Tag Archives: San Diego Polo Club

Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament at the San Diego Polo Club

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament

On July 5 & 6, the San Diego Polo Club played host to one of many tournaments organized by the Pacific Coast Arena League.  USPA members from all over California traveled to SDPC to compete in the two-day event hosted by both San Diego Polo and Poway Polo clubs.  Roughly 40 players and 80 horses gathered at our arena to compete against one another over July 4th weekend.   The club was bustling more than usual and playing host to our guests brought a wonderful, different, refreshing air to the club.  Many of the competitors over the weekend got their start at our Arena School lessons and now compete regularly all over California at various other clubs. Each day had 6 matches consisting of 4 chukkers of various levels of competition. From our Interscholastic teenaged players to our best A-rated players, the day was action packed with some of the most amazing arena polo you’ll ever see.  Some of the other clubs represented were OC Polo, Central Coast Polo, Lakeside Polo and Poway Polo.

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Maryam Jahani

Each day consisted of 6 matches, A-Flights, B-Flights and C-Flight Student chukkers. A-Flight is the more advanced and C-Flight is more beginner level, even though there’s still a lot going on in C-Flight, just watch!  For each match, 3 Awards were given:  Most Valuable Player, Sportsmanship and Best Playing Pony.  MVP is usually given to the player who contributed the most to the game, not necessarily who scored the most goals, an all around player acknowledged for their effort and skill, as well as their knowledge and respect for the game and rules.  Sportsmanship is given to a stand-out player who perhaps showed a mutual respect for another player, horse, or rule and did not put personal triumph above how the game should be played.  Perhaps an overall attitude toward the chukkers and other players. One young man was awarded Sportsmanship for initiating the “great game” handshake exchange to the other team’s players and to thank the umpires at the end of his match.   Best Playing Pony is given to the stand-out horse that performed brilliantly in terms of perhaps speed, ride-off, responsiveness to needs of the rider, and overall performance within the game.

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Heather_perkins

Arena polo is often mistaken as less exciting and more condensed than grass polo.  If you take just one quick moment to watch some chukkers of some A rated players, you’ll very quickly realize how scrappy, exciting, action packed and different Arena polo is from grass polo.  It’s amazing just how different the entire game can be within the 100×50 yard field.  You can often use the wall or boards of the arena as a “4th man” in your chukkers, using it for your team, or against the other team.  You can smack the ball against the boards at an angle to change the line of the ball to pass to a teammate, something you can’t really do in grass unless you hit it low enough to bounce it off the red boards on the ground.  The close contact in the arena is extremely exciting, sometimes looking more like a demolition derby instead of Formula One racing.  Most of the same rules still apply in either game – grass or arena – but the strategy tends to be much different.

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-sdpc

While hitting and carrying the ball tends to be much easier on the grass, since most people prefer to play golf on the green instead of the sand pits, imagine just how much more skill you might need to “play golf in the sand pits” all the time?  The arena ball tends to glance off mounds of sand or mud, or get stuck in hoof holes created by the galloping horses.  But to develop enough skill to work around that and STILL be a dynamite polo player, I’d say that’s a mission worth trying, and a feat often underestimated and overlooked. With the deck stacked against you in getting the ball to move anywhere in a straight line, you might argue that arena polo is harder.

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Julie Empey

New players may rush themselves through Arena as their end game or end goal might be to play on the grass.  Take one look at an arena tournament and you are in for one hell of a ride. You can see Everything right up close, you can hear the grunts of the horses, hear the clanking of stirrups during a ride off, see all the action up close from wherever you’re standing – it’s easier to see every detail.   Get ready to duck out of the way of a ball flying out of bounds!

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Niki Mobtaker
The next time you hear about an arena tournament at SDPC, come on down and check it out.  It’s really an amazing display of expertise horsemanship, and expert ball-mallet handling, turning in tight circles, dribbling the ball to keep it away from a fast approaching opponent.  It has non-stop ride-offs, precision maneuvers within the small space… it is a RUSH!

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Alvern Vorn Steeg

A very big thank you to SDPC Polo Manager Graham Bray for letting us host the two day tournament, it went off without a hitch, so thank you very much for everything!  A very special thank you to Dr. Colleen Wilson of Adeptus Nutrition for donating her equine supplements for the Best Playing Pony awards given to the best horse in each match voted on by the umpires and officials of each game.  Thank you so much to Kimo Huddleston who worked tirelessly all weekend umpiring most of the games, fitting in teaching some lessons, and dragging the arena in between chukkers.   A monstrous thank you to the Godfather of Southern California Polo – Mr. Russ Sheldon.  Most of the organizational details are old hat to him, this ain’t his first rodeo, a valuable resource in the polo community, a hard working man dedicated to keeping polo alive and attainable for everyone in the San Diego area.  Thank you to Megan Judge, Heather Perkins, Russ Sheldon, Graham Bray, Heather Chronert, Kimo Huddleston and Gillian Young, for your help in organizing and making it all happen.

