Open House Dates:
Open House Dates:
In the hands of an experienced rider, the mallet becomes an acrobat, says 15-year-old Maya Tantuwaya, who has never forgotten her first.
Around January, our growling Ford pickup crunches through the dirt road beyond field five of the San Diego Polo Club and pulls to a stop in front of our eight-horse trailer, lonely from six months’ abandonment. Dad and I forget our differences to jump out of the truck, and he fumbles with the key to the built-in tack room. I explain my hollow ambitions to keep an accurate inventory of our jungle of English saddles, intricate bridles, and the bouquet of polo mallets fanning out of a red water bucket like dry spaghetti. I make the same vow every year but never follow through. Ignoring me, Dad turns around to engage a passing horse groom in polite conversation, using his clumsy Spanish, as he reins in his cluster of six horses. He pretends to have known the groom all his life, even though I’m the one who spent an entire summer out riding with him in the mornings. Raymundo and I have become close friends, despite the language barrier.
Organizing the mix-up of mallets, my hand catches the woven cream hand loop of one of them. Up and out comes my very first mallet, separated from the tangle of chapped leather and spray bottles quarter-filled with the syrupy remains of what used to be fly spray. The threadbare rubber wrap on the grip still bears the unsavory whiff of sweaty palm, but there is bliss in curling my hand around the mallet’s end. Fencers and tennis players think of their foils and rackets as an extended arm, while the polo player’s weapon of choice harmonizes the momentum of man and horse into a scything stroke that sends the ball sailing tens of meters over the cropped-grass pitch. The wedged mallet head is clumsy, and its fine cracks and scratches are masked by duct tape, but its bruises bless it with the beauty of something from a (civilized) battle. The bony grip provides no leverage – that all comes from the player’s arm and hips in the swing. The cane itself, a 52in shaft of manau palm wood with a honeyed glint, stands dormant and straight. In the hand of an experienced horseman, it’s an acrobat – flipping to a 90-degree angle when hooked by another mallet and flicking with the fluidity of a dancer into backbends. Balanced upon the slender stalk is the mallet head – worn and covered in vein-like cracks and grass smudges. It still grasps the cane with snug stability. I covered the smooth wood with checkered tape and two skinny bands, but even the tape is frayed at the edges. The head, cigar-shaped with a diagonal wedge cut out of one end, was the pride and joy of my 11-year-old self. In stamped print, the initials MT, decorated with forest-green paint on the ends, declared my presence on the playing field. To swing it was to boast a coat of arms with the prowess of a cavalier. How I’d catapult across the fields, adrenaline clenching my stomach while I inhaled the essence of leather and dewy grass. Or at least that’s what I would fantasize.
The graceful lance is stiff with sleep, stained with memory of play some years before, when I could hardly manage to hit the uneven, plastic ball at a benign canter. Bouncing on the back of my short-legged bay, I’d shrug my heavy helmet into place, only to feel the front visor fall over my brow once more. The mallet would twirl, wild with the combination of the force of the horse and the languid noodle of my arm controlling it. Grazing the tender blades of grass or clunking my pony’s forearm with the mallet, I’d focus really hard until a solid clunk reverberated off the sweet spot, propelling the dented hunk of a ball forward. Well-balanced and dependable, the polished mallet soon became an acquaintance of mine. But the progression of time dulls all glory into a jejune bronze plaque inscribed with memory. Time to rebel against the accumulating dust and leave behind the nostalgia. Dad, meanwhile, is still stammering in Spanish, and Raymundo seems slightly amused by it. I twist the loop of the initialed mallet around my thumb and adjust my right hand. Even after years of inaction, it is usable – so long as I replace the tacky and frayed duct tape on the head.
Written by 15-year old Maya Tantuwaya and printed in Hurlingham Polo Magazine’s Winter Issue. Maya and her father, Lokesh have played at the San Diego Polo Club for many years. Photo by Siegel Thurston Photography.
More information about Hurlingham Polo Magazine, visit them online at hurlinghampolo.com
The San Diego Polo Club hosted its USPA Rossmore on September 6, with its annual White Party to benefit the San Diego Film Foundation. The San Diego Film Foundation is an educational, 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that produces the annual San Diego Film Festival and hosts year-round, cinema-related events to foster and promote the film community in San Diego.
