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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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Welcome Letter from Marketing Director

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Good afternoon! I hope this email finds you well and that your year is off to a great start!All is well at the San Diego Polo Club. I’m happy to report that 2013 was a great year for us and that we had a very successful summer. We welcomed over 13,000 spectators throughout the season, with close to 3,000 on Opening Day alone. In addition, more than half of our events supported a non-profit organization and we are hoping to partner with even more charities this season.
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We are going through some exciting new changes at the San Diego Polo Club! We have officially welcomed founding member and board member, Chris Collins as the 2014 San Diego Polo Club President. If you read last year’s article, “A Family Legacy” in the San Diego Polo Magazine, you’ll know how influential the Collins Family has been in the history and development of the polo club. We are excited to have him as our President this season!We have also created a Steering Committee this season which will help make important decisions regarding the Club’s direction. I’d like to introduce the members of this group: Julia Samaniego, Joy Bancroft, Chris Maloney, Ellen Greenhill and Krista Bonaguidi. Thank you for all your hard work so far this pre-season.heather-chronert 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think a few of you will be quite pleased to see Heather Chronert back around the San Diego Polo Club this year, acting as Interim General Manager.

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New to the team this year, is Event Director, Krista Morrison. I will help Krista get acquainted with our Sunday Polo Events, Social Activities and Members! If you see Krista on Sunday, please introduce yourself.

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Our favorite New Zealander and Polo Manager, Graham Bray will be returning this season and has plans to bring in new teams for the summer.  He’s actively working with our field managers on improving our fields to make sure our grass is in perfect condition and ready for play come June! Also, be sure to watch for him on Field 1, as he’ll be returning to team StarMeadow again this summer!
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We are happy to welcome back Vanessa Shapiro as our Advertising Sales Director for the 2014 San Diego Polo Magazine. Sales are off to a great start and we are hoping to have an even bigger and better publication this year. I cannot wait for all of your to see our beautiful magazine. If you are interested in advertising, send an email to vanessa@sandiegopolo.com

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I am returning this year as the Marketing Director and will continue to maximize our marketing efforts by developing relationships with community leaders, charities, sponsors, media outlets and valuable partners, as well as manage our graphic design and social media marketing. I will also be training our new Event Manager throughout the season and look forward to introducing you to our new team.

You may have noticed that we are starting our summer season one week earlier this year. We will have 15 weekends of polo, so please mark your calendar for the following events:

28th Annual San Diego Polo Season Kick-Off Party on Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 5pm

Opening Day presented by Land Rover of San Diego on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 1pm

In addition to our 15 Sunday Polo events, we will host a handful of fun social events, including an end-of-the-year Spreckels Party. If you are interested in joining as a Social Member, please reach out to me with any questions.

If you know of a charity that we should partner with, someone that wants to start playing polo, or a business owner that has interest in advertising, please feel free to pass along my contact information. I’ll do whatever it takes to make our 2014 a huge success!

I look forward to seeing each of you on Opening Day!

Lindsey

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!

Meet Miguel Gutierrez

Our player profile this week features the somewhat shy Miguel Gutierrez of Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you are saying to yourself, that handsome face looks familiar, it’s because it graces our general admission ticket for the 2011 season. Miguel jokes it’s the first step in his eventual rise to fame. He hopes to someday upstage his cousin and fellow polo player Mariano Gutierrez, who was featured in the music video for Britney Spear’s Radar. Miguel wants to let Britney know if she ever wants to remake her Oops!… I Did It Again video, he’s available!

Miguel is a seasoned player who has professionally competed around the world and he comes to The San Diego Polo Club after finishing  a season at the North Church Farm Polo Club in London. Separate of Argentina, his favorite location to compete is Indio, California. Miguel says with a quiet voice, “I don’t know, I just love the mountains and the landscape of the desert and after playing there for so many years, it has become like a home away from home for me.”

There is no questioning his passion for the sport and when asked what he do would do if ever won the lottery, he softly remarks, “I’d still keep playing polo, I can’t really imagine doing anything else.” It’s a fitting answer, as polo is a tradition that is deeply rooted in his family. He learned the sport from his grandfather and he someday hopes to pass along the game to his own children.

When he’s not playing polo or dreaming of fame, he is usually listening to music or fawning over Rita, his fierce pittbull and in many ways the love of his life! Sadly, Rita was unable to accompany Miguel on this trip to San Diego and with a sad look on his face he tells us, “I really miss her….” It’s the first time the two have been apart since he rescued her from a gas station 10 years ago.