$5.00 US/$5.50 Canada
Pilot cruises to victory in Whitney Cup
P L AY E R Sâ€™ E D I T I O N
A P R I L 201 9
26 Polo Aid
by Catherine Zachariadis and Callie Clement
Benefit match raises much-needed funds
30 Flying High
by Gwen Rizzo
USPA Bulletin Governor Spotlight
12 Instructors Forum
Pilot controls C.V. Whitney Cup action
36 Child Support
by Mike Azzaro
by Kerri Kerley
California club hosts junior tournament
16 Equine Athlete APRIL 2019
18 22 24 40
OUR COVER Matt Coppola and Gonzalo Pieres tangle in the C.V. Whitney Cup final. Photo by Alex Pacheco Pilot cruises to victory in Whitney Cup $5.00 US/$5.50 Canada
by Heather Smith Thomas Polo Scene News, notes, trends & quotes
Polo Development Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Polo in the Pampas by Ernesto Rodriguez
42 Polo around the Globe 60 Yesteryears 64 Calendar 46 Polo Report The Villages prevails in Mahogany Cup
OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN SIGNED COLUMNS ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHORS AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PUBLISHERS OF THIS MAGAZINE.
2 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
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P L AY E R S’ E D I T I O N THE OFFICIAL MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF THE UNITED STATES POLO ASSOCIATION
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E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ©Copyright 2019 by United States Polo Association.. No part of this issue may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process without written permission of the publisher. Paul Brown illustrations are ©2018 and are reprinted by permission of Paul Brown Studios, Inc., P.O. Box 925, Hedgesville, WV 25427. Subscription rates: $45/one year, $78/two years. Other countries (air mail), $78 drawn on U.S. bank/one year, $144 drawn on U.S. bank/two years. (GST:134989508). Subscription problems call (561) 968-5208. VOL. 22, No.8 POLO Players’ Edition (ISSN #1096-2255) is published monthly by Rizzo Management Corp. 6008 Reynolds RD, Lake Worth, FL 33449 for U.S. Polo Association, 9011 Lake Worth RD, Lake Worth, FL 33467. Periodicals postage paid at West Palm Beach, FL and additional mailing offices. (USPS: 079-770). POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Polo Players’ Edition, 6008 Reynolds RD, Lake Worth, FL 33449. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement No. 40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Imex Global, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.
4 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
U S PA B U L L E T I N
John Deere TS Gator Giveaway This year, in conjunction with the USPA Polo Plus Discount Program, USPA Member Clubs will be eligible to win a John Deere TS Gator. The USPA member club with the highest cumulative discount program dollar amount spent by its members during 2019 will receive the John Deere TS Gator grand prize. In addition to the grand prize, all USPA members that utilize the discount program with any of the participating companies will
be entered into a drawing for a $500 Tackeria gift certificate. Participating companies: John Deere, Sherwin Williams, UPS, Nationwide, Suncast Commercial, Redbrand and Office Depot. USPA members are eligible for significant savings from these companies through NTRA advantage. To enjoy the benefits of one-stop buying, call toll-free at 866-678-4289. New Arena Amateur Cup Format The Tournament and Arena Committees are thrilled to announce the launch of a brand-new initiative aimed to inject excitement into the sport for present and future members. The new format of the National Arena Amateur Cup creates an opportunity to showcase the accessibility of amateur polo and to incentivize amateur players to participate longer and more frequently in USPA tournaments, at their home clubs, home circuits and nationally. All amateur players rated -1 through 3 goals will be eligible. Eligibility to play in the National Arena Amateur Cup will be based on a point system. Those who have competed in the Pacific Coast Arena League, Texas Arena League, horse shows or other sports— like NASCAR, cycling or triathlons—should be familiar with the concept of a points system based on win-loss or ranking. Points will be given to individuals playing in all USPA arena events—circuit, sanctioned and national. Points will be based on the 6 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
number of teams and team standing in each tournament. All points described below will be awarded to each team member, not the team as a whole. Points will be based on team members playing the entire tournament and all chukkers within each game. Points will be awarded as follows: Event with three teams or less: winning team members receive two points each. Event with four to five teams: winning team members receive two points each, second place team members receive one point each. Event with six to seven teams: winning team members receive three points each, second place team members receive one point each. Event with eight to nine teams: winning team members receive four points each, second place team members receive two points each, third place team members receive one point each. Event with 10 teams or more: winning team members receive five points each, second place team members receive three points each, third place team members receive two points each, fourth place team members receive one point each. Tournament results shall be turned in to the USPA in a timely fashion. The USPA will post point standings and a regularly updated list of players that are attempting to qualify for the National Arena Amateur Cup. The more USPA arena tournaments a player competes in the more points he or she will accrue. It is not necessary to maintain the same team, points are given to each team member. The USPA will notify players who have achieved the necessary point accumulation to qualify for the National Arena Amateur Cup. The National Arena Amateur Cup will be held at Orange County Polo Club in Silverado, California, in November 2019. Once players have committed to participate, the National Host Tournament Committee will make teams to compete at the 0- to 3goal level of the tournament. This new format will start in the arena in 2019 with future plans to expand to the outdoor National Amateur Cup. Intercollegiate teams outfitted USPA Global Licensing Inc. announced that U.S. Polo Assn. will be outfitting intercollegiate polo players through an exciting new nationwide outreach program. Through this initiative, players at colleges and universities across the country will sport U.S. Polo Assn. branded product to wear during polo games and on campus throughout the polo and academic season. The program will provide a multitude of USPA intercollegiate polo teams with jerseys, white pants
U S PA B U L L E T I N
A new program will outfit college teams with U.S. Polo Assn.-branded products.
and polo shirts while simultaneously allowing U.S. Polo Assn. to form new ambassador relationships with players at the participating schools. Of the current USPA intercollegiate teams, 16 have signed up to be a part of the partnership that includes both women’s and men’s teams and will encompass a social media initiative. “Our partnership with the USPA collegiate polo organizations will enable U.S. Polo Assn. to work closely with many amazing female and male intercollegiate players who have a tremendous work ethic both in the arena and in the classroom,” explained USPAGL President & CEO J. Michael Prince. “The opportunity to outfit tomorrow’s polo talent and future leaders is yet another way to connect with young athletes, sports fans and millennial consumers in the most authentic and experiential way. We are thrilled and honored to support these players at 16 fantastic colleges and universities across the country,” he said. This new collaboration will provide product and some financial support to each of the following programs: Cal Poly Polo Club, Emory University Polo Club, Michigan State University Polo Club, Oklahoma State University, Oregon State University Polo Club, Roger Williams University Polo Club, Skidmore College Polo Club, Texas Christian University, University of Arkansas, Polo Club at Virginia Tech, University of California Santa Barbara, UCONN Polo Club, University of Massachusetts Polo, University of North Texas Polo Club, University of South Carolina Aiken and Yale Polo Club.
Drug Testing The USPA would like to remind all playing members that Equine Drugs and Medications testing will be conducted throughout the year, and all USPA events are subject to testing. It is the responsibility of all players to be familiar with the 2019 Equine Drugs & Medications Rules and to be aware of the medications administered to any horse they are playing. Also, please be sure your veterinarians are aware of the rules and medications reporting procedures. Prior to games where testing is conducted, both teams will receive a procedural explanation by a USPA representative. Horses will be selected and identified by testing personnel during the game. After the completion of the game, all horses selected will be brought to a designated testing area where blood samples will be drawn by the testing veterinarian(s). For further information on Equine Drugs and Medications testing, please refer to the 2019 USPA Rulebook, Equine Drugs and Medications Rules (p.203) and Equine Drugs and Medications Rules Violation Procedures (p. 273). If you have any questions regarding the Equine Drugs and Medications Rules or Testing Process please send an email to email@example.com. Relive the action Save the date and relive the action of the 2019 U.S. Open Polo Championship on CBS Sports, April 28 at 2 p.m. ET. • Published by the United States Polo Association Offices at 9011 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth, Florida 33467 • (800) 232-USPA Chairman: Chip Campbell President: Tony Coppola Secretary: Stewart Armstrong Treasurer: Sam Ramirez Chief Executive Officer: Robert Puetz
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 7
UNITED STATES POLO ASSOCIATION
U S PA B U L L E T I N
Consider hosting a National Youth Tournament Series qualifier to incorporate local youth players into your club.
Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Thank you to all of the volunteers, host sites, horse providers, umpires, managers, parents, coaches, and players for a wonderful I/I season! This season saw success among teams both new and old and a plethora of talented youth polo players. We canâ€™t wait to see you next season!
sure to let us know if you are interested in hosting a middle school tournament. The middle school program runs from August to December at clubs all across the country. If you are interested in hosting a tournament, contact Emily Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Youth Tournament Series Intercollegiate Scholarships Are you a current intercollegiate or senior interscholastic player, planning on playing on an intercollegiate polo team? Six $4,000 scholarships are available through the USPA Intercollegiate Scholarship program. Requirements can be found on uspolo.org. Applications will be accepted from April 1 to May 31. Contact Emily Dewey at email@example.com for more details. Varsity Letter Did you compete in this yearâ€™s interscholastic regular and tournament season? If so, make sure you check out the Interscholastic Varsity Letter program on uspolo.org. Contact Ali Davidge at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Applications deadline is May 15.
Middle School Do you have a group of players in grades 5-8? Make 8 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Hosting a National Youth Tournament Series qualifier is a great way to incorporate local youth players into your club. The NYTS program was established to provide youth players the opportunity to compete against their peers in USPA outdoor tournaments. At each qualifier, all-stars are selected by an appointed committee based on their horsemanship, sportsmanship, playing ability at their current handicap and ability to play as a member of a team. Information on the NYTS program and the 2019 schedule is available at uspolo.org.
Young Player Opportunity Grant The Young Player Opportunity program is intended to provide funding for youth players to use for opportunities that will cultivate, train, develop and educate 19-and-under American polo players in an effort to enhance their playing ability at a young age. The first application review will take place on May 1. For eligibility and application information, visit uspolo.org.
U S PA B U L L E T I N
Daniel Walker Pacific Coast Circuit Governor
those relationships which orn into a true dealt with the corporate side California polo family of the USPA. In my own with over 60 years of circuit I was very well known generational history at the because I’ve been playing in Santa Barbara Polo & California my entire life at Racquet Club in Carpinteria, various clubs. I was getting California, USPA Circuit requests from many of the Governor and former SBPRC club delegates that they president Daniel K. Walker is would enjoy a change if I deeply interwoven into the would run. I was running fabric of the Pacific Coast focused on a couple things Circuit. that would benefit the As CEO of his family’s circuit itself including Farmers & Merchants Bank communication between and chairman of the board, clubs and the growth of Walker is able to leverage his arena polo, which I felt was unique position as a team the simplest avenue to focus owner to drive exposure to on for the growth of polo the sport, bringing countless overall. That’s been my focus new spectators up-close and the entire time I’ve been in personal with the game and office. its equine athletes on a Although being a circuit regular basis. A thirdDanny Walker governor is a lot busier than generation polo player, he being the National Handicap chairman, I enjoy the has two children, Matthew and Christine, who are role very much. It’s fun to talk to the club owners, carrying on the Walker family legacy of polo. His club delegates and people who are passionate about daughter is the founder of Westmont University polo polo. I like to hear the excitement and passion they team. have for the game. Already in his fourth year of service as circuit governor, the busy Long Beach, California, native What is your equestrian background, and how actively keeps his pulse on the sport, traveling did you become involved in polo? annually to the desert to play at Eldorado Polo Club Both my father Ken Walker and grandfather Gus in Indio, California, over the past 12 years. Walker played polo so I am a third-generation polo Walker and his wife Linda were drawn together by player. Horses have been a part of the family for my their shared passion for equestrian sport, delving entire life. My grandfather was playing polo in the into the Thoroughbred breeding industry together to 1950s so I just naturally was introduced to the produce ideal polo ponies. Enjoying the game of golf equestrian world through polo. and his toy Schnauzer named Wagner in his limited I started riding horses myself when my father got spare time, Walker is fully dedicated to preserving tired of carrying me around! I rode my first horse at the future of polo in the Pacific Coast Circuit for age 4, a grey mare named Mollie. When I was 9 posterity’s sake. years old my father purchased a cattle ranch and I was riding up to 20 miles a day, roping steers or What attracted you to the role of circuit governor? calves for branding or vaccinations. I was given my I had been very active the previous 11 years inside first polo horse as a teenager at age 15, a 5-year-old the USPA before being elected as a circuit governor. mare that I had saved from a mud bog when she was I held various positions including National Handicap born in a pasture. We named her Madelyn after the Committee chairman, Governor-at-Large and ranch she was born on. I won my first 12-goal Executive Committee officer and I enjoyed all of POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 9
U S PA B U L L E T I N
Danny Walker, center, congratulates NYTS All-Stars Johnny Kirton, Charlie Walker, Bayne Bossom and Lucas Escobar.
[people] in the world of polo that I would not necessarily run across in the banking industry.
How did you become involved in breeding Thoroughbreds?
FMB’s Felipe Vercellino, Danny Walker, Lucas Criado and Memo Gracida won the 2015 Silver Cup in Santa Barbara.
tournament when I was just 16 years old with all family members on my team. I met my wife Linda at Fullerton College in Fullerton, California, while I was studying business. Like myself she was also an equestrian, showing in western saddle. When we enjoyed each other’s horse events I began to learn more about show horses and the western world. We then moved on to cutting horses, which were fun to ride and compete. It wasn’t until my 20s that I became serious about playing polo. I think the intrigue of competition is one reason I am passionate about the sport and the pleasure of meeting polo personalities across the world is a lot of fun for me. Also, I have an opportunity to meet
Thirty years ago my family had five polo players that we were mounting so we decided to breed our stock. My wife Linda and I actually were managing that operation, which led us into the Thoroughbred industry and encouraged us to try and duplicate some of the best Thoroughbreds we could find. My wife was also one of the top breeders in the state of California in the Quarter Horse industry. We ended up purchasing a stallion called Sir V and his sire was Sir Ivor, a very talented stallion that raced both in the United States and England. We acquired one of his sons, which happened to be a perfect stallion for a polo pony. For 14 years, we held the stallion at our home and bred a dozen mares a year through him. In five years we ended up with 60 horses so that’s how we provided horses to the family and ended up in the Thoroughbred industry. Since then, my wife has remained in the business and has various Thoroughbred mares in Kentucky. If, for some reason, these particular offspring do not appear to be racehorses then I’m lucky enough to secure them for polo.
Where do the majority of your polo horses come from? In 2012, I invited Lucas Criado to join me at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club to play in the 10 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
U S PA B U L L E T I N
20-goal. He is still playing with me this year and he and I have put together an arrangement for horses, which I purchase from his farm in Argentina. I’ve been in the process of buying horses from Criado over the last four years and that’s where all my newest horses come from. I’ve owned many champion horses over the years who have won Best Playing Pony honors and I continue to have success with the Criado horses. In the 12-goal in Santa Barbara this year he is going to come play with me and bring his son Lucitas. Meanwhile I’m going to have my son Matthew so it’ll be two father and sons on the same team this season.
Tell me about your favorite horse. My latest gems of horses are Santiago, a 15-year-old gelding and Josephina, a 13-year-old mare. They are actually siblings sired by Sir V and out of a dam that came from Argentina which was given to me by Santiago Trotz. If we had any indication of the horses that would come from that prodigy we would have pulled eggs and bred 100 horses, however we didn’t have a chance to learn of our success until after the mare had passed away. I retired Josephina last year and Lucas Criado was interested in her so I shipped her down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, so he could breed her and hopefully improve what she was. She was an outstanding filly.
How do you use your platform with Farmers & Merchants Bank to introduce polo to the masses? It’s a joint venture as a team owner of the Farmers & Merchants Bank polo team. We actually brought 1,200 new spectators that had never seen polo before in the last year. We are focused on bringing our bank customers out to Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club and having them enjoy a day of polo without talking about banking. The one aspect I believe is enjoyed by individuals the most is being introduced to the horses. What I try to do is to connect my guests to the horses by name so when they see that horse on the field they become engaged in the game through the horse. If I asked my guests to recall the names of the players they saw that day, in more cases than not they usually cannot remember. But if I ask them the names of the horses they’ll answer with two or three names. In many cases a lot of the banking customers that I have, never get a chance to see me. I get to use my ‘celebrity value’ and let them enjoy seeing me on the field and introducing them to the sport of polo and the horses. We walk our guests straight to where the horses are, take them out and bring people up close and personal with them.”
What would people be surprised to learn about you? In the fall of 1990, I played in a tournament called the Wickenden Cup at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. My teammates were all family and we represented four generations on one team; my grandfather, father, my son and I. My grandfather was 90 years old when he played that day and we won the tournament! He jokingly said he would have played better if I would have given him better horses.”
Klentner Ranch’s Jesse Bray breaks a mallet hooking FMB’s Danny Walker in the 2018 America Cup.
