Santa Maria Polo Club to host seventh edition of Lawyers Polo tournament this season
The Lawyers Polo Association now has more than 350 members who share a career in law and a passion for polo and horses.
Best foot forward: Ben Soleimani in action at the Santa Maria Polo Club, SotograndePhoto: TONY RAMIREZ / IMAGESOFPOLO.COM
The lawyers have won out again; and so has Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande. The seventh edition of the event will take place in southern Spain in September.
As founder Eduardo Bérèterbide explained: “Law and chivalry; these are the main pillars of Lawyers Polo. This association was founded in 2008 with the objective of bringing together all lawyers in the world who play polo. Lawyers Polo meets once a year in the most spectacular polo clubs of the world in order to share a week of polo, interesting discussions and exchange professional experiences.”
We might say only in polo, and only lawyers might do this in such a way. “Our aim is to generate personal and professional links among lawyers through polo,” explained Bérèterbide, passionate founder of Lawyers Polo and lawyer at Shearman & Sterling LLP in Paris.
The Lawyers Polo Association now has more than 350 members who share a career in law and a passion for polo and horses.
The tournament will kick off with an elegant black tie reception in an exclusive villa in Sotogrande on Sep 20. The play‐off games will take place over three days, and the final matches will be played on Sep 24. An awards ceremony and a closing reception will follow the final matches.
Six polo teams of international polo playing lawyers will be participating in this year’s Lawyers Polo tournament. Lawyers from Argentina, Austria, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Macao, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovakia, Singapore, Switzerland, Chile, Venezuela, United Kingdom and United States have already confirmed their participation.
“We chose Santa Maria in Sotogrande because it is one of the best polo clubs in the world which attracts every year many of the best international polo players. Polo has been played in Sotogrande since 1965 and the high goal tournament series go back to 1971. The Lawyers Polo tournament in Sotogrande is attracting a large number of polo playing lawyers from all over the World. Sotogrande and Santa Maria are ideal venues for hosting a first class event,” explained Bérèterbide.
The previous tournaments organised by Lawyers Polo took place in Buenos Aires (2008), Madrid (2009), Toronto (2010), Dubai (2011), Paris (2012) and Bangkok (2015).
Arena Polo kicks off at Hickstead
Team line-ups for the 2016 Bryan Morrison Trophy have been announced for the international contest at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead on Mar 5. England will be led by 10 goaler Chris Hyde, alongside Jonny Good (8 goals) and rising star Ed Banner-Eve (4 goals).
England take on the USA, fronted by legendary 10 goaler Tommy Biddle who will play alongside Pelon Escapite (7) and Kareem Rosser (3).
Polo Times will be awarding the Polo Times Best Playing Pony Award and its sister publication will be awarding The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player Award for the Bryan Morrison Trophy.
Meanwhile, the Arena Gold Cup at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, which Bryan Morrison founded and is being driven on by his son Jamie, still a formidable force as a player and polo entrepreneur, is well underway with the first four games completed.
New World Polo Tour Rankings
The Sotogrande Gold Cup Becomes a Grand Slam Title
The World Polo Tour (WPT) provides an international scale on which to rank players based on their success throughout the year. The players are awarded points based on their involvement and successes across the top tournaments included in the WPT ranking system.
In its 2016 updates, WPT has announced that The Sotogrande Gold Cup, the third and most prestigious trophy of The Santa Maria International Tournament, has become part of the Grand Slam category. This is the second highest ranked category on the international polo circuit, behind the Masters category, made up of the three Argentine Triple Crown series titles. Joining this category raises the Sotogrande Gold Cup’s status, recognising it globally as one of the most important and sought after titles on the circuit.
There are now three titles in the Grand Slam category:
The US Open Polo Championship, played at the International Polo Club of Palm Beach, Florida. This tournament takes place March 30 –24 April and is of 26 goal handicap level
The British Open for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup, played at Cowdray Park Polo Club from June 22 – 17 July with a 22 goal handicap
The Sotogrande Gold Cup, played at Santa María Polo Club, Spain between 14 – 28 August. This tournament also holds a 22 goal handicap
The Sotogrande Gold Cup is now worth 150 points for each winner, raised from the 125 points that it earned victors last year. Although still behind the US and UK Opens on points value (worth 250 and 200 respectively), this is still a big step for Santa Maria Polo Club as they are celebrated as joining the international greats of the IPC and Cowdray Park.
