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Hawaii Polo Life Dominates Women’s Open

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M AY 201 9

VOL. 22,


NO. 9


26 Ultimate Sacrifice


by Gwen Rizzo

USPA Bulletin Living Legend

Former groom dies in ISIS attack in Syria

32 Leaders in their field

Association News

by Gwen Rizzo

12 Instructors Forum

Hawaii Polo Life captures U.S. Women’s Open

by Jason Crowder

36 Pure Gold

14 Usefuls

Pilot well on its way to $1 million purse


16 Equine Athlete Special polo pony

M AY 2 0 1 9

Hawaii Polo Life Dominates Women’s Open

OUR COVER Cabo Wabo’s Hope Arellano sticks tight to HPL’s Nina Clarkin in the Women’s Open final. Photo by David Lominska/Polographics $5.00 US/$5.50 Canada

18 22 24 40 42

Polo Scene News, notes, trends & quotes Polo Development Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Junior Polo Polo in the Pampas by Ernesto Rodriguez

44 58 60 46

Polo around the Globe Calendar Yesteryears Polo Report Tourneys Complete Texas Arena League



Bronzes by Polo in Bronze for over 30 years Rich Roenisch is a long time polo player, which brings authenticity to his pieces. His bronzes have an international reputation. A wide variety of polo subjects in a wide range of prices. Delivery times will vary.

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E-mail: ©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.9 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.




Global Brand Ambassador U.S. Polo Assn., the official licensed brand for the USPA, is thrilled to welcome the newest member of its growing roster of global brand ambassadors—polo player Hope Arellano. The rising 16year-old star, who plays competitively with men and women, is a shining example of the next generation of polo players blazing a trail around the world. Born in Wellington, Florida, Arellano spends spring and fall each year in Aiken, South Carolina, on her family’s polo farm. Clearly, riding is an Arellano obsession. Her father is a professional polo player, her mother played while she was pregnant with Hope, and she and her two older brothers started riding at a very young age. By age 6, Hope was swinging a mallet. “My favorite thing about polo are the horses,” she said. “But I also love that polo is an extended family. Wherever you go, you’re welcomed.” Despite her youth, Arellano is already racking up an impressive list of accomplishments, including becoming the youngest winner ever at the 2017 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship at the Houston Polo Club (Houston, Texas), being named Most Valuable Player at The Women’s Tournament at The Villages Polo Club in The Villages, Florida, and winning the 12-goal USPA Pete Bostwick Memorial tournament with her two brothers and father. The scope of Arellano’s year-long role as a global brand ambassador is broad and is designed to boost awareness of the sport of polo among young women like herself. She’ll be outfitted in U.S. Polo Assn. gear both on and off the field, will post regularly about her polorelated and other daily activities on social media, and will fully engage in media requests for interviews and campaigns. In addition, Arellano will be featured in a “Women In Polo” digital and television show, a partnership between U.S. Polo Assn. and Palm Beach County. The 30minute, behind-the-scenes show is slated to air in prime-

Hope Arellano


locations such as Palm Beach County hotel rooms and on the TVG network on Labor Day. “I’m really looking forward to this global brand ambassadorship,” Hope said. “When I got the call, I was so excited.” “We were honored to announce Hope as our newest global brand ambassador on International Women’s Day, which is such an important day for women globally. Hope represents the future both on and off the field,” said J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing. “Her compassion, drive, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to excellence is an inspiration to polo players, sports fans and consumers around the world.” Arena Umpire Tests Online The 2019 Outdoor and Arena Umpire Tests are now available online. All currently certified umpires and umpires seeking a new umpire certification are required to take the test with a passing grade of 95 percent outdoor and 94 percent arena. As the USPA Umpires LLC, UMP Program continues to grow, safe and consistent umpiring is an important aspect of our growing sport. The USPA Umpires LLC, UMP Reimbursement Program is equally important to USPA member clubs in achieving certified umpires, and reimbursing clubs for acquiring certified umpire services. In order to take the tests please visit, Associations tab, Programs menu, Umpires and 2019 Umpire Test. Once you submit the preliminary information you will be prompted to choose which test you would like to take. The list of certified umpires is up to date on the website. An umpire not listed on the website is not considered certified at this time. Umpires not meeting certification requirements in 2019 will not be considered



a certified umpire for 2020. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Steve Lane at or Bradley Biddle at Umpire Clinics USPA member clubs are encouraged to host umpire clinics to refine the skills of club umpires and to review USPA rules, rule interpretations, and their implementation. The USPA Umpires, LLC will schedule an instructor to teach both outdoor and arena clinics based on their availability. The Umpire Clinic/Rules Review Program is a service the USPA Umpires, LLC provides to all USPA member clubs. Umpire Clinic Requirements and Guidelines: • Programs are instructional and oriented toward improving the skill and safety levels of all participants. Programs are generally applicable to a broad range of participants. Programs may require certain levels of riding experience for safety. • USPA Umpires, LLC will arrange for an instructor that is qualified to teach at the level of your clinic. • Clubs will be invoiced $700 for each clinic. This fee covers the instructor’s fee, airfare, transportation and lodging. • To allow for lower airfares and to help with the availability of an instructor, a minimum of four weeks’ notice is required when requesting a clinic. • All attendees seeking certification in the clinic must be current members of the USPA. This membership requirement assures Participant Excess Liability Insurance coverage. • An umpire clinic and a PUMP/8 tournament may coincide; however, the club will be invoiced for both an instructor and a professional umpire. • USPA Umpires, LLC is available to discuss special circumstances or programs which do not fit the standard package. For further assistance, please contact Steve Lane at Equine Welfare Tip Line An anonymous tip line has been established for reporting equine abuse and neglect. The USPA Equine Welfare Committee encourages anyone making a report to first reach out to their local animal control to report the issue. If you would like to make your report to the USPA, we ask that you please leave as much detail as possible in your message. Be sure to include the city and state the horses are located in, as well as the name of the person you are reporting,

how many horses are involved and any information you think is pertinent. If you are willing to be contacted for additional information, you may leave your name and phone number, which will be kept confidential. Anonymous tip line number: (866) 5635534. Reporting forms can also be found online at and may be sent by email to Governor Election The USPA Governor-at-Large election will take place from the beginning of June until the middle of August. The USPA Nominating Committee will nominate no less than one candidate for each available Governor-at-Large position. On or before June 11, delegates of active member clubs will receive a copy of the Nominating Committee’s slate, nominating forms and procedures on how to nominate individual candidates. The nomination period for independent candidates will close on July 2. Any eligible registered playing member who receives five or more delegate nominations will be placed on a provisional ballot. Once all the candidates have verified they wish to run in the election, ballots with all eligible candidates will be sent on or before July 16 to each registered player member in good standing. The election will officially close at 5 p.m ET on Tuesday, Aug. 20. Members are encouraged to participate in the election process. Additional information on candidates, ballots and forms will be forthcoming. • 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



Middle School Do you have a group of players in grades 5-8? Make 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

National Youth Tournament Series The Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, Florida, attracted youth players from across the country for its two NYTS qualifier tournaments. The Florida sun appealed to players in colder regions who were able to plan their spring break trips to include a polo tournament. On the other coast, the Polo Training Foundation Yunghann’s Charity Challenge included a NYTS qualifier with four teams. For more information on NYTS, please visit

Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Congratulations to Maryland Girls’ and Prestonwood Open teams on their wins at the National Interscholastic Championships hosted at Brookshire Polo Club in Brookshire, Texas. Both teams took on teams across the country, including Equestrian and Polo Center of Boston, Maui, Gardnertown, Lakeside, Maryland Open and Houston. Great job to all who competed!


Sarasota NYTS all-stars were Ian Campbell, Aiden Meeker, Jenna Tarshis and Lila Bennett.

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 Applications will be accepted from April 1 to May 31. Contact Emily Dewey at for more details. Varsity Letter Did you compete in this year’s interscholastic regular and tournament season? If so, make sure you check out the Interscholastic Varsity Letter program on Contact Ali Davidge at for more details. Applications deadline is May 15. 8 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N

Lakeside took on Maui in the Open National Interscholastic Tournament at Brookshire Polo Club.


Jimmy Newman Living Legend


immy Newman is a multiand right at that time my mother’s faceted polo icon who has led sister married a polo player. He American polo behind the operated out of the Royal Palm scenes for 54 years. Starting from Polo Club in Boca Raton and he the humblest of polo positions, sent me there to get a job. painting stable doors and picking So, I went, and I started up odd riding and grooming jobs, painting stall doors. A couple of to managing an impressive 28 U.S. days later, someone said they were Open Polo Championships in the looking for a person to take care of role of polo manager, Newman has two horses. I had ridden horses served the sport with heart and before, though I didn’t know soul for most of his life. anything about polo, and that was In his playing career, he was a 3how I got my start. Through that goaler and highly respected for the connection I started working in horses he trained and sold, but it is polo and that’s all I’ve really done his career as a manager that has since, except for the two years I was brought him to where he is today. in the Army. Recognized as one of the most How did your polo journey highly regarded cogs in the bring you to IPC? How long have intricate mechanism of polo, Jimmy Newman you worked there and what other Newman continues to keep U.S. clubs have you managed? polo running at a high and international level. I started out grooming at the Royal Palm Polo The Hall of Famer can be seen almost every day Club and I was really fortunate that the next year I holding the reins of the busy and often unpredictable had the chance to play some horses for the guy I beast that is IPC, handling the staggering number of worked for. The following year, I took a summer job tournaments, players and polo fans that pass through with Bill Ylvisaker. I met him when he came to try its gates every year with dignity and calm. His horses at the club and he asked me to come work for contributions to polo as a sport are innumerable and him. Part of the deal was that he wanted someone to resulted in his induction into the prestigious Museum play his horses in practice games. Since I was a new of Polo and Hall of Fame in 2018. Furthermore, as a player, rated 0 goals, he put me in some tournaments leader in the community, he has woven himself into and got some horses for me, and he’s the one who the fabric of the United States Polo Association, really got me playing. serving on numerous USPA committees and holding I played and worked for different people over the many offices such as Southwestern Circuit Governor years. I first became a club manager at Retama Polo and Governor-at-Large. Center in San Antonio [Texas] in 1977, and I was Newman has been polo manager of IPC since the there for several years. I had been there the year club’s inception in the early 2000s and has led the before to sell some horses I had trained, and the charge from newly-opened club to one of the most manager was retiring so I asked if they would important polo destinations in the world, featuring consider me. They had me for the first year on a trial the prestigious Gauntlet of Polo. Newman has basis and then at the end of that they hired me and I dedicated his life to the sport that he loves and his stayed there for 20 years. That was the first time I passion for all that it encompasses; his commitment ever managed a polo club and of course it was the to IPC is a testament to the quality and level of biggest in the United States at the time. By 1979, we consistent play gracing its fields. were awarded the U.S. Open and we had it for eight How did you first come into the sport? years. We also had the Cup of the Americas in 1980, I’m originally from Hamilton, Ohio. I came here the last time it was played. I just happened to have [Florida] to start college at Florida Atlantic University luck on my side. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 9


Marsha Smith presents trophies to Fayyaz Uddin, Charles Smith, Paul Rizzo and Jimmy Newman after they won the 1985 U.S. Handicap.

I started at IPC in 2002, and that was a couple of years before they officially started. In the beginning, only two of the fields had been built so we played a lot on private fields and we moved around a lot. The club was finished and opened in 2004 so they say that’s when it started but it actually started in 2002.

What goes into being a polo club manager? What does a typical work day consist of? Well I have a great staff that works with me, including Haley Bryan who has managed clubs in Colorado and South Carolina. As for day-to-day, you should have followed us around the last few months! I mean it’s hectic. With the rain we often have four matches per day and there has been a lot of rescheduling. We have to organize flaggers, announcers, and timers and get all that started and Tony Coppola and Jimmy Newman announce the 1986 U.S. Open Championship at Retama Polo Club in San Antonio, Texas.


sorted, then sure enough I will be at one of the noon games and they say the scoreboard has died on the other one! We have a great crew who can fix everything, but you just never know what the day is going to bring. At the end of the day, we just have to make sure that the 4 o’clock game starts on time because we are running out of daylight. Once you get to that part of the day and the game starts you can finally take a breath and realize it has worked! It’s rewarding and it’s exciting. It’s so much fun to see these 12 new teams who are playing in the U.S. Open for the first time this season. It’s great to see all the new talent as well.

What impact has the new Gauntlet of Polo had on the club? Last year, we had four or six teams in the same tournaments and this year there are 16. It’s really good for the club and exciting for the sport. The prize money is great, but I think the main thing is that the handicap was dropped to 22-goals and I believe that has definitely contributed to the increase in the number of teams. Some teams that hadn’t played in years have returned. There are 16 team owners and only four of them have played in the Open before. A lot of the 20-goal teams from last year have joined the 22-goal tournaments, which is a natural progression. I think it’s great to have so many new faces. The polo so far this season is the most competitive I’ve seen in my 54 years in the sport—both fast and open. To play this polo you need a Thoroughbred horse.



With the addition of the polo school and establishment of Gladiator Polo, how do you see these two specifically impacting the growth and interest in polo from the surrounding community? They both bring more people into the sport, which is great. Gladiator Polo is very easy to watch. You bring someone to a Sunday game and it’s a big field and a small ball, but with Gladiator Polo it’s a smaller field and you’re on top of the action—it’s like watching a wrestling match. I think it’s a great eyeopener for new spectators and it’s beneficial in growing the sport.

Do you still actively ride and play polo? The last time I played in a tournament game was at Tim Gannon’s Outback Polo Club [Wellington, Florida]. A couple of guys asked me to play in January 2005, and I shipped my horses up from South Carolina. After that I just thought, I’ve been doing this 40 years and things don’t work the way they used to in my body. I had a good time, but I sold the horses. When people ask me if I miss playing polo I say, yes, but I don’t miss getting up crazy early and cleaning corrals and riding the horses. Back when I played, I got up every morning and rode my horses before I went to work. I did that because I needed to. I would just have people help me at the game. All the horses I had were ones I was training to sell so I had to be the one riding them. When I stopped playing I was 60 years old, and I said to myself, if I play anymore, someone else is going to get the horses ready for me—that’s only happened once.

What have you learned in all your experience about managing a successful club? I was very fortunate when I started in polo that I was surrounded by some great people and I learned a lot from them. I remember when I got the job at the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas, I’d been in polo for 11 years and I was so excited. I thought, well I’m a polo player and now I’ve got this job running this club, and I thought I was pretty smart. One time these two guys stopped in the polo office and asked which field the game was on. I was in a hurry and a little sharp with them and I just said, drive up the hill and you’ll see the field, and they said OK and off they went. One of them said, “Thank you, sir,” and that guy was Cecil Smith, who was the greatest polo player of all time. I stopped and thought about that. You know what, if that guy, being the greatest polo player of all time, can be polite and say thank you, sir to some 3-goaler in a

hurry, I better wake up, and I never forgot it. I was fortunate at that time that there were so many great people around like Cecil Smith and John Armstrong. John Armstrong, who has just been inducted into the Hall of Fame, is one of my all-time heroes. He lived in San Antonio part of the time, but he really came from 200 miles south. I would trade horses with him and it would always put a smile on my face, the deals and exchanges we would make. I respect that guy so much. He helped mold my character. He has always been a gentleman. I saw him in matches where he would be beaten by 10 goals and he would never get upset and always shake everyone’s hand, and he was always a great guy. People like that lined me out.

Jimmy Newman playing his last tournament in 2005 at Outback Polo Club in Wellington, Florida.

Do you have any advice for polo managers around the world, current and aspiring? I don’t think there is any polo manager school you can go to. You’ve just got to live it and experience it. My advice would be that the best thing you can do is be a good listener. If someone’s got a problem you have to hear them out and at this point I’ve heard it all. You never know what’s coming next. • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 11


Man first Even at offensive positions, defense is key By Jason Crowder


This season, I am playing the No. 2 for the Old Hickory Bourbon team in the 22-goal Gauntlet of Polo Series [at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.] I am also playing in 12-goal polo at the Port Mayaca Polo Club. When I play in the 12goal, I generally switch to the No. 3 position. Either way, I always think man first!

