the USA are in short supply. The ranches no longer raise thoroughbreds in favour of quarter horses, which are easier to train and generally more docile. Breeding for thoroughbred racing has declined markedly over the past three decades, from 40,000 to 18,000 foals registered per year. Without high-quality prospects in relative abundance, the polo pony trainers lack the livestock with which to compete with Argentine imports, and sustain themselves in a business of buying and selling horses for polo. As a result, about half as many trainers remain compared with a decade ago. We have lost a key part of our ecosystem.

This is why the USPA sent out a survey recently to assess interest in breeding polo ponies. One need only look to Germany and its pre-eminence in producing top riders to see that their focus on breeding the best sport horses has created the worldwide demand for warmbloods. The same is true for quarter horses in the USA. The quality and aptitude of the horses being produced for cutting, reining and roping have made the American quarter horse ubiquitous the world over, and it has elevated professional cutters to international prominence. Polo is no different. Argentina has developed the Polo Argentino: a thoroughbred phenotype that is gentle and relatively easy to train compared with thoroughbreds. In all three instances, top-quality riders are a by-product of these breeding programmes.


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Opposite: CC Armstrong leading Baby Jesi whose pedigree includes Mr Prospector and Danzig. Above right: Stewart Armstrong. Right: Adolfo Cambiaso on all-American Chocolate, who won Best Playing Pony in the 2013 Argentine Open, bred in California by Ken Berry out of Empress by Joel Baker’s Morning Star

Breeding horses in the USA is more expensive than breeding in Argentina but, without the horses, the USA cannot complete what I like to call a “pathway from 0 to 10”. Horses in abundance lead to training centres, which are key in creating a pathway for young enthusiasts to develop as riders. And without a pipeline of ponies, a professional player cannot reach the top of the handicap scale.

The quickest and best option is to breed horses that are easier to train and shorten the time necessary to get them to the polo field. It costs $11,000 to ship a horse from Argentina to the US. If an American pony can be as competitive as a five-year-old, then the cost of an Argentine pony is about the same. The Polo Argentino blood represents a shortcut. We have thoroughbred mares and the Argentine horses have polo aptitude. The combination of the two is a good strategy for breeding.

In the early 1900s, when cavalry horses were in short supply, the US Army inaugurated a “Remount Program”. The government acquired top-quality thoroughbred stallions, which it loaned to ranchers as part of a programme aimed at breeding the best horses for the military. The result was large numbers of quality thoroughbred horses for use in the cavalry. Many of the offspring found their way into polo and helped fuel the USA’s rise to prominence internationally.

The USPA could create its own version of a remount service by purchasing or leasing a handful of proven Polo Argentino-bred stallions and American thoroughbreds. They could be housed at a stallion station in the central part of the country and their fresh or frozen semen could be provided to American USPA members as incentive to breed a top retired mare utilising artificial insemination. The cost to the breeder might be for the semen collection from the stallion and delivery to the mare owner’s veterinarian via FedEx.

Having access to proven genetics would encourage breeders of both high-goal and low-goal prospects. More polo prospects would result each year and this would gradually lead to increases in the number of horses, trainers and polo training facilities across the USA. The training venues would attract young players, improving their grooming and riding skills, helping them source ponies from which to maintain a string and positioning them to become competitive players, travelling to Argentina to hone their skills further. This initiative will take time and may require additional programmes, such as prize money for Best Playing Pony awards (funded by foal nomination fees paid by the breeders), an annual breeding stock auction and possible investment by the USPA in polo pony training facilities to help reduce training costs.

There is no way to predict whether such a plan will be successful unless it is tried. As Chairman, my duty is to lead. What I have attempted to do in this article is to outline, as best I can, what appears to be a possible strategy to make polo better for all of us.

Left: Stewart Armstrong riding Locket from former 10-goaler Owen Rinehart from one of his Thoroughbred stallions River Dance. Opposite: Former 10-goaler Adam Snow on his all-American home-bred LolliBopp, daughter of Hale Bopp (who entered the Hall of Fame last year and won six BPP prizes) and Pele (who was son of Pumbaa)
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Wild at heart

Merging English, gaucho, American cowboy and Italian cultural influences, former professional polo player Ruso Sorzana is building a brand that encapsulates his way of life in Patagonia, inspired by his pioneering ancestors

In reality, pioneering is the same as it’s ever been – which is why the saddle I ride on today is a reflection of my story, my values and my future. It’s a British cavalry saddle from 1914, so imagine the quality of it. Back then, you couldn’t have a saddle that damaged your horse’s back, because if you were in the middle of a war with no horse, you were gone.