The WPT rankings are reviewed at the beginning of each year, taking in to account the following aspects:
Sotogrande International School (SIS) is proud to announce a partnership with Pepe de Lucia for the creation of the academy SI Flamenco. Pepe de Lucía, world famous Flamenco singer and composer, is the son of guitarist Antonio Sánchez Pecino and brother of Paco de Lucía and guitarists Ramón de Algeciras.
Pepe de Lucía will lead the academy SI Flamenco offering students worldwide master classes with access to the best Flamenco professionals, sharing his love of theory and practice of Flamenco, which is part of the proud family tradition in Andalusia.
During the current academic year will be held under the direction of Pepe de Lucía a series of weekend programs at the San Roque Campus, which is part of SIS.
Paul Templeton, chairman of the board of SIS commented “We are proud to work with Pepe de Lucia, one of the true masters of Flamenco. We are looking forward to offer this unique opportunity for our students and all flamenco lovers who wish to participate. ”
Sotogrande International School (SIS) is proud to announce a new Partnership with Pepe de Lucía to create the academy SI Flamenco. Pepe de Lucía is a world renowned Spanish Flamenco singer and songwriter. He is the son of Flamenco guitarist Antonio Sánchez Pecino, and brother of Flamenco guitarists Paco de Lucia and Ramón de Algeciras.
Pepe de Lucía will be leading the academy SI Flamenco Offering world class students tuition Flamenco With access to top professionals sharing His love of the theory and practice of Flamenco Which is a proud family tradition in Andalusia.
During academic year to esta number of specialist residential weekend Programmes under the direction of Pepe de Lucía will take place at the San Roque Campus, Which is part of SIS.
Paul Templeton, Chairman of the Board of Governors SIS commented: “We are delighted to be Working with Pepe de Lucia, one of the true Masters of Flamenco, and look forward to Offering a unique series of Opportunities Which will benefit our students and all other WHO Flamenco lovers wish to Participate in them. “
Sotogrande Polo 2015: Adolfo Cambiaso and Dubai thrill in European season finale against Lechuza Caracas
Gareth A Davies reports on major development plans by Santa Maria Polo Club to turn Sotogrande into an oasis for equine sport
Upper hand: Dubai, in green, edged Sotogrande final 12-10Photo: NEIL EGERTON
Adolfo Cambiaso made Sotogrande and Santa Maria Polo Club the playground for his exquisite skills once more in the European finale to the polo season as the Dubai Polo Team ended the month-long tournament as champions of the Bulgari Gold Cup.
But behind the scenes at this exquisite club nestled in huge grounds near the coast of southern Spain, there are huge development plans for the future: many of the best players in the world embark on the sojourn to Spain at the end of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup in England, but patrons playing in England could soon be preparing their teams in Sotogrande ahead of the English season. There are also plans for wider equestrian pursuits there, as expansion grows.
Dubai showed their class in Sotogrande (IMAGES OF POLO)
The Bulgari Gold Cup final lived up to all expectations, and although Dubai defeated Lechuza Caracas 12-10, it was a fitting finale to the European season, Ali Albwardy’s team the winners of the most important trophy of the 44th Land Rover International Polo Tournament, his team, featuring his son Rashid Albwardy, Martín Valent, Alejo Taranco and Cambiaso, capturing both High Goal trophies – the INDI Silver Cup and the Bulgari Gold Cup.
In a back-and-forth first half, Dubai were up 6-5 after three chukkas, with Lechuza having brought it back to 8 apiece after 28 minutes. It was neck and neck thereafter until the final hooter, in spite of Dubai having gone 11-8 up in the sixth, and final, chukka. In those closing minutes, as the digital clock ticked away, after missing a penalty, Lechuza’s Julian Lusaretta then scored and Juan Martin Nero missed a bobbling ball in front of the uprights which would have taken the score to 11-10.
But when Dubai then hammered home a penalty the result was all but nailed down, in spite of a last minute goal from Lusaretta. The final klaxon confirmed Dubai as the ‘double’ winners, and, for the record, netted Cambiaso’s fifth consecutive title in the Spanish season. The Best Playing Pony, sponsored by the Argentinian Embassy, went to the mare Yun Yun, ridden by Cambiaso in the third and the sixth chukka of this match.
Jose Donoso, the Chilean who was once a fixture in the English season, battled hard for Lechuza with his team-mates.
He told The Telegraph: “It felt like it was going to be one of those days. But we slipped away at the end and of course when it’s Cambiaso you are playing against, you can’t miss your opportunities.”