The key to taking a man is making contact with your knee in front of his knee.

I feel more at home in the high-goal playing with those guys. For some reason I prefer going to the man when I can and leaving the ball for the other guys. My strength lies more in taking out [the opponent’s] better player. I am a very defensive No. 2. I’m not going for the passes, I’d rather close in on my man and leave the rest of it to the better players. In high-goal, the No. 2 is very often lining up with a 9- or even 10-goal player, who is likely on superior horses so you have to be smart about the plays you make. Being a little bit behind the opposing No. 3 gives you a better perspective of the play and how to best defend against it. You have to pick your plays. Hopefully, while the opposing No. 3 is watching the play, you can sneak in and get to one side of him. If he is in front of me, looking at the play, doesn’t know where I am in relation to him. It allows me to be one step removed to be able to counter and go to where he is likely going to go. I read his horse and his body language. If I see him looking at a play developing to the


right, if I go right a little before him, I can block him. The No. 3 is often on much better horses or is a much better player so they think a lot quicker than most players. If you take a mental snapshot of the field and see what direction his horse is pointed, you can get there in time to make a play. You have to think differently then the high-goalers you are defending because if you try to think like them, you are not going to think as quickly as someone who plays at that speed in their sleep. Better players are always playing at an open speed in their head so elevate yourself to that and see where they are seeing the holes. They are likely not worried about where you are and if they are, that is when you’ve gotten to them. When they don’t have the ball is the time to close the gap on your opponents. If you are on a horse that is having trouble keeping up with the opponent, cut the angles a little harder and make contact sooner. What has always been drilled in my head is to always win the middle of the field. If you block more of the field, the opponent can’t get to your goal. The key to taking a man is making shoulder-toshoulder contact and getting your knee in front of his knee as you bump. If you have won the leg, he will have to check and go behind you but you can always take a right and cut him off again. If he tries to hit the gas to accelerate around you, that is a much harder thing to do. All you have to do is accelerate and go left. If his horse is much faster and stops quicker than your horse, he might run to get you to run, then stop. If your horse can’t stop as fast, you might be in trouble. Still, if you held him for five or 10 seconds, you may have taken him out of the play long enough to allow your team to get the ball. If I am locked up with an opponent, I watch his hands. I still keep field awareness so I don’t run into anyone or foul, but I’m keeping an eye to see where he is directing his horse next. As I am bumping him, I am making constant contact with my leg so I can feel where his horse is going. As soon as I don’t feel contact on my leg, I know I’ve made a mistake. If a player bothers to sell you hand fakes, that just means you’ve got them all day. If your man is getting away from you, you have to get to the man sooner. As soon as he beats you a


couple of times, if that doesn’t inspire you to get faster, work harder and do better, not much will. You will know when you’ve made a mistake. You don’t need someone yelling at you to know you made a mistake. If the guy scores a goal on you or you try to hook him and he beats you, you’ve made a mistake. A hook is a mistake. If you had th man, you wouldn’t need to hook him. You would be making a backshot. If you are resorting to hooking, go back in the video and see where he beat you. Guys like Facundo Pieres are tricky with the ball. You have to go to that type of player earlier and work harder. Very few players are as good with the ball as Facundo and he doesn’t mind get banged around. Many of the guys who try to keep the ball don’t like it when you are always rubbing on them and banging them. Even though I have a No. 2 on my jersey, I still line up in throw-ins parallel to the No. 3. It makes it very easy, just mirror the No. 3 at all times. If I am going against a 9-goal player, as a 6-goal player, all I have to do is neutralize that guy for as long as I can and that is a plus. If you are making a plus play, you are doing a good job. Hopefully, I can stop the guy there and my teammate behind me can take control of the ball. If you can make enough plus plays, you win the game. I may switch with my No. 3 in the throw-ins if one of us is on a weaker horse. I’ve always looked for horses with speed and power so I am able to get back and retain my position if I make a mistake. This year, I was fortunate to buy three of the nicest horses I’ve ever had the luxury of playing. My strategy was buying quality over quantity. It is one of the first times I haven’t had to finish them and make them into what I need. I took my time finding these—nine months in fact—but I bought these and they are now stacked at the top of my string. I like to change my horses during the game more often than the average player. I have a fear of getting stuck on a tired horse. If I make an end-to-end run in the first minute and a half, I don’t mind changing. It is only a bad change if the other team has the ball. I always have two or three spare horses around the field. If I

see the opportunity to change, I’ll make the change rather than risk hurting one of my horses. My horses last a long time and don’t have many injuries because I get off them before they got too tired. Two minutes at the beginning of the chukker is the same two minutes at the end. If you get off after a run, let the horse catch its breath for a few minutes then get back on it for the last two minutes, you won’t get to the bottom and have to push it, making it less likely to get hurt. My teammates and I also talk about our horse line-ups. If one of my teammates is on a horse that doesn’t have great brakes, I’ll play one of my handy horses. Every horse has its strengths and I play them according to what the team needs. When my team is taking knock-ins, I am going to create space. If I can make enough space or create enough havoc in the middle, I can then go up for a pass. If I can get through and pick up a different guy, and create confusion so two guys go to my No. 3, the Back will be there to pick up the ball. Every knock-in we talk about what we are going to do, then attack. The No. 3 is the quarterback so he calls the play and the rest of us go to our positions. We play a spot hit just like a knock-in. If I see a hole open up, if somebody sucks back or I see a weaker player in the back, I might be more inclined to go up. Most times, I’m still primarily making space for my No. 3. If the opposing No. 2 is really doing a good job covering my No. 3, I’m going to watch the play and adjust accordingly. If he is able to get away with the ball, I’ll either open up space in front of him or run for a pass. If I get the ball, I’ll try to pass to my No. 1. If I have a better opening, I’ll shoot to goal. If a plan isn’t working or we just want to create a little havoc and keep the opponents guessing, my teammates and I may swap which players we are covering. The rule changes that have been made in the past few years have opened up the game and benefited my style of play. Since I was a kid, it has always been drilled into me not to turn the ball, just make backshots. •


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App time Keep up with teams, scores and more worldwide By Gwen Rizzo

Mauro Desiderio

Argentine Mauro Desiderio has worked in the polo industry around the world for many years. Over that time he got to know many of the players, but as they traveled internationally, he had difficulty keeping up with how they were doing. For example, if he wanted to know who won a semifinal in England, he’d have to call around to find out. There was no website to see who played and what the scores were soon after a game was finished. So, he decided to create it himself. He spoke with programmers to find a way to design an application to offer results of the best polo tournaments around the world. That was the beginning of ChukkerApp, something that initially began as a calendar of polo events. Since then, Desiderio has incorporated user input to improve and modify the application. Today, it offers comprehensive coverage of the most important high-goal polo seasons, including those in Dubai, Spain, Argentina, England and the U.S. The app is a great solution to those that are interested in keeping up with a team, player or tournament, but are unable to watch games online. ChukkerApp keeps track of all the best polo around the world in one place. The home page allows you to choose ‘today’ to learn what matches are being played throughout the world that day or you can choose a country. Once you choose your country, it will list the tournaments for a specific year, from the current year to as far back as 2015. When you click on a specific game—whether for that day, one that was played previously or one scheduled for the future—it will show you who is


playing on each team as well as directions to the field and the current weather for the field. It allows you to turn on notifications for specific matches or all matches in a tournament. Notifications will send you score updates chukker by chukker. Clicking on a country—for example, Argentina— will show you the tournaments for the year that have been completed or are in progress. You can then click on a specific tournament to see a complete schedule of games, the teams participating in the tournament, team stats (including games played, wins, losses, goals for and against, total points) and the high scorers for the tournament. In the stats section, total team points are calculated by giving teams two points for winning a preliminary match, three points for winning a semifinal and four points for winning a final. If you click on a tournament that has been completed, it lists the players on each team, including substitutes; the score chukker by chukker; goals by player as well as any yellow or red cards received; and MVP and Best Playing Pony awards. The app allows you to search by player to learn what teams a player has played on as well as the tournaments his or her team competed in. Further, it indicates if the team won the tournament or was a finalist. You can also search by team. Clubs can have their tournaments included on the app for a nominal fee, which covers the cost of inputting and maintaining the information. The tournament information, including player and team stats, will remain on the app indefinitely. Desiderio also supports the app by selling banner ads. The app is free to use and can be downloaded on Google Play or Apple. On Apple, it requires iOS 9.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. For Google Play, it requires Android 4.4 and up. The app covers just about everything, its only limitation is having to rely on clubs to provide upto-date information. For more information about the app, contact Desiderio at •


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Evil Fairydust OTTB plays polo and does tricks Photos by Kerri Kerley

Ryan and HiTop have become a great duo.

Polo players typically have multiple horses over the time they play the sport. While they generally love all their horses, some have a way of finding a special place in their hearts. For the Kerleys, one of their special horses is a flashy dark bay mare named Evil Fairydust. A West Virginia-bred off-the-track Thoroughbred, Mike Kerley bought her as a 4-year-old polo prospect from Marcos Bignoli at the San Diego Polo Club in 2011. According to Mike’s wife, Kerri, the mare instantly became the princess of the barn and her goto horse to spoil rotten. “She was so smart and eager to do anything for a treat, so I started to teach her tricks—bowing, hugging, shaking a hoof and giving high fives!” Kerri said. “My husband would stick and ball her once in a while, but for the most part she was not a polo pony!” The mare is out of Ersatz by Run Softly. Coincidentally, Ersatz’s sire is Clever Trick, so it seems tricks run in the family! For years, Mike would say the mare was the next one to go because she didn’t have a job. “We make polo horses, not pets and since she is just a pleasure horse we need to make room for our playing horses,” Mike would say. Kerri made sure the mare wasn’t going anywhere! It seems the mare has finally found her job in the barn and now she is a princess and a playing horse. The mare’s barn name became HiTop because of


HiTop, eager to do anything for a treat, quickly became the princess of the Kerley’s barn.

her white legs that make it look like she is wearing high socks. Mike and Kerri’s son, Ryan, was getting more and more into polo but he had outgrown his old polo mare so he started to school HiTop. “They really hit it off so he decided to play her in a few practice chukkers and then onto junior polo every weekend for the 2018 season,” explained Kerri. Kerri said this year, they really excelled together as they played in the NYTS tournament and all the other junior tournaments that were played at the Eldorado Polo Club this season. “He also played her in games that he was invited to play in with the Cotterel polo team which were anywhere from 8- to 12-goal games,” said Kerri. “Ryan and HiTop are definitely a great duo. She will travel to Canada this summer and be part of Ryan’s 4-goal string at the Calgary Polo Club.” While the mare is just about perfect, Kerri says there is one thing they still have to work on— teaching her not to shake or give a high-five when they are putting on her wraps! •


Ryan and HiTop played in the NYTS and several junior polo tournaments this past season at Eldorado Polo Club.

HiTop shows off what is in her bag of tricks, including bowing.



N E W S • NO T E S • T R E N D S • Q U O T E S

PAGEHEAD TURNER Club magazineSubhead recognized with award

FOR THE SECOND consecutive year, New Bridge Polo magazine was awarded a Gold Addy for publication design at the American Advertising Awards. A Gold Addy is recognition for the highest level of creative excellence and is judged to be superior to all other entries in that category. Judges evaluate all creative dimensions of each entry and select a winner through a rigorous scoring process. Honors go to Katie Roth, editor and publisher; Shelly Marshall Schmidt, photographer and creative director; Robin Raymond, designer; and printer Phoenix Printing. Judges also awarded the New Bridge Polo magazine with a Bronze Addy for Publication Cover Design. “Winning a Gold ADDY two years in a row is a real feather in our cap and we could not be prouder of the New Bridge magazine,” said Roth. “The ADDYS are so well respected and to be recognized by them at the highest level repeatedly is both a privilege and an honor.” Conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation, the local Ad Club phase is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, all across the country, local entrants vie to win ADDY Awards-recognition as the very best in their markets. The New Bridge magazine now continues to the district level of competition, competing against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards. Roth started the New Bridge Polo & Country Club magazine six years ago with Marshal Schmidt of Oh Schmidt Productions. The magazine, produced once a year, is more than a publication for the polo club and the equestrian community—it captures the equestrian lifestyle and appeals to a general audience by highlighting the people and places of Aiken, South Carolina, a renowned equestrian destination. Each issue pushes the creative envelope with features in fashion, interior design, entertaining and more. The New Bridge Polo & Country Club is an 861-acre gated equestrian community just minutes from downtown Aiken. Aside from polo, the club offers 4- to 40-acre homesites as well as horse boarding, an exercise track, riding trails, arenas, a pool, tennis court and restaurant.

PARKER’S POLO MINUTE Have confidence in your decisions —don’t hesitate. —Shane Rice



THOSE AREHEAD THE BREAKS This season’s Subhead injured list

Florida, text March 12, when his horse stumbled and fell. Crowder was propelled forward, landing on his left shoulder and breaking his collarbone in four places. After surgery and all kinds of therapy, he was back the saddle for his team’s last Open game. On March 24, Nico Escobar broke his collarbone in several places after his horse was knocked out after being inadvertently hit with a mallet during the 22-goal Sawgrass Cup final, the subsidiary of the USPA Gold Cup at International Polo Club Palm Beach. The horse was not seriously injured. And on March 29, Derek Sifton broke his collarbone after his horse tripped and fell during a practice match at Cypress Polo Club. On February 20, Sebastian Merlos broke his hand during the semifinal of the Glenn Hart Cup, a subsidiary of the C.V. Whitney Cup. Merlos was back five weeks later for his team’s first U.S. Open match on March 29. To add insult to injury, during that match he was hit in the other hand but continued to play and two minutes later was hit in the face after a mallet popped up while he was being hooked. He broke his nose and required several stitches. He broke a tooth in his next game after getting hit with a mallet yet again. Merlos’ teammate on the Iconica team, Peke Gonzalez, was injured in a fall on March 16. He was unable to finish the match but was back for the team’s next match. Four days later, in their next match, he collided with teammate Matias Magrini. Fortunately, neither of them were hurt and were able to continue. But, a few games later, Gonzalez was hit under his eye and required stitches. Gallego Ferrario injured his elbow and had to be replaced on the Cessna team in the Gold Cup subsidiary Sawgrass Cup final as well as the first game of the U.S. Open. Postage Stamp Farm’s Mariano Aguerre missed the first match of the U.S. Open after he was hospitalized for kidney stones. Fortunately, he was back for the remainder of the tournament.


COLLARBONE BREAKS seemed to be the injury of choice during the month of March. Jason Crowder was POLO playingCLUB a 12-goal TFirst, HE TRIANGLE AREA text match in Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee,

Sebastian Merlos has had a rough season this year.

BITING BACK Open mouth, insert arm


KERRI KERLEY CAPTURED this shot during a Governor’s Cup game at Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California, in March. While attempting a ride off, Centurions’ Topi Mendez’s horse decided to take matters into its own mouth. It took hold of Thermal’s Felipe Sordelli’s arm, leaving a nasty bruise and teeth marks! This was likely a case of wrong place, wrong time, or maybe riding into the shot or an uneven ride-off?