What have you accomplished for the Pacific Coast Circuit that you are most proud of? “I don’t think that I was ever trying to do something that would be an accolade or be remembered for Dan Walker being Circuit Governor. What I’ve focused on from the beginning is trying to improve the areas I identified when I ran, communicating with the clubs, trying to increase the number of clubs competing and putting on more tournaments so they can play together. Also, it’s been important to me to expand the focus of polo and create more playing opportunities for everyone. Something I’ve probably done more than others is bridge the gap between clubs and the USPA. I understand what my clubs are trying to achieve and I understand the goals and policies of the USPA. I have ways of finding a solution for them and accomplishing goals effectively If you would like to get in contact with Danny about your club, he can be reached at Daniel.Walker@fmb.com. • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 11
Big break Be ready with discipline, riding skills and patience By Mike Azzaro
Many young players are looking for that big break—a chance to show what they can do. When they get that chance, they often fail to make an impression. They imagine themselves running down the field scoring goals, but they don’t do the hard work first. They tend to play too timidly and are just not remembered after the match.
Matias Gonzalez, right, was so effective against Hilario Ulloa in the C.V. Whitney final by playing disciplined polo.
The odds of an American-born player reaching 10 goals is like climbing Everest with broken legs. Young kids see players, like Polito [Pieres], Nico [Pieres] and Facundo [Pieres] hitting the ball out of the air and that is what they focus on, but chances are they won’t ever be as good with the ball. These guys are really super talented with the ball. Kids want to be like that so they think, all I have to do is hit the ball, hit the ball, but those guys are 10 goals. You will go out on the polo field and won’t be able to touch a ball if you think like that. If you want to be a great player, do it with horse power. You likely will never have the mallet skills these guys have so you have to use your riding ability to counter their mallet skills. A great example was in the final of this year’s C.V. Whitney Cup, Matias Gonzalez was so effective against Hilario [Ulloa]. He didn’t look at anything that was going on in the field, he just stayed with Hilario. That was the turning point of the game because it frustrated Hilario so much. When a player does that, it forces the opponent to change his game
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plan. If he doesn’t, his team will lose. Jeff Blake is a another great example of a good rider who is so disciplined. He helped White Birch win the 26-goal Gold Cup in 2003 because he was so disciplined and made it so easy for his team to play. He was so effective and scored several goals because he dominated his man, always having a leg on him and was always in the right spot. If you are waiting for an opportunity to show your talents, you have to be ready when the time comes. That means having excellent horsemanship skills and being riding fit. The only way to become a strong rider and for your horses to be better is by riding. There is no substitute. You will see players posting videos on social media of them working out with trainers and spending time in the gym. Instead, get somebody to video you riding. When I was 7 or 8 goals, I had 25 horses here and I would ride them all myself. I’d ride at least eight to 10 singles every morning and then come back in the afternoon and ride some more and stick and ball five or six. My grooms would tack up the horses for me and I’d just get off one and get on the next. All that riding helps you work your legs so they become like a rock sticking to the side of the horse. The more you ride, the easier it is to become an expert rider. When that happens you will see the quality of your horses improve. A mediocre horse becomes a good horse, a good horse becomes a great horse. You won’t be fighting with your horses like an amateur rider. I like using hinged stirrups and keeping the ball of my foot on the stirrup bar rather than driving the foot all the way into the stirrup, like many players do. The hinged stirrup will pinch your leg if you try to push your feet all the way in like the majority of players do in those big, wide stirrups. Strong legs will help you stay off the horse’s back. You can ride a bit more forward, posting a lot and keeping a rhythm with the horse. The horse doesn’t feel your weight near as much as if you always sit in the saddle. Great riders make the horses feel like there is no one on their backs. They get all the right signals and they perform better. You can experiment by riding a horse posting and staying off the saddle. The horse will move effortlessly.
Then do the same exercises but this time sitting back in the saddle. The horse will feel like a completely different horse. With strong riders, everything is done with the legs. The hands are only used to signal the horse which direction they want to go. Legs are used for slowing down, speeding up and guiding. Until an opportunity comes along, you have to be at the games, studying, learning and watching. Watch the best players, learn from them and take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and mold your own style through the positive parts of everybody else. Never try to copy a person. I grew up watching Memo [Gracida], Joe Barry and Gonzalo Pieres. I watched how they rode, how they anticipated on the field and how they conducted themselves on the field. I learned a lot from all of them but my style ended up being very different from them. If you look at Gonzalito Pieres, he plays like his dad, but [his brothers] Facundo and Nico play nothing like their dad. They learned a lot from [their uncle] Alfonso, the Heguys and different players like that. Watch some of the younger players playing in the Gauntlet of Polo. A great example of disciplined polo is Milo [Dorignac]. He is 12 or 13 years old and is very disciplined. Obviously, his dad [Michele Dorignac] has taught him to be very disciplined. He doesn’t weigh anything but he knows how to use his horsepower. In one game [of the 20-goal USPA Gold Cup when he substituted for Joe DiMenna on the Equuleus team] he went to [5-goal] Luis Escobar so many times. He hit endless amounts of balls and ended up scoring one or two goals. His man was stopping and he would run in and pick. He was running, looking and taking a man. That is the how young American players have to think. Dominate a guy first and if the ball is there, hit the ball. If the ball isn’t there, stay with the man and dominate him. If they have that mindset and that discipline, it is going to create a potential future for them. Geronimo Obregon is another guy who is super disciplined. He takes a man and ends up with a lot of beautiful shots. He is the 4 goaler on the team and does
a lot of damage on the field. Matt Coppola is a machine out there. He is taking a man and allowing his horsepower to really help dominate his man, accelerating and making plays. If an opportunity comes your way to play in good polo, go with that mindset that, OK, I’m going to dominate my man. When you go to him to hook, you go to stop him. Don’t be dangerous, but stick with him. Think man first, then go to the ball. Don’t think man only and that is all you are going to do. Go to the man, then make your move on the ball. The No. 1 position has changed from being purely offensive. If you go to the polo field thinking offense, offense, ball, ball, that’s a losing start right there. You’ve got to go to the polo field thinking I’m going to shut my man down and not allow him to score. Mark your man, dominate him then look to see if the ball passes you. If it does, then you can leave him and go to the ball. If your opponent’s horses are superior, as long as your horses have power and you are a superb rider, you can still dominate. And if you are doing a good job of it, your opponent is likely going to get frustrated and start screaming at you. Don’t let him get in your head. Keep your cool and stay disciplined. It is the same thing with fouls called. Sometimes you might think the referee made a bad call. As a young player, there should never be a moment when you look at the umpire, ever, because that is never going to help you at all. It is not going to change anything other than to go against you. If you allow bad calls and other players talking crap to you to affect your mindset, your game is going to go down. Stay focused. Say, OK, these six chukkers last an hour and a half. Who can’t focus for an hour and a half? Appreciate opportunities you get but even when things are going well, that is when you need to work harder. Say, OK, I’m not 10 goals but that’s what I want to be. You will have to sacrifice 10 to 15 years of your life if you want to be the best. I used to finish practicing, finish at the barn then go play foot polo for hours. When you start earning good money, don’t buy fancy cars, invest in better horses. • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 13
Tack attack Care for your equipment to extend its life By Gwen Rizzo
Spring has sprung, or is about to, signaling the start of polo across the country. Before you throw your leg over your horses for the first time consider examining your saddles and bridles. Keeping your leather in good condition is needed to prevent unexpected breakage.
Saddle pads help absorb sweat, which can damage leather. Overgirths help keep the saddle on if your girth breaks.
It is not unheard of to hear about a girth snapping, a stirrup breaking or slipping off the saddle or even a bridle coming apart when someone is in a full run downfield. When these types of things happen, the player often parts ways with the horse. It is unsafe for the player as well as the horse. And most times, these things are preventable. Why risk a broken collarbone, wrist or something worse? Ensure your equipment is in good shape so you have a better chance of enjoying your time on the field. The best place to start is purchasing better quality leather. Leather comes in different grades, with the better quality grades costing more and generally lasting longer. The quality of the leather depends largely on the health of the cow prior to slaughter and the tanning process used. Better quality leather also contains more stitches per inch, making it stronger. While the U.S. produces some very good leather, the best leather worldwide comes from England. Interestingly enough, much of the raw leather used in England is imported from Argentina, however it is the English tanning process that makes the difference. Now, that doesn’t mean all English leather products
14 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
are the best. Purchase from reputable companies known for their quality. Saddles are produced in several countries at price points from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The low prices might be tempting but with saddles, you get what you pay for. The money you save may cost you a lot more in vet bills, medical costs and lost polo time while you or your horse are healing. The lowest price saddles are usually not well made, can hurt the horse’s back and can break easily. Cheaper saddles are usually made with inferior products, such as cheaper or imitation leather, low quality padding and hardware that can easily break or rust. Without quality control, saddle trees may be too narrow and stirrup bars and billet straps may be attached in the wrong places. Inferior padding may easily compress or even deteriorate. These issues can lead to pressure points on the horse’s back resulting in unnecessary soreness. If you are on a budget, you are better off purchasing high-quality used saddles then new, lowquality saddles. Saddles made of high-quality materials will last a long time if well cared for. Leather tack is best kept in a controlled environment, not too dry and not too humid. Mold will stain leather, and pests, such as cockroaches, mice and rats, can damage leather. It is best not to store tack in a horse trailer where the environment can’t be controlled. You are better off keeping it in a clean tack room or in your air-conditioned house. In the South, you may need a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels down and prevent mold growth. In the West, a humidifier may be needed to add moisture to the air. Keep tack out of the sun as it will dry out the leather. Saddle covers help protect saddles from dust and sunlight. Keep tack off the ground. Store saddles on saddle racks and bridles on bridle racks or hooks. Be sure no pieces of the bridle are touching the ground. Hang girths as well. At the polo field, if saddle racks aren’t available, place tack on a blanket with saddles resting on their pommel and the back sticking straight up and bridles laid out. Keep bits covered. The sun can heat them up and they can burn a horse’s mouth. When riding, use a cloth saddle pad to help absorb sweat, keeping it off your leather. Overgirths add
Mold can damage leather. Use a dehumidifier to help control moisture.
Check saddles, bridles and girths for loose stitches. Repair them before they break.
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Cracked leather is dried out and can break. Keep tack clean and well conditioned.
Regularly check under saddle flaps, particularly billet straps, for signs of damage.
another layer of protection in case your girth breaks. When you first purchase your tack, clean and oil it with a pure oil (vegetable and olive work well) from your tack store or local grocery store. Don’t overdo it with the oil. Only use enough that you can work into the tack and remove the rest. Any residue will attract dirt. Ideally, clean tack after each use. Sweat is damaging to leather so minimally, remove any sweat. Use glycerin or Castile soap to clean before applying conditioner. Most leather cleaners you buy in a tack store contain glycerin so they generally work well. Use as little water as possible when cleaning. Start with a clean, moist towel or sponge, apply soap to leather and work it in well. Rinse the towel or sponge in clean wather after each wipe down. Rinsing in dirty water just reapplies the dirt. Using a white towel allows you to see the dirt come off. Keep cleaning until you no longer see dirt.
Clean every flap on the saddle as well as underneath it. Occasionally take bridles apart when cleaning to prevent soap build-up under keepers and turn backs. Let the tack air dry, then condition the tack with a preservative or oil until the leather is supple. If you get caught in the rain while riding or playing, clean the tack while it is still damp and let air dry, then condition it. Be sure tack is dry before storing it. Inspect tack for signs of cracking, breaking, rotting or loose stitches. Don’t forget to check around buckles. Some of the most common things to break are billet straps on the saddle, stirrup leathers and buckles and elastic pieces on girths. Bridle pieces are less likely to break unless they get caught on something or are stepped on. Repair any piece of tack showing signs of wear and tear. Don’t wait until tack breaks to get it fixed. Check stirrups, stirrup bars and bits for signs of cracking—yes, even metal pieces can break. •
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E Q U I N E AT H L E T E
Rabies An uncommon but serious disease By Heather Smith Thomas
Different areas of the country see rabies in different animals.
Bizarre behavior. Colic. Lameness. Incoordination. Dull and depressed. These can all be signs of rabies. Since horses with many other diseases may show these signs, horse owners are often caught off guard; rabies may be the last thing you suspect when a horse gets sick. Yet it’s important to keep rabies in the back of your mind, because this is the most serious disease (and one of very few) that you can get from your horse. Rabies occurs in all warm-blooded animals and is almost always fatal. This disease is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system, transmitted by saliva of an infected animal—usually via a bite or by the sick animal’s saliva coming in contact with mucous membranes (such as the eye) or an opening in the skin. This is an uncommon disease in horses but occurs sporadically in horses and livestock when wildlife cases increase, with more opportunities for exposure. Rabies comes and goes in cycles in wildlife populations, and the risk may vary from year to year. During 2015, for instance, 50 states and Puerto Rico reported 5,508 cases of rabies in animals and three human rabies cases, which was fewer than in 2014 (6,033 rabid animals and one human case). Most cases occur in wildlife; domestic animals usually account for less than 10 percent of cases in the U.S. In horses, there are usually only about 50 cases reported each year across the continental U.S.
Distribution of major terrestrial reservoirs of rabies in the United States
16 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Dr. Julia Murphy (State Public Health Veterinarian, Virginia) says the number of rabid animals reported each year for each state is published annually on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website and in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “On the East Coast, cases run about the same each year, regarding incidence of horses or cattle with rabies. We don’t typically diagnose very many per state. Most states report one or two horses or two to three cattle per year, with a range of 0 to 10. Some years are worse than others, and states with more cattle or more horses generally report more cases, especially if wildlife in that region have rabies,” says Murphy. Many eastern states have high populations of skunks and raccoons, some of which may harbor the virus. New York State reported 51 cases of horse rabies over the past 20 years, and all were fatal. Pennsylvania also has incidence of rabies, in all species, including cows and horses, but especially cats and dogs. There have also been cases in whitetail deer. Rabies cases (total animals) were very high in 2011 in Texas. Reports of rabid animals began early that spring and rose dramatically as the summer became hot and dry—with wildlife migrating closer to human habitation where there was more food and water. There were 19 horses and a donkey with rabies in 2011 in Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that by the end of that year there were 1018 confirmed rabies cases statewide, compared with 773 the previous year. The worst year before that was 2002, with 1049 cases of rabies in Texas. Rabies is often spread by skunks, raccoons, foxes or bats. Dr. Jason Turner, Extension Horse Specialist, New Mexico State University, says there were several cases of rabies in his state in 2011. “We had confirmed cases in two bats, one dog, one horse and six skunks. The horse was in southeastern New Mexico and was taken to a Texas veterinary facility for treatment before anyone realized it had rabies. Family members and veterinary staff were all exposed to infectious saliva— and they all had to have the rabies vaccine,” says Turner.
E Q U I N E AT H L E T E
Risks for human exposure One of the biggest problems with rabies in horses or livestock is that many people don’t expect to see rabies in these animals and don’t vaccinate them. Also, signs of rabies in horses are often vague and not typical of what you’d see in a dog or cat. Horses with rabies usually don’t go around attacking and biting humans, so people may become exposed to saliva while trying to treat the horse. Murphy says it’s important for people to realize that even though the number of rabies cases reported in horses is relatively small in relation to other animals diagnosed each year (especially wildlife), horses and livestock that are positive for rabies frequently expose multiple people on the farm. Signs of rabies in these animals are often vague. The animal may be examined and treated for some other suspected condition before people realize it might be rabies. “In those situations we encourage horse owners to talk with their local health departments about possible exposure, and take precautions to limit the number of farm employees or family members that may be exposed to the sick animal—until the final diagnosis is confirmed. As soon as you suspect that an animal might have rabies, take appropriate precautions to avoid contact with saliva. Any horse showing neurological signs or abnormal behavior should be considered as a possible rabies case,” says Murphy. There is always a risk when coming into contact with saliva from the sick horse, even though horses with rabies generally don’t bite, and their bites rarely puncture the skin. “If the horse struggles when you are trying to examine the mouth or tube them—as may happen if the problem is mistaken for choke or colic—the horse may be throwing its head and slinging saliva around. It may sling saliva into your face or onto your skin (which may have a scrape or an open wound). If you are trying to pass a tube or examining the mouth, you also may be bitten,” says Murphy. Any person coming into contact with the saliva of a rabid horse must be treated with post-exposure
JUNIORS BILDARCHIV GMBH/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
In 2008, the American Association of Equine Practitioners began including rabies in its list of core vaccines, recommended for all horses—regardless of location and use. “It’s cheap insurance, versus having to take treatments if you’re exposed by handling a sick horse. All domestic animals can get rabies, but the ones you interact with most closely—such as pets and horses—should always be vaccinated,” says Turner.
rabies vaccinations. If you suspect rabies, limit the number of people handling or treating that animal. “Wear heavy gloves and eye protection to prevent exposure during treatment or handling. These barrier protections can help keep saliva from getting on open areas of skin or into your eyes,” Murphy says. “Also keep a record of the people who have been in contact with the animal and the dates of contact. That will help the health department zero in on who we would consider to be exposed.”