Pioneering spirit is deeply ingrained in my way of life in Patagonia and in my blood. Both sides of my family arrived in Argentina around 1893-1894 – my mother’s side of the family comes from Cornwall, England, and my father’s side from Italy. Both share ironclad convictions that coloured my upbringing. My ancestors’ journey to Argentina from England is an incredible story. My great, great grandfather was a pioneer and took the decision to move to Argentina. He sold his land in Cornwall, and he also had property in South Africa and some boats in Japan. He sold it all, put his whole family on a big ship, with horses, cattle, dogs, everything. They landed in the south of Buenos Aires and then made the journey to Patagonia. They travelled on horseback with wagons and cattle, and the journey from Buenos Aires to Patagonia took them seven years!

When they arrived in Buenos Aires from England, my great grandfather was nine years old, and by the time they reached the ranch in Patagonia, he was 15. My family was one of the first families to

Ruso garbed in traditional gaucho fashion

land in north Patagonia, and my great grandfather was the founder of the now-city of Zapala, which is one of the biggest cities in the county.

Back then, their main economy was merino wool; they raised around 25,000 merino sheep. Also, English companies were building train lines across the country, and my great grandfather was guiding English people when they arrived, taking them to Chile on horses.

Horses have been a big part of my life since I moved to Patagonia following an education at a private English school in Buenos Aires. My father’s side of the family arrived in Buenos Aires around the same time as my mother’s side, but they settled there and started the biggest ladies stocking factory in those days. Growing up in Patagonia, I played ranch polo and worked on the ranch with horses, cattle and sheep, and at the weekend I would always get together with good friends to play polo, hunt and have barbecues.

I started playing polo at nine years old with my brothers and my cousins. It was all very rustic. If there was a flat area on the ranch, they would mow it and play polo there. It was easy, everyone in my family rode horses and played, and since then I dreamed of becoming a professional polo player. When my older brother went to work in the USA as a groom with a high-goal polo team, I was fascinated by the stories he told me about the polo experience, the culture, etc.

I was in the middle of Patagonia – there were no polo clubs and I had never played in Buenos Aires at that time, but I went straight from Patagonia to Ireland as a groom. I spent seven months there working with my cousin. After this period I got my first job as a polo player in England at Knepp Castle Polo Club. I never thought about

studying – when I was 14 years old, I knew I wanted to finish school and work as a professional polo player.

I’m very passionate about horses and polo. I can play polo all day and I’ll never get tired of it. I achieved a 5-goal handicap in England – my highest rating – and a big highlight was winning the Cartier Silver Cup in Gstaad in 1999 with a Swiss patron, Fabien Pictet, for the Emerging polo team.

Some funny stories that I have as “highlights” of my polo career are that I once substituted Juan Martin Nero (probably today the best back in the history of polo), but we were then both 3-goal handicapped. Another time, I was playing my first big tournament in Buenos Aires when I had a 1-goal handicap and my team reached the semifinals and had to play against Adolfo Cambiaso. We beat him, so as a record, the only time I played against Cambiaso, I won!

After marrying my wife Clarita when I was 34, I began thinking about my next dream. When I started to consider ending my professional polo career, I wanted to get married and raise my family on a ranch in Patagonia. Clarita thought I was crazy but I knew that’s what I wanted. Nowadays, I play polo for fun and breed my own polo ponies. Every time I have a dream, I wish and work for it so hard that it ends up coming true. We’ve been here 12 years now and we are very happy, with three children.

My next dream? Following in the footsteps of my pioneering forefathers, I founded a clothing brand inspired by our Patagonian way of life, using the most noble materials – wool, merino wool and leather. My goal was to curate the carefully kept, time-honoured secrets and traditions of my family, and translate them to create refined expressions of my land story, for the modern pioneer. Therefore, Tewün was born, specialising in crafting hard-wearing but elegant jackets, waistcoats and ponchos in small quantities. The ponchos handmade

Opposite, from top: Ruso in action at the Andino Grahn Cup at the El Desafío Mountain Resort; Tewün’s artisanally crafted official Hurlingham Open winner’s jacket, worn by two-time consecutive champions and polo legends, La Dolfina Saudi. This page: Ruso and his beloved dog, Chekko

by local artisans are the most important and exclusive pieces in the collection, taking around three months to make. My mother has worked with the same two families for the past 40 years, helping the artisans to refine the designs by selecting the colours and the patterns.

I have always loved clothing and improving products as I’m a fanatic about details. My products are about emotions and my likes and taste but brought together with the functionality of my everyday life. I design the jackets and waistcoats, and they are made up in the workshop in Buenos Aires. They then bring them here to Patagonia and I test my own products working on the ranch, riding and hunting.

I admire pioneering spirit, and pioneers of the past and present need clothing that can withstand anything, with quality and strength that is durable enough for harsh environments and unpredictable situations – from the field to the boardroom. So my aim with Tewün is to keep pioneering and develop jackets that will last as long as possible. For me, the best fabric is merino wool for longevity, resilience and style – a mix of Italian elegance with gaucho toughness – so we work with wool and leather and try to make the best, most elegant, functional and durable garments, while respecting the landscape and colours of Patagonia.