Subhead Event raises $350,000 for Brooke USA

THE BROOKE USA’S SUNSET POLO & White Party raised over $350,000 for working equines and the

Equine ambassadors Star and Huck

people who depend on them in the world’s poorest communities. More than 1,000 people, dressed in white, attended the signature event on March 22 at the Wanderers Club in Wellington, Florida. It was a landmark year as more was raised than all previous years. Nearly $70,000 will go toward construction of equine veterinary clinics in Ethiopia, home to the third largest population of equines in the world. The honorary committee, chaired by Katherine Kaneb Bellissimo, and the host committee led by Paige Bellissimo, were the driving force behind the success of the event. The event included a round-robin polo match featuring GJ Racing (John Gobin, Kip Hayes, Hope Arellano and Benjamin Avendaño), sponsored by Gil Johnston, edging Invicta (Justin Daniels, Tony Calle, Matías Gonzalez, Marwan Mohey-El-Dien) and Provident Jewelry (Alyssa Braswell, Sam Farahnak, Wes Finlayson, Henry Porter). Hope Arellano was MVP and Mohey-El-Dien’s Mura was Best Playing Pony. Guests also enjoyed a latin-inspired gourmet meal, a performance from aerial acrobats, luxury silent and live auctions, a demonstration from artist Josée Nadeau and music from DJ Adam Lipson. Gil Johnston and Katherine Kaneb Bellissimo

After the polo match, guests mingled around the pool, enjoying food, music, performances and silent and live auctions.


International artist Josée Nadeau painted during the event.


AND THEY’RE OFF! New university team learning the ropes


HE ST. EDWARD’S UNIVERSITY POLO TEAM, a newly-formed collegiate polo team from Austin, Texas, recently held a polo clinic with Robin Sanchez. Sebastian Acosta, a junior at the university, started the team. “I started playing polo and riding horses in El Paso. When I moved to Austin, I started practicing with UT polo team but since I couldn’t compete with them, I thought I would start a new club with SEU. I connected with Ariel Rodriguez at Two Wishes Ranch to be our coach. He has been really generous teaching us to play polo because he wants to preserve the sport with younger generations. Then I started recruiting at the university and now we are an official team,” he explained. Using team-teaching methods, Sanchez, along with Rodriguez, covered basic rules and arena strategy before moving into the arena to work on swings. Currently, the SEU club only has four horses in its string so the group split into two for the mounted session. One group of four worked on nearside swings with Ariel and foot mallets, while the other four worked on riding for polo and horsemanship with Robin. After some time they switched groups. Melissa Lopez, a first-year student at St Edward’s, was recruited to the polo team. She said, “I have no horse experience whatsoever and joined on a whim—it seemed fun and attractive. Since joining, I have had the time of my life! I have played almost every team and individual sport out there and none have been as rewarding as polo. The horse-human relationship and bond with both your human and horse teammates is something special.” As a start-up intercollegiate team, SEU has already had the chance to be part of Texas Arena League, helping with the games and selling concessions as a fundraiser, while Sebastian was able to play at the 2018 Fall Fandango in the club member tournament. SEU will also be involved with tournaments at Central Texas Polo Association as supporters and players. “In January, I started teaching polo to the kids at St Edward’s University. These kids have worked amazingly hard to present the idea of polo to St Ed’s and to become recognized for the first time as a scholastic polo club,” said Rodriguez. “Not only did they take initiative to start the club with such enthusiasm and excitement, but they have stayed super committed to taking lessons and putting in hours around Two Wishes. They are truly becoming stronger riders and are making a bond as a team. “The kids rode in a clinic with Robin Sanchez which was a tremendous asset in fine tuning their knowledge of rules and how players should interact with each other. This was the chance for the kids to ask a million questions and walk away with a new set of skills as well as a whole new level of confidence,” he said. “Robin travels all over the country to teach and umpire some of the most talented riders, so we, at Two Wishes Ranch, feel so honored to have her be part of our family. This team is not in a position to afford a clinic so we really appreciate the assistance from our Circuit Governor Paul Jornayvaz in making this possible.” • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 21

P O L O D E V E L O P M E N T, L L C .

Underdogs Team USPA women battle in Women’s Open

Above: Julia Smith, Kylie Sheehan, Alyson Poor and Mia Bray Right: Julia Smith


Eight elite teams formed by the world’s top female players descended upon Wellington, Florida, in the height of the season to play the famed U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. Among the household names in women’s polo, three Team USPA members—Kylie Sheehan, Julia Smith and Mia Bray—joined forces with Alyson Poor to form an allAmerican team. With the support of U.S. Polo Assn., WIPN, Richard “Doc” Fredericks, Cedar Croft Farms, coach Adrian Wade and many personal connections, the four players entered into the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship draw. The Cedar Croft Farms team, rated at 17 goals in women’s outdoor ratings, drew San Saba, rated at 22 goals, as its first opponent. The determination and teamwork displayed by the Cedar Croft Farms team made up for their handicap differential, holding San Saba to the final chukker before losing DAVID LOMINSKA/POLOGRAPHICS


By Hayley Heatley

by a narrow one-goal margin, 6-5. Its second match against the 22-goal Cross Fit El Cid mirrored its first game, with Cedar Croft Farms holding its own against the higher-rated team. With the score tied midway through the fourth chukker, the four girls of Cedar Croft Farm doubled down on defense. Their strategy throughout the game had been to play simple polo and not leave the back open. Poor’s strong defense in the back and discipline to remain in her position carried Cedar Croft through the match while Sheehan pulled the team forward. With less than 40 seconds remaining, opponent Tiva Gross sunk a neckshot through the goal, pushing Cross Fit El Cid ahead by a single point to win the match. Smith enjoyed playing with Sheehan, Bray and Poor, attributing their success to their selfless attitudes on the field. “It was a great opportunity to prove to ourselves and others that we were able to be extremely competitive in the Open despite our handicap. We were all so willing to work for one another on the field which contributed to our success and made our games so much fun to play,” explained Smith. Though their record was not as the players hoped, the experience and support received from the polo community proved their efforts were not in vain. Fredericks, owner and founder of Flying Cow Polo Club, and Cedar Croft Farms stepped in and backed the girls, willing to give the young team a chance to prove itself against the best players in the country. Fredericks also reached out to Wade, requesting that he take the helm as coach of the team. Flying Cow Polo Club and WIPN share a similar mission in providing avenues for women entering the sport in an accessible and approachable way. WIPN supported their effort in backing a team, giving Flying Cow Polo the visibility it needs to bring more women into the sport. An unconventional path When Sheehan heard a spot remained for an eighth team several weeks before the tournament, she was eager to take advantage of the opportunity to play women’s polo at its highest level. “Dawn Jones was the driving force behind it. She helped us find the additional funding we needed and encouraged me to enter the team,” said Sheehan. She knew she would have to be creative since the majority of the higher-rated players and rental horses were spoken for, leaving her to search for at least two players who were able to mount themselves. With the nudge of confidence from Jones, Sheehan set off to search for three players hungry to play in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo.


P O L O D E V E L O P M E N T, L L C .

Kylie Sheehan, above, put the team together when she heard a spot was open.

Drawing on her Team USPA connections, she first reached out to Bray whose enthusiasm for playing polo in any tournament, at any level is vividly apparent. Smith and Poor joined suit shortly after and the Cedar Croft Farms team came to fruition. On paper, the team fell short of the handicap requirement, but Jones petitioned to allow the team to enter the tournament. Once approved, the team got to work preparing for its first match. “Our mentality in the tournament was we have nothing to lose,” said Poor. “Playing in this level of polo and against the best woman in the world has been such a learning experience for me. I hope that this exposure will give all of us what we need to get picked up on teams in the future. I can’t say enough good things about Mia, Kylie and Julia on and off the field. We all stayed positive and kept pushing each other, which is why I think we did so well. We had incredible support off of the field too. My dad is always there on the sidelines, pushing me to play and supporting me along the way. Our team would not be here without • Dawn fighting for us to be allowed to play.” 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

Road to nationals I/I tournaments roll through February and March By Kelsey Miller

Southeastern Open Preliminary participants at New Bridge Polo Club

February and March saw an excellent I/I tournament season packed with preliminaries and regionals all over the country! Whether glistening under the sun’s intense rays or through a monumental Midwest deep freeze, these young players have persevered with a driving passion for polo, not to mention the unwavering support and commitment of parents, coaches, facility operators, horse providers, and everyone behind the scenes contributing to memorable weekends for all. February started off strong with five preliminary tournaments in every region. Gardnertown hosted the Northeastern Interscholastic Open Preliminary with Yale 2 coming out on top over Myopia. Over the same weekend, the Intercollegiate Women’s Preliminary finished with another win for Yale over University of Massachusetts, held at the Equestrian and Polo Center of Boston. The Southeastern


Interscholastic Girls’ Preliminary showed Aiken Youth Polo victorious over hosts, Garrison Forest School JV in Maryland. “The families at Garrison were gracious hosts and their string of horses was top quality,” winning coach of Aiken Youth Polo, Tiger Kneece, said of the team’s experience. Moving west, Kentucky’s weather graciously warmed up for the Central Open Preliminary to be played at Commonwealth Polo Club, with Commonwealth taking the win over Culver. The women of Stanford grabbed a win at the Western Intercollegiate Preliminary defeating Oregon State and Westmont in a round-robin style final game hosted by Santa Barbara Polo Club. The following weekend, the Southeastern region held two interscholastic preliminary tournaments. The Work to Ride team from Pennsylvania earned a win during the final game with the Maryland JV

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

Oregon State’s Joel Potyk keeps the ball away from Cal Poly’s Sayge Ellington.

team at Marlan Farm, while Aiken Youth Polo triumphed over Sarasota at New Bridge Polo Club of Aiken, South Carolina. Host and coach, Tiger Kneece, expressed how the new arena played fantastic and everyone was impressed with the footing and quality overall. Aiken Youth Polo is looking forward to hosting many more events. Central Coast Polo Club won the Western Interscholastic Open Preliminary tournament with participating teams South Bay and Poway, held under challenging weather conditions at Empire Polo Club. Tournament Manager Carina Deck noted, “Despite severe weather, including flash flood warnings and evacuations, everyone was so flexible and came with good spirits and positive attitudes, and we were able to make polo happen over the weekend. I am proud to be involved in an organization with such great people!” On the opposite coast, Buffalo Polo Club won the Northeastern Girls’ Preliminary on home turf defeating Gardnertown I. Michigan State University hosted the Southeastern Intercollegiate Women’s Preliminary with rival University of Michigan taking the win over the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As preliminary tournaments finished up, regional tournaments were under way on both coastlines. The

Northeastern Interscholastic Girls’ Regional saw Equine and Polo Center of Boston claim victory over (continued on page 57) University of Michigan’s Madeline Blum with Southeastern IC Women’s prelim Best Playing Pony Felicia


Ultimate Sacrifice Former groom dies in ISIS attack in Syria By Gwen Rizzo


Shannon worked as a groom at Mashomack Polo Club in New York prior to enlisting in the Navy.

On Feb. 25, four grey horses slowly pulled a gun carriage through Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Moving along the orderly rows of headstones that memorialize the American servicemen and women buried there, the horses and carriage bore the flag-draped casket of Navy cryptologist Shannon Kent to her final resting place. The horses accompanied her to her final repose just as they had accompanied her throughout her life as a professional soldier and polo groom. Shannon and her siblings were raised in Pine Plains, New York, a quite, picturesque town a little over 100 miles north of the hustle and bustle of New York City. There, she and her younger sister Mariah Smith developed a love of horses. Their dad initially taught them to ride on a couple of horses the family owned, mounting them up when they were just toddlers. The sisters grew up in a service-oriented family. Their mother was a teacher, while their father served as coronel in the New York State Police and their uncle served as a fire fighter in New York City. Her dad and uncle were called into action on 9/11, helping pull people out of the collapsed Trade Center buildings. This left an impression on Shannon and her brother, motivating them to enlist in the military. When Shannon was in high school, she was highly sought by Air Force and Navy recruiters, but her mother encouraged her to go to college first. Mariah fondly remembers summers growing up with her big sister. “She was my best friend and I was her little sidekick. She took me everywhere. She had a red Le Baron and it was our ticket to freedom when she was in high school,” she said. “We would always drive around Stissing Lake ... or go get ice cream at the local Stewart’s [root beer stand] and plan all these trips.” About the same time, Shannon was hanging around the local Mashomack Polo Club. Player Thomas “Woody” Keesee remembers Shannon approaching him about a job in the fall of 2002. “She had worked the previous summer as a groom for one of my fellow players and a good friend. I was

Shannon Kent was deployed eight times to places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.


On visits home, Shannon would come back to the polo club with her sister to ride.

a bit reticent to hire her, as stealing someone else’s groom is not a very gentlemanly thing to do, and I told her so,” Keesee told Polo Players’ Edition. “She made it quite clear, however, that it was her decision who she worked for, and for whatever reason, she had decided that she wanted to work for me. So that was that, and such was my introduction to Shannon.” She worked for him the following season, meticulously caring for the ponies and keeping the tack supple. She stick and balled and played when ever she could. Her organization and efficiency made her an asset to Keesee’s Deerfield Hill Polo team. As one of the few female grooms at the club, she learned early on about holding her own in a male-dominated environment. “She ... had to deal with the other male grooms on the exercise [track] and around the barns, which I later learned from her was not always easy,” remembers Keesee. “But, Shannon never complained, always had a smile on her face.” Mariah, 10 years younger than Shannon, grew up idolizing her sister and shared her love of horses. She would go to the barns with Shannon, who taught her all about taking care of the ponies. When Mariah was older she too went on to work for Keesee. Keesee said, “Shannon was always so pleased that [Mariah] had been part of the [Deerfield Hill Polo] team and [was] very proud of her.” When Shannon


came home for visits, she would come ride with Mariah at the polo club. The sisters often talked about getting out of Pine Plains, having a horse farm, living next to each other and taking care of the horses. “That was our plan … we always came back to no matter what. It was a comfort for both of us and something we looked forward to,” remembers Mariah. The sisters also shared a love of Native American culture, admiring the beautiful artwork and the stories behind it. This was just the start of Shannon’s fascination with different cultures, which led to a love of languages. “She was really interested in languages from a young age. From the time I was a toddler, she was teaching me both French and Spanish,” remembers Mariah. “She could pick up languages so fast. We went to Germany one time, we were there for three days and by the second day she already knew the standard greeting and how to order things.” When the polo season was over, Shannon continued taking care of Keesee’s horses at his home for four months. Being the off-season, they were on light exercise and were taken on a few long trail-rides once or twice a week. It was during these trail rides that Keesee really got to know her. “She was full of ambition to go beyond the realm of Pine Plains,” said Keesee. “During the summer she had been dating an Argentine groom and already spoke Spanish reasonably well, but she wanted to learn Arabic.” She was then about to start her third year of college at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where Arabic is not a major feature of the language program. After some research, she determined the best place for her to study was the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California. The program required enlistment in either the Army or Navy after graduation, so she signed up for the Navy. After she graduated and finished basic training-where she performed so well she was named platoon leader—she was stationed in Georgia. She sent Keesee an email: “i thought i’d be here for 3-4 years, but looks like i'll be headed to the middle east in about 9 months, but i dont know yet. we'll see. guess what?!!! i have a horse!!!! robin (du Toit, now Sanchez) knew a guy from nyc who was leaving wellington to go back to ny and he had this one horse who i guess was difficult and wasn’t working out for the person playing robin gave him my number and now he lives at the stables on base with the military horses! isnt that

awesome?! i was very unprepared for him though, i was actually driving from california to georgia when robin called. he arrived two days after i checked in to the command! so i had to scramble to make arrangements and get his papers and pay for the shipping and such, but it all worked out. things usually do if you can act fast!” Keesee said that encapsulated Shannon—she loved horses, was willing to take on challenges, was organized and knew how to act fast to get things done. Nine months later, she deployed to Iraq as part of the 2007 surge. As an Arabic linguist with Fort Meade’s Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 unit, she was an interpreter to a U.S. Special Forces team responsible for training Iraqi Special Forces. Her first deployment lasted 289 days, and she was in 15 different places, including where some of the worst fighting occurred. “When she got back, she told me that it all seemed like a dream. But, she re-upped when her first tour of duty ended and was deployed seven more times over the next 12 years to Iraq, Afghanistan and finally, Syria,” said Keesee. During her deployments, Shannon was on the front lines, working side by side with Special Forces. An expert in code breaking, she interacted with the locals and helped gather intelligence. Mariah said Shannon spoke about a dozen languages and was fluent in eight. Her sister said she worked twice as hard as anybody else all the time. “She passed all these fitness tests so she could be vetted and go on missions with SEAL teams … when I say passed these trainings, she would ace them. I talked to a guy at one of her memorials and he said they had to run something ridiculous, like 40 miles down the beach. When they started, she just took off and was way ahead of these men. … She just kept going and going. I’ve heard so many stories from a bunch of people that she was always like that. She always had so much energy,” she said. During one exercise, according to her sister, they were basically going through drills that could easily drown someone. One of the guys in the course didn’t know how to swim so she pulled him aside and taught him how to swim. That inspired her to start a class at Fort Meade for soldiers who weren’t strong swimmers. She told her family about the many friends she met abroad. She enjoyed interacting with the local people and even made mosaics with the local women. She would request art supplies in care packages sent from home. When she was out of supplies, she would use spent bullet casings in the mosaics.