Vaccinate your barn cats since they will have contact with your horses.
Watch for signs of rabies Horse and livestock owners need to be aware of animal behavior. If it changes and the animal is acting out of character, this could be a clue that the animal might have rabies. Barn cats are a classic example. A cat that is normally shy and fearful (running away or hiding) may suddenly seem friendly. It may come toward you, purr and maybe rub up against you, without fear— and then attack. There are numerous stories of timid cats rubbing around people’s ankles, and then biting. One farmer saw a lot of skunks around his place but never thought about rabies. He had barn cats and one of them started acting strangely and coughing, and the next day it attacked a puppy. When his wife tried to rescue the puppy the cat attacked her. Their son intervened and was also bitten, so two people had to have rabies treatment. Horses at pasture are at risk for rabies transmitted via wildlife, but even horses in barns are not safe. Rabid bats may fly into a barn, and other wild animals may wander in, since rabid animals have no fear. Barn cats can pose a risk to horses. People with livestock or horses need to be alert and aware of how their animals are acting. Any time they act different, think about rabies. There have (continued on page 54) POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 17
N E W S • NO T E S • T R E N D S • Q U O T E S
HEAD GOOD READ Subheadpolo pioneer New book features
STORMIE HALE recently penned a book about her mother, Sue Sally Hale. The book, “Polo’s Grande Dame” was released in mid-March. When asked what inspired her to write the book, Stormie wrote, “Because I promised. ... She always knew I would be the one to tell her story when she was gone.” Stormie is second of Sue Sally’s five children, including Trails, Sunset “Sunny”, Dawn and Brook. Polo’s Grande Dame is an inspirational story about living an unthinkable dream. Raised in Hollywood, California, the daughter of an Oscar-nominated screen writer and a prima ballerina, Sue Sally yearned to join a sport that was reserved for men only. With no predecessor and no path to follow, she repeatedly broke down barriers and shattered glass ceilings, blazing a trail that would impact the future of her greatest passion—polo. Picking up her first polo mallet in the 1940s, she doggedly played polo when and where she was allowed, at times disguised as a boy. She was a pioneer, campaigning for more than 20 years to be included in the sport’s governing body, the United States Polo Association, in an era when women weren’t permitted. Sue Sally persevered when she was neither wanted nor accepted, her chosen sport certainly not prepared for her. She was asked to leave the polo field on occasion because an opposing team refused to play against a woman. She had her life threatened, played with a split thumb, a broken leg, played five days before one child was born and three days after another, all because she was never sure there would be another opportunity. A do-it-yourselfer from a very young age, Hale had a physical hand in everything she did. ‘Can’t’ was not a word allowed in her dictionary. A force of nature to be reckoned with, she was driven to pursue her dream come hell or high water. With a passion for polo that guided and sustained her throughout her life, she lived incredible highs and debilitating lows. Through wealth, poverty, joy, heartbreak, discipline, sacrifice and hard work, Hale became a legend. She was one of the first women to be granted membership in the USPA once women were permitted to join. The book is available on Amazon.
PARKER’S POLO MINUTE To truly improve at something like polo, thoroughly adopt it. Practice it, play it, read about it, watch it, umpire it, etc. Pursue it with diligence and sacrifice then enjoy your results. SanDiegoPolo@hotmail.com
18 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
WHIZ HEADKID Polo playerSubhead wins big at rodeo ONGRATULATIONS Madison who won $100,000 at RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo TCHE TRIANGLE AREATO POLO CLUBOuthier text
Madi Outhier, aboard Rooster, ropes a calf in just over two seconds in the breakaway roping competition.
finals textat AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Mar. 2-3. She took the breakaway roping championship with a time of 2.29 seconds aboard her horse Allo Gallo Colonel, also known as Rooster, bred and trained by her family’s LA Waters Quater Horses. The 16-year-old qualified for the final after topping the breakaway roping division at The Junior American two days prior. That win landed her a check for $10,000 and a championship gold buckle. The competition is for riders 19 or younger. Horse talent runs in the family. Madi and her mother, Kristy Outhier, both play polo, however Kristy announced last year she was retiring to spend more time with her family. At a women’s rating of 7 goals outdoors and 8 in the arena, Kristy is one of the highest-rated women players in the world. Madi holds a women’s 1goal rating outdoors and 2 in the arena. Her dad, Mike, is an award-winning cowboy. He has done everything from bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding to roping and steer wrestling. After the win, a smiling Madi told RFDTV, “ ... I am just so blessed to get a chance to be here. ... I’ve been working very hard for this. It went my way today and I am very happy that it did.” Madi said she has been roping off Rooster for the past two or three years. “I give the credit to my dad. He’s the one who pushes me to get in the roping pen everyday and practice, perfect everything in the roping pen everyday so when it gets to things like this, it’s muscle memory by now,” she said.
COMMAND CENTER New military polo website
CHECK OUT MILITARY POLO’S new website, militarypolo.com. The site, developed by the USPA’s Military Polo Committee, helps the committee’s mission to honor and perpetuate ties between the U.S. Armed Forces and the greater community of polo. The site provides calendars of military polo events for both the U.S. and international, photos, and information about participating as a player, host or spectator.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 19
HEAD IN THE HALL
Subhead Gala celebrates latest inductions
HE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF POLO and Hall of Fame honored its newest inductees at its 30th gala celebration at the museum on Feb. 15. Players and fans from around the world gathered to honor the latest inductees, including Daniel Gonzalez, Gerald Balding, Karlene Beal Garber and John B. Armstrong, as well as horses Mr. Polo and Conover. Gonzalez, a player and coach in California for over 35 years, was humbled by the honor. “For me, it is a great honor to be here because it is a part of something unbelievable. I am very happy to be inducted with all of the international polo legends. Not everyone has the chance to do that and I am very honored,” he said. Garber was also thrilled to be inducted. “It is the honor of a lifetime,” she said. The museum is grateful for the support of its many sponsors and volunteers who make the evening so successful. If you were unable to attend, a video from the dinner is available on the museum’s website, polomuseum.com. •
Mimi Gracida Boyle accepted the Horses to Remember award for Mr. Polo. Stewart Armstrong accepted the award on behalf of his father, John B. Armstrong. Daniel Gonzalez
Gail Balding King, right, accepted the award for her father, Gerald Balding, from Melissa Ganzi.
20 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Leverett and Linda Miller accepted the Horses to Remember Award for Conover.
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P O L O D E V E L O P M E N T, L L C .
Minnie Keating Student aims to take high-goal strategies back to club level By Hayley Heatley
Bray was impressed with how quietly Minnie (shown on Indigo) rode, getting along with even some of his more sensitive horses.
22 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Minnie Keating is no stranger to the world of polo, boasting an impressive resume in polo management with roles ranging from director of equine management at Newport Polo Club and interscholastic coach to camp coordinator and adult polo instructor. She has played in Newport’s International Polo Series since 2010 and made it to the Girls’ Interscholastic National Championships. When presented with an opportunity to mentor under American Team USPA player Jesse Bray in Wellington, Florida, she eagerly accepted. Keating began her three-month mentorship in February and quickly became accustomed to the fast-paced and intense atmosphere surrounding the busy winter months in Wellington. Keating traveled to sunny Florida, excited to leave Rhode Island and surround herself with horses in the mecca of polo. Before accepting the opportunity, Keating spent time researching Bray and his organization, watching game videos and inquiring about the philosophies and training methods Graham Bray, Jesse’s father, brought over from New Zealand. She felt the Bray’s interests and values regarding polo and horses aligned with hers, giving her confidence in her decision. She was ready to jump into the season, surrounding herself in the polo industry at its highest levels in the United States. Upon arrival, Keating confronted the challenge of being a young female in a male-dominated sport headfirst. “I work very hard to show that I can keep up with the guys. Wellington and the high-goal season can be very intense,” she said. Keating’s riding abilities and patience quickly made her an asset to the organization. Bray immediately saw her riding talent and paired her with Trobi, a young grey Thoroughbred working her way up in the string. “I heard Minnie rode really well, but you never know exactly how someone will get along with your horses until they get on. I was impressed with how
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quietly she rode and got along with even some of my more sensitive horses,” said Bray. “I enjoy helping people in the sport. I hope she is able to take something from this experience and bring home ideas to her horses and club.” Keating shared a similar sentiment. “Everything I am learning and absorbing, I want to try and implement at home. Even small things like starting the day earlier to allow the horses more time to rest during the day, down to body clipping and the amount of maintenance that goes into keeping horses fit and looking good for this level of polo,” she said. Her father, Dan Keating, supported her decision to come to Wellington for the winter to learn. “It’s a great opportunity for a young professional committed to our industry to work in the most competitive polo in our country. We’re hoping the skills and things that Minnie has learned will be able to help us, at the club level, take our organization to the next level,” he said. The temperament of the horses surprised Keating the most when she first began riding and working with them. “I anticipated the horses being hot and full of power, which they are, but I didn’t expect to see how calm and mellow they can be. They are very responsive and have a “tranquilo” side of them,” laughed Keating. She formed a bond with Trobi, but had a hard time picking which horse stood out as her favorite. “Venice and Disney are beyond words, they are hard to beat. The horses are all so different. I am learning their small habits and what works and doesn’t work while schooling and riding.” Seeing the horses succeed on the field has been the most rewarding aspect of her mentorship. “I am here for the horses in all ways, that is why I came down here.” Keating’s ultimate polo dream mirrors that of many involved in the polo industry. She would like to own a farm, polo school and breeding operation while also traveling to play polo.
Minnie’s love of horses is evident. She is shown here with Laguna.
After spending a month in Florida, she offered the following advice: It can be very intense, but just like a horse, keep your head down and back to the wind and continue doing your best. Your work ethic and ability to do your job will show. Keating’s work ethic and love of horses is evident. “She is a very hard worker, and always has a smile on her face. I have really enjoyed working with Minnie, and I hope to have her come back. She has done an excellent job with all of the horses,” said Bray. “Passing on knowledge about horses and polo can only help the industry and sport grow.” . • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 23
I N T E R C O L L E G I AT E / I N T E R S C H O L A S T I C
Clothes horse Several collegiate teams outfitted in U.S. Polo Assn. apparel
The Cal Poly team will be wearing U.S. Polo Assn. apparel.
When it comes to performance on the playing field, no one would argue that it isn’t drive, commitment and hard work that set the best polo players apart from the pack. It is that willingness to put in the extra hours training and strategizing that can make all the difference in getting the win. And then there are the clothes. Yes, you read that right: the clothes. When players—particularly young ones—suit up in apparel that is both specifically created for the sport of polo and also makes them feel like they really “look the part,” their confidence soars. And that is the thinking behind a new initiative, spearheaded by USPA Global Licensing Inc. and U.S. Polo Assn., to outfit intercollegiate teams across the United States with jerseys, whites and polo shirts to wear throughout the polo and academic season. “Honestly? We jumped at the chance to do this,” says J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of
24 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
USPAGL. “These are players who go above and beyond, on both the playing field and in the classroom. They’re exactly the kind of individuals we want to align ourselves with. Basically, we’re so committed to the future of this sport that we’re actively engaged in doing everything we can to help young polo players excel.” So far, 16 of the total established USPA intercollegiate polo programs have signed on with the initiative. (See box for full list of participants.) The partnership, which includes both men’s and women’s teams, also includes monetary support to defray some of the costs of playing polo while attending college. There is also a brand ambassador and social media component, says Carlucho Arellano, executive director of services for the United States Polo Association. A former college polo pro himself—he was Player of the Year in 2000 at the University of
I N T E R C O L L E G I AT E / I N T E R S C H O L A S T I C
Virginia—Arellano sees major value in tapping these rising stars as ambassadors for the sport. “A huge part of the USPA’s mission is driving awareness of polo across the U.S., and recruiting younger players into the fold,” Arellano notes. “On a personal level, attracting young talent is my No. 1 goal. And what better way to do that than by showcasing on-the-rise talent like the kind coming out of these top schools?” On the social media front, it is a win-win for everyone involved. With four million global followers, U.S. Polo Assn. has the media reach to really put some of these young college players on the map. And by posting content highlighting matches on campuses across the nation, the organization is drawing attention to polo’s rising profile in America. “Not everyone is aware of how hot polo is getting in the U.S.,” says Arellano. “We’re currently tied with England for the No. 2 spot in world polo, behind Argentina. That’s huge, and it really speaks to the explosive growth we’ve been experiencing in the last five years.” As the official apparel brand of the USPA, U.S. Polo Assn. is also on a major uptick. With product offerings in multiple categories (men’s, women’s, children’s, accessories, footwear, travel and home goods), and global sales of $1.7 billion, it is distributed through 1,075 U.S. Polo Assn. stores, along with department stores, independent retailers and e-commerce. In total, U.S. Polo Assn. merchandise currently finds its way to 166 countries. A veteran of the fashion business, Prince held leadership positions at Cole Haan, Guess, Nike Affiliates and Converse before joining USPAGL as Chief Operating Officer in 2017. He assumed his current role a year ago as David Cummings elevated to chairman of USPAGL, at the time telling the leading fashion industry publication, WWD, that he was honored and humbled by the opportunity to work with a brand and sport that he feels both have unlimited potential. For the intercollegiate apparel collection, the goal for USPAGL SVP Brand and Design, and his creative team is to provide comfort, great fit and, most importantly, a look of competence, professionalism and team unity. For the players’ hours off the field, the idea is to drive awareness of U.S. Polo Assn. as a true lifestyle fashion brand. “Yes, we offer around-the-clock apparel options and plenty of products for individuals who’ve never even touched a polo mallet,” says Prince. “But our core mission is to engage consumers, sports fans and polo players into the brand and the sport.” •
Participating teams • Cal Poly Polo • Emory University Polo Club • Michigan Intercollegiate Polo Club • Oklahoma State University Polo Club • Oregon State University Polo Club • Roger Williams University • Skidmore College Polo Club • Texas Christian University
• The Polo Club at University of Arkansas • The Polo Club at Virginia Tech • University of California, Santa Barbara • UCONN Polo Club • U. of Massachusetts Amherst Club Polo Team • University of North Texas Polo Club • University of South Carolina, Aiken • Yale Polo
UCONN Polo Club
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 25
Benefit match raises much-needed funds By Catherine Zachariadis and Callie Clement
Lucchese 40-Goal Polo Challenge raises $375,000 for injured and ill players and grooms
Nacho Novillo Astrada helped Airstream take the victory.
26 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Polo players and fans convened at the renowned International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, on Feb. 21, for the annual Lucchese 40-Goal Polo Challenge. The match serves as the marquee fundraising event for the Polo Players Support Groupâ€“a 501(c)(3) that provides financial support for seriously injured and ill polo players and grooms. The event raised $375,000, which will be used to help those members of our polo family in need. This year was particularly unique, as there were two star-studded lineups. The opening act, the Future 10s match, was a four-chukker display of the future of the sport of polo. Junior polo players with familiar surnames, such as Hope Arellano, Miki Novillo Astrada, and Antonio Aguerre, were joined by young Americans like Jack Whitman and Aiden Meeker. The youngsters impressed the crowd with masterful moves you usually only see at the top level of the sport, validating the name of their match as true future 10goalers. U.S. Polo Assn. (Antonio Aguerre, Finn Secunda, Jack Whitman, Hope Arellano) slid past Port Mayaca Polo Club (Florencio Lanusse, Miki Novillo Astrada, Aiden Meeker, Milly Hine) to end the match, 4-3. The high-goalers had a tough act to follow behind the Future 10s, but they were able to deliver. Four 10-goalers and four past 10-goalers made up the Airstream (Nacho Novillo Astrada, Polito Pieres, Sapo Caset, Miguel Novillo
DAVID LOMINSKA/POLOGRAPHICS SHELLEY HEATLEY
Sapo Caset’s Pucho was named Best Playing Pony.
Miki Novillo Astrada, Florencio Lanusse, Aiden Meeker, Milly Hine, Hope Arellano, Jack Whitman, Finn Secunda and Antonio Aguerre played in the Future 10s match. DAVID LOMINSKA/POLOGRAPHICS
Astrada) and Pilot Catastrophe Services (Agustin Merlos, Mariano Aguerre, Hilario Ulloa, Facundo Pieres) teams. The game started with what would turn out to be the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Long Shot of the Day, made by Polito Pieres in the first 30 seconds of the game. Play throughout the first half remained open and fast, giving 40-goal spectators the unique opportunity to view an impressive high level of polo. At the halfway point, Airstream held its lead by one, thanks to two vital goals by Miguel Novillo Astrada. The third chukker began with Airstream’s Sapo Caset catapulting the team ahead by scoring two consecutive goals. Pilot’s Hilario Ulloa responded with his first goal of the game in an attempt to put his team in the lead for the first time during play. The rest of the third chukker, and into the fourth, Airstream held onto the lead, despite goal attempts from Pilot’s Aguerre and Facundo Pieres. The final score of the game settled with Airstream winning 8-6. Best Playing Pony, sponsored by 5-Star Builders, was awarded to Pucho, played by Sapo Caset. Players received Rich Roenisch bronzes, sponsored by Port Mayaca Polo Club, Gillian Johnston, and the Orthwein Family, in memory of Steve Orthwein Sr., a great supporter of the
Airstream’s Sapo Caset puts the pressure on Pilot’s Agustin Merlos.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 27
SHELLEY HEATLEY ALEX PACHECO
Finn Secunda impressed the crowds in the Future 10s match.