Having tried many different types of wool before deciding on the specific type of merino wool, we buy the wool then dye it and make our own fabrics. It’s a time-consuming process that is difficult to do in Argentina but a pillar of the brand is to source everything in Argentina. Apart from the zippers, everything is 100 per cent made locally, which is part of the reason we feel Tewün is Argentina’s best-kept secret.

While Tewün only sells online currently, my plan is to build a showroom in Patagonia in the future. You might also have seen some


of our jackets being presented to the winners of the Hurlingham Open. This came about because I organised a tournament here in Patagonia, and I gave a jacket as a prize to the player with the best sporting spirit, Martin Zimmermann. Pepe Santamarina saw the jacket and asked if I would produce jackets for the winners of the Hurlingham Open, so I designed a sporty modern jacket that incorporated the colours of the club on the inside of the jacket. It is a real honour for me to produce the jackets for the Hurlingham Open, and a way for me to give back to polo. One of our first clients bought a jacket after seeing the final of the Hurlingham Open, it was all very organic.

I believe in things happening organically in every aspect. It’s slower, but it’s honest and authentic – like my product. We use the finest leather and wool, and every detail has been developed by me riding in Patagonia so that the functionality works. It’s made for riding, hunting and country pursuits. But I have a client who wore one of my jackets to a wedding, others for business meetings and another of my jackets was spotted in Rome. Where next? tewun.com

Left: Clarita sports an ornately crafted, traditional poncho, as she leads her prized herd back to the ranch from grazing


Here’s where to see our England teams in action this year! We have a packed calendar of international events at some of our most prestigious clubs in 2024 - so get your tickets now and be part of the action!


ENGLAND v USA for the olympic trophy



ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND for the golden jubilee cup

YOUNG ENGLAND v YOUNG NEW ZEALAND for the buckmaster trophy



ENGLAND WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL for the diamond jubilee trophy


DAY for the coronation cup & the whitbread trophy



www.guardspoloclub.com GUARDS POLO CLUB

One of the core pleasures of polo as a sport is that it can be played at all levels, across age groups and you can choose to play with all professionals or, indeed, with a rowdy group of friends and family.

In fact, more often than not, winning (or losing) a match or tournament with a team of your mates is more fun and memorable than playing with one of the best players in the world.

We are here to build memories after all, and who better to do that with than your nearest and dearest fellow polo addicts?

The pressure to play at higher and higher levels with more pros often leads to stress and expectations on the outcome too, which can take away from the enjoyment of the sport and memories created. The secret, therefore (irrespective of your ambitions), is ensuring you can enjoy polo at any level of the sport and enjoy it for what it is.

Since I was a teenager – who grew up in the UK playing Schools Polo and low-goal

tournaments at Guards – I had two great ambitions in polo. One I considered realistic and the other fantastical, that I never dreamed would happen.

The first was to win the Archie David Cup eight-goal tournament at Guards, which was first played in 1958 and is probably the most competitive eight-goal tournament in the world, with over 40 teams competing at its peak. The Cup is named after one of the founders of Guards Polo Club, Major Archie David, who was a devoted polo player both before and after World War II. He would regularly and generously lend his ponies to those army officers who played in the area and did not have adequate horsepower.

So when HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, created Guards Polo Club in 1955 he asked the Major to move his horses to the Club and he became one of the founding players of Guards Polo Club.

The Archie David Cup was first played for in 1958 but was initially called the Friar

Opposite: Dillon playing on the Castle Ground during the Queen’s Cup. Right: Nico Roberts, Dillon Bacon, Felipe Gómez and Josh Nimmo
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Park Trophy, named after the Major’s home in Henley, which was later owned by the Beatle George Harrison. The trophy was renamed the Archie David Cup following the Major’s death in 1972. Today it is considered the leading eight-goal tournament in the UK and regularly attracts a substantial number of teams. Due to the depth of competition, players consider reaching the final as an achievement and winning as something remarkable.

This dream originated from the fact my team managed to reach the finals of the tournament when I was 16, but we came up short on the day and lost. So I swore to myself I would one day come back and win the tournament, which is so devilishly competitive.

The second was to win the Queen’s Cup tournament, a dream shared by every aspiring UK polo player and more, who fantasise about the chance to play against the best players and horses in the world, let alone win. The Queen’s Cup is the pinnacle of the sport in the UK – the sport’s Wimbledon – and having grown up watching the finals with my father, the idea of playing at that level was that of fantasy.

Moving back from the US to the UK in 2019, I got the chance to make my dream a reality. I had the opportunity to play in the Queen’s Cup for La Indiana with Facundo Pieres, as a replacement for Michael

Bickford, who was unable to play due to an injury. A true dream experience playing with La Indiana and the legend Facu – we even managed to reach the semi-finals no less, where we lost against Park Place. After that amazing experience and my first taste of UK high goal, I went on to play every season under our team’s name, Great Oaks, except for in 2023.

As fortunes had it, it was quicker to achieve my dream of winning the Queen’s Cup than win what in my mind was the first logical hurdle: the Archie David.