Mariah said, “When I went to her house for Thanksgiving, there were more Iraqis and Syrians then Americans, all friends she met in the military that had moved to America from those countries.” While in the military, Shannon met and married her husband, Joe, a Green Beret. They have two young boys, Colt, 3, and Josh, 1. Even with the responsibilities of being a working mother and her Navy duties, she still found time to continue her education and garden, growing her own herbs. Mariah remembers preparing to graduate from college when Shannon, pregnant with her first son-the baby due in August and her husband set to deploy in September--called and asked if she would move in with her. Mariah agreed. Shortly after the baby was born, Shannon was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. “She was having night sweats and didn’t feel right. The first two doctors didn’t see anything and told her she was fine. She knew better than the doctors, and went to another doctor who finally found the cancer,” said Mariah. The baby was just six months old and Shannon was taking an intense Navy course at the time. Still, she didn’t complain and cared more about how it would effect others. “She didn’t tell Joe until she got it cut out. The phone call was literally, ‘hey, so I had cancer, but I got it cut out and it’s gone now. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to make you worry.’” she said. Mariah had gone through her own troubles. Five years earlier, in 2010, Mariah was in a terrible car accident that left her in a coma with a severe concussion, brain bleeds, a broken spine and broken bones in her face. She was a passenger in a car, whose driver lost control on a mountain road when the brakes and steering malfunctioned. The car hit three telephone poles on the passenger side. After 18 months of recovering from the head trauma, Mariah was

Shannon, seated second from right, and her sister, Mariah, standing far left, attended a Deerfield Hill Polo team alumni dinner at Mashomack on Fourth of July. Thomas Keesee is standing behind Shannon.


Shannon and her sister Mariah were very close and shared dreams of running a therapeutic riding program one day.

Mariah, above, enjoys Shannon’s children, Colt and Josh, and hopes to move closer to them. Shannon’s mosaics can be seen on the walls in the background.

diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression. “I couldn’t sleep at night and I had horrible headaches for five years,” said Mariah. “I went through a lot but as I overcame it, I became interested in psychology and helping others overcome PTSD and similar ailments. As [Shannon and I] both started to experience traumatic events and work with others who had psychological issues, it was a soft spot and a strength of both of ours, helping others dealing with those issues.” Mariah worked for a time as a special education teach and now is a supervisor at an autism center. “We adapted our dream to have a PTSD rehabilitation and equine therapy [center]. We wanted to have it open to veterans and I wanted to have a section for kids who have gone through traumatic events or have developmental disorders,” explained Mariah. After getting her masters degree, Shannon applied to a PhD program through the Navy. She wanted to become a doctor to help soldiers with PTSD. Mariah said. “She figured it would be a perfect way to be able to stay close to the family and sill be giving back, still be in the military. She was accepted into the program, one of three spots out of something like thousands of applicants. But, the Navy reversed it the same month because they declared her medically unfit to go through with the PhD program because she was in remission from cancer, and that was in the fine print.” She didn’t let anything hold her back. She immediately applied for a waiver and when it was denied she started the whole process again. Navy officials considered cancer a debilitating medical condition so she was deemed unfit to be a doctor, but she still qualified to deploy to Syria. Though she wanted to be closer to her boys and the Navy had let her down, according to her sister she felt obligated to go.


“It was very difficult for her. She felt like it was her turn. She was always trying to prove herself and she didn’t want anyone in the military to think she wasn’t a warrior, that she wasn’t down for the mission anymore,” said Mariah. “She was very torn because she absolutely did not want to leave those boys.” Less than two months after Shannon left for Syria, on Jan. 16, Mariah was at work when she got a message from Joe’s sister. “I just read, ‘Mariah, I’m so sorry for your family, Shannon …’ I didn’t really read it, I just saw Shannon’s name a bunch of times.” She called her dad who confirmed the news. Shannon, 35, was one of 19 people, including four Americans, killed by a suicide bomber at a restaurant in Manbij in Northern Syria. After hearing of Shannon’s death and her difficulties in getting into the doctorate program, lawmakers from New York, Maryland and North Carolina wrote a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer demanding answers. It read, in part: In a case like CPO Kent’s, though, it is difficult to understand why the Department would require a long, drawn-out waiver process when she was cancerfree and in remission. If CPO Kent was fit to deploy to a war zone, we believe she was fit to serve her country as a clinical psychologist. The Navy has since revised its medical waiver process. A Feb. 15 press release from the Navy reads, in part: The decision to update this policy came about as a result of Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent’s leadership and continued persistence to ensure the best processes are in place for the Navy. Her sacrifice and service to the Navy and our nation will never be forgotten. On February 8, she was remembered at a U.S. Navy memorial ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, with nearly 2,000 people in attendance. During the service, Shannon was posthumously promoted to senior chief petty officer, and was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon and two Meritorious Service Medals. According to a press release from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, other awards she previously earned include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon. Cmdr. Joseph Harrison praised Shannon’s leadership. “The accomplishments of this rock star

are simply phenomenal. She brought the right heartset and mind-set to everything and was a model for others to emulate,” he said. On Feb. 23, her funeral procession traveled from Dover Air Force Base to Arlington National Cemetery, where she was buried two days later. Along the route, area residents and fire fighters, standing on their trucks waving flags, paid their respects. Mariah and her family were touched by the support, calling it phenomenal. Two days later, horses pulled the carriage carrying her to her final resting place. “She would have liked that,” Keesee said. A week later, Shannon’s name was added to the National Security Agency’s National Cryptologic Memorial, honoring cryptologists killed in the line of duty. She is the third woman to be honored this way. Mariah has a soft spot for Shannon’s boys and hopes to move closer to them. She said she wants to be there to tell them how much Shannon loved them and how amazing she was. She’d also like to help do the things Shannon talked about doing with them like teaching them how to paddle board. She would also like others to know what kind of person Shannon was. “She was a warrior bad ass in

every sense, in every part of her life. She was so dedicated and loved so fiercely. Her friends were her family and they knew it. She would do anything and always made you feel so at home,” Mariah said. “If you start listing her accomplishments, someone who didn’t know her would think you were making it up. She was incredible in every way.” While the sisters’ dream of having a therapeutic riding program has gotten a lot harder without Shannon, Mariah is determined to make it happen. •

After basic training, when Shannon was stationed in Georgia, she adopted a polo pony, which she kept on the base.


Leaders in their field Hawaii Polo Life captures U.S. Women’s Open By Gwen Rizzo • Photos by David Lominska/

Hope Arellano on Best Playing Pony Got Milk


Kūlia i ka nu’u is a Hawaiian proverb meaning strive to reach the highest. For the women on the Hawaii Polo Life team, they did just that with ease, winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, one of the most prestigious women’s polo competitions in the U.S. It was the first time it was held in Wellington, Florida. It had been played during Houston Polo Club’s fall season since 2011 when it was recognized as a national event. This year, preliminary rounds were scheduled at Port Mayaca Polo Club in Okeechobee, Florida, while the final was held on International Polo Club’s Field No. 1. Eight teams competed in the event, which was sponsored by Susan G. Komen. The leading breast cancer foundation, Komen was founded by former polo player Nancy Brinker in 1982 and named for her sister who died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36. This year’s event drew professional players from the U.S., Argentina, England and Kenya. Cedar Croft and BTA/The Villages boasted all-American line-ups. The tournament kicked off with a draw party at International Polo Club on the evening of Mar. 13. The tournament was played in a double elimination format. After the first round of matches on Mar 16-17, Cabo Wabo, Hawaii Polo Life, San Saba and Crossfit El Cit counted wins. Sunday’s games were moved from Port Mayaca to IPC due to rain. Inclement weather also postponed the second round a day. The same four teams won their second games, although BTA/The Villages made it difficult on Hawaii Polo Life, succumbing by just a goal. The semifinals pitted Cabo Wabo against San Saba and Hawaii Polo Life against Crossfit El Cid. In a tight first match, Cabo Wabo got the best of San Saba, 6-5. Hawaii Polo Life cruised to a 9-3 victory against Crossfit El Cid. The final was played on Saturday, Mar. 23 between Cabo Wabo and Hawaii Polo Life, both rated 22-goals (women’s handicaps). With veteran players as their coaches—Julio Arellano for Cabo Wabo and Adolfo Cambiaso for Hawaii Polo Life—the undefeated teams were prepared for battle and feeling confident. Hawaii Polo Life’s Mia Cambiaso and Nina Clarkin, accounting for 17 of the team’s 22 goals, have played together before, having won the Argentine Women’s Open together the last two years. Anja Jacobs and Pamela Flanagan rounded out the team. Cabo Wabo’s Hazel Jackson-Gaona knows the Cambiaso-Clarkin duo well, falling to them, 9-8, in the most recent Argentine Women’s Open, but her outstanding efforts led the Argentine Polo

Association to elevate her handicap to 10. She was joined by rising young star Hope Arellano and Gillian Johnston, who have played numerous tournaments together. Roni Duke completed the line-up. It didn’t take Clarkin long—seconds in fact–to put Hawaii Polo Life on the board after capitalizing on a pass from Cambiaso, who followed with a goal of her own. A Penalty 4 conversion late in the chukker put Hawaii ahead, 3-0. Chukker 2 began with a Penalty 2 in favor of Hawaii, which Clarkin slipped between the posts. Instead of staying in its groove, Hawaii began making mistakes, which Cabo Wabo took full advantage of. Jackson-Gaona converted three of four

Penalty 2s in the next five minutes. The interruptions briefly stopped Hawaii’s momentum, ending the half with Hawaii holding a narrow 4-3 lead. The teams each missed Penalty 4 opportunities, before Cambiaso jumped on a mis-calculated knockin with just over four minutes left in the third, putting the ball between the posts. Arellano responded with a run to goal. The teams battled back and forth before Clarkin got past all the defenders to find the posts, putting Hawaii up by two, 6-4. Early in the fourth, Arellano, on Best Playing Pony Got Milk, made a run but Clarkin shut her down close to goal. Arellano responded in kind as Cambiaso approached their goal. After a melee, Clarkin powered the ball through the posts. Cambiaso capitalized on failed play after Jackson-

Hawaii Polo Life’s Nina Clarkin, Mia Cambiaso, Pamela Flanagan and Anja Jacobs


Mia Cambiaso was presented with the Rising Star Award.


Gaona accidentally hit into an umpire, escorting the ball between the posts. Flanagan covered JacksonGaona well, making her work hard for every play and eating up valuable time. It also helped free up her teammates. “If I could mark the opposing team’s best player and keep them out of the play with the horses I had and execute that job properly, I knew I would be helping my team,” she said. “Just focusing on that player and playing unselfish polo is something I really took away from this experience and how impactful that strategy can be for your team.” In the waning minutes, Clarkin snagged back-to-back goals to put the game out of reach for Cabo Wabo. With :27 left on the clock, Jackson-Gaona ended the match on a good note by sending a Penalty 4 straight and true to end the game with Hawaii Polo Life ahead, 10-5. Clarkin led Hawaii Polo Life with a game-high seven goals and took MVP honors. Cambiaso, who


counted three goals, was presented with the Rising Star Award. For Cabo Wabo, Jackson-Gaona led with four, all from the penalty line. Arellano scored one. “It’s amazing now to look back and think we’ve won, considering we nearly didn’t make it into the semifinals,” Clarkin said. “I knew that we had a good team and we hadn’t quite reached our potential yet, but in the semifinals we played well. All four of us played hard, worked for each other and the team really came together today and it showed.” Flanagan was named MVP Amateur. “Today I played two horses I’d never been on before and Adolfo [Cambiaso] and Robertito [Zedda] told me to trust them,” Flanagan said. “They were the best horses I’ve ever been on in my life! One of the horses that Mia normally plays she passed to me and I passed my horses on to Anja Jacobs. We all shifted horses around and made it work for our position, which worked out beautifully. We were really organized, Nina was incredibly instrumental, and without the support of Valiente we wouldn’t have performed as we did.” Clarkin was also happy with her string. “I was so well mounted. I was playing horses today that Adolfo Cambiaso plays, I mean what a dream,” Clarkin exclaimed. “I felt that they did everything I needed them to on the field. I think both teams were really

Hope Arellano, far right, puts the pressure on Nina Clarkin.

Black Watch: 19 Delfina Blaquier 2 Melissa Ganzi 3 Mili Fernandez 7 Milagros Fernandez-Araujo 7

Cabo Wabo: Roni Duke Hope Arellano Hazel Jackson-Gaona Gillian Johnston

22 2 5 9 6

Crossfit El Cid: Malia Bryan Cecelia Cochran Tiva Gross Izzy Parsons

22 4 5 6 7

Icon Global: 22 Mia Astrada 6 Olivia Uechtritz 3 Candelaria Fernandez-Araujo 8 Clarissa Echezarreta 5

BTA/The Villages: Maddie Grant Paige McCabe K.C. Krueger Courtney Asdourian

Cedar Croft Farms: Kylie Sheehan Mia Bray Alyson Poor Julia Smith

17 4 4 4 5

Hawaii Polo Life: Anja Jacobs Pamela Flanagan Mia Cambiaso Nina Clarkin

21 2 3 6 10

San Saba: Sarah Siegel-Magness Dawn Jones Lia Salvo Sarah Wiseman

22 4 5 7 6

well mounted and that showed in the speed of the game and the quality of the polo played today. Adolfo told me when he gave me the horses, ‘no excuses now,’ so I’m just pleased that I did my job!” Best Playing Pony honors were presented to Got Milk, Hope Arellano’s grey horse that she played in the first and third chukkers. Chris Dawson, representing Hawaii Polo Life, expressed his excitement at being a part of promoting women’s polo through this sponsorship. “First and foremost, this is an incredible opportunity for Hawaii Polo Life to support women’s polo,” he said. “In Hawaii, we love everyone so it’s a great opportunity for people to make friends while playing polo competitively and then build on it. I expect next year there will be

7 0 6 8 8

more teams and more opportunities, and if we did that then we did our job.” Clarkin echoed his sentiments on the overarching benefits to women’s polo. “For us to be able to play on platforms like these, IPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field and Palermo in Argentina, is great for women’s polo because its being given the exposure it deserves. Just look at the quality of the players in the game today—young players like Hope [Arellano], Mia [Cambiaso], and even Pam [Flanagan]. There are a lot of women coming through the sport who are very talented polo players and it’s only going to get better and better, she said.” The well-oiled Hawaii Polo Life team was rooted in Lōkahi, meaning people working together can achieve more. • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 35

Facundo Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres, Matias Gonzalez and Curtis Pilot

Pure Gold

Pilot well on its way to $1 million purse Photos by David Lominska/ After winning the C.V. Whitney Cup, Curtis Pilot’s Pilot team entered the USPA Gold Cup as the only team still in contention for the inaugural Gauntlet of Polo. Outwitting its opponents one by one in bracket play, it landed once again in the final on March 25 at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Facing this powerhouse team, led by brothers Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, was Stewart Armstrong’s Aspen team. With tensions high and 36 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N

the chance to knock off the prospective Gauntlet Champions, the game came all the way down to the wire, Pilot forcing an overtime chukker. Pilot managed to seal yet another title and an additional $125,000, narrowly preserving its undefeated streak. Undefeated themselves throughout tournament play, Aspen’s strategy to derail Pilot was to hit hard from the first chukker, consequently unleashing their 10-goaler Polito Pieres, cousin to the opposing

Pilot’s Matias Gonzalez crowds Aspen’s Lucas James.