Ashlee Bond purchased Hope Arellano’s jersey from the kids’ game. Arellano’s jersey brought in the highest jersey bid all evening.
28 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Carol Pennycook presents the Tito’s Homemade Vodka Long Shot of the Day prize to Polito Pieres.
Miguel Novillo Astrada keeps the ball away from Mariano Aguerre.
organization who passed away in 2018. Despite Airstream’s repeat victory, players from both teams were happy to donate their time to play in this vital fundraising event. “Playing in the 40-Goal Challenge is a great opportunity to help others and I think that anybody in our situation would do the same thing to help out,” said former 10-goal player Mariano Aguerre, who has played in the 40-Goal Polo Challenge nine times. Ulloa, a 10-goal player, also enjoyed playing for a good cause. “I like playing the 40-Goal Challenge because it’s a way to help people that need our support,” Ulloa said. “It’s a great way to raise funds for people that need help.” Miguel Novillo Astrada, who has been playing in the 40-goal since 2004, echoed Ulloa’s sentiments on the importance of participating in the event. “I’ve been playing for many years and I think it’s a very good cause. It’s a way of helping a great organization that gives a lot to polo. It’s great to be here.” Following the game and awards presentation on the field, attendees made their way across the picturesque Field 1 to the Pavilion at IPC where they enjoyed a cocktail hour while bidding on enticing silent auction items before piling into a sold-out steak and lobster full-course dinner, sponsored by the Whitman Family. High-priced items included a complete set of Paul Brown prints, which sold for $5,300 to Chris Desino; a Costa Rica vacation, donated by the Escobar family, sold for $14,000 to Steve and Jessica Carbone; and newly-inducted Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame Iglehart Award winner, Karlene Beal Garber, purchased the unique vacation to Costa Careyes for $5,000. In addition, all participating players’ jerseys were auctioned off throughout the evening. Continuing the momentum of the games on display throughout the day, the highest jersey bid was not from a 10goaler’s jersey but from junior player, Hope Arellano, whose father 8-goaler Julio Arellano received financial assistance after a traumatic riding accident in 2018. Her jersey was won by superstar show jumper Ashlee Bond, winner of the $72,000 NetJets Classic at the Palm Beach Masters that day just next door at Deeridge Farms. The Polo Players Support Group is eternally grateful to the sponsors, players, donors, ticket and table purchasers, volunteers and more. Thanks to the annual 40-Goal Polo Challenge and its supporters, the PPSG has awarded over $2.5 million to 80 different seriously injured and ill polo players and grooms since its inception, and the need continues. •
Gonzalo Pieres Sr., center, displays his son-in-law, Mariano Aguerre’s jersey. With them is Antonio Aguerre, far left, and Tony Coppola and Dave Offen, far right. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 29
Flying High Pilot controls C.V. Whitney Cup action By Gwen Rizzo Photos by David Lominska/Polographics.com
Team remains in contention for $1 million purse.
Las Monjitasâ€™ Matt Coppola stops Pilotâ€™s Facundo Pieres in the final of the C.V. Whitney Cup.
30 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
The Gauntlet of Polo high-goal series kicked off with the C.V. Whitney Cup, Feb 14. The series includes the USPA’s three most prestigious tournaments—the C.V. Whitney Cup, the Gold Cup and the U.S. Open—formally referred to as the Triple Crown of Polo. The tournament is named for polo player Cornelius Vanderbilt “Sonny” Whitney, son of 10-goal Harry Payne Whitney. An aviation-industry pioneer, he founded Pan American Airways and was the first assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force. He was also one of the leading owners and breeders in Thoroughbred racing. As a player, Whitney won the U.S. Open three times (1928, 1937 and 1938). With the number of teams in the series dipping to six in 2017 and 2018, the USPA board elected to lower the tournament handicap from 26 to 22 goals to encourage more participation. As an added incentive, prize money was offered for the first time. Winners in the first two cups in the series earn $125,000, while the U.S. Open winner gets $250,000. If the same team wins all three events, it receives a bonus of $500,000 for a total of $1 million in prize money, the biggest purse ever offered in the sport of polo. A record 16 teams signed on, each committing to play in the entire series. The teams were all anxious to get started with the expectation they could take home the total prize money. Before the matches began, Scott Wood withdrew his Brookshire team from the tournament. Stewart Armstrong stepped in to take his place, enlisting Brookshire’s 10-goal Polito Pieres and 7-goal Lucas James, and renaming the team Aspen. Like horseracing’s Triple Crown, winning three competitive high-goal tournaments in a row is no easy task. You need a large, healthy string of the best ponies and they have to be managed well so they peak at just the right time. Only two teams have succeeded since these tournaments were grouped together: Crab Orchard in 2010 and Valiente in 2017, both led by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso. The Gauntlet kicked off with a
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 31
celebration and tournament draw on Feb. 7. The teams were introduced one by one before a member of the team drew a number to determine which team they would face first. The single-elimination format required each team to give it everything they had every time they stepped on the field. The tournament matches started off with a bang as four games were played on Thursday, Feb 14 and another four games were played the next day. After two days, half the teams were eliminated and dropped into the subsidiary rounds.
Pilot’s Mia Bray, Matias Gonzalez, Curtis Pilot, Gonzalo Pieres and Facundo Pieres
The games were almost all close, displaying plenty of fast, open play. Last year’s U.S. Open winner Daily Racing Form edged Stable Door Polo, 13-11; Pilot topped Aspen, 12-11; Park Place defeated Coca Cola, 10-7; and SD Farms slipped Tonkawa, 10-9. The next day, La Indiana got the best of Santa Clara, 12-8; Las Monjitas edged Iconica, 9-8; Cessna topped Postage Stamp Farm, 9-7; and Equuleus beat Old Hickory Bourbon, 9-6. The eight winners moved on to quarter-finals a few days later. Los Monjitas powered past Park Place, 109; La Indiana edged Daily Racing Form, 10-8; Pilot beat Equuleus, 10-9; and Cessna downed SD Farms by the largest margin thus far, 11-5. In the semis, Las Monjitas dashed Cessna’s hopes after the teams were tied for the first four periods (11, 3-3, 4-4, 6-6). Cessna took an 8-7 advantage going into the final period, but Las Monjitas’ Francisco Elizalde and Hilario Ulloa combined for three goals while the team broke up all of Cessna’s offensive drives to take the 10-8 win and advance to the final. On the other side, Pilot, powered by brothers Gonzalo and Facundo Pieres, shut out La Indiana 60 in the first 14 minutes. La Indiana rallied in the third to get back in the game, 6-4. Pilot kept up the pressure, outscoring La Indiana, 8-5, in the second half to advance with a 14-9 score. Spectators were looking forward to a exciting match between two tough teams. Curtis Pilot was back in the saddle after missing the preliminary matches to be with his family. Sadly, his eldest
Mike Azzaro, far left, presents Best Playing Pony prizes to Facundo Pieres for his Open Pennsylvania. With them are grooms Tomas Garbarini, Santiago Buigues, Facundo Burgos, Leoncio Godoy, Javier Feil and Sandro Diaz.
32 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Tomas Schwenke Lucas James Pablo “Polito” Pieres Stewart Armstrong
2 7 10 3
Andrey Borodin Juan Britos Nico Pieres Tommy Collingwood
Curtis Pilot/Mia Bray Facundo Pieres Gonzalo Pieres Jr. Matias Gonzalez
A 10 9 3
Postage Stamp Farm:
Chip Campbell Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario Felipe Marquez Felipe Viana
Coca Cola: Gillian Johnston Wesley Finlayson/Steve Krueger Julian de Lusarreta Ignacio Novillo Astrada
Daily Racing Form:
USPA Global CEO Michael Prince presents a saddle to MVP Matias Gonzalez.
daughter, Nikki Pilot Carlisle, a mother of three, lost her year-long battle with breast cancer on Feb. 13. The team members wore armbands with her initials to honor her during the match. “Curtis is looking forward to playing and putting in everything he can,” Gonzalo Pieres said. “He is a strong man with a strong family and he really likes polo. We want to win for his daughter and for him.” Mia Bray filled in for Pilot while he was gone. She was very appreciative of the opportunity to play on Pilot’s fantastic horses and with incredible teammates, and rose to the challenge beautifully. Pilot struck first with Facundo Pieres slipping a Penalty 2 between the posts. Gonzalo Pieres followed with a field goal before Hilario Ulloa put Las Monjitas on the board. The chukker ended with Pilot ahead 21. The teams traded Penalty 2s in the second. Ulloa was given a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct before Facundo found the goal to double up Las Monjitas’ score, 4-2. The teams traded Penalty 4s in the third to finish the first half, 5-3. Las Monjitas was shooting at goal but wasn’t finding the mark. Pilot knocked in five times in 14 minutes. In the fourth, Pilot took control, repeatedly hammering at goal, while Las Monjitas struggled to keep up. First, Facundo Pieres found the target, then brother Gonzalo sent the ball between the posts. Matias Gonzalez shot through another one and Gonzalo tallied his second goal. Las Monjitas, unable to score, was getting frustrated and before long, Ulloa was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. His second yellow card put him in the penalty box for two minutes. With 1:51 left on the clock, he would have to sit out the rest of the chukker and several seconds of the next chukker. Facundo Pieres took advantage of
Jared Zenni Geronimo Obregon Santiago Cernadas Agustin Obregon
Equuleus: Joe DiMenna Iñaki Laprida Magoo Laprida Mariano Gonzalez
2 7 6 6
22 2 4 8 8
22 6 4 6 6
22 A 7 8 7
Annabelle Gundlach Valerio “Lerin” Zubiaurre Mariano Aguerre Joaquin Panelo
Santa Clara: Nico Escobar Mariano Obregon Jr. Ignacio “Cubi” Toccalino Luis Escobar
SD Farms: Sayyu Dantata Peco Polledo Juan “Tito” Ruiz Guiñazu Pelon Escapite
22 A 8 9 5
A 8 8 6
22 3 6 8 5
22 2 6 8 6
Stable Door Polo:
Maureen Brennan 1 Peke Gonzalez 5 Sebi Merlos/Gringo Colombres 9/7 Matias Magrini 7
Henry Porter Santino Magrini Victorino Ruiz Santiago Toccalino
3 4 6 8
2 6 7 7
Jeff Hildebrand Agustin “Tincho” Merlos Guillermo “Sapo” Caset Sterling Giannico
A 8 10 4
Old Hickory Bourbon:
Camilo Bautista Hilario Ulloa Francisco Elizalde Matthew Coppola
A 10 8 4
Will Johnston Jason Crowder Miguel Novillo Astrada Stevie Orthwein
Michael Bickford Facundo Obregon Jeff Hall Tomas Garcia del Rio
2 6 9 4
Las Monjitas being a player short and shot in Pilot’s fifth goal of the chukker, taking a 10-3 lead. Ulloa, anxious to get back out and help his teammates, returned to the field shortly after the start of the fifth, but officials determined he had come back seconds too soon, and when he did so, he fouled a Pilot player. That earned him a red card, which removed him from the field for the remainder of the match as well as his next match. The situation seemed to take the wind out of Las Monjitas’ sails and certainly made the game less enjoyable to watch. Pilot was awarded a Penalty 2 for Ulloa’s moves, which Facundo had no trouble converting. He later scored another from the field to jump ahead 12-3. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 33
Pilot’s Facundo Pieres keeps his eye on the ball despite pressure from Las Monjitas’ Francisco Elizalde.
Las Monjitas’ Hilario Ulloa tries to get to the ball before Pilot’s Gonzalo Pieres can get off a backshot.
Late in the fifth, Las Monjitas was allowed to bring in a substitute, so 8-goal Santi Toccalino took Ulloa’s place. Toccalino is playing for the Stable Door Team, however, with no other high-goal player available, the substitution was allowed in the best interest of the tournament. Trailing by nine, Las Monjitas did all it could to make up for lost time. Toccalino scored for Las Monjitas, its first goal since the third and its first field goal since the first chukker. Matias Gonzalez responded, shaking loose and splitting the uprights for a 13-4 score. Pilot seemed to be on cruise control
34 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
as Francisco Elizalde fired through back-to-back goals. The match came to an anticlimactic finish with Pilot ahead 13-6. Matias Gonzalez was named MVP and took home a new saddle, presented by USPA Global CEO Michael Prince, while Facundo Pieres’ bay mare, Open Pennsylvania, was named Best Playing Pony, an award presented by former 10-goaler Mike Azzaro. Facundo Pieres congratulated Gonzalez for the honor. “He’s a great teammate. I think he’s improving game by game and he has a very good attitude when we tell him what we’d like him to learn and improve on. We are really happy to have him on our team.” He was also happy with Open Pennsylvania. “Today she was a machine. I used to play her mother, Penca, and she was great also. I first brought her there three or four years ago. I’m very happy with her and also with my grooms because they do a great job caring for the horses,” he said. After the match, USPA officials spoke with players and umpires to determine what happened and why. Later, they determined that Ulloa would be allowed to play in his next match, Las Monjitas’ first match of the Gold Cup. The win put Pilot on track for the $1 million purse, with the last two legs still left to play out. In the subsidiary Iglehart Cup, Santa Clara narrowly led the entire game to overcome Aspen 11-9. In the subsidiary Glenn Hart Cup, Tonkawa got the best of Iconica, 15-11. Iconica’s 9-goal Sebastian Merlos broke his hand in the Glenn Hart Cup semifinal. He was replaced in the final by 7-goal Gringo Colombres. The team began with a two-goal handicap, which it maintained until the third chukker. •
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Child support California club hosts junior tournament Words and photos by Kerri Kerley
Ryan Kerley gets a jump on Bayne Bossom in advanced-level play.
36 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California, held its second junior polo tournament, the Arty Cameron Memorial, on Feb. 23-24. The lead-line group was booming with new up-and-coming players. Ranging from 2 to 6 years old, players included Catalina and Charles Sheldon and Maddie and Camile Fogel playing for Fish Creek and Mahie Sharma, Olivia, Adeline/Savana Inkster and Abby Mariscal playing for Dewinton. The game stayed close but, in the end, Dewinton took the win. The intermediate level featured two teams: Breva Farms (Benjamin Faherty, Eva and Brock Rubin and Matias Wolf) and Eldorado (Ulysses Escapite, Mike
Estrada, Ella Kyle and Ana Sophia Wolf). Eldorado doubled up Breva Farms, 4-2, with three goals scored by Mike Estrada and a goal scored by Ana Sophia Wolf. The advanced level had three teams and played a round robin on both days. Antelope (Grant Palmer, Joshua Dubbary, Rose Gonzalez and Elise Pardue) took on Bush League (Bayne Bossom, Quinn Kyle, Colby Smith and Grace Gonzalez), and Boss Polo (Ryan Kerley, Piers Bossom, Jazmin Trotz and Micaela Saracco). Boss Polo dominated this tournament with Bush League behind it taking second place and Antelope following in third. â€˘
Seven teams mix it up in the Arty Cameron Memorial junior tournament at Eldorado Polo Club.
Boss Poloâ€™s Piers Bossom, Ryan Kerley, Jazmin Trotz and Micaela Saracco won the advanced-level round robin.
Over two dozen kids competed in one of three levels.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 37
Quinn Kyle and Jazmin Trotz race downfield. Kids as young as 2 years old competed in the lead-line section.
Matias Wolf slaps a hook on Mikey Estrada.
Jared Sheldon with son Charles Brock Rubin
38 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Gracie Gonzalez gets ahead of Micaela Saracco.
Grant Palmer chases down Piers Bossom for the hook. Ryan Kerley on the move
Coach Mike Kerley hands out shirts to the lead-line group.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 39
P O L O I N T H E PA M PA S
Vamos Pa’ La Playa Cayenne White wins Porsche Grand Slam Cup By Ernesto Rodriguez • Photos by Sergio Llamera
Esteban Panelo races to the ball with Bordeaux’s Santiago Tahier in pursuit.
Cayenne White drove away with the Porsche Grand Slam Cup in the 24th Grand Slam Beach Polo played at Pinamar, one of the most distinguished summer resorts of Argentina’s Atlantic Coast. In Latin America, there is a song heard massively in recent months: “Calma”, a remix of Pedro Capó and Farruko, whose video was seen more than 500 million times and reached three Top 10s in the Billboard Charts. The song invites you to enjoy a relaxed life: “Vamos pa’ la playa, pa’ curarte el alma” (“Let’s go to the beach, to heal your soul”). That is the same invitation that, for the last 24 seasons, has the Argentine polo community obeying every January to recover from the adrenaline of the Argentine Triple Crown.