In 2020 our team, Great Oaks/Les Lions (consisting of Jeta and Barto Castagnola, Santi Laborde and myself) beat Park Place in the final and lifted the Queen’s Cup trophy. It was not only the single best day and experience of my life, but also a fantastical dream realised.

Despite this, I did not lose sight of my first ambition, competing in and winning the eight-goal Archie David. I made sure I played in the tournament from 2019 with friends, even though it overlapped with my high-goal commitments. We were getting closer to winning but unfortunately lost the semi-final in 2019 and 2021.

I continued to compete in high goal but didn’t lose sight of my first ambition. Again, we lucked out winning the Queen’s Cup in 2022 with James Beim, Cruz Heguy and Juan Martin Nero against Park Place Vaara – another dream season and success but yet again I still lost the Archie David semi-final with three close friends (Juan Pepa, Josh Nimmo and Charlie Hanbury).

Above: From left: Ryan Pemble and Dillon in the final of the Archie David. Below: From left: Camila, Barto and Jeta Castagnola, Dillon and Santi Laborde Queen’s Cup 2020. Opposite: Dillon with his father Louis and Queen’s Cup 2022 team
hurlinghampolo.com IMAGES OF POLO; HELEN CRUDEN 52

As much fun as it is to play at the highest level, with the best players in the world, I promise you, you care just as much when you step out onto the field with three good friends in the low goal.

The anticipation to win that tournament with friends was put in stark contrast with my high-goal success at this point. Maybe the lesson for me is that I am better suited to being the fourth man on a team than second in command – or maybe the Archie David is just as competitive, if not more, than the Queen’s Cup…

I took a break from high goal in 2023 and I would be lying if I did not admit that it was partly to focus on the Archie David. As it turned out, 2023 proved to be our year and I finally managed to lift the trophy with three friends: Felipe Gómez, Josh Nimmo and Nico Roberts.

It was an overwhelming experience and to win the very tightly fought final in extra time added to the whole emotion of the day. Winning with Josh was especially memorable given we won the National Schools together for Radley in 2009, and spent our ensuing

gap year together playing in Argentina and always shared a passion for the sport.

The afterparty at the Barn matched every Queen’s Cup victory celebration, ending with a cracking headache on Monday morning.

Did I have as much fun playing in and winning a high-goal tournament as in a low-goal one? Of course, and I hope to always be able to enjoy the sport at every level for years to come. And hopefully always have a chance to keep playing with friends.

It has been a great journey to be involved in victories that at one point were only fantasies. I find it magical how it links you together with such incredible people, because that is one of the many joys the sport provides.

This year I will be back playing the high goal with Poroto Cambiaso, Diego Cavanagh and Kian Hall, representing La Dolfina’s first foray into UK polo. We’ve got high hopes for the team and the season. But I am still not going to lose sight of playing with some mates in the low goal and hopefully also getting the opportunity to defend our title in the Archie David.

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La Dol na and Valiente were in all three nals. Valiente with the maestro Adolfo Cambiaso won the rst one, but his son Poroto and La Dol na won the next two.


The undefeated El Overo Z7 UAE returned to claim victory over regulars of the top spot, La Dol na, in a hard-fought match on Field Two in Palermo.


February saw rst-time competitors Buena Vibra achieve glory against 90210 Polo in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship.


England and Ireland took to the eld in the Inspired International Arena Polo Test Match at Hickstead, where a win was determined in extra time.



La Natividad became the new champions of the Argentine Open, beating La Dol na to complete what was the 130th Triple Crown tournament in expert style.


At Australia’s Ellerston Onassis Polo club, hosts Ellerston White beat defending champions White Deer Park to win the Kerry Packer Challenge Cup 2024.

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From left: Valiente’s Adolfo Cambiaso and Jesse Bray with La Dolfina’s TomÁs Panelo and Poroto Cambiaso in the final of the C.V. Whitney


La Dol na and Valiente played in all three nals, with Poroto Cambiaso leading La Dol na to victory over his father in the Gold Cup and the US Open Championship, reports Alex Webbe

Poroto Cambiaso, the youngest player in the game to achieve a 10-goal handicap legitimised his revered standing in the game as La Dol na outscored Valiente 3-1 in the nal chukka to capture their second consecutive 22-goal tournament in the Gauntlet Cup series.

La Dol na fell short in the C.V. Whitney Cup and then made up for it in the USPA Gold Cup. A solid win in the nal of the US Open Championship made it clear who was the best team of the 2024 Florida high-goal season – La Dol na!

La Dol na and Valiente played evenly through the rst half of the US Open nal, tied at 5- but when the second half got underway so did La Dol na.

Paco de Narvaez broke open a 5-5 tie in the fourth chukka for Valiente to lead 9-5 before La Dol na responded, picking up a goal on a Penalty 1 and a goal from the eld from Poroto Cambiaso for a 7-6 edge. Paco de Narvaez evened the score at 7-7 on a 30-yard penalty conversion, but that would be the last offense Valiente would be able to muster. Ru no Merlos added

a goal and Tommy Panelo scored two more while shutting down the Valiente attack for the 10-7 win.