Pieres brothers, who picked up the first two goals. Gonzalito Pieres responded for Pilot soon after with a powerful neckshot to goal, setting the tone early for the duration of the game. Anticipating the play and in position to act, Armstrong met the ball off a reverse neckshot from Polito Pieres, scoring early in the second. Proactively seizing every opportunity, Aspen took advantage of some critical errors made by Pilot, capitalizing twice from the penalty line to continue its lead, 5-2, headed into the third. Quick to make up for the deficit, Pilot turned the tables with the help of Matias Gonzalez who cleared the way for the Pieres brothers to score three consecutive goals. Ending the chukker on a great run, Gonzalito Pieres successfully tied the scoreboard 6-all by halftime. Matching each other with a goal apiece in the fourth, both teams played with undeniable intensity and confidence in their teammates’ abilities. “I knew this kind of game anybody could win

USPA Chairman Chip Campbell presents MVP Tomas Schwenke with an iPad for his efforts.


Cousins Gonzalito Pieres and Polito Pieres challenge each other in the final.

Facundo Pieres, on Best Playing Pony One Magnifica, celebrates with Curtis Pilot.

and I told my team that we were lucky that we did,” Facundo Pieres said. “Sometimes it just comes down to whoever is a little bit stronger, more focused to win and who wants it more.”


Gaining possession of the ball from the throw-in and executing an incredible backward tailshot to start the fifth, Facundo Pieres followed it up with an immediate field goal to pull his team ahead for the first time. A battle of the Piereses, Polito Pieres retaliated with two field goals of his own, engaging offensively to counteract the strong attack. Down by only one goal, 10-9, entering the final chukker of regulation play, Aspen fought relentlessly and was rewarded with one from the field from Polito Pieres and a Penalty 2 conversion off the mallet of Lucas James. Coming through with minutes to spare, Facundo Pieres launched one across the goal mouth to tie the game up 11-all, ultimately sending the adrenaline-charged game into overtime. The imminent threat of losing not only the trophy, but the chance at the $1 million purse, Pilot’s key objective was to maintain control of the ball, not allowing Polito Pieres to make a successful run. Receiving a favorable Penalty 4 opportunity for Pilot, Facundo Pieres went to the line and sunk the ball between the posts, securing the win, 12-11, and bringing the team’s total earnings to $250,000. Although experiencing great success this season with two 22-goal tournament wins under his belt, Curtis Pilot is playing for more than himself, competing in honor of his daughter who lost her

battle to breast cancer during the C.V. Whitney Cup. “I’ve dedicated the entire Gauntlet of Polo to my daughter, Nikki Pilot Carlisle, so it’s a special win for us,” Pilot said with a smile pointing to his black armband with her initials. “Our horses are better today than they were a month ago and I have to give that to the Pieres family. Almost every horse we have came from them or Los Machitos and they are very powerful animals.” A strong, young player for Aspen, Tomas Schwenke was named Most Valuable Player. Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to One Magnifica, a black mare owned and played by Facundo Pieres in portions of the second, third and seventh chukkers. He generally plays the mare for only a few crucial minutes at a time. If he has to make a run or two with her, he’ll usually get right off her. Former 10-goal Mike Azzaro said, “What he does on her, oh my god. She is so handy, she’s unbelievable.” “I bought her when she was 5 years old and she’s been great since the first day,” Facundo Pieres said. “I played her here in the United States for a couple of years and also in Europe where she won Best Playing Pony in Spain for the final of the Gold Cup. I took her back to Argentina and she did really well there, so I brought her over here again. She’s a warrior!” Graciously, Gonzalito Pieres acknowledged the sportsmanship shown from the rival team and thanked them for a great game. “We were trailing, so we had to come from behind and put a little more pressure on Aspen, but we managed to go to overtime and win,” he said. “I want to congratulate Aspen, they were gentlemen and showed great sportsmanship. Stewart Armstrong was really happy to compete in the final and even though he lost he had a smile. I also want to thank Curtis Pilot because he’s put a lot of effort into this tournament and he’s a great guy.” To get to the final, Pilot topped Bracket IV with Daily Racing Form, SD Farms and Old Hickory Bourbon. Aspen Topped Bracket I with Tonkawa, Park Place and La Indiana. Las Monjitas topped Bracket II over Stable Door Polo, Postage Stamp Farm and Coca Cola while Equuleus led Bracket III with Iconica, Cessna and Santa Clara. The quarter finals saw Equuleus eliminate Las Monjitas, 12-9; Daily Racing Form edging Iconica, 9-8; Pilot defeating Tonkawa, 12-9; and Aspen ousting Stable Door Polo, 12-9. In close semi final play, Aspen topped Daily Racing Form, 9-8, and Pilot edged Equuleus, 9-8.



Park Place:

Tomas Schwenke Lucas James Pablo “Polito” Pieres Stewart Armstrong

2 7 10 3

Andrey Borodin Juan Britos Nico Pieres Tommy Collingwood





Curtis Pilot Facundo Pieres Gonzalo Pieres Jr. Matias Gonzalez

0 10 9 3

Postage Stamp Farm:


Chip Campbell Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario Felipe Marquez Felipe Viana

Coca Cola: Gillian Johnston Steve Krueger Julian de Lusarreta Ignacio Novillo Astrada

Daily Racing Form: Jared Zenni Geronimo Obregon Santiago Cernadas Agustin Obregon

Equuleus: Joe DiMenna/ Milo Dorignac Iñaki Laprida Magoo Laprida Mariano Gonzalez

Iconica: Maureen Brennan Peke Gonzalez Nachi du Plessis Matias Magrini

La Indiana:

2 7 6 6

22 2 4 8 8

22 6 4 6 6

22 0 7 8 7

22 1 5 8 7

Santa Clara: Nico Escobar Mariano Obregon Jr. Ignacio “Cubi” Toccalino Luis Escobar

SD Farms: Sayyu Dantata Peco Polledo Juan “Tito” Ruiz Guiñazu Pelon Escapite

0 8 9 5

0 8 8 6

22 3 6 8 5

22 2 6 8 6

Stable Door Polo:


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

0 8 10 4

Las Monjitas:


Old Hickory Bourbon:


Camilo Bautista Hilario Ulloa Francisco Elizalde Matthew Coppola

0 10 8 4

Will Johnston Jason Crowder Miguel Novillo Astrada Stevie Orthwein

Michael Bickford Facundo Obregon Jeff Hall Tomas Garcia del Rio


Annabelle Gundlach Valerio “Lerin” Zubiaurre Mariano Aguerre Joaquin Panelo


2 6 9 4

The final leg of the Gauntlet of Polo, the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Polo Championship, awards $250,000 to the winner. With the first two wins under its belt, if Pilot wins the Open, it will receive a $500,000 bonus. At press time, Pilot was leading its bracket and remained undefeated as the teams were preparing for the quarterfinals. • POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 39

Child’s play Fish Creek Junior Tourney in Eldorado Photos by Kerri Kerley

Junior tournament is last hurrah for kids this season at Eldorado

The Fish Creek Junior Polo Tournament, sponsored by the PTF and longtime supporter Fred Mannix and played March 9-10, finished out Eldorado Polo Club’s junior season. The club is located in Indio, California. The junior program was run this season by Mike Kerley and Violeta Escapite, whose hard work and dedication make the program possible. Kids played in one of three levels: leadline, intermediate and advanced. Two teams competed in

the first two levels while three teams rounded out the advanced level. In the lead-line division, Millarville won 5-3 and Camille Fogel’s horse was Best Playing Pony. In the intermediate level, Breva Farms dominated both days. Ana Sophia’s Roxy was Best Playing Pony while Matias Wolf and Ella Kyle were most improved players this season. Fish Creek led the way in the advanced level both days. Gracie Gonzalez was most improved and her horse Rockin Robin was Best Playing Pony. •

Participants in the Fish Creek Junior Polo Tournament, sponsored by Fred Mannix, center, and the PTF


Gracie Gonzalez and Grant Palmer

LEAD LINE Millarville Lila Hanson Maddie Fogel Adeline Inkster Catalina Sheldon Zooey

Hawks Bayne Bossom and Grant Palmer

Liv Charles Sheldon Abby Mariscal Camille Fogel

Cata Sheldon

INTERMEDIATE Breva Farms Brock Rubin Mike Estrada (MVP) Ella Kyle

Eldorado Ulysses Escapite Ana Sophia Wolf Matias Wolf


Micaela Soracco

Bayne Bossom Ryan Kerley (MVP) Micaela Saracco Rose Gonzalez

Camille Fogel

Bush League Riley Jordan Piers Bossom Grace Gonzalez Quin Kyle

Antelope Ian Schnoebelen Grant Palmer Lars Neumann Ella Horton

Matias Wolf, Ana Sophia Wolf, Ella Kyle and Mikey Estrada

Lila Hanson Ana Sophia Wolf, Ulysses Escapite and Mikey Estrada



Los Sauces dominates Sánchez family wins three contests By Ernesto Rodriguez • Photos courtesy Click Polo

Juan Carlos Sánchez can’t hide his excitement after the family won three cups.

Sánchez family teams won three contests in the 15th Mega Horse Week at the Pompeya Polo Club in Córdoba. But, before talking about polo, it is necessary to have a small geographical reference. Argentina is an extensive country that has in its continental part (it also has an Antarctic portion) a slightly triangular format, with an extension of 2,300 miles from north to south and 825 miles from east to west in its maximum width, divided into 24

jurisdictions. The province of Córdoba, one of the most prosperous and influential, is in the heart of the territory. On the outskirts of the capital city, which is also called Córdoba, there are more than a dozen polo clubs that keep the sport alive in the region. Every March, for the last 15 years, the best exponents of the national polo that were not attracted by the season’s offers in Palm Beach and California, prepare to take part in the Mega Fiesta Hípica organized by the Pompeya Polo Club in its magnificent five fields located in the town of Ascochinga, about 35 miles away from Córdoba. The contest was originally scheduled to be played between March 15-17, but the threat of a storm forced it to be deferred a week. “We did all the spells that are customary in the inland and none worked: we put two onions in the highest window of the houses, the shoes with the plant up, we drew crosses of salt, we sunk some knives in the dirt and there were even people who prayed to San Isidro Labrador to remove the water and bring the sun. And nothing helped. So we had to move everything a week. Luckily, all went perfect and after the rain, there was good weather,” said the club’s Sebastián Fernández de Maussion. Finally, the tournament brought together a total of 26 teams, divided into four competitive categories

Pompeya Polo club had five fields in Ascochinga, 35 miles away from Córdoba. It has hosted the Mega Fiesta Hípica each March for the past 15 years.



and one promotional–Potrillos, reserved for players under 15 years. The women’s event was a challenge of three four-chukker matches between two teams: Pompeya El Talar (Sofía Fernández de Maussion, Silvia Pajer/Patricia Pitrola, Eugenia Batallé and Stella Thiraboschi) and Jockey Club San Francisco (Florencia Tognon, Camila Rocha, Julieta Murgio and Belén Monguzzi). The visitors won, 3-2, on Friday March 22, by the home team recovered on Saturday, 4-2, and get the decisive victory with a nailbiting 3-2 win on Sunday. Among the men there were three contests, all dominated by representatives from Concarán, a

small town in the province of San Luis, 160 miles from the tournament headquarters. After two days of qualification games, Sunday was the day of main events. For the XV MFH Cup–reserved for teams with up to a 2-goal handicap–La Delfina Concarán (Bautista Barroso, Damián Barroso, Marcos Ricci and Gonzalo Sánchez Ricci) beat San Ramón Las Varillas (Gerardo Bergia, Manuel Álvarez, Tristán Álvarez and Carlos Colla) by a score of 7½-4. The Holiday Inn Trophy, played for by quartets of up to 5 goals, was in the (continued on page 56)

La Sauces Concarán teams won the Holiday Inn Trophy and the Uruguay Seguros Cup.

Two women’s teams played to a best-ofthree battle. The home team won two out of three.



United Arab Emirates British Polo Day kicks off its 10th year in Dubai Photos by Sam Churchill

In this, its 10th anniversary year, British Polo Day was delighted to return to Dubai, the place where it was founded in 2009 with the aim of creating an invitation-only global platform to build relationships with some of the world’s most

dynamic cultural and lifestyle leaders through unforgettable experiences hosted in iconic destinations. Over 250 top British and international players have played at British Polo Day events since its inception, with well-known names from across the polo world competing. Dubai marked the 72nd global British Polo Day event and featured two matches. La Pegasus Habtoor (Tommy Iriarte, Ahmed Al Habtoor, Mohammed Al Habtoor, Guillermo Cuitino) edged VistaJet Oxbridge (Saif Al Ghurair, Stuart Wrigley, Tommy Beresford, Hugo Lewis), 8-7, for the La Pegasus Plate, while Royal Salute British Exiles (Julian Drake, Will Emerson, Malcolm Borwick, Tiernan O’Rourke) defeated Motivate Media Gulf (Sheikha Alya Al Maktoum, Sultan Edrees, Alejandro Gowland, Raul Laplacette), 6-4, for the VistaJet Cup. British Polo Day was delighted to welcome back former England polo captain and Royal Salute World Polo Ambassador, Malcolm Borwick, to play at his lucky 13th British Polo Day event, captaining

MVP Mohammed Al Habtoor lends a hand to an artist after the match.

Sanjay Jindal and Don Cochrane present trophies to Julian Drake, Will Emerson, Malcolm Borwick and Tiernan O’Rourke.



the Royal Salute British Exiles team and thrilling the guests with his expert horsemanship and charm. The now highly-anticipated camel polo also garnered much attention with the Cavalry and Guards continuing their friendly annual rivalry. The Royal Salute Most Valuable Player was Mohammed Al Habtoor, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Best Playing Pony was Bochinche. Co-founder Tom Hudson said, “In this Year of Tolerance in the UAE, we are delighted to once again bring together so many people from all around the world. Over the last decade, we are proud of what British Polo Day has become and are humbled by the continuous support of players, patrons and partners.” To celebrate the occasion off the field, guests were treated to drams of Royal Salute 21 Year Old, toasting to the brand’s longstanding support of polo and the lifestyle it accompanies. Dating back more than a decade, Royal Salute’s involvement in polo continues to thrive today, featuring a truly global program of events spanning four continents and an exquisite collection of polo-inspired ‘Sport of Kings’.

The celebration continues with upcoming British Polo Days scheduled for St. Tropez in May; New York in June; China in September; Nibi in November; and Jaipur and Jodhpur in December. To learn more, go to •

Royal Salute Ambassador Malcolm Borwick thrilled the crowds.