40 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Pinamar is one of the most distinguished summer resorts of Argentina’s Atlantic Coast. Located about 220 miles from the capital, Buenos Aires, Pinamar combines the classic elegance of its buildings and modern hotels, framed in a natural forest of conifers that make it unique in the region. It is linked to other small communities in its vicinity by the almost 20mile-long corridor of soft sand beaches over 150-yards wide, which makes it an ideal destination for beach polo practice. Organized by Diego Detang, this year was the time for the 24th Grand Slam Beach Polo Porsche presented by ICBC. “I saw this type of game in Europe and I realized that we could do it very well on our beaches. Every season we gather around 10,000 people who attend the matches free of charge and enjoy the amenities that the sponsors put on,” said Detang, head of the company Stad. This year, three two-man teams played three dates in three different summer destinations under the round-robin system. The matches were divided into two chukkers of five minutes of net play each. The field of play measures 60 by 30 yards and a beach volleyball ball is used instead of the traditional wood or plastic ball. The first stop was held on Friday, Jan. 4, at Pinamar’s arena. In the first match, Cayenne White, lining up with Juan Cruz Isla (6) and Esteban Panelo (6), beat Cayenne Black, with Junior Cavanagh (7) and Federico Rooney (7), by a tight 3-2. Cayenne Black recovered with a 4-3 success against Cayenne Bordeaux, with Santiago Tahier (3) and Genaro Ringa (8), while the afternoon closed with Cayenne White’s victory against Cayenne Bordeaux 3-0 as it stayed with the Stella Artois Gold Cup. Forty-eight hours went by and the action moved to Cariló, one of the cities next to Pinamar. In the opening match, Cayenne White maintained the winning step and disposed of Cayenne Bordeaux 4-0. In the second inning, Cayenne Black also celebrated against Cayenne Bordeaux, by 2-1. The end of the day was for the Black duo, recovering from the defeat in the first stage and beating the White pair with a convincing 4-0 shutout thanks to an excellent performance by Rooney to lift the ICBC Gold Cup.
P O L O I N T H E PA M PA S
The trophy of the summer season was defined on Tuesday, Jan. 8, in a third venue: Valeria del Mar, another of the small maritime towns that surround Pinamar, the county’s seat. As a novelty, the opening match between Cayenne Black and Cayenne Bordeaux ended tied, 3-3, after completing the two regulation periods, forcing a shootout to be held. In penalties, Ringa and Tahier were more efficient than Cavanagh and Rooney and celebrated with a 5-4 victory. Next, Cayenne White retaliated against Black with a 4-0 shutout for the win. The third game of the day, between Bordeaux and White, ended up tied, although Ringa made the difference in the penalty shootout, so the La Pérgola Gold Cup went to Cayenne Bordeaux. “I had never played this way and it was a very interesting experience. It is another form of game because you have to hit the ball in the air; the field is short and the wind, being close to the sea, complicates it a bit. But it is very fun for those of us inside and for the audience,” said Ringa, who won the MVP trophy. There was no sadness for the defeated, as Cayenne White had lost the battle but won the war. It took the Porsche Grand Slam Cup for having the best
score in three stages, after winning the initial step and being runner-up in the other two. “We showed a lot of guts and ended up winning. It was very nice to go back to my country and end up winning the main trophy. It helps me prepare myself for the season in France,” explained Esteban Panelo, a professional at the Saint Tropez Polo Club on the French Riviera. After the podium ceremony there was room for two more individual awards: Junior Cavanagh received the Fair Play prize and his partner Federico Rooney was recognized as Best Scorer in the total count of the three tournaments. •
White’s Esteban Panelo and Juan Cruz Isla spray their competitors after winning the Grand Slam.
Black’s Federico Rooney gets on a fresh horse at beach polo in Valeria del Mar.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 41
POLO AROUND THE GLOBE
United Arab Emirates Beach Polo returns to Dubai Marina
Guests enjoyed trick riders and a light show between matches.
For more than a decade, the Beach Polo Cup Dubai has been part of the prestigious sporting events calendar in the region. Due to an immense transformation of the event and growth in the vibrant city of Dubai, tournament organizers Gaby and Sam Katiela shifted the date to December at the specially built arena at Skydive Dubai, at the marina in front of the stunning backdrop of Dubai’s lighted skyscrapers. Held under the patronage of HH Shiekh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the event has been played since 2004, showcasing a more relaxed and accessible brand of polo and offering a modern take on an old and privileged social experience. Tonino Lamborghini Residences Dubai was this year’s title sponsor with the event presented by Oriental Pearls. Players from all over the world, including last year’s winners Tariq and Rashid Albwardy from the Desert Palm Polo Club, were divided into four teams. Tariq and Rashid, sons of Ali Albwardy, played for different teams this year. Dr. Sabine Schaffer from Austria is the first-ever female to compete in the event and Faris Al Yabhouni, owner of the Abu Dhabi Polo Team, competed in the event for the first time. New this year, organizers hosted a Holiday
Hossam Hosni and Mia Costach
Tonino Lamborghini’s Rashid Albwardy, Saoud Khoory and MVP Maxi Malacalza (in black jerseys) won the event.
42 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
POLO AROUND THE GLOBE
Market offering arts & crafts, jewelry, holiday gift ideas, toys, home decor, health & wellness products and almost anything related to horse and rider. A huge public grandstand was also added, offering free entry to the polo action. Tournament Director Gaby Katiela said, “With the new grandstand and free entry, we want to contribute to the public and demonstrate how pure and dynamic, fun and thrilling beach polo is.” The event kicked off on Dec. 12 with a glamorous players’ presentation at the Desert Palm Polo Club. Play began the next evening under the lights with UK-based commentator Jan-Erik Franck at the microphone. The first playoff match pitted Altaaqa Global against Hills Advertising LLC. The teams were knotted 4-4 after the second chukker when Hills Advertising broke loose, outscoring Altaaqa 7-1 for a final score of 12-5. The second match of the day saw Tonino Lamborghini take on Lindt Lindor. The teams were tied 2-2 after the first chukker but Lamborghini sped away with the match 10-5.
Chris Eberle, Season 11 winner of German Idol Aneta Ablik, and Garen Mehrabian
Between games the audience was delighted with a performance by trick riders and a spectacular light show. The final was played the next day between Tonino Lamborghini and Hills Advertising LLC. The action began with the consolation for third
Lindt Lindor’s Dr. Sabine Schaffer, far left, is the first woman to compete in the event. Lamborghini, with Rashid Albwardy and Maxi Malacalza (in black), defeated Lindt Lindor, 10-5, on the first day. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 43
POLO AROUND THE GLOBE
Rashid Albwardy (UAE) Saoud Khoory (UAE) Maxi Malacalza (ARG)
Faris Al Yabhouni (UAE) Rashid Al Sayegh (UAE) Santiago Gomez Romero (ARG)
Hills Advertising, LLC
Tariq Albwardy (UAE) Sam Instone (UK) Ramiro Cordero (ARG)
Jan Bladen (UK/CH) Dr. Sabine Schaffer (AUS) Tomy Iriarte (ARG)
Sam Katiela, Oriental Pearls CEO Ma Guolong and Tonino Lamborghini
Dubai’s lighted skyscrapers provided a stunning backdrop.
44 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
place between Lindt Lindor and Altaaqa Global. The honor went to Altaaqa Global by just a goal separating them when the match ended. In the final, Hills Advertising LLC put the pressure on from the first bowl-in, carrying the lead from the beginning to the third chukker when Tonino Lamborghini rallied, leveling the score, 5-5. Tonino Lamborghini carried its momentum into the last chukker, capitalizing on every opportunity to take the lead. The team was successful, emerging victorious by a narrow 7-6. Tonino Lamborghini’s Maxi Malacalza was named MVP of the tournament. His Excellency Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council said, “Polo has been around for more than 2,500 years, but we can proudly say that the beach version of this ‘Sport of Kings’ was born here on the sands of Dubai, and we are really proud to see this tournament turn into one of Dubai’s premier sporting events.” The sports council has been a long-term partner of the event. Katiela said, “Dubai is on a mission to be the most active city in the world and we want to make our mark supporting this goal.” Plans are already underway for the 10th Jubilee Edition planned for December. •
POLO AROUND THE GLOBE
Hills Advertisingâ€™s Ramiro Cordero carries the ball along the wall in the match against Altaaqa Global.
The specially-built arena at the Skydive Dubai marina provided an excellent way to showcase a more accessible brand of polo.
POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 45
POLO REPORT DISPATCHES FROM THE WORLD OF POLO FLORIDA
THE VILLAGES PREVAILS IN MAHOGANY CUP
The Villages’ Frankie Bilbao gets by Skaneateles’ Marty Cregg in the final of the 12-goal Mahogany Cup.
ix teams entered the 12-goal Mahogany Cup hosted by Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, from Feb. 9-Mar. 2. In preliminary rounds, Skaneateles defeated Barefield, 12-8, and The Villages, 10-4; The Island House fell to The Villages, 10-8; Horseware barely beat Barefield, 11-10; Skaneateles overcame Mt. Brilliant, 10-8; The Island House crushed Mt. Brilliant, 94; Barefield lost a tough one to The Island House, 8-7; and The Villages
46 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
beat Horseware, 9-8. The final game featured the Skaneateles team of Marty Cregg, Cesar Jimenez, Mariano Obregon and Costi Caset vs. The Villages’ Paige McCabe, Francisco Bilbao, Nick Johnston and Herndon Radcliff. In a first half dominated by Skaneateles, Obregon scored five goals to help lead his team into an 8-3 halftime advantage. In amazing fourth and fifth chukkers for Villages, Radcliff helped his team turn the tide
with four field goals, along with two each by Johnson and Bilbao. Going into the last chukker leading 11-9, Villages had several close calls, defending three penalty goals by Skaneateles. Bilbao put one more goal on the board before the end of the chukker to give Villages the 12-9 win. MVP honors went to The Villages’ Herndon Radcliff and Costi Caset’s Chelo Pallada, who he played in the second and fifth chukkers, was Best Playing Pony.
R E P O R T RAMON CASARES
P O L O
OVERTIME THRILLER IN WPL FOUNDERS CUP
In one of polo’s biggest upsets for the 2019 winter polo season, Grand Champions knocked off Valiente, 1211, on Mar. 3, in overtime to win the inaugural World Polo League Founders Cup at Valiente Polo Farm. In front of an overflow crowd, Argentine 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero scored the winning goal in the first two minutes of overtime to upset previously unbeaten Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, 2, Agustin Nero, 6, Santi Torres, 6, Adolfo Cambiaso, 10). Playing together for the first time in the WPL’s second tournament of the season, Grand Champions finished the eight-team, 26goal tournament undefeated at 4-0. Nero and teammates Rodrigo Andrade, 9, Grant Ganzi, 3, and Juancito Bollini, 4, earned $60,000 in prize money. “I don't know what happened, they say that we won,” joked Nero, named the Tournament Most Valuable Player. Nero also earned the Catena Watch Play of the Day for his game-winner. Andrade was selected Tato’s Game MVP. The impressive victory marked a successful 26-goal final debut of
Grand Champions’ Grant Ganzi, Juancito Bollini, Rodrigo Andrade and Juan Martin Nero won the Founders Cup over Valiente.
longtime friends and teammates Grant Ganzi, 20, and Juancito Bollini, 22. “This is huge for the club, huge for the team, just a huge, huge win,” Ganzi said. “This is my No. 1 win, for sure. At this level against the best in the world and taking Adolfo out on the last play, you can’t top that.” Valiente opened with a 3-0 lead on handicap and extended it to 5-0 early in the first chukker. With Valiente leading, 7-3, Grand Champions clawed its way back, scoring five unanswered goals in the third and fourth chukkers to take an 8-7 lead on Ganzi’s goal run. The game was tied
four times before Nero’s heroics. “We just had a determined mentality,” Ganzi said. “We never gave up. We just kept going harder and harder at every play. We knew this team could come back. Against Scone, we were losing the whole game, too. It’s been an uncommon pattern for us. “We have had to give goals to teams at the beginning and it’s been tough,” Ganzi said. “We have been able to get ourselves out of it.” Nero finished with a game-high seven goals, including four on penalty conversions. Andrade had four and Juancito Bollini outpaces Agustin Nero in the Founders Cup.
The Villages’ Paige McCabe, MVP Herndon Radcliff, Nick Johnson and Frankie Bilbao won the 12-goal Mahogany Cup.
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Ganzi added one. Torres led Valiente with five goals, Cambiaso had two and Agustin Nero added one. The Grand Champions Best Playing Pony of the Game was Dolfina Miami, played and owned by Cambiaso in the fourth chukker. The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the final was Mermelada played by Agustin Nero in the sixth chukker and owned by J5 Equestrian. The American Polo Horse Association best horse of the tournament was JM Muneca played by Juan Martin Nero in the second and sixth chukkers. Valiente, overtime winners of the season-opening All-Star Challenge Draw Tournament with Nero, Torres, Pablo Mac Donough and Poroto Cambiaso, was the heavy favorite and looking for its second title. In the tournament semifinals, Grand Champions defeated Scone, 12-9, while Valiente defeated Colorado, 10-7. Scone (David Paradise, 0, Guillermo Terrera, 8, Alejandro Taranco, 8, Pelon Stirling, 10) won the subsidiary Powerhorse Cup and $40,000 in prize money with a 15-12 victory over Colorado (Rob Jornayvaz, 2, Juan Martin Zubia, 7, Diego Cavanagh, 9, Jero del Carril, 7). Stirling scored a game-high eight goals and was MVP. Liberata, played by Stirling, was Grand
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Dutta Corp’s Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Timmy Dutta, Tim Dutta and Nico Diaz Alberdi
Champions Polo Club Best Playing Pony. Jordib, played by Rob Jornayvaz and owned by J5 Equestrian, was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. Colorado started out with a 2-0 lead on handicap. The game was close in the first half. After a 4-4 opening chukker, Scone outscored Colorado, 3-2, in the second chukker for a 7-6 advantage. Scone tied Colorado 2-2 in the third chukker to tie it up at the half, 9-9. Scone kicked it up a gear in the second half, outscoring Colorado, 6-4, including a 3-0 fifth chukker to clinch the first 26-goal subsidiary title for Aussie team sponsor David Paradise in his 26-goal playing debut. “These guys are so much on the ball, the other side couldn’t afford to have any mistakes because they were on Santi Wulff waits for a chance to defend while Lucas Diaz Alberdi guides the ball downfield.
top of it straightaway,” Paradise said. Added Stirling, “We played well. It was a very difficult team, they have been having a great season. Luckily, we managed to get the two goals back quickly. We played very well in the second half.” In other action, Dutta Corp captured the Grand Champions Top Pony 8-goal League title on March 2. Dutta Corp (Timmy Dutta, 2, Nico Diaz Alberdi, 1, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, 5, Tim Dutta, 0) defeated Patagones (Anita Avendano, 0, Joaquin Avendano, Santi Wulff, 5, Gonzalo Avendano, 1), 11-9, to win the Grand Champions Top Pony 8-Goal League title for the first time in the team’s history. Timmy Dutta, 17, was named MVP after scoring 10 goals for the second time in his young career. “This is amazing,” Dutta said. “Last year in the 8-goal we had the same team and lost in the semifinals. We had never gotten to the final. This year while we were practicing we said we wanted to win this and I wanted to win with my father.” Julie, a 10-year-old American Thoroughbred mare, played by Santi Wulff, was selected Best Playing Pony. In addition to Dutta’s 10 goals, Lucas Diaz Alberdi added one goal. For Patagones, Wulff scored a team-high seven goals and Joaquin Avendano added two goals. The final was a real family affair with fathers and sons, husband and wife and brothers. After two close opening chukkers with Patagones leading, 3-2, after the first and Dutta Corp leading, 5-4, after the second, Dutta Corp took an 8-5 lead behind Dutta’s three goals and never trailed for the rest of the game. In addition to Dutta Corp and Patagones, other teams that competed in the 8-goal league were Beverly Equestrian, Horseware, Smithfield and WPL. It was the second consecutive year Patagones finished runner-up. —Sharon Robb
R E P O R T MURRELL PHOTO.COM
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TEXAS ARENA LEAGUE COMPLETES SECOND LEG
Central Texas Polo Association’s Javier Insua and OKC CCC’s Greg Summers duel in the USPA Admiral Nimitz military tournament. CTPA won the event. MURRELL PHOTO.COM
Eight teams competed in the 0- to 3goal and seven teams played in the 3- to 6-goal flights at Two Wishes Ranch near Austin, Texas, for the second leg of Texas Arena League. The Two Wishes facility, a member of Central Texas Polo Association, includes an outdoor arena, plenty of turnout and stalls as well as two outdoor polo fields. St Edward’s University, a newlyformed collegiate polo team, was onhand to help set-up and sell concessions. Its members are ready to put in a team next year. Teams and individuals in TAL competed for points given for win-tieloss record in their matches at all four events and for points from MVP, Sportsmanship and Best Playing Pony honors in each game. TAL encouraged travel for playing opportunities, camaraderie, and spectator involvement. In addition to the points gained within Texas Arena League, all the USPA circuit events also received the players points toward qualifying for the National Arena Amateur Cup under the new NAAC format. Players from all over Texas and Oklahoma have been participating at single locations or plan on competing throughout the entire league at Legend’s Horse Ranch (East Texas Polo Club) near Dallas, Two Wishes Ranch (Central Texas Polo Association) near Austin and Midland Polo Club in West Texas. All tickets sales and individual donations benefit TAL’s Charity Partner Make-A-Wish. Second-year player Ashley Owen played on the Legacy Team in both flights. “The Texas Arena League has been a great opportunity for me to play competitive arena polo again. I started my polo career in the arena at Texas
Legacy’s Loreto Natividad leads the pack in a match-up with the Central Texas Polo Assn. team in the USPA Constitution Cup round robin. Legacy won both of its rounds.