San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Kelly Newton

And the best thank you of all – to all the competitors for coming down and enjoying the tournament with us!  We love hosting visitors and opening our doors to different players of all levels. We hope you enjoyed your time at SDPC, its picturesque setting, and hopefully you made it down to watch our Sunday Matches!   I know we’ll see some of you back over Labor Day weekend when we host the National Youth Tournament Series final matches.  That’ll draw visitors from all over the country to watch the kids (all under 19) play on the grass.
San Diego Polo Club Pacific Coast Arena League Tournament-Central Coast Polo
Thank you again for coming down to celebrate with us.

-Gillian Young

All photos by Jeffery Trout.

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Jesse Bray Wins Prestigious USPA Equus & Co. Award

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Emerging polo star Jesse Bray, a native to southern California, was selected as the winner of the USPA Equus & Co. Award and the $10,000 prize that goes with it, which honors the Team USPA player who best exemplifies the program’s principles. The Equus & Co. Award was presented on Sunday, April 13 immediately following the 26-goal U.S. Open Polo Championship quarterfinals at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, FL.  Jesse Bray, Lucas Reid and Will Tankard were all nominated for the prestigious award.

“The three finalists are dedicated to the sport of polo and have worked hard to improve in all areas,” said Team USPA Program Director Kris Bowman in describing this year’s finalists. “Jesse, Lucas and Will are prime examples of the future of American polo. They are the true embodiment of the principles on which Jim Whisenand founded this prestigious award.”

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Bray, a 4-goaler who is based in California, has won numerous tournaments around the country. Last summer at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, he captured top Best Playing Pony honors in the 12-goal Intra-Circuit Cup with Can-Can and the 12-goal Vic Graber with Antelope, where he also earned the MVP award. He also won the Spreckles Cup at the San Diego Polo Club and finished it off by being selected as winner of the prestigious Willis Allen award, which recognizes the top all-around player, sportsman and horseman under 25 years-old.

The 21-year-old Bray has been on winning teams since 2010, when he was a part of the Eldorado Polo Club team that won the USPA National Interscholastic Championship. Bray is also a four-time winner of the Western Regional Interscholastic Championships.

 

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Grand Prix training at the San Diego Polo Club

Grand Prix training at the San Diego Polo Club

Jesse Bray and Uakea “Buddha” Huddleston training for the 2014 Grand Prix. Good luck, guys! 😉

Meet Dirk Wray.

How does small town entrepreneurial kid from Michigan end up playing the Sport of Kings on the graced shores and World renown San Diego Polo Club?

After advance international degrees, corporate and Wall Street stints; advising many leaders including sovereign leaders, Dirk by accident insulted a member of the British aristocracy when he said, “You’re full of manure, they don’t play polo on Elephants!” Which resulted in a honor challenge to play on the Brit’s team the following month in then war torn Sri Lanka.

From his mixed martial arts and various sports background, Dirk surprised all by becoming the high goaler of the tournament; and, when asked which polo club he played at as a professional, he had to confessed to never riding a horse!

Back home in SoCal Dirk ventured to try his luck at the famed SDPC arena and on the third attempt met fate head on. Her name: Alisha. A local SD model beauty and competitive long time hunter jumper that “saw the light” and was “reborn” a polo player. The then single’s first match in the arena lead to a show of chivalry; that later lead to Dirk calling Alisha to ask her where she got her polo boots (nice line Dirk – Where there is a Wray; there is a Way!). Passionate love ever since and one of the rare couples in polo that can play the game together and win!

After a great nine years at the club, Dirk and Alisha hope that you will support the Club’s efforts to keep the 100+ year tradition of the oldest sport in history in San Diego. The couple’s businesses and charities are economic development focused: supporting health care, education, agriculture, water and energy in many countries, including the great U.S.A!

Opening Day at SDPC

The place to be on Sunday afternoon was the San Diego Polo Club in Rancho Santa Fe.  With perfect weather, gorgeous people, and majestic horses playing polo, there was no other way to spend the day.   The San Diego Polo Club had their most successful day in 26 years with a record breaking attendance of 2,000.

Riviera Magazine sponsored the event, along with BMW of San Diego and Mini of San Diego.  Riviera’s publisher, Jessica Cline, was our guest of honor and presented Hermes trophies to the winners, compliments of Neiman Marcus.

The San Diego Polo Club debuted their first fashion show, with dresses by Poppy, shoes by Shoes Me, accessories by Nomadic Fashion and shades from Raen Optics.  Corals and blues are the color of summer.  Fashionista, Michelle Guerin of the San Diego Union Tribune said it best in her recent article, this season offers a kaleidoscope of prints and pops of color.

The Feature Match between Jetsuite/Monteverde and Starmeadow/Adeptus was a riveting one.  Both teams were neck and neck throughout all six chukkers with Mariano Gutierrez scoring the winning shot for Jetsuite/Monteverde.

Thank you to everyone who came out for a glorious, sun-filled day of Polo!  Join us this Sunday for our Father’s Day celebration including antique biplanes, cars, and cigars.

Special thanks to Frank Tupas and Dominick Lemarie for photography!

Corporate Event

We had a blast Friday afternoon playing golf cart polo at the San Diego Polo Club with a group of about 70 people.  The Wild Thyme Company did a fantastic job with the food and presentation, while Zoe Productions helped tie in our Ralph Lauren theme.

Guests had an introduction to polo, followed by golf cart polo and dinner!

Movie Night Under the Stars


$10 advance/ $15 door- sandiegopolo.ticketleap.com