Camel polo garnered much attention with the Calvary taking on Guards, continuing the friendly annual rivalry. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 45




Ashley Owen, covered by teammates Kyle McGraw and Javier Peralta, drags the ball along the wall while being pursued by Castillo Polo’s Franz Felhaber in the USPA Arena Amateur Cup.


he Texas Arena League finished up its season with the last two legs. The third leg was played at Legend’s Horse Ranch in Kaufman, Texas, Mar. 2-3, while the final leg was played at Midland Polo Club in Midland, March 16-17. The first leg was played at Legend’s Horse Ranch Jan. 26-27 while the second leg was played at Two Wishes Ranch in Lockhart, Texas, Feb. 16-17. Participating teams and individuals gain points for wins, and MVP,


Sportsmanship and Best Playing Pony Awards. Individuals in USPA circuit events also earn points toward qualifying for the USPA National Arena Amateur Cup. In the third leg, Central Texas Polo Association (Holly Wood, Tres de la Paz, Javier Insua) narrowly defeated Williams Polo (Mark Osburn, Bleu Bannister, Brady Williams). Rosie, owned by Williams and played by Osburn, was the Nutrena Best Playing Pony. Bannister won the Catena

Sportsmanship Award and Insua was U.S. Polo Assn. MVP. The Adm. Nimitz military tournament saw Legend’s (Katelyn Anderson, Jack Crea, Nacho Estrada) with the win over Texas Military Polo (Karl Hilberg, Patrick MacLeod, Tess Sabatini). Tess Sabatini won the Catena Sportsmanship award while Connie, the horse she played from OSU Polo, won Nutrena Best Playing Pony. Jack Crea took home U.S. Polo Assn. MVP honors.



Legacy’s Loreto Natividad gets the edge on SAPC Punishers’ Ursula Pari in the I/I Alumni Cup, part of the Texas Arena League, at Legend’s Horse Ranch in Kaufman.

went to Kyle McGraw. The Gen. Puller USPA Military tournament had Central Texas Polo Association (Karl Hilberg, Tres de la Paz, Javier Insua) win in a shoot-out over Big Time Polo (Brady Williams, Devan Groves, Wendy Stover). U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was Javier Insua; Nutrena Best Playing Pony was Solita, owned and ridden by Javier Insua; and

Catena Sportsmanship went to Wendy Stover. USPA Arena Sportsmanship Cup was played in a round robin between OKC CCC Ranch (Wyatt Myr, Greg Summers, Kelly Coldiron), San Antonio Polo Club (Patrick MacLeod, Jack Crea, Amada Massey) and Legend’s Horse Ranch (August Scherer, Omar Polio, Nacho Estrada). Legend’s won both games in the round robin. Catena Sportsmanship award went to Greg Summers; Nutrena Best Playing Pony was Tater Tot, played by Amanda Massey and owned by Jack Crea; and U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was Wyatt Myr. Nacho Estrada received the most votes on social media and was awarded the Shannon Galvin Agency Fan Favorite award. The final stop for the Texas Arena League was by far the busiest and best attended. The event kicked off on Friday with the Texas Arena League C Flight Challenge, followed by the 6- to 9-goal USPA Arena Delegates Cup and an equine nutrition workshop on Feed Tags and Forage with Cargill MURRELL PHOTO.COM

The USPA Arena Amateur Cup was a close match between Castillo Polo (Cindy von Falkenhausen, Karen Summers, Trenton Werntz, Franz Felhaber) and Legacy (Ashley Owen, Kyle McGraw, Javier Peralta) with Legacy getting the win. Nutrena Best Playing Pony was won by Cindy von Falkenhausen’s Argenta. Javier Peralta was named U.S. Polo Assn. MVP and Trenton Werntz won Catena Sportsmanship. In the Texas Arena League Challenge, OKC CCC Ranch (Allen Bowman, Greg Summers, Kelly Coldiron) took the win over Santa Anita (James McHazzlett, Sidro Olivas, Oscar Bermudez Jr.). Sidro Olivas was U.S. Polo Assn. MVP; Isabella, owned and ridden by Kelly Coldiron, was the Nutrena Best Playing Pony; and Allen Bowman was Catena Sportsman. I/I Alumni Cup, with players representing Texas Tech, Midland IS, and Texas A&M, saw Legacy (Kyle McGraw, Ashley Owen, Loreto Natividad) overcoming SAPC Punishers (Amanda Massey, Kendall Plank, Ursula Pari). Nutrena Best Playing Pony was Moso, owned and played by Loreto Natividad. Catena Sportsmanship Award went to Amanda Massey, while U.S. Polo Assn. MVP


OKC CCC Ranch’s Kelly Coldiron and Best Playing Pony Isabella lead the pack in the USPA Arena Sportsmanship Cup against San Antonio.




nutritionist Kirk Carter and a very Texas chili dinner cooked up by Ashley Owen. On Saturday, the 0- to 3-Goal Flight had five games and 10 teams playing. After polo, a barbecue and discussion with veterinarian Michelle Per was held at Kyle and Deann McGraw’s home. Sunday’s matches included seven teams playing in the 3- to 6-goal Flight with a nail-biter match between undefeated Legacy and Legend’s Horse Ranch. Texas A&M alum Amanda Massey, has been playing on the San Antonio team in the league. She said, “If you haven’t experienced Texas Arena League, it is better than college polo because you don’t have to go to class the next day. It’s all your friends that you played I/I polo with plus meeting new people. We are all coming together to play arena polo and have fun.” Mark Osburn, who has been playing on the Williams Polo team in 0- to 3-goal flights, said, “I started playing polo while in college at Texas Tech and got out for about 16 years. Last year, I was invited to play in Texas Arena League in Midland and now I’m back in polo. This Texas Arena League is my speed. It got a little faster than I’m used to playing in the Delegates and on the Chili


Peppers team this weekend. Everyone should come out and give the league a try, it’s fun.” For the duration of the weekend, Nutrena was on site with giveaways, to answer feed and nutrition questions and present Best Playing Pony awards. Additionally, Jackrabbit Tack and Consignment’s Megan Mitchell was available for fittings and advice on Bombers bits. Matt Kenney, playing in his first polo tournament, won the spectatorvoted Fan Favorite award sponsored by Shannon Galvin Agency. In the C-Flight Challenge, Prevalecer (Ayden Wallace, Elizabeth Natividad, Loreto Natividad) narrowly defeated Lazy 3 (Sarah Holland, Jeremiah Valles, Molly Smith). U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was Ayden Wallace; Nutrena Best Playing Pony went to Robin, played by Elizabeth Natividad; and Sarah Holland was awarded the Catena Sportsmanship award. The USPA Arena Delegates Cup saw Prevalecer (Brady Williams, Loreto Natividad, Mark Osburn) with the win over Lazy 3 (Molly Smith, Peter Blake, Ernesto Natividad). Nutrena Best Playing Pony was Menos Uno, played by Ernesto Natividad; U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was Loreto Natividad; and Molly Smith took the Catena Sportsmanship award. In the Admiral Nimitz military

tournament, William’s Polo (Brady Williams, Mark Osburn, Bleu Bannister) defeated Legend’s Horse Ranch (Nacho Estrada, Jack Crea, Stephen Lacy). Mark Osburn won U.S. Polo Assn MVP; Pompero, played by Bleu Bannister, was Nutrena Best Playing Pony; and Jack Crea took the Catena Sportsmanship award. USPA Arena Amateur Cup went to OKC CCC Ranch (Kelly Coldiron, Allen Bowman, Greg Summers) with the win over Texas Military Polo Club (Matt Kenney, Gal Shweiki, Karl Hilberg). Catena Sportsmanship winner was Matt Kenney; Nutrena Best Playing Pony was Karl Hilberg’s Miss Carlita; and U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was Greg Summers. Castillo Polo (Cindy von Falkenhausen, David Werntz, Trenton Werntz) defeated Santa Anita (Sidro Olivas, James McHazzlett, Alec Felhalber) in the USPA Arena Challenge. Alec Felhalber won the Catena Sportsmanship award; David Werntz was U.S. Polo Assn. MVP; and Trenton Werntz’s Peanut was the Nutrena Best Playing Pony. Legacy (Ashley Owen, Kyle McGraw, Javier Peralta) took the win against Central Texas Polo Assn (Zoe Lehmer, Tres de la Paz, Brady Williams, Gal Shweiki) in the Midland Arena Cup. Tres de la Paz was the Catena Sportsmanship winner; Kyle



Participants in the Texas Arena League played in Midland, Texas.

MVP was Devan Groves; and Catena Sportsmanship award winner was Jack Crea. In the I/I Alumni Cup, SMU, Culver Military Academy, Texas Tech and Midland Interscholastic were all represented. Legend’s Horse Ranch (Nacho Estrada, August Scherer,

Stephen Lacy) narrowly defeated Legacy (Kyle McGraw, Loreto Natividad, Ashley Owen). Nutrena Best Playing Pony went to Loreto Natividad’s Gypsy; the Catena Sportsmanship award went to Stephen Lacy; and the U.S. Polo Assn. MVP was August Scherer. MURRELL PHOTO.COM

McGraw’s Guapo was the Nutrena Best Playing Pony and Gal Shweiki was the U.S. Polo Assn MVP. In the Texas Arena League 0- to 3goal challenge, Rough Riders (Amanda Massey, Walker Rainey, Karen Summers) defeated Rancho Naranjo (Francesca Felhalber, Alec Felhalber, Cole Felhalber, Julian Martinez). Francesca Felhalber won U.S. Polo Assn MVP, Karen Summers’ Dakota won Nutrena Best Playing Pony; and Walker Rainey won the Catena Sportsmanship award. In the Gen. Puller Military Tournament, Central Texas Polo Assn (Tres de la Paz, Karl Hilberg, Pete Blake) narrowly pulled out the win over OKC CCC Ranch (Wyatt Myr, Greg Summers, Kelly Coldiron). Pete Blake was named U.S. Polo Assn MVP; Karl Hilberg won the Catena Sportsmanship award and Greg Summers’ Renee won Nutrena Best Playing Pony. The USPA Sherman Memorial round robin was played between The Chili Peppers (Mark Osburn, Pato Tadeo, Ernesto Natividad), Big Time Polo (Brady Williams, Megan Flynn, Devan Groves) and San Antonio (Gal Shweiki, Amanda Massey, Jack Crea, Wyatt Myr). The Chili Peppers won both their matches for the title. Megan Flynn’s Paramore was the Nutrena Best Playing Pony; U.S. Polo Assn.

Central Texas Polo Assn.’s Karl Hilberg tries to get past the hook of OKC CCC Ranch’s Greg Summers in a close Gen. Puller Military Tournament at Midland Polo Club.





Ridgway Hemp’s Carlos Hernandez, Quinn Evans, Beau Staley and Memo Gracida won the Champions Cup at Empire Polo.



Gracida) met Spindrift (Omar Mangalji, John Bickford, Leandro Floccari, Juan Curbelo) in the final on Mar. 31. It was all Ridgway as Hemp smoked Spindrift, 3-1, in the first period. Spindrift rallied with four goals off the mallet of 5-goaler Curbelo, including a Penalty 2, in the second while holding Ridgway to a single goal by Hernandez. Bickford increased the lead in the third, but Ridgway Hemp bounced back with a goal by Hernandez and two in a row from Gracida, ending the half with


Ridgway Hemp topped a six-team roster to win the title and a big check in the 8-goal Champions Cup at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, Mar. 22-31. Ridgway Hemp (Beau Staley, Quinn Evans, Carlitos Hernandez, Memo

Scott Walker presents trophies to Hanalei Bay’s Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco and Luis Saracco at Empire.

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.


Ridgway ahead 7-6. In the second half, Hernandez and Curbelo traded goals early in the fourth before Hernandez and Gracida increased the lead to 10-7. Gracida sandwiched penalty conversions around one from Curbelo in the fifth to increase the lead to 12-8. Spindrift ran out of bullets in the sixth, while Evans and Gracida combined for three to end the match ahead, 15-8. A $75,000 prize was up for grabs with the winners taking home 75 percent ($56,250) and the runners-up settling for 25 percent ($18,750). Carlos Hernandez also went home with MVP honors and Gracida’s Stripes wore the Best Playing Pony blanket home. The same day, Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco, Luis Saracco) defeated Empire (Riley Jordan, Rob Scapa, Kyle Fargey, Jessica Bailey) in the 4-goal Lion’s Cup final. Six teams competed over 10 days for a piece of the $17,000 prize money. Hanailei Bay struck first with a Penalty 2 from Coors and a goal from Ignacio Saracco. Fargey put Empire on the board in the second and traded goals with Coors to end the half with Hanalei ahead, 4-2. Fargey sunk a Penalty 6 early in the third to bring Empire within one, 4-3. Luis Saracco’s Penalty 2 conversion increased the lead to two and Coors’ fourth goal doubled up Empire, 6-3.



Hanalei Bay’s Luis Saracco, Ignacio Saracco, Joe Coors and Krista Bonaguidi won the 4-goal USPA Congressional Cup. JIM BREMNER

Cotterel Farms’ Francisco Guinazu, Max Menini, Francisco Benardoni and Jenny Benardoni won the 8-goal Constitution Cup.




Vashon’s Robert Hong, Kim Burgman, Mariano Gutierrez and Stephanie Davidson won A Flight in the 1-goal.

Coors added a Penalty 2 in the fourth. Jordan put a last goal in for Empire but it was too little, too late and Hanalei took the 7-4 win. Luis Saracco was named MVP and Coors’ Maggie was Best Playing Pony. The Hanalei Bay team won the lion’s share of the prize money: $12,750, while Empire put $4,250 in its pocket. Earlier in the month, Cotterel Farms (Jenny Benardoni, Francisco Benardoni, Max Menini, Francisco Guinazu) competed against Spindrift (John Bickford, Leandro Floccari, Juan Curbelo, Tom Schuerman) in the final of the 8-goal USPA Constitution Cup. Floccari put Spindrift on the board to start the game, but a pair of penalty conversions by Guinazu put Cotterel up, 2-1. Curbelo tied the score on a Penalty

California Polo Club’s Eugenio Vidal, Ricky Caravetta, Jessica Newman and Alejandro Nordheimer won B Flight in the 1-goal.

3 early in the second before Menini and Guinazu sunk goals to take back the lead, 4-2. The teams traded goals in the third before Jenny Benardoni shook loose and sent a gorgeous cut shot between the posts to end the half with Cotterel ahead 7-4. Cotterel increased its lead in the fourth, outscoring Spindrift, 4-1, and added two unanswered goals in the fifth to enter the last period, 13-5. The teams traded goals in the last period to end with Cotterel ahead, 15-7. Guinazu was named MVP for his efforts. In the 4-goal Congressional Cup, Empire (Rob Scapa, Kyle Fargey, Riley Jordan, Jessica Bailey) took on Hanalei Bay (Krista Bonaguidi, Joe Coors, Ignacio Saracco, Luis Saracco). Both teams got right to work, each scoring

twice in the first chukker. Jordan traded goals with Ignacio Saracco in the second to keep the match level, 3-3. The Saracco brothers gave Hanalei Bay a narrow 6-5 lead after scoring three goals, while Fargey added two. Both teams fought hard in the final period with Scapa and Jordan each finding the target for Empire but Coors added two and Luis Saracco one to give Hanalei Bay the 9-7 victory. Luis Saracco was named MVP. In the 1-goal, Vashon (Robert Hong, Kim Burgman, Mariano Gutierrez, Stephanie Davidson) took A Flight. Davidson also took MVP honors. In B Flight, California Polo Club (Eugenio Vidal, Ricky Caravetta, Jessica Newman, Alejandro Nordheimer) was the winner, while Newman was named MVP.