“We had opportunities and we should have taken them. But it was a great game. We gave it our all. We are upset but we know we gave it all, so we are satisfied.”
Donoso believes Sotogrande is one of the world’s great locations for polo. “It’s really good weather on really good fields and there is excellent organisation from the clubhouse and the people. It’s one of those special places.”
Photo: NEIL EGERTON
“I’ve played for 22 years and I decided to change direction and move my horses to the States and went to California and some other destinations I always wanted to play in. It was great. I met some great people and ended up finding this job (with Lechuza) which is probably the best job I’ve ever had. It’s a huge organisation. I’m very, very happy.”
Donoso will now head to other new sites. “We will play in America and Venezuela, where Victor lives, and he’s also going to pay three months of 20 goal polo in the Republic of Dominica. That’s something that is very interesting and I think it’s going to be great.”
Patron Victor Vargas was also disappointed, but explained why he had moved his European operation from England to Spain. “We don’t have any rain here,” he explained with a smile. “That’s the first important difference. We’ve played for five weeks here in Spain and had no rain.”
“You play three times a week. I love England and I played there for six years. I’ll go back to Venezuela after this. Our plan in the Dominican is to start a league of 22 goals and be playing in January, February and March. But I love coming here.”
For the player revered by many, Cambiaso, there was a deep sense of satisfaction after the match. The 40-year-old symbol of the great qualities polo has both on and off the field, lingered longer than is his custom to talk with media, pose for ‘selfies’, and enjoy the moment.
Cambiaso looked as aggressive and determined as I have ever seen him in a polo match. “We needed to win,” he told me afterwards. “We knew that their team was going to play us better (than in the Silver Cup) and they did play us better. We won the Silver game by six and this team depends a lot on me – the goals I score – compared to last year.”
Last year Cambiaso had the young, vibrant 21-year-old Santiago Torres, who is a story himself. “Santi scored a lot of goals for me. This year they needed me at my best. I’m happy that for a few years here in Spain I did very well.”
Major plans for southern Europe’s great polo venue as Santa Maria Polo Club looks at expansion
Santa Maria Polo Club is undergoing major changes as it thrives on the burgeoning success, year-on-year, of its Sotogrande tournament, every August. Almost 80,000 spectators visited the venue last month, with matches being played every day in near-perfect conditions.
The umbrella change is a major sports tourism project, underpinned by local business and government, the ayuntamiento in the region mindful of the iconic significance of the horse in Andalusian culture.
Already, Sotogrande has approval – from the Junta de Andalucia – for improved access to the club from the A-7 motorway servicing the major cities either side of it.
There are also plans for a new polo clubhouse, and more than 200 hotel rooms, distributed in a five star polo hotel, alongside twenty-five exclusive apartments. Both the hotel and apartments will overlook the polo fields and will be managed by agreement with the Santa Maria Polo Club.
With 11,000 square metres of tertiary trade area for offices, shops and restaurants, and 22 premium residential plots beside the polo fields, the expansion will see the biggest polo complex anywhere in Europe.
This means that patrons, and their teams, can be housed close to the nine polo fields for competition, and in and out of season training. Given the enhanced facilities, it could clearly lead to an extension in the season.
A collaborative group involving local government and local interest groups is currently also considering detailed plans as they reposition Sotogrande as an ‘Equestrian and Polo resort’, therefore creating an ‘Equine’ district in the Guadiaro valley, following on the lines of the Palm Beach and Wellington models.
It would give the estate the wherewithal to host accredited competitive events in dressage, show jumping, eventing and endurance riding. The terrain, indeed, would reflect the climate in a unique way for eventing.
Santiago Torreguitar, the Argentine who has been polo manager for 16 years at Santa Maria Polo Club, told The Telegraph that success in polo comes from the venue itself, and those whose ambitions is delivering year after year.
“I think the secret is Sotogrande itself. The conditions here are fantastic to play on. And if you put the right conditions and the right organisation together, it’s a combination for success.”
Sotogrande expansion will see tournament grow (NEIL EGERTON)
“It’s been sixteen years here and every year it’s growing. We have new sponsors, the fields are fantastic, the teams are the best in the world, the referees are the best in the world. If the organisation goes alongside all of that, you can’t lose.”
Torreguitar refuted any notion that it conflicted with the English season: “They have the Queens Cup and the Gold Cup that are held on different dates. Then it’s the bronze, silver and gold here at Sotogrande. We have some teams that don’t play in England and England has some teams that don’t play here. There are some teams that play in both. But it’s not a real competition.”