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R E P O R T In the USPA Arena Challenge, Williams Polo (Brady Williams, Mark Osburn, Bleu Bannister) bested Texas Military (Chloe Rivas, Gal Shweiki, Zubair Hamir). Legend’s (Nacho Estrada, Ismael Vazquez, Jack Crea) fell to Legacy (Ashley Owen, Kyle McGraw, Javier Peralta) in the TAL 0- to 3-goal Challenge. Legend’s (JT Shiverick, Omar Polio, Nacho Estrada) edged South Padre Island (Pud Nieto, Wendy Stover, Cindy von Falkenhausen) in the I/I Alumni Cup. In the USPA General Puller military tournament, OKC CCC Ranch (Wyatt Myr, Greg Summers, Kelly Coldiron) defeated Big Time Polo (Devan Groves, Brady Williams, Dalton Woodfin, Wendy Stover). The round-robin USPA Constitution Cup went to Legacy (Kyle McGraw, Ashley Owen, Loreto Natividad) after it defeated both San Antonio Polo Club (Jack Crea, Gal Shweiki, Trey Crea) and Central Texas Polo Assn. (Karl Hilberg, Tres de la Paz, Javier Insua). San Antonio Polo Club took second
Tech. I have had the opportunity to enjoy field polo on and off over the years but the arena is in my roots and it has been so much fun to get back to it and play competitively. “This weekend it was great to be reunited with old friends from Tech. Polo seems to be a common thread that allows us to see each other and catch up. My daughter has joined me on the trips, and to share the TAL experience with her has been so special for us. Arena polo is a great place to start learning to play and she is looking forward to participating in the middle school league in a few years,” she said. In the USPA Arena Congressional Cup, Castillo Polo (Trenton Werntz, David Werntz, Cindy von Falkenhausen, Karen Summers) defeated South Padre Island (Pud Nieto, Tom Arbuckle, Abi McVaney). The USPA Admiral Nimitz military tournament went to Central Texas Polo Association (Javier Insua, Tres de la Paz, Holly Wood) after it defeated OKC CCC (Allen Bowman, Kelly Coldiron, Greg Summers).
Legacy’s Ashley Owen reaches out to hook Legend’s Nacho Estrada in the TAL 0- to 3-goal Challenge. In the end, Legacy got the best of Legends.
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place after downing CTPA. Mark Osburne received the Galvin Agency/American National Insurance Fan Favorite Player, chosen by spectators who voted on social media. The U.S. Polo Assn. MVP winners were Devan Groves, Jack Crea, Tres de la Paz, Ashley Owen, JT Shiverick, Cindy von Falkenhausen and Mark Osburne. Catena USA Sportsmanship award winners included Tom Arbuckle, Gal Shweiki, Greg Summers, Omar Polio, Karl Hilberg, Holly Wood, Jack Crea and Greg Summers. Nutrena Best Playing Pony blankets went to Fany, owned by Ariel Rodriguez and played by Cindy von Falkenhausen; Wendy Stover’s Wild; Javier Insua’s Solita; Dakota, owned by Karen Summers and played by Wyatt Myr; Kelly Coldiron’s Isabella; Nacho Estrada’s Gema; and Brady Williams’ Sonita. PAC I F I C C OA S T
LOCKTON, BUFFALOS ACE GEN. PATTON TOURNEY Lockton locked up the final of the 8goal USPA Gen. Patton tournament at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, Feb. 24, with a 13-4 victory over Ridgway Hemp. Lining up for Lockton was Athena Malin subbing for Tim Kelly, Tommy Costello, Andres Gonzalez and Shane Rice, while Ridgway Hemp included Beau Staley, Meghan Gracida, Carlos Hernandez and Memo Gracida. Staley was the only score in the first period, countering a one-goal handicap to Lockton. Rice started the second with a tally followed by another from Gonzalez. Memo Gracida responded, wrapping goals around one from Costello, keeping Lockton narrowly ahead, 4-3. Back-to-back goals by Hernandez in the third put Ridgway ahead, 5-4 but Lockton shot back with two in a row by Gonzalez and a Penalty 3 conversion by Rice for
Lockton’s Shane Rice, Tommy Costello, Athena Malin, Andres Gonzalez and Tim Kelly won the 8-Goal Gen. Patton tournament.
a 7-3 halftime lead. Hernandez and Memo Gracida score their third goals of the game (both open goal penalties) to knot the score but Malin struck for Lockton to put it back on top. Hernandez scored a Penalty 2 early in the fifth, but Gonzalez and Rice combined for three goals to give Lockton a comfortable 11-8 lead going into the final chukker. Lockton turned up the heat continually shooting at goal and frustrating Ridgway. Hernandez and Memo Gracida drew yellow cards after Malin and Rice split the uprights. Lockton took the 13-8 victory. Shane Rice was named MVP and Memo Gracida’s Stripes was Best Playing Pony. In the 4-goal section of the tournament, Buffalos (Piers Bossom, Felipe Sordelli, Tim Rudy, Ross Adam) overcame Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco, Luis Saracco), 9-5. Hanalei Bay got off to a great start with Luis Saracco and Bonaguidi sending the ball between the posts in the first chukker, while Buffalos failed to reach the goal. That all changed in the second chukker when Rudy took matters into his own hands and slammed in three unanswered goals.
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Buffalos’ Ross Adam, Tim Rudy, Felipe Sordelli and Piers Bossom won the 4-goal USPA. Gen. Patton tournament.
Plank & Co./MedExpert’s Kendall Plank, Dayelle Fargey, Kiki Hiller and Micaela Saracco won the Debii $ Conant women’s tournament.
He added another for good measure to start off the third and Adam added one to take a 5-2 lead at the half. Buffalos continued the barrage in the fourth with Bossom, Sordelli and Rudy slamming in four goals. Hanalei was held to a Penalty 2 from Coors. Down 9-3 going into the last period, Luis Saracco sunk a Penalty 2, then scored from the field but that would be the last goal. Buffalos roamed away with the 9-5 win. The previous week, Plank & Co./MedExpert (Micaela Saracco, Kristen Hiller, Dayelle Fargey, Kendall Plank) hung on to edge Zephyr/M3 (Claudia Uretz, Erin Brittan, Madelyn Cobb, Cybel Jordan), 7-6, in the final of the Debii $ Conant women’s final.
Fargey got the scoring going in the first with three goals in a row, including a pair of penalty conversions. Hiller scored another early in the second before Cobb put Zephyr/M3 on the board with a penalty conversion, then a field goal. Plank had the 4-2 advantage at the half. Fargey kept up the pressure in the second half, jumping out with a penalty conversion and a field goal. Uretz and Brittan matched the goals to keep Zephyr/M3 in the game. In the final chukker, Zephyr/M3 rallied, with Jordan converting a penalty and Brittan adding another to tie the match at 6-6. Plank fought back and Hiller found the mark to give Plank & Co./MedExpert the win. The win was a nice birthday present for Micaela Saracco, who turned 12. Cobb was named MVP and Fargey’s Peace was Best Playing Pony. The consolation match was won by Lazy H Ranches (Jazmin Trotz, Julie Fernandez, Athena Malin, Catlin DixHarris). They outscored Manolo Polo (Becky Schaller, Shannon Mendez, Anna Coscia, Audrey Persano) with a final score of 4-2. The Dorrie Forstmann Sportsmanship award went to Julie Fernandez.
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Antelope Jr.’s Grant Palmer, Felipe Vercellino, Peter Blake and Jose Martinez won the 12-goal Constitution Cup.
ANTELOPE JR. BEST IN CONSTITUTION CUP
continued and arrived as a worthy foe. In fact, it defeated the young pronghorns in qualifying play. On a superb afternoon—presented by Ketel One Botanicals—the early play, while fast, featured little scoring. The first goal came from Soleimani on a run from center on a perfect setup. Vercellino replied for Antelope Jr. to tie the count but Alberdi crushed a 60-yard award and the first ended with Soleimani.com leading, 2-1. Von Wernich scored the only goal in a rather choppy second period to now lead by a pair at 3-1. If the play didn’t open up in the third period, the scoring certainly did as the designers extended their lead.
Antelope Jr. topped a six-team roster to take the title in the Fish Creek Constitution Cup at Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California, Feb. 22. Antelope Jr. (Grant Palmer, Felipe Vercellino, Jose Ignacio Martinez, Peter Blake) topped its bracket with a 4-2 record and won its semifinal game to reach the final. The opposition in the decider, Bensoleimani.com (Ben Soleimani, Santiago Von Wernich, Tommy Alberdi, Joseph Stuart), started the competition slowly and improved as the tournament
Centurions’ Luis Saracco, MVP Ignacio Saracco, Cheryl Schindel and Lesley Tims won the 4-goal Constitution Cup.
Bensoleimani.com’s Santi von Wernich, aboard Best Playing Pony Vienna, handles the bouncing ball while being challenged by Antelope Jr.’s Peter Blake in the 12-goal Constitution Cup.
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Soleimani counted his second on another nice run and Alberdi grabbed one from the field and another perfectly executed Penalty 4. The reply from the Palmer group saw Martinez and Vercellino convert open-goal opportunities and Soleimani.com led by three at 6-3. The fourth allowed the junior pronghorns to come within one as Vercellino scored twice—a Penalty 4 and a No. 2. However, Stuart converted a 30yard free throw to lead by two, 7-5. Antelope Jr. opened up the fifth and took the lead for the first time. Martinez scored twice from the field and Vercellino scored his fourth penalty counter and added a field goal to lead by two. Alberdi narrowed the gap to one with his second field goal and Antelope Jr. led 9-8 going to the final chukker. In a tension-filled closing stanza, the designers were not able to get even as Vercellino converted another open-goal offering to now give the junior squad a two-goal advantage. Alberdi then scored on a Penalty 2 from the spot to narrow the gap to just one at 10-9. Continued pressure from the young pronghorns lead to Vercellino’s second Penalty 4 conversion of the afternoon which ensured the win. Antelope Jr., this time defeating Bensoleimani.com, won the USPA Fish Creek Constitution Cup by a final count of 11-9. Martinez, with his strong supporting play in the middle, was selected as the
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MVP, and Vienna, owned by Soleimani and played by Von Wernich in the second, was awarded the Best Playing Pony blanket. Other teams included Twin Palms (Chris Maloney, Graham Bray, Ruben Coscia, Ulysses Escapite), Farmers & Merchants Bank (Danny Walker, Julian Mannix, Mariano Gutierrez, Alonzo Cruz), Antelope (Geoff Palmer, Santiago Trotz, Marco Llambias, Jimmy Wright) and Highwood (Ron Mathison, Marcello Rodriguez-Abbiati, Francisco MeraRodriguez, Jared Sheldon). In the 4-goal division of the Constitution Cup, Centurions (Cheryl Schindel, Lesley Tims, Luis Saracco, Ignacio Saracco) and CedarCreek (Nicholas Wilhelm, Alex Green, Ashton Wolf, Deigo Cossio) topped their brackets to advance to the final. It was determined by a great many that the Romans would easily emerge as the victors. As everyone now knows, that most certainly was not the case as CedarCreek was more than prepared to play hard-nosed polo from the outset.
Katie, Chrissy, Kacy and Sydney Falk won the Giuliana Cup in Costa Careyes.
The prognosticators were comfortable after the first period as the Centurions, having to give up a half goal on handicap, led at the end by a count of 2-½. However, the second was much different as the management group sharpened its pencils and went to work. With constant pressure, the result was CedarCreek outscoring the Centurions by a pair to lead at the half with a count of 3½-3. Continued and genuine force by CedarCreek in the third period saw its lead increase to 5½-3. Needing to step up in order to win, the Centurions did in the final frame as they outscored
CedarCreek’s Ashton wolf breaks his mallet in a duel with Centurion’s Luis Saracco in the 4-goal Constitution Cup.