Despite the loss, Paco de Narvaez was named MVP, while his pony, Antu Walung Chavetita was named Best Playing Pony for the second consecutive nal.

Gold Cup Final

Semi nal wins by Valiente and La Dol na returned both teams to the nal of the second leg of the 22-goal Gauntlet Cup Series, the 2024 USPA Gold Cup, with

US Open Championship winners La Dolfina - from left: Rufino Merlos, Alejandro Aznar, Tomás Panelo, Poroto Cambiaso.

La Dol na looking to even the score following their loss to Valiente in the nal of the C.V. Whitney Cup.

The two teams rode into the semi nals with 3-1 records, with Valiente scoring wins over Dutta Corp, La Fe and Clearwater while La Dol na downed Tamera, Clearwater and Dutta Corp.

Valiente beat Coca-Cola 12-10 in the semi nals while La Dol na edged past Park Place, 12-11.

The Gold Cup nal between the two teams, however, would cast a new light on the La Dol na attack. Drop passes and physical ride-offs would set the stage for fourth period action that would see Adolfo Cambiaso collect two yellow cards and nd himself sitting in the penalty box for a full four minutes of play.

Although Valiente held La Dol na scoreless without the services of Adolfo Cambiaso, precious time was lost without his offensive expertise on the eld.

Despite single unanswered goals from Peke Gonzalez and Paco de Narvaez, Valiente trailed by 10-8 going into the nal chukka of regulation play.

Goals from Ru no Merlos and Poroto Cambiaso put La Dol na in the lead, 12-8 with minutes left to play. A nal goal from Adolfo Cambiaso ended the game with La Dol na celebrating the 12-9 win.

Tomás Panelo continued to impress and was named MVP, while Antu Walung Rumba,

played by de Narvaez took Best Playing Pony honours.

C.V. Whitney Cup

It was 10-goaler against 10-goaler as father (Adolfo Cambiaso) played against son (Poroto Cambiaso), hoping to lead Valiente to its sixth C.V. Whitney Cup title.

Nine teams (Clearwater, Coca-Cola, Dutta Corp, La Dol na, La Fe, Park Place, Pilot, Tamera and Valiente) took to the elds at the United States Polo Association’s

Above C.V. Whitney Cup winners Valiente - Adolfo Cambiaso, Peke Gonzalez, Paco de Narvaez Jr, Jesse Bray and Bob Jornayvaz. Cup presented by Whitney Miller Douglass and Royal Douglass III. Left: Gold Cup champions, La Dolfina – Tomás Panelo, Poroto Cambiaso, Rufino Merlos and Jeff Hildebrand. Trophy presented by USPA chairman Stewart Armstrong

National Polo Center in the rst 22-goal tournament of the Florida season.

Coca-Cola took the wind out of Valiente’s sails as it scored a 12-10 upset win over the defending champion in the opening match.

Saddled with an 0-1 record, the pressure was on Valiente, who bounced back with consecutive wins over Tamera (11-9) and Park Place (11-10) to improve their record to 2-1 and eke their way into the nal against an undefeated La Dol na foursome (3-0).

The spectacle of father facing son in the nal was a rst for the Cambiasos, and it was clear that neither was prepared to lose.

Poroto Cambiaso took control of the opening throw-in and raced 150 yards down the eld to score the rst goal of the day. It was nearly four minutes later before Paco de Narvaez got Valiente on the scoreboard to tie it at 1-1 for the nal goal of the period.

Valiente held the lead for the next four chukkas until Tomás Panelo tied the game at 9-9 in the sixth. Dillon Bacon gave La Dol na their rst lead of the game since the opening chukka for a 10-9 advantage when Valiente responded with three consecutive goals for the 12-10 win.

Adolfo Cambiaso scored four times and earned MVP honours. Dol na Carola, played by Adolfo Cambiaso, was named Best Playing Pony.

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The undefeated El Overo Z7 UAE claimed victory over La Dol na to win the VII Argentine Women’s Polo Open 17-14, reports Jemima Wilson

In a fast-paced game played on Sunday 3 December, 2023 on Field Two in Palermo, a total of 31 goals were scored – the most ever in a Women’s Open nal – with El Overo emerging as champions, due to determined and skilful play by Hazel Jackson, Milly Hine, Hope Arellano and Izzy Parsons.

After missing last year’s tournament, El Overo Z7 UAE, winners of the 2019 and 2020 editions, returned to take the championship for the third time. Hazel Jackson and Milly Hine have now won the tournament three times, while the 2023 nal marks the rst time Izzy Parsons and Hope Arellano have won the title.