Guests entered the gates modeling their white ensembles. Before taking their seats, guests strolled around the venue, taking a look at our vendors including Buzz Box cocktails, JL Rocha leather goods, and Roast Coach.
For a quick (and fun) recap, watch the USPA Rossmore Cup & White Party Video below.
Patrons enjoyed an intermission show of Brazilian Drumming/Dancing as they celebrated Brazilian Independence Day.
Sacha Boutros de Cázares had the pleasure of singing the national anthem. San Diego native, Sacha, has gone from gigging at a few San Diego clubs and U.S. festivals to touring the world and back, to having her recordings hit the top of the charts in Japan and on emusic, to even receiving a Grammy nod for best jazz and Latin jazz album in 2008 and 2013.
The feature match of the day began at 3:00pm between Twin Palms/Roseville Motors in blue and Pasion sporting the day’s theme of white. Merridee Books, Vice President of Development of The San Diego Film Foundation had the honors of doing the first ball throw-in.
The first chukker concluded with two goals from Graham Bray and Chris Maloney for Twins Palms/Roseville Motors. In Chukker Two, Kimo Huddleston and Diego Velarde each scored a goal for Pasion.
Chukker Three left the game tied with one more goal from Patrick Uretz representing Twin Palms/Roseville Motors and another goal from Diego Velarde representing Pasion.
With the score at 3-3, the teams entered the fourth chukker. Uretz, Bray, and Maloney scored three goals for Twin Palms/Roseville Motors and Velarde scored once more for Pasion.
In the 5th chukker, Bray took a hard bump from the opposing team, knocking both him and his horse on to the ground. The horse rolled on top of Bray before running back to the tie rails. Bray sat on the field for some time and while his fellow players told him to take it easy and sit out for the remainder of the game, Bray pushed them aside, wiped off the blood and mounted up. In the final two chukkers, Bray played his hardest.
By the sixth chukker the score was 8-7 with Twin Palms/Roseville Motors in the lead. Diego Velarde scored two more goals for Pasion. Maloney and Bray together scored three goals in the final chukker leaving the final score at 11-9, Twin Palms/Roseville Motors.
Alice Collins presented Chris Maloney with the Best Playing Pony Award for his horse Pulona.
USPA’s Mike Uretz presented the winning team with awards. Eric Hammon, Patrick Uretz, Graham Bray and Chris Maloney.
Needless to say, Graham Bray won the Most Valuable Player Award. He’s one of the most skilled horsemen in the sport and one of the toughest guys on the field.
Now, polo has become a passion that borders an addiction.
Highlights started early in the day at the Leisure Society sponsored polo lessons before the pros kicked-off at 1pm. Long time horseman and first time polo player, actor Chris Klein, having a beginner and quintessential yet dramatic fall off the horse. Klein was playing in his first game of polo ever during our morning polo lessons and with the active encouragement of a vocal audience, Klein found himself over committed and took a slow motion fall off the polo saddle onto the ground. Everything seemed fine, until we realized that his left foot was still in the stirrup. We simultaneously gasped in horror as the horse began to kick and pick up speed as Klein bounced around like a rag doll, or better yet, a seasoned Hollywood stuntman doubling in a John Wayne movie. It lasted only moments and I was positive that Chris was maimed or even worse. Eventually, his boot was pulled off his foot and he laid there limp and motionless, the horse went on its way. Klein hopped up, regrouped, brushed off/spit out the dust, slipped the boot back on and remounted his steed. It was a true Clint Eastwood moment, the stuff of legends. Klein, ever the actor, was quite upset that none if it was captured on film. It seemed so grisly that all cameras were seemingly deafened by the severity of the situation. I’m happy to report that Klein made it to the festivities later in the day, bruised in ways only a true horseman knows…a courageous moment.
This past Sunday, June 28, the San Diego Polo Club had the pleasure of hosting its fourth annual Woodford Reserve Classic which hosted a charity polo match to benefit the International Testicular Cancer Foundation. First-time visitors Nacho Figueras and Hilaro Figueras supported the cause by joining La Jolla Polo Team and assisting their win.
The second half of the tournament will be held at the San Diego Polo Club this Sunday, July 5. Gates will open for the “Boots & Bolos” Pan American Cup Finals at 12:30pm. The patriotic spirit will be everywhere this Sunday as guests are encouraged to sport their best pair of cowboy boots and their nicest bolos for Sunday Polo’s all-American event.