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CedarCreek by three goals to barely squeeze out a victory with a final count in their favor of 76½ to become the USPA Fish Creek 4-Goal Constitution Cup champions. Ignacio Saracco led the scoring for the victors with four goals, Luis Saracco had two (one penalty) and Tims, with a great move, attained the game winner with little time left to go. CedarCreek counters came from Wolf with four open-goal conversions and Cossio provided two from the field. In a great return to Eldorado, Ignacio Saracco earned the title of MVP and Maga, played by Saracco and owned him and his brother Luis, was chosen as the Best Playing Pony. —Tony Gregg INTERNATIONAL
FALKS VICTORIOUS IN 9TH GIULIANA CUP The Falk Family from Fresno, California, came away the winner in the 9th Annual Giuliana Cup at Careyes Polo Club in ManzanilloPuerto Vallarta, Mexico, Jan. 25-26. The team included Katie and Chrissy with daughters Sydney and Kacy. The Falks took on the USA/UK team of Suzy Dix, president of the Spokane Polo Club; USPA Pacific Northwest Circuit Governor Sheryl Sick; Lori Summers from New Orleans and Pro-fit entrepreneur; and Nicola Hodges of the U.K. The teams battled over two days with the Falks prevailing 4-1 and 4-2. Katie Falk led the scoring on both days with two goals while Nicola Hodges led the scoring for USA/UK. Giorgio Brignone, owner and creator of the Careyes Polo Club, hosted the traditional tequila toast. The weekend was topped off by a beachside farewell dinner at Playa Rosa. •
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(continued from page 17) been multiple reports of people being chased by rabid cows. Signs of rabies in horses Signs of rabies are not always clear, and people may try to treat the sick animal for something else. Inability to swallow may be mistaken for choking, and the owner or veterinarian may become exposed when examining the mouth and throat. Early signs in horses may include lameness and/or colic. An Oklahoma veterinarian had a horse come into her clinic with what looked like respiratory disease, and several people were exposed because they didn’t realize the horse also had rabies. This particular horse had pneumonia, but was also showing neurological signs. “What I’ve observed most often in rabid animals is inability to swallow, and in some cases the animal appears to be choked. You pass a stomach tube and it goes right down, so you get an endoscope to check things further and there’s no blockage. The trachea is fine and you suddenly realize its rabies! You hope you wore gloves!” she said. There hasn’t been much published on rabies in horses. The largest study had only 21 cases and 10 percent of those horses showed colic as an initial sign. Another 24 percent showed lameness. This might lead a veterinarian off track, but then the animals always progress to show other signs, becoming increasingly abnormal, often uncoordinated or disoriented. They almost always become recumbent—unable to get up—at the end. Once they start showing signs, it may take two to five days or longer until they progress to the point they are euthanized or die. Incubation time (between exposure and initial symptoms) varies, depending on location of the bite. An animal bitten on the nose or face will usually show signs of illness much sooner than an animal bitten on the hind leg. In the latter situation it might be several months because the virus has to travel farther along the nerves before it gets to the brain. One case involved a horse with its tongue hanging out, and lesions on the tongue. It looked like vesicular stomatitis. The owner tried to stuff the tongue back in the horse’s mouth, got saliva on her hands, rubbed her eyes, and became exposed. The horse died a few days later, on a Friday. This delayed getting the brain tested, so it was a week after exposure before the owner learned the horse was rabid. As a result, she and four friends had to start taking the rabies shots. 54 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Symptoms in horses may be vague, but often one of the first signs is irritability and not wanting to be touched. As one veterinarian put it, “If it looks like everything yet nothing, think rabies.” Vaccination Today most veterinarians recommend livestock and horses be vaccinated. There are products available for cattle, horses and sheep. Any animals that interact with people should be vaccinated. Rabies is the only equine disease that could kill you and your family. Animal owners can ask their veterinarian where they can obtain rabies vaccine and who should administer it, because the rules may vary from state to state. “Here in Virginia, in order for vaccination to be recognized, it must be given by a veterinarian,” says Murphy. “You must have proof of vaccination. Information about rabies vaccine availability or who must administer it can be gleaned from your State Health Department or Department of Agriculture.” Rabies variants Rabies has many genetically different strains, and each has a specific host. In Pennsylvania, the endemic strain is raccoon rabies. Other areas have different variants, including skunk, fox and bat rabies. There are several different strains, just as there are multiple strains of flu virus. Variants have adapted to living in different species of animals, sometimes several variants in the same species. When rabies cases are on an upswing in a certain species there is always spillover of the disease into other species as rabid animals come into contact with other animals. The host species is not killed as quickly as species into which that variant spills over. A skunk with skunk rabies lives longer (to infect more animals) than would another type of animal bitten by a skunk. This enables the variant to survive and be propagated in nature. There are several rabies variants in skunks and many rabies variants have been identified in different bat species. There are between 15 and 40 species of bats that may each have their own rabies variant. Several fox variants exist in the U.S. and different canine variants are the predominant form of rabies in other countries. Rabid horses often expose humans There are dozens of cases in which unsuspecting owners and veterinarians became exposed to rabies when handling rabid horses. Dr. Kody Kothmann, at Cap Rock Veterinary Clinic in Lubbock, Texas,
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treated a rabid horse in November 2010 when the owners described it over the phone as a horse that was off feed, losing weight, choking and doing some weird things with its head. The illness came on very quickly. “I went to see the horse, because the owners didn’t think they could get it loaded to bring it to the clinic. When I got there the mare was in pain, stretching her head and neck, flicking her eyes, and chomping with her mouth. But what I noticed most was that her eyes were twitching, separately. One would shut and flicker and then the other eye would shut and flicker,” said Kothmann. “Differential diagnoses going through my mind were things like choke—but choke would include nasal discharge rather than just not being able to eat. The mare’s tail was distended, which is typical with early onset of tetanus. But her ears weren’t stiff and erect; it wasn’t the classic tetanus stance and the third eyelid membrane wasn’t coming across the eyes. Her eyes were just twitching,” he said. “Other things that went through my mind were moldy corn poisoning or an encephalitis disease like West Nile or sleeping sickness, but it was too late in the year for mosquito-borne encephalitis problems. I told the owners I didn’t know what disease it was, but I administered antibiotics and steroids, to see if that might help,” he said. “The owners thought that the mare had lost about 50 pounds within 12 hours. I’d never seen a rabies case so I had no idea what to expect. You hear about salivation (foaming at the mouth), and inability to drink. When a bucket of water was put in front of the horse, it went crazy trying to drink, but couldn’t swallow,” said Kothmann. “They finally did bring the horse to my clinic, even though I told them I didn’t want it here, knowing it was going to die. They said their little daughter had picked up a kitten that had been walking through the stall where the horse was stumbling around trying to get a drink, and the kitten scratched the little girl. We weren’t as worried about the kitten having rabies as we were that walking through the stall might have gotten some of the horse’s saliva on the kitten’s paw. When it scratched the girl it may have gotten saliva in the scratch wounds,” said Kothmann. “By the time they got the mare here, 24 hours after I’d looked at her, she’d lost another 150 pounds and was very dehydrated. I took videos and they were indicative of a horse with severe brain pain. The eyes were flickering, neck outstretched, and she was losing coordination in her hind legs—staggering, stumbling--and after she went down I ran a tube up
her nose, and there was no evidence of choke.” He euthanized the mare because she couldn’t get up again, and retrieved the brain to send for testing and it was positive for rabies. “All of us had to take the rabies shots. The man and his young daughter had been exposed, and though I’d taken precautions when examining the horse, I became exposed while retrieving the brain,” said Kothmann. “I called some veterinary friends who have been treating large animals all their lives, and quizzed them about rabies, and found very few had any experience with a rabid horse. I called Texas A&M and they tried to convince me that the signs this horse was showing were more typical of liver toxicity. I finally called Dr. John Sprouth at the diagnostic lab in Amarillo while we were waiting on the rabies test. The first thing he asked was whether the horse could swallow, and when I said no, he said it was rabies.” Another case that was initially baffling was a horse brought to the Central Plains Veterinary Clinic at Plainview, Texas. Missy Looney, veterinary technician and clinic manager, said the horse came into the clinic nervous and trembling. As the day progressed, symptoms got worse. By the next morning they put him down, sent the brain to a lab, and it tested positive. “Most people think of rabies as an animal foaming at the mouth, aggressive, etc. This horse was just disoriented and shook his head as if flies were bothering him. He was self-mutilating, biting his front legs, and itching. He had scrapes on the sides of his face from rubbing it on his legs, and abrasions behind both ears from scratching with his back feet. He also did a funny stomping at the ground, like he was suddenly dizzy and trying to catch his balance,” Looney said. Some rabid horses do become aggressive. “When I was in veterinary technician school, one of the guys I worked with went on a farm call to look at a horse that was not acting right, and came back with a dent in the hood of his pickup from the horse’s front foot, and the side of his pickup was dented in from the horse ramming it,” she said. “Several years ago one of our veterinarians went to look at a horse that chased him around the pickup when he got there, and he could hear the horse’s teeth clacking together as it was trying to bite at him. This was the furious type of rabies, but there are also many cases where the animal is just dull,” said Looney. Dr. Marie Wilson, a veterinarian at Rockwall Equine Center, in Poetry, Texas, treated a rabid horse on Memorial Day weekend, 2011. The owners POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 55
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had been watching the horse for several days because it was depressed and not eating. They finally called their veterinarian, and when she went out to examine the horse it had a high fever—105 degrees. She thought it was probably colic that had gone past the point of recovery and ruptured. “It wasn’t until I checked the horse’s gums—which looked perfectly fine—that I realized we had a different problem. The horse wasn’t wobbly or uncoordinated, just very dull and sleepy,” said Wilson. “The only thing unusual about this horse was droopy lips, like he’d been sedated. He could still move his mouth and tongue but not very well. After I stuck my hand in his mouth and checked his gums, I became worried. At the time, we were in the middle of a herpes (EHV-1) outbreak. That same day a case of herpes was confirmed in a horse in Odessa, Texas— only three hours away. So that was the first thing I was concerned about, with the high fever and other issues this horse was having.” She drew blood for the herpes virus test, but also warned the owners it could be rabies. This was confirmed after post-mortem tests. “I was exposed because I’d stuck my hand in the mouth to check mucous membranes. After that, I wore gloves, but it was too late because I’d already exposed myself—so I had the post-exposure shots. The owners had been trying to hand feed the horse, so the whole family had to have the rabies shots, including their 1year-old grandson,” said Wilson. “Never put your hand in a horse’s mouth that won’t eat. Don’t try to hand feed it. You can’t get rabies from touching the horse, but if the horse sneezes and blows saliva on you, this can be an issue.” Vicki Eliot, a horse owner near Amarillo, Texas, lost a yearling filly to rabies in June 2011. “My filly was in a box stall so I didn’t think anything could have come in and bitten her. When I fed her, she started eating, but when I ran my hand along her back and across her rump she sunk down like it hurt. I got her out of the stall and walked her around to check her better. She grazed a little and I put her back in the stall.” The next morning, the filly was down and couldn’t get up. “I thought maybe she was colicky. Then she started kicking her hind feet and couldn’t get her feet under her. So we called the vet, and the first thing he asked was if she’d had rabies shots. After the vet did an autopsy, the test came back positive for rabies,” said Eliot. “She didn’t become aggressive; she just couldn’t get up. She was thrashing in circles trying to get up. 56 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
I tried to feed her, and held her head up so she could drink. She was still drinking and eating until the end.” The veterinarian wasn’t sure it was rabies until after the test came back. “The main reason we put her down was because her back legs weren’t working and she couldn’t get up. She was scraped and bloody from trying, and hurting herself.” Eliot had to take post-exposure rabies vaccinations and the veterinarian had to have two shots. “He’d already had the vaccination so he only needed boosters. A couple people were helping me with my filly, and had to take shots, too. It’s my fault because I never vaccinated her for rabies. Most of us don’t think it will ever happen to us. It was too late for my filly, but many people here started vaccinating their horses because of what happened to mine. If my experience saved someone else’s horse, I’m glad for that.” Rabies treatment for humans Until the 1980s, treatment consisted of a series of injections—generally in the abdomen, because that area could swell and not be as uncomfortable or noticeable as other parts of the body. With a newer product there’s less tissue reaction, and it’s not as painful. Rather than having daily shots it’s now a cycle of shots. First are vaccination in the upper arm and a dose (based on body weight) of human rabies immune globulin injected in and around the wound if the person was bitten. A second vaccination is given on Day 3. A week after the first vaccination, a third shot is given, and No. 4 is given two weeks after the first. This series is not as prolonged and painful, with only four shots, all given within a two-week period. Cost varies, but on average a course of rabies immune globulin and four doses of vaccine given over the two-week period typically exceeds $3,000, which doesn’t include the physician’s charge. The good thing is that if you’ve been treated with the new products, you only need two booster shots if you ever become exposed again. For veterinarians, wildlife biologists, animal control officers or anyone else who handles animals of unknown background, pre-exposure immunization is recommended. This consists of three doses of vaccine (the second given a week after the first, and the final one given three to four weeks after the first shot) and then two booster shots later if they become exposed. If a veterinarian is handling livestock mouths and there is rabies in that area, immunization is recommended. There are still many veterinarians, vet techs and people working at vet
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clinics who are not protected, and it becomes expensive to treat them if they become exposed. It’s better if they are already immunized; then all they need is a couple of booster shots. Veterinarian’s experience with rabies Ann Dwyer, a private practitioner (Genesee Valley Equine Clinic, Scottsville, New York), says western New York State has been a hotbed for rabies for many years. She was personally involved in diagnosing three cases and they were very different, illustrating the fact that rabies can look like just about anything. “With my first case, rabies was actually on my mind as a possibility when I was driving out to look at the horse. The other two took longer to figure out,” she says. Her first case, the owners had called the clinic just before Thanksgiving and made a routine appointment to have their mare checked. “They described her as acting like she was in heat all the time. They made a non-urgent appointment to have her checked after the weekend. I was on call during the holiday, and they called our emergency line and said the mare was really acting in heat. I asked how she was behaving and they said she was bellowing. This was a red flag (because abnormal vocalization can be a sign of rabies) and I asked if she had been vaccinated, and she had not,” says Dwyer. “I got to their place and they hadn’t thought to mention several other things, like the fact this mare had chewed a hole in her own leg, down to the bone. She’d been acting strangely for more than a week, tossing strings of saliva all over the barn. You couldn’t go near her without ducking the ropes of saliva she was slinging around. This horse had never seen a veterinarian and her owners were not very knowledgeable about horse care.” The stall was a makeshift compartment created from pallets tied together with hay twine. “This mare was lunging at me and violent. I was holding the base of a pitchfork handle toward her to see what she would do, and she lunged at it like a lion,” says Dwyer. Discussing the case with the owners was difficult. “I was a brand new vet, and they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. Within five minutes of arriving at their place I was telling them we had to put the mare down and take her head off, and they were adamantly opposed to that. As she kept getting more and more violent, I was able to convince them that we needed to put her down, but the question was how to do it— because I could not get close to her, safely.” A neighbor came by, to try to help. He had a shotgun and offered to shoot the mare, but she could
not be shot in the head, since the brain was needed for testing. Dwyer had to figure out a better way to put the mare down. “Back then, we didn’t think about personal protection. I didn’t have much in my vet truck. My boss (in our two-person practice) was out of town, so I was on my own. I put on an x-ray coat as ‘body armor’, secured a bandana over my mouth like the old-fashioned holdup robber, and grabbed a lid from a trash can as a shield. This was quite a contrast to what we wear today when we deal with hazardous cases. Now, we have a shoebox we carry in our vehicles that contain Tyvek suits, goggles, masks, heavy gloves and boots--personal protective gear to wear in any situation where biosecurity is critical. And today our staff knows that if they ever find themselves in this sort of situation they should call for help and wear protective equipment,” says Dwyer. While debating what to do, she called Cornell University and asked for advice, since she could not get close to a vein with the IV drug for tranquilizing the mare. “I asked what would happen if I just put a lot of the drug into her by intramuscular injection. I thought I could jab her and jump back. The Cornell veterinarians didn’t know, either, but thought I should try it. I put most of a bottle of xylazine (a drug used for sedation and anesthesia) into that mare. Oddly, it didn’t sedate her much; it just made her wobbly and uncoordinated. Finally she slowed her lunges, and I thought I could get some euthanasia drug into her by IM injection and keep control of the needle.” Eventually the mare went down. “I thought I could get to her vein then, because she acted like she was unconscious. I bent down to pierce the vein and she suddenly lunged up at me with her teeth! I finally managed to euthanize her, and then proceeded to do the post-mortem,” says Dwyer. “I should have come back later, because one of the problems with an immediate post-mortem is that the blood is still warm and runny and I didn’t have the correct knives or proper containers. As I took her head off I realized I had no way to really protect myself; the virus is everywhere in the CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) that was running all over. I got the head off, contacted the county health official and said ‘I think I have a rabid horse and the owners have been handling it for seven or eight days and we need to get it tested on an emergency basis.’ His question to me was, ‘When did you graduate?’ and it was clear that I was interrupting his football game. He would not authorize me to do emergency testing,” she says. Dwyer already had the samples, but it was a holiday. “I was concerned about this family, because POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 57
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they were so naïve and they’d all been exposed. I called the family’s physician. He listened to me, and sent the family to get post-exposure treatment. The county was upset with me, however, because these people got sent to a non-contract hospital to get their treatments and it cost the county more money.” Eventually the samples were tested, but there was a delay because of the holiday. The brain tested positive for rabies, so it was a good thing the family was treated. “The state rabies lab was also able to do molecular fingerprinting—even back then—showing this was a raccoon strain of the virus. The farm was out in the country, ringed with woods around the fields where the horses lived,” says Dwyer. The second case she diagnosed was a horse owned by a woman who didn’t believe in vaccination. “With this horse, rabies was the farthest thing from my mind, because the owner called me to see a horse that was simply dull, not eating, with a fever. This was also a long time ago and biosecurity was not something we thought about. I did not wear gloves. I was thinking the horse had flu or something similar, so I did my physical exam with my hands in its mouth,” she says. That horse showed no neurologic signs. It just wasn’t doing well. “Then just overnight it lost the ability to swallow. I sent that horse to Cornell, still not thinking it had rabies. I don’t think the veterinarians at Cornell thought it was rabies either because they ended up with several people there having to get the post-exposure treatment. I also had to receive the treatment,” says Dwyer. The tests on this horse’s brain came back positive, and the virus was bat-related. “I was vaccinated for rabies while in vet school, and then got treated after each of the cases I worked on. After that second case, the emergency room personnel were not well-educated in post-exposure treatment and gave me the intramuscular rabies immunoglobulin, which they should not have done, because this put me at risk for serious reaction. Nothing bad happened except I felt a little funny for a few days, but it could have been serious,” she says. The third horse she diagnosed with rabies was a bizarre case. That horse came from a western state. “The new owners in New York had been told the gelding ‘had all his shots.’ But when we traced it back, we found it was not customary in his state of origin— which I believe was Montana--to vaccinate for rabies. There may not have been much risk in Montana, but then the horse was shipped to western New York, which is a hotbed for rabies. The people caring for the horse thought it had been vaccinated, and it took some detective work to discover that it wasn’t,” Dwyer says. This horse wasn’t traveling right, and the 58 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
veterinarians at her clinic were asked to do a lameness exam. “We weren’t very busy that day, so we went out to the farm to do it. The horse would seem lame, and then it would look sound, and then it would act colicky but not lame. The horse was rapidly getting worse before our eyes. Children had been handling the horse, so we explained to the family about the possibility of rabies, and they were OK with euthanizing the horse. We put him down just before a thunderstorm and it was getting dark. We decided to do the postmortem the next morning,” she says. The person who did the head removal was an intern, and Dwyer assisted. “It was so much better doing it later (compared to the first horse I had to do) because by then the blood had clotted and we were able to be safer. We brought a plastic trunk to put the head in for burial since the rabies lab won’t take the head of a large animal. Once you get the head off there is CSF running everywhere, so we simply bring a lot of garbage bags, rubber dishwashing gloves (and wear two pairs doubled), protective suits and booties, and a cap and mask. We also double bag all the samples in Tupperware containers, one inside another,” she explains. “In urban counties in New York State we take samples from suspicious cases to the public health department, for submission to the state laboratory in Albany that performs testing for viruses like rabies that threaten people. In a rural county it’s more challenging to get it there. On one occasion I solicited the help of state troopers. I gave a brain sample to them in a waterproof box with everything safely contained inside, with ice packs. One trooper would drive it to the next jurisdiction, hand it over to the next, who would drive it through his jurisdiction, to relay it several hundred miles. Once a sample gets to the rabies lab, if the brain tissue is negative for rabies, they send it to the aboviral lab on site, to be checked for West Nile Virus, EEE, etc.” There is now a newer and faster test for rabies, the LN34 test developed in 2018 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new test, designed for use in animals, can more easily and precisely diagnose rabies infection. During the pilot study, the new test produced no false negatives, fewer false positives, and fewer inconclusive results. Dwyer tells of another case that occurred in 2018. “It was sad because the family is very responsible in taking care of their animals and the wife is a veterinary technician. This case was a very young miniature donkey foal. The dam had been vaccinated and the baby received colostrum and should have been protected, but wasn’t old enough to be vaccinated according to AAEP guidelines. Somehow it
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got rabies, and this was not high on the list of suspected diseases. Symptoms were high fever and neurologic signs, and the foal went downhill rapidly. They tried a lot of intensive care procedures and the owners were exposed,” she says. The best prevention for equine rabies is annual vaccination. “Unfortunately, some people who espouse alternative medicine perpetuate the myth that this is a bad vaccine, causing all kinds of problems in horses. Today horse owners need a certificate (proof) of rabies vaccination before they can compete with a horse, yet some people still don’t vaccinate,” she says. “Discussing the possibility of rabies is not an easy conversation to have with a client who calls you to treat a sick or lame horse and you suddenly tell that person they have to euthanize the horse, and that you need to take the brain,” says Dwyer. “We’ve seen a few horses that we really never know whether it’s rabies because some clients do not allow us to obtain brain samples after their horse shows signs of acute neurological disease. We try to be insistent, but sometimes we face situations where we can’t be. Fortunately so far no one has gotten rabies here in our area, though there have been a few cases of human rabies in this country in the past several years, and the risk is always there. It’s not at all uncommon, where I live, to see wildlife acting oddly— mostly raccoons. We see them in the daytime, stumbling around,” she says. People who think there isn’t any risk for their own horses don’t understand what abnormal behavior in wildlife might lead to. Horses are curious; they walk up to check out an animal acting strangely, and get bitten. Last fall, one of Dwyer’s clients, Mary Delton (at Black Points Farm), observed her homebred Connemara-Thoroughbred gelding being bitten by a skunk in a paddock at her farm. Mary said the fortuitous part of this incident is that she was in the barn where she could see her horses in their paddocks eating hay. “My friend who was leaving saw the skunk and came back into the barn to tell me he saw a skunk dragging a dead animal into the garage. I later found out it was part of a possum,” says Mary. She and her friend decided to keep an eye on the skunk. “When I went out to dump the wheelbarrow, I saw him in the paddock with my mares. I yelled at him and ran out there and the skunk ran under the fence and into the gelding’s paddock. I grabbed my iPhone and started taking photos. I think the horse kicked the skunk and then the skunk ran back and bit him in the fetlock. It happened so fast that I wasn’t sure exactly what happened, but my previous photo shows the horse’s right hind lifted up and the skunk
off to the side in a heap,” Mary said. “After he bit the horse I continued to yell at him, and the skunk started running towards me so I ran to the barn, closed the doors and called 911. I captured the skunk by putting a muck bucket over it. The sheriff came and shot the skunk.” The authorities were called and the skunk’s brain was tested at the New York State Wadsworth Rabies lab in Albany. It was positive for the virus. Because the bitten horse had been vaccinated annually, the only action needed was a prompt booster. However if this had been an unvaccinated horse, the authorities would have insisted on euthanasia, or very strict, expensive quarantine for that horse. “If my friend hadn’t seen the skunk and told me, I would not have known to look for him. It just happened that I was dumping manure when the skunk harassed my horses. The gelding I saw bitten had been at a friend’s barn babysitting her young horse at the time he was due for his annual rabies shot, so he got his rabies shot a month before the horses at my barn got their shots. My vet (Ann Dwyer) and the county health department said that if the annual vaccination was within six months of when the horse was bitten, he should be fine, but for this horse, it was seven months. So he got a booster the next day. It was a Sunday and required an emergency vet visit,” Mary said. “It’s possible that any of the other horses could also have been bitten, but they were fine because they were vaccinated only six months previous.” •
A rabid skunk bit a horse in New York. Because the horse was vaccinated it was OK. If the horse had not been vaccinated it may have been euthanized.