Despite La Dol na trailing El Overo from start to nish, nally losing 17-14, it was Cande Fernández Araujo of the La Dol na side, who was not only top scorer of the match with 12 goals, but also top scorer of the tournament, scoring 31 goals in total. What’s more, La Dol na still holds the record as winner of the most Women’s Argentine Open tournaments with four titles (2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022) and is the only team to have played in all seven nals.

Showing their immense talent despite this year’s nal not going their way, three La Dol na members reached the landmark of having scored 100 goals during the Open;

Nina Clarkin reached 105 goals, Cande Fernández Araujo reached 109 and Mía Cambiaso reached 100. The all-time top scorer of the tournament is Lía Salvo who has scored 132 goals in the Open.

As for the post- nal awards, MVP of the nal was awarded to Milly Hine; Nina Clarkin received the award for fair play; the best horse in the nal was awarded to Lamore Que Ironía, played by Mía Cambiaso; and Hope Arellano received awards for breakthrough player of the tournament and the best mounted player in the nal, with her horse Don Ercole Cruz de Malta winning best registered Argentine polo breed.

El Overo (from left): Hope Arellano, Izzy Parsons, Hazel Jackson and Milly Hine were undefeated at the Argentine Women’s Open

First-time U.S. Open winners Buena Vibra: (from left) Valentina Tarazona, Cory Williams, Clara Seppe and Milly Hine lift the trophy


Buena Vibra captures its rst U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, reports the United States Polo Association

After two weeks of high-goal competition at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Florida, the 2024 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, presented by the Brad and Kathy Coors Foundation came to a close on 23 February at the National Polo Center in Wellington.

The nal welcomed 90210 Polo (Mia Cambiaso, Meghan Gracida, Catalina Lavinia, Winifred Branscum) and rst-time competitors Buena Vibra (Milly Hine, Clara Seppe, Cory Williams, Valentina Tarazona) to the U.S. Polo Assn. Field One to battle for the $25,000 prize.

Branscum scored the rst goal of the game to put 90210 Polo on the board. In the rst two chukkas, Buena Vibra took control with ve penalty conversions from Hine. 90210 retaliated with three eld goals in the rst half, with a conversion in the third to

bring the score to 6-5 in favour of Buena Vibra at half time.

90210 picked up three goals early in the fourth chukka, including Gracida’s rst eld goal of the day. Hine, steadfast on the penalty line, knocked in two more for Buena Vibra to tie the score 8-all moving into the fth. Another penalty conversion and a eld goal gave 90210 a two-goal lead. Cambiaso converted twice for the pink ladies to tie it up yet again, 10-all, but a Penalty 1 automatic goal put them in the lead.

Buena Vibra held off 90210 Polo in the sixth, with two eld goals and Hine’s ninth penalty conversion of the day. Buena Vibra came out on top, defeating 90210 Polo, 13-11 and making Valentina Tarazona the youngest player to win the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship.

Most Valuable Player, sponsored by Wind Vintage, was awarded to Milly Hine. Best Playing Pony, presented by Eastern Hay, went to Ceniza, a nine-year-old mare out of Ceniza and Dol na Cuarteto, played by Mia Cambiaso and owned by La Dol na.

The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship awarded $25,000 in prize money. First-place winners Buena Vibra were awarded $17,000, and $8,000 was presented to runners-up 90210 Polo. In partnership with USPA Global Licensing, each nalist selected a charity receive a $2,500 donation. Buena Vibra donated to Replay Polo and 90210 Polo to Work to Ride. An additional $2,500 was awarded to the subsidiary tournament winner, Mint Eco Carwash, after defeating Iconica in the Florida Women’s Open.

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The Inspired Arena Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Trophy saw Ireland claim a close win over England in an extra chukka, reports Storm Johnson

The All England Polo Club, Hickstead once again hosted the 14th running of the Bryan Morrison Trophy, with the England team captained by Jack Hyde (8), playing with Matias Amaya (7) and England newcomer Sebastian Hancock (5), coached by Max Charlton, battling against the Irish team captained by Richard Tyrone (8), with Mikey Henderson (7), and Niall Donnelly (5), coached by Richard Blake Thomas.

The competition between the two evenly handicapped teams made for an unmissable day of international polo, and the rst chukka saw lots of open, end-toend play. Indeed, it was some time before a goal went on the board, opening with

a 15-yard penalty for each team to keep an even score of 1-1.

Tyrone then scored a fantastic eld goal, before England equalised with another penalty. Donnelly put another eld goal on the board, followed by a 25-yard penalty for Tyrone, before Hyde made it 3/3 penalties and brought the score at the end of the rst chukka to 4-3 in favour of Ireland.

A scrappy second chukka saw fouls coming thick and fast, with Ireland playing strong team polo and the England team slow to come together, with frozen ground having put paid to any team practices in the lead-up to the match. The highlights of this battling chukka were fantastic eld goals

from Henderson and Donnelly, with the score at half-time 7-5 to Ireland.