Escapite nailed a years with the identical lineup. Penalty 4 strike to With his “nose in every play,” again lead by one Rodriguez was the obvious choice as the at the half, 3-2. MVP and Ygritte, owned by Kyle and Ignacio Saracco played by Rodriguez in the third, was scored his second selected as the Best Playing Pony. field goal early in Ed Adams, Master of Whisky and a the third period to representative of Olan and Lagavulin, again tie the presented the winners with bottles of count. Rodriguez Oban Single Malt Scotch Whisky, while then counted a Pacific Coast Circuit Governor Danny pair of well-earned Walker presented the trophies and field goals and checks to both teams. The winners went Robertson scored home with $7,500 while the runners-up his second settled for $2,500. open goal Action continued with the Skins opportunity—a Game, played in conjunction with the Bush League’s Virgil Kyle, Ryan Robertson, Jose Rodriguez spot Penalty USPA Rossmore Cup. Each chukker was and Ulysses Escapite won the Governor’s Cup at Eldorado. 2—and the third essentially played as separate contests, was over with the worth $5,000. If the teams tied in one country boys up by three, 6-3. chukker, the prize money rolled over to In the fourth period, Rodriguez the next chukker. scored his third of the contest and the The game was played on Mar. 24 and Bush League lead was now four goals at was presented by Oban Single Malt The final game of the USPA Pacific 7-3. With the Centurions needing to Scotch Whisky. Ben Coast Governor’s Cup, played at the score five unanswered goals to win, (Ben Soleimani, Santiago von Wernich, Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, time—not to mention a strong Bush Remi du Celliee Muller, Tomi Alberdi) California, featured names that had league defense—was a big factor. and Highwood (Ron Matherson, been there before. Bush League’s Luis Saracco was able to score a Marcelo Abbiati, Marcos Llambias, Virgil Kyle and Ryan Robertson pair of field goals, however it was not Francisco Rodriguez-Mera) met in the saddled up for their third final nearly enough and Bush league won its 25th annual Skins contest, with each appearance in four years and second Governor’s Cup title in three team winning three of the six chukkers. Centurions’ Cheryl Schindel was back after playing in the 2015 decider. The start was fast for the Centurions (Cheryl Schindel, Luis Saracco, Ignacio Saracco, Santiago Mendez) as Ignacio Saracco scored in the first 90 seconds to give the Grand Prairie, Alberta group a lead of one. That would be its only lead of the afternoon as Bush League (Virgil Kyle, Ryan Robertson, Ulysses Escapite, Jose Rodriguez) came back quickly to apply pressure, resulting in a Robertson Penalty 3 conversion followed by a field goal from Escapite. The first was over and the country boys led 2-1. The Romans got even in the second frame as Luis Saracco scored on a Highwood’s Ron Matherson, Francisco Rodriguez-Mera, Marcos Llambias and Marcelo Abbiati won the Rossmore Cup and $15,000 in the Skins Game. Penalty 2 award but Bush League’s




Highwood as Rodriguez-Mera scored three field goals with nary a reply from the rug merchants. The addition of the $5,000 gave the Canadian crew $10,000 and a Rossmore lead of two, 7-5. The Soleimani group recovered in the fifth period as Alberdi counted another Penalty 3 award along with a field goal and Von Wernich counted one from the field. Highwood kept it close with a pair of 40-yard open goal counters from Rodriguez-Mera but the skin was for, giving it a total of $15,000. However, Highwood continued to lead the Rossmore, 9-8. With many on hand thinking the designers would come out strong in the


HIghwood took the Rossmore Cup title after finishing ahead, 13-8. In front of a typical Skins crowd—huge with a party atmosphere—and on a perfect afternoon, the first period saw the early money going to Highwood as Rodriguez-Mera and Llambias scored field goals with an open goal reply from Alberdi on a spot hit from inside 30 yards. The chukker ended with Highwood earning $5,000 and leading by one, 2-1. The second frame featured extremely tight play with the teams trading Penalty 3 conversions (a pair from Alberdi and a single from Rodriguez-Mera). won the chukker and the $5,000 while Rossmore tied the match, 3-3. The designers continued the second period pressure into the third as Alberdi counted another Penalty 3 award along with a field goal. The lone Highwood goal came from Rodriguez-Mera with another 40-yard free-throw conversion and won its second skin and now had banked $10,000. It also led the Rossmore with a 5-4 score. Following the Sophia halftime divot stomp, play in the fourth chukker opened up considerably and was all


P O L O’s Tomi Alberdi, Santiago von Wernich, Remi du Celliee Muller and Ben Soleimani won $15,000 in the Skins Game but fell in the Rossmore Cup.

R E P O R T Marcelo Abbiati’s Argentina was Best Playing Pony and won $2,500.

sixth, they didn’t. Instead the strength was with the Canadians as they took absolute control and ran over the Soleimani group to score four unanswered goals, including three open goals from Rodriguez-Mera and another field goal from Llambias. was powerless as Highwood grabbed the final $5,000 to even the count at $15,000 each. With the deluge, Highwood also won the Rossmore Cup by a large margin, 13-8. With each team winning three chukkers to split the money, the difference in the Rossmore Cup was two strong chukkers from Highwood in which it scored seven unanswered goals. In the Skins, an even game by the money count can be, and was, much different in the overall score. With his strong effort inside the game to move the ball to advantageous spots along with his strong defensive play, Llambias was selected as the MVP and as such, he was the recipient of a check for $2,500. Argentina, owned and played by Abbiati in the fourth was chosen as the Best Playing Pony. Along with a blanket, Argentina garnered a $2,500 award. Oban and Lagavulin’s Adams presented bottles of Oban Single Malt Scotch Whiskey to the winners. Mike Ward, president of the Eldorado Polo Club, was on hand to award the Skins checks as well as the USPA Rossmore Cup to Highwood. —Tony Gregg






SD Farms’ Adolfo Cambiaso, Guillermo Terrera, Santi Torres and Sayyu Dantata won the Palm Beach Open and $75,000.


SD FARMS CAPTURES PALM BEACH OPEN SD Farms won its first 26-goal tournament in team history in the World Polo League’s Palm Beach Open final at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, Mar. 25. SD Farms (Sayyu Dantata, Santi Torres, Guillermo Terrera, Adolfo Cambiaso) jumped out to a 7-1 lead after two chukkers against Audi (Marc Ganzi, Nic Roldan, Pablo MacDonough, Kris Kampsen) and went on to win, 11-6. It was the first 26-goal tournament title for Nigerian Sayyu Dantata in his World Polo League debut. Dantata, playing above his 2-goal rating, scored two goals and defended 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough well. He earned the Catena Fair Play Award. “This is the thrill of my life and playing with the best player in the world is a bonus,” Dantata said. “This feels amazing. I am very, very happy and very excited. My family came here to watch and I am sure the guys back home in Nigeria are excited, too.” SD Farms finished the tournament undefeated at 5-0 and earned $75,000 in prize money. Audi’s foursome, winless in the Founders Cup, finished 4-1 after a remarkable turnaround. Terrera was SD Farms second-


Alegria’s Fred Mannix, Jesse Bray, Gringo Colombres and Juan Martin Obregon won the Molina Cup and $50,000.

leading scorer with four goals including an incredible 90-yard neck shot through the air in the third chukker. SD Farms led 9-3 at the half and never let Audi back in the game in the second half. Audi was off-balance and error-prone for most of the first half. In the second half, Audi tried to claw its way back but fell short. MacDonough led Audi scoring with three goals. Roldan had two and Ganzi added one. Argentine 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso was MVP after scoring a game-high five goals, all on penalty conversions. Grand Champions Best Playing Pony was Libanella played by MacDonough. The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the game was Miami, played by Cambiaso. The American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony of the tournament was Open Medallon played by Terrera. In the subsidiary Molina Cup, Alegria rallied in the final seconds to edge Valiente, 11-10. Alegria (Freddie Mannix, Jesse Bray, Gringo Colombres, Juan Martin Obregon) rallied with a 3-1 sixth chukker to overtake early leader Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Agustin Nero, Alejandro (Jejo) Taranco, Pelon Stirling). Bray, playing his 12-year-old gelding Cayman, scored back-to-back goals to tie and win in the final 33 seconds of the game. Bray, 26, was named Most Valuable Player for the first time in 26-

goal polo and Cayman was the American Polo Horse Association Best Playing Pony. Reyna, played by Stirling in the second chukker, was Grand Champions Best Playing Pony. It was the Canadian-based organization’s first tournament victory since April, 2018, winning $50,000 in WPL prize money. Alegria, winless in the Founders Cup, opened the Palm Beach Open with an impressive victory over Founders Cup champion Grand Champions. “This is awesome, I’m proud of the team,” Mannix said. “We have been meeting and talking about how to improve and the team is listening. We are all listening. Obregon led Alegria with five goals. Bray finished with three goals, Mannix had two and Colombres added one. Stirling scored a game-high nine goals including seven on penalty conversions and Taranco had one. —Sharon Robb


On Mar. 31, La Dolfina became the youngest team in tournament history to capture the sixth annual $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament at Wellington, Florida’s Grand Champions Polo Club. La Dolfina (Santos Merlos, Segundo Merlos, Poroto Cambiaso,




Dolfina led for most of the game after a 2-2 opening chukker. B e v e r l y Equestrian tied the game, 4-4, early in the third chukker and cut the lead to one, 11-10, at the end of the fifth La Dolfina’s Juan Martin Zubia, Poroto Cambiaso, Santos Merlos chukker, but La and Segundo Merlos won the National 12-goal and $50,000. Dolfina came up with a 2-0 final Juan Martin Zubia) defeated Beverly chukker to clinch the win. Zubia scored Equestrian (Bill Ballhaus, Geronimo both goals, the first on a penalty Obregon, Hilario Figueras, Tolito conversion and the second from the Ocampo), 13-10. The team averaged 16 field, weaving his way through a crowd years in age with Santos Merlos, 13, of defenders. Cambiaso, 13, Secundo Merlos, 19, and For Santos Merlos, it was the Juan Martin Zubia, 19. biggest win in his young career. “I am In 2017, GSA (Henry Porter, very happy,” Merlos said. “I was a little Santino Magrini, Juan Martin Zubia, bit intimidated in the first chukker but Toro Ruiz) was the youngest team with we played together. This is my biggest an average age of 18. For the second win. Maybe I will buy a horse with the time in tournament history, Zubia was prize money.” named MVP. Zubia, who scored a The Grand Champions Polo Club game-high six goals in 2017, scored Best Playing Pony was bay mare eight goals, including five on penalty Norma Jean, played by Figueras in the conversions, against Beverly Equestrian second and third chukkers, out of the and joins past MVPs Luis Escobar Cria Yatay breeding operation. The (2014), Mark Tomlinson (2015), Jesse American Polo Horse Association best Bray (2016) and Toro Ruiz (2018). registered horse of the game was La Dolfina finished undefeated at Dolfina Lufthansa, played by 3-0 in the nation’s only 12-goal Cambiaso in the sixth chukker. tournament that offers major prize —Sharon Robb money in the single-elimination, winner-take-all competition. La OBITUARY Dolfina defeated WPL, 15-6, in the quarterfinals and Team USPA, 11-6, in the semifinals. Beverly Equestrian Former Hawaiian Islands Circuit finished 2-1. Governor Robert Francis “Bob” Miller Also scoring for La Dolfina, Santos passed away February 14 peacefully in Merlos had three goals and Segundo his sleep. He was 71. Born in Merlos and Cambiaso each had one Chestertown, Maryland, the son of a goal. Ocampo led Beverly Equestrian career Navy Chief, his father brought with six goals and Obregon had four. It him to Hawaii as a young lad, and the was the first time the four young love of its people and culture endured players had played in a tournament. In him to make it his home. the physical, hard-fought game, La


Robert Miller

Bob was a major player in Hawaii polo for nearly four decades. He was one of the early members and also a director of the Honolulu Polo Club where he could be found almost on a daily basis checking on the well-being of the ponies and the facility. In his professional life, he was a highly-regarded trial attorney with a successful practice in corporate, business and anti-trust issues. His legal background and experience served the USPA well during his tenure as circuit governor for Hawaii. Along with other concerned circuit governors, H. Ben Taub, Mario Mendoza, George Dill, Pat Nesbitt and others, they effectively guided the association into the 21st Century business model of which we are the beneficiaries. He was an avid sportsman with a passion for fly fishing and hunting elk in Wyoming. As a special ambassador of international polo, he was a regular in the New Zealand Polo Association’s Ambassadors Cup and is its “offshore player” record holder. His personal involvement in the importing of kiwi polo ponies greatly improved the numbers and quality of Hawaii’s polo stock along with Kiwi polo talent. He is survived by his wife Stephanie, son Stephen and poloplaying daughter Sarah. • —Allen Hoe



(continued from page 43)

The Potrillos was reserved for children under 15 years old.

hands of Los Sauces II Concarán (Pablo Verón, Ricardo Sánchez, Gustavo Yáñez and Sergio Yáñez) after beating Pompeya Oxford Polo (Gonzalo Arrieta, Alejandro Hayes, Mariano Cragnoli and César De Cilia), 9-3. And in the main category–earmarked for teams of up to 16 goals–the unbeaten champion was Los Sauces Concarán (Juan Carlos Sánchez, Rodrigo Sánchez Bongiovani, Eduardo Venturino and Ezequiel Sánchez Bárzola), who initially gave a threeand-a-half goal handicap to Estancia Grande San Luis (Joaquín Venturini, Jerónimo Venturini, Esteban Iturrioz and Iván Maldonado) and ended up being the winner by 11-8½ to raise the Uruguay Seguros Cup for the fourth consecutive year. The Escorihuela Gascón Cup–the subsidiary trophy of this division–went to Pompeya (Patricio Torres, Sebastián Fernández de Maussion Jr., Pedro Mur and Santiago Otamendi) after defeating Caburé Polo School (Ariel Márquez, Francisco Pizarro, Javier Perea and Agustín Andrada), 10½-6. The excitement at the Los Sauces tent was absolute and the festivities were led by an excited Juan Carlos Sánchez, the patriarch of the club. “What we achieved is incredible. In the high category we won since 2016, but this year we were also able to get the trophies in the other two competitions. It’s a lot for a club like ours that comes from a small city, with no more than 8,000 inhabitants without any polo tradition,” the 55-yearold forward explained. “We are not polo people. Yes, we are on horseback. In fact, I was a trainer and jockey in field races. About 25 years ago I started playing with my younger brother Ricardo wherever we could, in


borrowed fields, putting together the fields as we could. In 2005, we were able to formally establish the Los Sauces club on a five-hectare property that my father gave us. And from there we encourage ourselves to go out and compete. Everything is complicated for us, because the closest club we have, which is just Estancia Grande, is about 100 miles away. So we got used to putting the truck together, loading up the horses and playing wherever,” Sánchez said. Sanchez’s hubbub had to do with the conformation of the champion team in the top category. “I had the pleasure of playing with my son Ezequiel and my nephew Rodrigo. And we missed Milagros, but for a very good reason: she is playing the Susan G. Komen U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship at Palm Beach’s IPC with the Blackwatch team. For us, we are proud to be invited, because it shows how we are growing.” The green and yellow team is already a contender of the main under-16-goal tournaments disputed in Argentina, having won several cups. But there is one cup that has eluded the team: The Argentine Interior Championship with Handicap, the main competition for developing clubs. Sanchez explained, “This is what we lack. In 2016, we lost the final in Estancia Grande against a club like Chapaleufú with a remarkable history; in 2017, we were beaten by Rio Cuarto Polo Club playing at their home; and last year we lost to Pompeya in Tucumán. We will return to Córdoba in May to see if we can get it this year. Patience is what we have left over.” •