“Sotogrande follows the English season and after Sotogrande the season starts in Argentina. So it’s a natural way of developing the European season.”
Torreguitar has an eye on development, and he insists that the polo world has to act in union to keep the sport strong. “The community of polo is very small. As far as young players, this year we had a tournament with eleven teams and 44 kids were playing. It was at three different levels – from five year olds to sixteen and seventeen year olds.”
Notable by their absence after a powerful English season, King Power were not in Sotogrande this year. “They played last year,” added Torreguitar. “It was a good team. They came last year but were not in the final. We have Dubai who are a very successful team in the UK and Sotogrande. I think King Power will come back. They’re a new team and they’ve had a couple ofseasons playing together now.”
“This is an amazing place. I’m sort of used to it now, but the first season I came here it was unbelievable. There’s polo every day. One day it’s low goal, the next day it’s medium and the next it’s high goal. It’s a very concentrated season and you can’t blink because there’s a polo game somewhere.”
“I think what we have here at the club are conditions for a fantastic month of polo. Argentina has the conditions for developing young players. The way of living in Argentina is very agricultural. There is a lot of agricultural land and every family with some land in Argentina has some horses.”
“Kids go on vacation to the farm instead of the beach. They get bored so they put them on a horse in the morning and tell them to come back in the afternoon. They learn how to ride and if there are two kids they are playing a game and if there are four kids they’re playing a game as well. They learn very young to ride and to play and it’s almost a whole year because of the weather. Here we are limited because in Argentina any piece of land that you buy is sort of flat. Here it’s tougher finding the right flat lands in Spain. But these are the best fields in the world – alongside a few in Palm Beach and Argentina.”
While Torreguitar’s concerns are with the polo, Oscar Nieto, General Manager of Premium Sports Marketing and the Santa Maria Polo Club has the task of broadening the horizons with a wider equine picture, working alongside Luis Estrade, the CEO of PSM and SMPC.
It is a project and plan which could have a huge impact on the area, in both commerce and employment.
Fine climate makes Sotogrande into perfect venue (NEIL EGERTON)
“My main goal is to develop the rest of the year,” Nieto said. “Just as we have done with golf, we want to do the same with equestrian sports. The temperature is so good, the place is great. We are having a special real estate development so that people come over here and spend a whole winter.”
“We want the horses to stay for the whole winter, just as happens in Wellington. From a marketing point of view, we have to do so much around polo. It’s already structured in such a way that some things need to be changed to do that. The sponsors will come, people will come, media will come. We have so much to do still.”
Notable, too, were Ola! magazine and the like at this event, but not the doyens of Spain’s sports pages. “I don’t know about the rest of the world, but we have 99% coverage of Soto happening and one percent coverage of the sport,” added Nieto. It is the same the world over. But that will change in time, in this great ambience for polo.
Build it, and they will come – to this oasis for polo, and indeed equine sport, in southern Spain. And there is every intention of building a powerhouse for the horse in Sotogrande.
Sotogrande final weekend results:
Low goal Valecuatro Gold Cup Final teams:
Results: Valdeparras – Lynx beat La Clarita, 9-7
Valdeparras – Lynx (6): Fernando P. de Rivera 1; Gaston Bardengo 2; Yago Espinosa de los Monteros 2; Jaimie Espinosa de los Monteros 1
La Clarita (6): Clare Mathias 0; Chris Mathias 0; Juan Cruz Merlos 3; Freddie Horne 3
Medium goal Gold Cup Final teams:
Results: Sainte Mesme beat Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, 11-10
Sainte Mesme (14): Robert Strom 3; Pelayo Berazadi 4; Clemente Zavaleta 6; Birger Strom 1
Golden Goose Deluxe Brand (14): Ian Galiene 1; Christian Bernal 5; Kevin Korst 2; Frankie Menendez 6
Most Valuable Player: Christian Bernal
Best Playing Pony: Manuela (Owned and played by Christian Bernal in the fourth and extra chukka)
High Goal Bulgari Gold Cup Final teams:
Results: Dubai Polo Team beat Lechuza Caracas, 12-10
Dubai Polo Team (22): Rashid Albwardy 2; Martín Valent 4; Alejo Taranco 6; Adolfo Cambiaso 10
Lechuza Caracas (22): Victor Vargas 1; José Donoso 5; Julian de Lusarreta 6; Juan Martín Nero 10
Most Valuable Player: Juan Martín Nero
Best Playing Pony: Yun Yun (Owned and played by Cambiaso in the third and sixth chukka)