Amaya put England back into the mix in the third chukka, and a dribbling goal from Hyde saw the score reach 8-8, before a great two-pointer from Hancock put England ahead on a score of 10-8. It was all penalties for the remainder of the chukka, with fast ponies and play bringing the score to 11-11 heading into the fourth chukka.

‘Sit tight, hold on,’ was the advice from commentator Seb Baker as the fourth chukka got underway, and the action started straightaway with a penalty for Ireland, before Hyde ran the length of the eld to answer, bringing the score back to


12-12, then swiftly inched England’s nose back in front with a 25-yard penalty.

Donnelly equalised with a steal on the goal line, as fortunes began to sway once again into Ireland’s favour, taking them to 16-13 with just a few minutes to go. England clawed their way back to 16-15, and when Ireland fumbled a hit from the back line, it was England’s Hyde who swooped in to steal the ball and force an extra chukka on a score of 16-16.

The “Golden Goal” would end the match, as it went into sudden-death format, and the game wrapped up quickly when an early foul from England gave a 15-yard undefended penalty to Ireland, which was put home by a con dent Henderson to seal Ireland’s rst ever victory in the Bryan Morrison Trophy.

Speaking after the presentation, Ireland’s captain Tyrone was all smiles. ‘It was a great game,’ he said. ‘We did feel like the underdogs coming in, England have

some incredible, very experienced players and all of us lacked a bit of mileage in the arena this season, but Mikey and Niall played fantastically, and Mikey’s horses made a big difference, he had a lot of power. The luck went our way when we needed it, and you need that in the arena – that’s probably why we won the game!’

A rueful Jack Hyde said, ‘We had a slow start, the Irish team came out ring. They’re all tough players and they played very well, so even though in the second half we came back and kept ghting, unfortunately it just wasn’t our day. The arena was in fantastic condition, it’s held up very well and it’s been a great day.’

There could have been no doubt that Mikey Henderson, playing out of his skin throughout the match, would be awarded MVP, kindly supported by Equine Management Ltd, while Jack Hyde’s Graphic was awarded the coveted Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug.

Opposite: Ireland’s Mikey Henderson on the ball. Above: Richard Tyrone chases the ball


La Natividad became the new champions of the Argentine Open to conclude this year’s Triple Crown in spectacular style, reports Héctor Martelli

In 2023 there was an important modi cation regarding the order of the Opens in the Triple Crown. The Tortugas Open has always been the rst played, but last year it began with Hurlingham Open, the reason being to preserve the elds of the AAP’s Pilar property, where the zone matches are played. Only the nal of the Hurlingham was played at the historic club.

Also, of the eight teams that played all the Opens, only two maintained the same

lineup as the previous year – the two La Dol nas with 40 and 35 goals. The remaining six teams had variations.

Beginning with the 130th Hurlingham Club Open, it was played in two zones by double knock-out, where the winners of the rst group matches, and as a quarter nal, went to the main tournament, The Ayrshire Cup, and the losers to the Drysdale Cup.

The two semi nals took place in Palermo with the victories of La Dol na

against Ellerstina and La Hache against La Natividad. The decisive nal match was held on the main eld of this legendary club, The Luis Lacey Field, and defending champion La Dol na, outscored La Hache by 18 to 13.

Now moving on to the second, the 83rd Tortugas Open. Here, too, all matches were played in two zones, but in the American style, with all teams facing each other in each area, unlike the Hurlingham Open that was played with a double knock out.


The xture was organised according to how the teams were made up in the Hurlingham Open, so the two teams with the highest handicap, La Dol na and La Natividad, were in the same group, the latter having lost in the semis of the rst Open against La Hache. When they faced each other to determine one of the nalists, the Cambiaso team was defeated by La Natividad, becoming the rst nalist. In the other group, La Hache had no problem reaching the nal match.

The nal took place on the main eld of the organising Club, in a very balanced match in the rst ve chukkas, with the difference never exceeding one goal – but La Natividad maintained the crown after defeating the strong La Hache, 15 to 10.

We came to the close of the Triple Crown with the 130th Argentine Open Championship, now with 10 teams, two of which with 28 winning goals in the Qualifying Tournament. They were divided into two zones and the xture was made by the ranking of each of the participants, with La Dol na and La Natividad being the head of the zone. In the zone nals, La Dol na won over La Hache by 36 goals, beating them 16 to 12. La Natividad faced La Ensenada (35), winning 17 to 14.

In the decisive nal game, La Natividad became the new champion, defeating La Dol na, and those of us who have watched previous nals of the Argentine Open can say that the dispute between these two great teams will forever be etched in our memories, especially the last three chukkas. In the sixth chukka, the winner went three goals up, which seemed like the game was over. However, La Dol na came out in the seventh to play for everything, reaching a tie at 10 goals, and it was then in the last chukka when




La Natividad found another gear, completely dominating its rival and winning 13 to 10.

The exceptional polo was developed by both teams throughout the eight sets, making each play at extreme speed, with millimetre passes, balanced rotation, hitting the ball without delays, brilliant goals, collective play, etc.