SDPC is excited to announce that during this Sunday’s intermission before the feature match, Cowboy Mounted Shooting will have its very own demonstration. Mounted Shooting is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. It has attracted sponsors like Wrangler, Tony Lama, John Deere, Colt and Stetson. Riders compete in this timed event using two .45 caliber single action revolvers, each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition. The sport offers a variety of levels of competition to include riders from novice levels to the seasoned professionals. Competitors wear traditional western attire or late 1800’s period clothing. There are never any loaded guns outside of the arena.
In addition to this demonstration, Sunday Polo will host its very own watermelon eating contest.
Steven Ybarra will be singing the National Anthem during this Sunday’s intermission. One of the most gifted, honest musicians to emerge from San Diego’s thriving singer-songwriter scene in years, national recording and touring artist Steven Ybarra has captivated crowds across North America with his voice, guitar, and keen ear for that perfect melody. An accomplished and innovative standout, Steven Ybarra has put out eight captivating, heartfelt albums of passionate pop gems. Along the way he’s earned not just devoted fans, but numerous accolades, including four San Diego Music Awards. He has shared the stage with Eric Church, Darius Rucker, Gavin De Graw, Jason Maraz, Switchfoot, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jeremy Camp, Sugar Ray, and countless others. His modern country and pop songs have been featured on MTV, ESPN, and in motion pictures and documentary films. His albums Love Love Love and Best Days have helped build his solo career to what it is today, and now his 3rd CD, What I Really Want to Say, is set to catapult him all the way. Steven is currently signed with Pacific Records.
Join us this Sunday for the Pan-American Cup Finals.
Here is the link for tickets: http://sandiegopolo.ticketleap.com/pan-american-cup-finals-2015/
The San Diego Polo Club (SDPC) celebrated Father’s Day on Field 5 with a special Father’s Day Brunch. Guests enjoyed a brunch buffet and coffee while enjoying a day full of equestrian fun.
Gates opened at 11:00am as guests and their fathers enjoyed items from a wonderful brunch menu that included Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits, Crème Brulee French Toast Casserole, Spice Rubbed Tri Tip and an Andouille Sausage Carving Station, along with Kale Caesar Salad, Fresh Fruit Platters, and Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
The first polo match of the day began at 11:30am between Adeptus Nutrition/Pasion and Von Furstenburg. Diego Cossio scored twice in the 1st Chukker for Von Furstenburg followed by one goal from Ashton Wolf representing Adeptus Nutrition/Pasion. By the 3rd Chukker Von Furstenburg had leaped ahead by one point from David Samaniego. Diego Cossio locked in the win in the Final Chukker with one more goal from Von Furstenburg; the final score being 5-3.
We had the pleasure of hosting Rhianna Wilson as our national anthem singer during the day’s intermission. Rhianna Wilson is 17 years old and will be a Senior in High School this fall. She is a 3rd Generation San Diego Native who resides in Ramona with her family. Rhianna is a Petty Officer in her NJROTC class at school and a vocal artist for the Girls Against Abuse Musical Charity. She has had the honor to sing the National Anthem for the SD Padres, Rodeos, SPAWAR Ceremonies, but the one that has meant the most was for NBC’s Salute to Service aboard the Midway on Veteran’s Day this past November.
The feature match of the day began at 1:30pm between Luna Polo and Night Watch. the 1st Chukker consisted of two goals from Diego Larregli representing Luna Polo and one goal from Diego Velarde representing Night Watch.
In the 2nd Chukker Bernie Diaz scored for Night Watch. Topo Mendez brought Luna Polo ahead by one point soon after.
Diego Larregli scored three goals in a row for Luna Polo in the 3rd Chukker. Diego Velarde scored one for Night Watch.
In the 4th Chukker Diego Velarde and Manny Rodriguez scored for Night Watch, leaving the final score in Luna Polo’s favor at 6-5.
Diego Larregli won MVP with 5 goals on the afternoon. Steve Pollack presented Diego with a pair of sunglasses, courtesy of SDPC’s Official Eyewear Sponsor, Leisure Society.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Thank you again for coming down to celebrate with us.
All photos by Jeffery Trout.
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.”
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.
Jesse Bray and Uakea “Buddha” Huddleston training for the 2014 Grand Prix. Good luck, guys! 😉
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!