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Filling a need Arena matches were the start for Polo Players Support Group by Peter Rizzo
Dave Offen is one focused individual when it comes to organizing polo matches to support worthy causes. In 1998, Offen worked with Tony Coppola, Samantha Charles and others to organize an arena game to help offset ongoing medical expenses for Rob Walton, an 8-goal player who was injured in 1995 after being bucked off a horse while playing in a match in Malaysia. Though Walton’s injury left him paralyzed from the neck down, his fighting spirit and courageous determination allowed him to persevere and continue a productive life to this day.
Sebastian Merlos, Gonzalo Heguy and Mariano Aguerre in the 1999 Rob Walton arena benefit.
High-goal players, many of whom never had seen the inside of a polo arena, volunteered their time and efforts to play 30-goal arena polo, staged under the lights at an indoor arena located at Palm Beach Polo and County Club in Wellington, Florida. The 2nd annual event, 20 years ago, had nine 10
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goalers agreeing to play on three teams. In the end, 10-goal brothers Carlos and Memo Gracida were unable to play, so 10-goal Gonzalo Heguy and 9-goal Bil Walton took their place.The teams included Jedi (Gonzalo Heguy, Mariano Aguerre, Sebastian Merlos); Peapacton (Bil Walton, Mike Azzaro, Lolo Castagnola); and Michelob (Pite Merlos, Adolfo Cambiaso, Bautista Heguy). The round robin had Jedi top Peapacton 4-1; and Michelob tying both Peapacton and Jedi, 2-2. Heavy rain made the arena sloppy and filled with puddles. Still, the players put on a great show for those lined up outside the arena walls, playing hard but having fun and even splashing each other with the puddles in jest. Outback’s Tim Gannon sponsored the food for the event and various people donated items for the auction, which raised $25,000. Players’ jerseys were auctioned off with Cambiaso’s jersey bringing in the largest bid, $2,500. Tickets to the event sold for $20, raising another $20,000. After the March event, Offen and his team began creating a new event that would feature a 40-goal outdoor match. The 2000 Rob Walton Challenge was one of only a handful of 40-goal events in the history of world polo. The first time a group of 80 goals worth of players squared off was in 1975 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the second time was in an exhibition match in 1990 at the Empire Polo Club in California. Another event was held at Hurtwood Park in Surrey, England in May 1999. Offen contacted all of the 10-goal players in the world and all agreed to participate in the proposed event. Jack and Tom Oxley volunteered their Royal Palm Polo Sports Club as the host site and Outback again generously provided all the food for the event. With that kind of rousing support, the event could not be anything but a success. The event surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations. The two 40-goal teams played to an exciting tie game before a packed house of enthusiastic fans. Many spectators reported that it was the best polo they had ever seen, and no wonder. Eight of the best players of all time agreed to get together to display their pride as well as their skills.
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Ten-goalers Marcos Heguy, Memo Gracida, Sebastian Merlos, Adolfo Cambiaso, Carlos Gracida, Mike Azzaro (with son Harrison), Bautista Heguy and Eduardo Heguy played in 2002.
Team sponsors from throughout Florida provided a high level of pony power and logistical support, without which no polo game is played at any level. And various people throughout the polo community offered to volunteer, doing whatever was needed to make the event a success. All the hard work and planning came together on Saturday, Feb. 12, under sunny skies. The highlyanticipated game saw eCommerce.com (Eduardo Heguy—replacing an injured Mariano Aguerre, Memo Gracida, Sebastian Merlos, Adolfo Cambiaso) take on Templeton (Mike Azzaro, Nachi Heguy, Pite Merlos, Lolo Castagnola). Umpires were Todd Offen and Adam Snow, and actor and player Tommy Lee Jones served as third man. Rob Walton admitted he was reluctant to fly in for the match but after arriving decided to extend his trip. Most people had not seen Walton since his accident and were anxious to greet him. They waited anxiously but as the first few chukkers passed, he had still not arrived. Even his brother Bil Walton admitted he was getting worried. Finally, just before halftime, Rob wheeled up to the grandstands. He had gotten locked in his van and the fire department had to be called to help him out. After displays of extraordinary talent, like Cambiaso bouncing the ball at the end of his mallet for 100 yards at speed and Castagnola hitting a hiphigh shot out of the air to a waiting Pite Merlos to score the tying goal with seconds left, the players decided to end the match in a tie. After the match, Tom Oxley surprised everyone by presenting Rob Walton with a check for $100,000.
This contribution, added to the nearly $150,000 raised during the rest of the afternoon, made the benefit a unique day in the history of polo. Great polo for a even greater cause. Could it ever be topped? Walton was so appreciative of the efforts by so many. After the match he said, “I think [the support] has been fantastic. It is unbelievable. I can’t say enough for it. If it wasn’t for the support of the polo players I would be really up the creek. I wouldn’t have the therapy or any good equipment. If it wasn’t for the group of people in polo I would really have a bad life right now, to be honest with you, so I can’t thank people enough.” Inspired by the success of the Rob Walton Benefit, and realizing Walton would not be the last person in the polo community to need financial assistance, Offen, Coppola and Gannon decided to broaden the
Several patrons, including Tim Gannon, allowed the 10-goalers to use their top horses. One of Gannon’s horses was Best Playing Pony for MVP Adolfo Cambiaso in the 2000 match.
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Tom Oxley presented Rob Walton with a check for $100,000.
scope of the appeal to include all players and grooms in need. Offen diligently did most of the logistical legwork to create a 501c3 corporation and named it the Polo Players Support Group, Inc. Future contributors could subsequently donate and obtain a charitable donation receipt for these worthwhile expenditures. The benefit match would be renamed the 40-Goal Polo Challenge. On the PPSG website Offen explained, “Rob Walton’s accident inspired the entire community to come together to support many friends in need. It is extremely gratifying to help members of our polo family when they find themselves in very difficult times. None of this would be possible without a dedicated and caring board of directors, an amazing team of helpers and volunteers and the very generous sponsors and donors who make it all possible.” It was felt that a match of this importance could not be organized properly for 2001, so Dave and his crew aimed for a February 2002 event. Once again support came from Gannon, the Oxley Family and many others who made the 2000 event possible. Two years of planning and hard work almost came to naught on Saturday, Feb. 9, as inclement weather threatened to drown out the festivities. Rain was forecast for that weekend and because of the complexity of the match schedules for the top players in South Florida, there was no rainout date. The rains held off until the early evening hours after the last plate was cleared from the dinner tables. The game finally started with Total Body Rehabilitation (Adolfo Cambiaso, Sebastian Merlos, Memo Gracida and Marcos Heguy) facing Bud Light
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Tim Gannon generously donated all the food for the benefit for the first several years.
(Carlos Gracida, Mike Azzaro, Bautista Heguy—a last minute substitute for a flu-stricken Pite Merlos–and Eduardo Heguy). Todd Offen and Snow again umpired the match. Bud Light lead 5-4 at the half. After a halftime filled with music, excited conversation and energetic divot stomping by polo guests from throughout the polo planet, the match continued with Bud Light increasing its lead to 7-4 before TBR rallied, tying the match at 9-9. Tie game! What happens now, the crowd wondered? Just like the inaugural 40-goal game in 2000–another tie? Volunteer announcer Tony Coppola asked the crowd, “What do you think, play or leave it as a tie.” “Play, Play!” the answer roared back from the fired-up, polo-frenzied mob. At the time, Dave Offen recalled, “I went to see the guys before the overtime and one look at their faces and I knew that this game meant something to them. They were intense and focused and you could tell that they wanted a winner in this match.” This year there would be no losers, only winners, yet the players decided to have one team score one more than the other. The team with the most goals happened to be TBR as Marcos Heguy scored with 6:36 on the official clock, manned by Kay Gutierrez, who volunteered her time for a good cause. As Eduardo Heguy, perhaps the best defensive player in the world, remarked after the game, “Who would not want to play this in game.”
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Players were driven to the trophy presentation by George and Barbara Alexander’s team of Clydesdales.
The crowd surged on to the field and watched in anticipation as George and Barbara Alexander drove their beautiful team of Clydesdales pulling a wagon full of 10-goal stars to center stage for the trophy presentation.
Adolfo Cambiaso’s jersey brought in $2,500, more than any other player, in the 1999 arena benefit auction.
Jack and Debby Oxley handed out donated Rich Roenisch bronzes to the winners. Bautista Heguy was voted the MVP, which must be something special in a match of this magnitude. The Best Playing Pony went to 58, a horse ridden by the MVP and owned by Bob and Anya Daniels. Players and fans retired to the party pavilion for an evening of fine food and drink and excellent company. Everything from all eight game jerseys, to artwork, a two-week stay at Memo Gracida’s Mexican ranch and even the shirt off umpire Todd Offen’s back were auctioned off to happy party goers who knew they were giving generously for polo’s less fortunate. The event raised $170,000 that year. It didn’t take long before members of the polo community needing financial assistance were identified. Six individuals benefited from aid that year. Not a year has gone by without multiple members of the polo community in need of assistance. In fact, 2018 saw a record 17 individuals that received assistance. Polo Players Support Group is the only organization of its kind to offer assistance to members of the polo community in financial crisis due to injury or illness. A fundraising, high-goal polo event has been held each year since 2002 to support the Polo Players Support Group mission to help people in need within the sport of polo. Coppola said, “Dave and I started the Polo Players Support Group together and it’s a very worthwhile cause. We’ve helped a lot of people over the years • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 63
April M A R C H 2 7 - A P R I L 14 Triple Crown of Polo (26) Grand Champions, Wellington, FL
APRIL 6-20 National Presidents Cup (4-8) Grand Champions, Wellington, FL
A P R I L 21 Houston Cup Houston, Houston, TX
M A R C H 2 7 - A P R I L 21 U.S. Open Polo Championship International, Wellington, FL
APRIL 7 Centennial Cup Houston, Houston, TX
APRIL 24-MAY 5 Wagener 4-Goal Wagener, Aiken, SC
M A R C H 2 9 - A P R I L 21 April League The Villages, The Villages, FL
A P R I L 1 2 - 14 USPA Women’s Challenge (WCT) The Villages, The Villages, FL
A P R I L 2 5 - M A Y 11 Members Cup (4-8) New Bridge, Aiken, SC
MARCH 30- APRIL 20 Spring Fling (4-6) Port Mayaca, Okeechobee, FL
A P R I L 13 Victory Cup-Rio Grande Springfest Park, McAllen, TX
APRIL 26-27 I/I Alumni Cup Colorado State, Fort Collins, CO
APRIL 1-7 National Intercollegiate Championship Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
A P R I L 1 3 - 14 Club Scrimmages Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ
APRIL 26-28 Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach, Miami, FL
APRIL 1-30 Eastern Challenge (10-14) Grand Champions, Wellington, FL APRIL 2-6 Sunny Hale’s Legacy WCT Finals Grand Champions, Wellington, FL A P R I L 3 - 14 10-12 Goal League Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, FL APRIL 4-7 Gay Polo League International, Wellington, FL A P R I L 4 - 13 Club Tournament (4-6) Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, FL APRIL 5-7 SW Circuit Centennial Cup (0-4) Pecan Acres, Simonton, TX APRIL 5-20 Las Acacias (4-8) Grand Champions, Wellington, FL APRIL 5-28 Primavera Cup (4-6, 8-12) Palm City, Boynton Beach, FL APRIL 6-7 Club Scrimmages Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ Intra Club Matches New Orleans, Folsom, LA
64 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N
Intra Club Matches New Orleans, Folsom, LA
Spring Fling (0-4) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX
Las Vegas Polo Classic Star Nursery Field, Las Vegas, NV
NE Circuit Amateur Cup Westchester, Portsmouth, RI
A P R I L 14 Bluebonnet Cup Houston, Houston, TX All the Marbles Season Close Vero Beach, Vero Beach, FL A P R I L 17 - 2 8 Robert A. Uihlein Jr. Memorial (10-12) Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, FL A P R I L 18 - 2 7 USPA Sportsmanship Cup (4-6) Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, FL A P R I L 19 - 21 Easter Cup (0-4) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX APRIL 20 Fiesta Kings Cup San Antonio, San Antonio, TX A P R I L 2 0 - 21 Caballeros Cup Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ Easter Matches New Orleans, Folsom, LA APRIL 20-JUNE 29 Saturday Margarita League Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX
APRIL 26-MAY 12 USPA Pete Bostwick Memorial (8-12) New Bridge, Aiken, SC A P R I L 2 6 - M A Y 19 Pro Pool League The Villages, The Villages, FL APRIL 27 Lakeside Ladies Tourney Lakeside, Lakeside, CA April Challenge Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX APRIL 27-28 Retro Classic New Orleans, Folsom, LA Arena Challenge Cup Lakeside, Lakeside, CA APRIL 28 Cowboy Classic Houston, Houston, TX Match Game Vero Beach, Vero Beach, FL A P R I L 3 0 - M A Y 19 Players Cup (0-4) Houston, Houston, TX