Mentioning a particular player or players who stood out would be imprudent, since all eight of them, to a greater or lesser extent, gave their all to give spectators a wonderful show.

Opposite: La Natividad (from left): Barto Castagnola, Pablo MacDonough, Jeta Castagnola and Facundo Pieres were victorious. Above: The final in full swing
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Ellerston White defeated White Deer Park to win the Kerry Packer Challenge Cup 2024 in the closing seconds of the game, reports Edward Archibald

Since its establishment and rst game in January 1987, Ellerston Onassis Polo Club has provided high-goal polo and a worldclass facility. Under the continued eye of the Packer family, it is still the pinnacle of Australian polo destinations and host to its highest-rated tournaments.

After disrupted playing seasons in recent years, due both to periods of drought and Covid, the Australian polo community once again descended on Ellerston in March 2024, with six teams there to contest, once again, the 18-goal Kerry Packer Challenge Cup.

This year’s nal saw the hosts, Ellerston White (David Paradice, Matt Perry, Alec White and James Harper), take on the defending champions, White Deer Park (Alex Zak, Juan Gris Zavaleta, Gus Aguirre and Dirk Gould).

With a one-goal handicap start, White Deer Park began strongly and kept Ellerston


White at bay in the early stages. However, Ellerston slowly worked into the game and found their rhythm, then shot out of the blocks with their rst goal and a full eld goal from captain James Harper saw Ellerston end the rst chukka 3-1 in front.

Ellerston’s strong start continued as they extended their lead to 6-2 by the end of the second chukka.

A yellow card to Alec White halfway through the third chukka for a slightly miscued ride off on White Deer patron Alex Zak, saw White Deer Park get back within three goals.

A spectacular length-of-the- eld goal from Alec saw Ellerston steal back any momentum White Deer Park obtained from the yellow card and half-time saw Ellerston White with a comfortable lead of 8-5.

No one will con rm what was said in the tent at half-time to the White Deer Park team, but by the end of the fourth chukka they had muscled the scores back to 8-8.

The fth chukka saw the best horses return for their second shift with neither team able to take their opportunities and scores remained at 8-8 heading into the last chukka.

In a free- owing rst three minutes both teams missed goals before a brilliant neck-shot from Matt Perry saw Ellerston nudge ahead. It raised an immediate response from Zavaleta with a goal out of the lineout, and a second goal one minute later from a Penalty 1 saw White Dear Park take the lead for the rst time since the early stages of the game, with only three minutes remaining.

Another long-range goal from James Harper, and a pinpoint pass from Alec White out of the lineout, saw the scores level again with a minute to play. With less than 10 seconds to go in regulation time, a huge ride


off from Perry on Zavaleta saw him steal possession and hit a pass in front of goal to Harper. With the goal mouth in front of him, he was fouled and was left with a Penalty 2 to win the tournament.

Harper, who won MVP of the match, thumped the ball through the goal to win the 2024 Kerry Packer Challenge Cup for

Ellerston White. Best Playing Pony was awarded to Anastasia, played by Alec White, owned by Belltrees Polo.

The polo community’s thanks go to the Packer family for hosting the tournament and, as always, the elds and facilities were presented in immaculate condition.

Opposite: MVP James Harper with the ball, watched by (from left) Dirk Gould, Juan Gris Zavaleta and Alec White. Below: Matt Perry scoring one of his three goals
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Polo has only been represented at five Olympic Games, and two of those were in Paris. Here, Laurent de Narbonne explores how, 100 years ago in 1924, an exciting Olympic polo tournament played out in the French capital

Polo was an official sport of the Olympic Games on five occasions: 1900 in Paris, 1908 in London, 1920 in Antwerp, 1924 in Paris and 1936 in Berlin. After featuring for the first time at the 1900 Summer Olympics, it was withdrawn from the programme following the 1936 Games.

During the first two editions in 1900 and 1908, club teams faced off in the competitions. The 1924 Olympic Games held in Paris was the second time that polo was played in Paris as part of the Olympic programme.

The competition ran from 28 June to 12 July and matches were played at Polo de Bagatelle, a polo club located in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and

the Saint-Cloud Country Club, founded in 1911, on hole No 3 of the Green course. The clubhouse is still visible on the left of the hole. Five teams took part in the 1924 competition: France, Argentina, the United States, Spain and Great Britain. It was organised as a round-robin tournament.

Argentina won the gold medal in an exciting final – attended by the Prince of Wales – with a team comprising (above, from right to left) Arturo Kenny, Juan Nelson, Enrique Padilla and Juan Miles, defeating the United States (Elmer Boeseke, Tommy Hitchcock, Frederick Roe, Rodman Wanamaker) by a score of 6-5. The team for Great Britain, which included Frederick Barrett, Dennis Bingham, Fred Guest and Kinnear Wise, took the bronze medal.

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Left: Great Britain took home the bronze medal for polo in the 1924 Olympic Games

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