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

(continued from page 25) Cornell at Yale. Empire Polo Club hosted the Western Interscholastic Girls’ Regional where Maui prevailed over Central Coast. The month wrapped up with Interscholastic Open Regional and Girls’ Regional tournaments. For Open Regionals, Prestonwood Polo Club won for Central, Gardnertown for Northeastern, and Maryland Polo Club for the Southeastern region. Maryland Polo Club also took the regional title for Interscholastic Girls’. The Houston A team won the Central Girls’ Regional held at ERG in Brookshire, Texas. The Western Open division was taken by the Lakeside Varsity after both the Maui and Lakeside Varsity teams traveled to I/I National Interscholastic Championships to determine regional champion. March madness exploded as interscholastic regional tournaments began with the Northeastern Intercollegiate Regional Tournament, hosted by Cornell University. Cornell swept the tournament with the men’s team taking a win over Western Ontario while the women’s team ensured a spot at the championship tournament, beating out University of Connecticut. Meanwhile, teams headed down to the Brookshire Polo Club in Brookshire, Texas, where the Central Women’s and Men’s Regional Tournaments were held. Texas A&M men gained the regional title over University of North Texas by one goal in a thrilling final match. The Aggie women produced the win

over Southern Methodist University, awarding them regional winner title. The trend continued at the Southeastern Intercollegiate Regional Tournament with University of Virginia men’s and women’s teams reserving their place in the championship. The Cavalier men bested University of South Carolina – Aiken for its bid to the national tournaments, while the University of Virginia women took on the University of Kentucky women for its regional championship win. The Western Intercollegiate Regional Tournament, hosted by Central Coast Polo Club, held exhilarating matches for both men and women. A hard-fought battle between the men of Oregon State University and Cal Poly resulted in Cal Poly as regional winner. Animated spectators cheered on Cal Poly and Point Loma during the final game played under sunny skies. Despite tricky arena conditions, the lady competitors safely anticipated plays and worked the ball up and down the arena. With the scoreboard staying close, Cal Poly pulled ahead and scored a spot in the championships. As an action-packed February and March come to a close, anticipation of Intercollegiate and Interscholastic National Championships grew. Best of luck to all teams moving on to championships and job well done to all whose season may have ended. The USPA encourages young athletes to continue pursuing their passion, possess a hard work ethic, and, most importantly, have fun! •

Western Women’s preliminary participants at Santa Barbara Polo Club in California



May F E B RUA RY 2 6 - M AY 2 5 Amateur Cup ATX, Manor, TX APRIL 20-JUNE 29 Saturday Margarita League Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX APRIL 24-MAY 5 Wagener 4-Goal Wagener, Aiken, SC A P R I L 2 5 - M A Y 11 Members Cup (4-8) New Bridge, Aiken, SC APRIL 26-MAY 12 USPA Pete Bostwick Memorial (8-12) New Bridge, Aiken, SC A P R I L 3 0 - M A Y 19 Players Cup (0-4) Houston, Houston, TX MAY 1-12 SW Regional Classic (12-16) Houston, Houston, TX M AY 1 - 15 SW Circuit Masters Cup (4-8) Houston, Houston, TX

MAY 4 Pacific Coast Arena League California, Los Angeles, CA Polo on the Lawn Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX Victory Cup-Derby Day ATX, Manor, TX Derby Day Will Rogers, Los Angeles, CA MAY 4-5 Mardi Gras Cup (0-2) New Orleans, Folsom, LA MAY 5 Cinco De Mayo Cup Houston, Houston, TX

Preakness Stakes Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX M A Y 1 8 - 19 21st Ronald Reagan Tournament Will Rogers, Los Angeles, CA Southern Hotel Cup New Orleans, Folsom, LA

M AY 10 - 12 PTF Clinic Plain Bay, Ontario, Canada

MAY 22-JUNE 1 USPA Congressional Cup (6) Wagener, Wagener, SC

Spring Challenge Cup Grand Champions, Wellington, FL

MAY 1-29 Wednesday League (0-4) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX

MAY 12-22 Women’s Challenge Two Wishes, Lockhart, TX

M A Y 1 - 31 Commander-In-Chief Cup (4-8) Texas Military, Poteet, TX

M AY 15 - 2 6 Western Challenge Cup (12-16) Houston, Houston, TX

MAY 3-5 Sun Cup Grand Champions, Wellington, FL

M A Y 16 - J U N E 1 Spring Challenge Trophy (4-8) New Bridge, Aiken, SC

MAY 3-12 Folded Hills Polo Challenge (8-12) Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, CA

M A Y 17 - 1 8 AFIL Benefit Match Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX


M AY 18 Polo On the Prairie Lazy 3 Ranch, Albany, TX

M A Y 19 - J U N E 2 Polo Pony 4 Goal Wagener, Aiken, SC

M A Y 11 Frisco Family Life Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX

MAY 3-26 Sun Cup (6-10) Palm City, Boynton Beach, FL

M A Y 17 - J U N E 2 Tommy Hitchcock Memorial (8-12) New Bridge, Aiken SC,

M AY 8 - 18 Aiken Saddlery (6) Wagener, Aiken, SC

M A Y 1 - 19 SW Circuit Officers Cup Houston, Houston, TX

Willow Bend Cup (8) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX

Rosemary Cup (8) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX

M A Y 17 - 19 Polo Gear Challenge Cup Grand Champions, Wellington, FL M A Y 17 - 2 6 Lisle Nixon Memorial (8-12) Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, CA

MAY 24-26 Adm. Chester Nimitz Arena (0-3) Farmington, Farmington, CT The Memorial Grand Champions, Wellington, FL MAY 24-27 WCT Arena Challenge (9-12) Sherman Memorial Central Coast, Los Osos, CA MAY 25 Pacific Coast Arena League Poway, Poway, CA May Challenge Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX Grand Polo Tournament Celebrity Ranch, Temecula Valley, CA MAY 25-26 Governor’s Cup New Orleans, Folsom, LA MAY 26 St. Regis Classic Houston, Houston, TX


June M A Y 31 - J U N E 2 Celebration of the Horse Denver, Denver, CO M A Y 31 - J U N E 9 Vic Garber Cup (8-12) Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, CA USPA Congressional Cup (8) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX

Belmont Sakes Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX Endangered Wolf Benefit Spirit Valley, St. Louis, MO JUNE 8-9 NOPC Summer Classic New Orleans, Folsom, LA

White Pants Open (4-8) Mashomack, Pine Plains, NY

J U N E 8 - J U LY 2 2 Independence Cup (8) Southampton, Water Mill, NY

JUNE 1 USA versus Chile Westchester, Portsmouth, RI

JUNE 9 CG Rice Cup Myopia, South Hamilton, MA

Top Pony Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX Intra Club Matches New Orleans, Folsom, LA 12th Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Liberty State Park, NYC, NY JUNE 1-2 NYTS Qualifier Atlanta Regional, Tyrone, GA JUNE 1-SEPTEMBER 1 Women’s Polo League Denver, Denver, CO JUNE 2 Joseph Poor/Stan Bradford Cup Myopia, South Hamilton, MA JUNE 2-4 National Arena Challenge Cup Commonwealth, Paris, KY J U N E 2 - J U L Y 14 Summer League (4) Southampton, Water Mill, NY JUNE 5-26 Wednesday League (0-4) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX J U N E 6 - 16 Sportsmanship Cup Nashville, Nashville, TN JUNE 8 Hunterdon Polo Classic Fieldview Farm, Pittstown, NJ

J U N E 10 - J U LY 2 6 One-week Summer Camps Central Coast, Los Osos, CA J U N E 1 2 - 16 NYTS Qualifier Houston, Houston, TX J U N E 1 3 - 16 Sportsmanship Cup Farmington, Farmington, CT

J U N E 16 Neil Ayer Cup Myopia, South Hamilton, MA J U N E 16 - 3 0 Monty Waterbury Cup Greenwich, Greenwich, CT J U N E 19 - J U L Y 2 4 Copa Miércoles (8) Mashomack, Pine Plains, NY JUNE 20-24 PTF Clinic & College Fair Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, CA J U N E 21 - 2 3 USPA Gen. Patton (0-4) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX J U N E 21 - 3 0 Makeup/Knockout (8/tbd) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX JUNE 22 Victory Cup: Nashville Fontanel, Whites Creek, TN Patriot Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX

J U N E 14 - 16 USPA Gen. Brown (8) Willow Bend, Little Elm, TX

International Polo Challenge Mashomack, Pine Plains, NY

J U N E 15 Symphony Cup Prestonwood, Oak Point, TX

JUNE 22-23 Spring Season Final Matches New Orleans, Folsom, LA

J U N E 14 - 2 3 Intra-Circuit (8-12) Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, CA J U N E 14 - 3 0 USPA Officers Cup (8) Mashomack, Pine Plains, NY J U N E 15 Players Cup (0-4) Kraftig, St. Louis, MO Mallets & Moonlight Mohawk Park, Tulsa, OK J U N E 1 5 - 16 NYTS Qualifier Bluewater Creek, Rogersville, AL NYTS Qualifier Cerro Pampa, Petaluma, CA

23rd C.D. LeBlanc Memorial Will Rogers, Los Angeles, CA JUNE 23 Agassiz Club Cup (0) Myopia, South Hamilton, MA JUNE 27-30 Centennial Cup Acoaxet, Tiverton, RI JUNE 28-29 NYTS Qualifier Gardnertown, Newburgh, NY JUNE 29 Pacific Coast Arena League Lakeside, Lakeside, CA JUNE 29-30 NYTS Qualifier Buffalo, Wainfleet, Ontario, Canada



Ladies as polo players Participants faced challenges in one of first public matches by Gladys Beattie Crozier

Preface: In my account of “Early Women’s Polo in America” (Polo Players’ Edition, May 2013), I summarized in some detail the daunting hurdles that the distaff side faced in participating in the sport which included: • Cultural prejudices • Sidesaddle vs. astride riding • Proper sporting attire • Overcoming stereotypes • Finding horses, facilities & infrastructure support • Instruction & mentoring By chance, I recently came

The women played riding sidesaddle and wore stiff habits and skirts.

across an article with the engaging title of “Ladies as Polo Players” written by Gladys Beattie Crozier that appeared in a 1906 issue of the popular English magazine The Lady’s Realm. In her narrative, Ms. Crozier chronicles one of the very first public women’s polo matches of the modern era which was held in London at the renowned Ranelagh Club in the late summer of 1905 in the presence of Queen Alexandra and a well heeled crowd of enthusiastic spectators. Interestingly, the

There are few prettier sights than that of a wellplayed polo match, and with the game in full swing, the gaily coloured shirts, caps, and badges of the players, and fine swiftness and vigour of their mounts, reined in at the moments of victory before a hard-fought goal, go to make a picture well calculated to enchain the eyes of the numerous and enthusiastic onlookers, and set on fire the feminine members of the audience with a burning desire to participate in the most splendid and exciting of all outdoor games, and themselves join in the fray! There is an entertaining account given by Mr. T.


author acknowledges some of the challenges that these pioneering participants faced even then, including playing polo riding sidesaddle and in wearing elaborate “costumes” that were far from conducive to the game. Presented below is an abridged version of Ms. Crozier’s fascinating first-hand account of this landmark match along with many of the extremely rare and marvelous photographs that accompanied it. Dennis J. Amato

F. Dale, in his delightful book on ”Polo, Past and Present,” of the first authentic ladies’ polo match, which took place, it seems, in Persia in the sixth century A.D., and is described in flowing language by the Persian poet Nizami, who, writing several centuries later, incidentally observes, as a matter calling for no special comment or surprise, that no less than seventy beautiful damsels took part in the same game – all playing at one time! Modern polo as a game for ladies has been frequently tried during the last ten or fifteen years [i.e. 1891-1896], and one of the first of these teams was trained in Egypt by Captain Theobald, and created much interest by their matches, which scored a distinct success. Since then a ladies’ team played through one or two hot weathers up in Kashmir; whilst at Calgay [Calgary] and Macleod, two small but very sporting settlements at the foot of the [Canadian] Rockies, headquarters of the Mounted Police, a race of Amazon-like damsels exist, whose pride is to be capable of doing all that an average man can do, both at work and at play, and for a girls’ polo team to take the field and play a match, riding astride on plucky little prairie ponies, is an every-day occurrence, these enterprising damsels having previously broken in and then proceeded to train and


The match was held at the Ranelagh Club in London in front of a well-heeled crowd.

school their mounts, if they did not, indeed, in the first instance lasso them off the plains! Ladies have lately played in polo matches privately in Ireland and elsewhere; whilst it was only at the end of last summer that the now famous “ladies’ polo match” between the “rainbows” and the “whites” took place at Ranelagh before Queen Alexandra and the large and enthusiastic audience who had collected to witness so picturesque and novel a sight, and it was on this occasion that, owing to the courtesy of Mrs. Hume Spry and the other members of the two rival polo teams, the photographs which illustrate this article were taken. The necessary mounts having been lent by various men players, a double row of smart polo ponies fitted with side saddles provided an arresting sight alongside of the barrier to the new polo ground. The ponies, totally unused to feminine riders, behaved with delightful appreciation of the spirit of the game, boldly approaching a flapping habit skirt, when required to “ride off” its wearer, and taking sundry unavoidable knocks and blows from polo sticks wielded by unaccustomed hands in the utmost good part, besides cheerfully standing with their riders while still mounted during the intervals between the “chuckers” – an unpardonable breach of all usual observance in a polo pony’s eyes! - for few players changed ponies, and the rest for the most

part pronounced it “too much bother to get off and on!” and indeed, the game being of necessity a very slow one (most of the players having only had the sticks in their hands on one previous occasion in their lives), there was little need for them to do so! On the opposite side of the ground from the grandstand where the audience was seated, a long table set forth with huge jugs of lemonade in which ice chinked, flanked by a long row of tumblers, provided very welcome refreshment when poured out and handed up to the players between the “chuckers” by various men-friends of the rival teams, who during the game sat in a row on the boundary board to jeer, chaff, or applaud the players, and subsequently to give a word of advice, a “good tip,” or perchance, a warning during the intervals of rest, whilst a few privileged feminine intimates also made their way round to praise the sportsmanlike appearance of the riders, who, clad in stiff habits and skirts, made a vivid enough contrast to their lace and muslin clad friends! Whether a ladies’ team will ever be formed for more serious play, who will devote time to constant and serious practice before attempting to play in matches, and will become serious exponents of the game, still remains to be seen. To be able to hit the ball with some degree of certainty at a canter is a difficult enough matter, and much time must POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 61


Most of the women had only held a mallet in their hand once before this match.

Men offered the women lemonade and words of advice between chukkers.



Men-friends sat on the boards to jeer, chaff or applaud the players.

The ponies, unused to feminine riders, behaved well even when approaching a flapping skirt to make a ride off.

perforce be devoted to constant play before what is termed a fast “galloping game” can ever hope to be indulged in with a fair amount of success. The chief obstacle in the way of women becoming expert polo players lies, undoubtedly, in the instinctive objection, which most Englishwomen share to the thought of riding astride, and for all the ordinary occasions the usual side-saddle seat and

long habit skirt are certainly more graceful and becoming. It is, however, practically impossible to “ride off” an opponent at polo when seated on a side-saddle, and every male expert seems to agree that for a lady to play polo, or any modification of polo, in a long skirt on a side-saddle is a decidedly dangerous proceeding. POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 63


Most women objected to the thought of riding astride, limiting their abilities on the field.

Every male expert seemed to agree that playing in a long skirt on a side-saddle was dangerous.

This being the case, when one remembers how many feminine members of our own Royal Family have ridden astride without hesitation in Egypt and elsewhere, when travelling, as necessity arose, it seems an objection which by common consent be overcome, and riding astride be unanimously agreed upon by members of any ladies’ polo club started with the intention of practicing for serious play. Women fence and swim quite happily in public, or semi-public, in short-skirted garments which reach only to the knee, and many sportswomen wear long gaiters and a skirt kilted up above the knees for tramping over the heather-covered moors in the highlands, so that there seems no special reason why a costume built on similar lines, and consisting, for 64 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N

choice, of gaiters and breeches with a long-skirted coat divided down the back and falling on either side the saddle to reach to the wearer’s knee when mounted – thus doing away with the necessity for a skirt – should be adopted by ladies for polo-playing purposes. Brown breeches, gaiters, and boots, and a thin, easily fitting cloth coat of whatever colour might be chosen by the team, worn with a white hunting-stock, would look both smart and workmanlike; whilst for very hot weather, or for wear in semi-tropical climates, a similar coat of white linen or piqué, with a wide band of the chosen colour fastened over one shoulder and under the other, after the usual fashion of badges, would make a capital substitute. •

Profile for United States Polo Association

May 2019 Polo Players' Edition  

May 2019 Polo Players' Edition