Along the Sideboards
By Alex Webbe
December 21, 2009
The 2009 polo season in the eastern United States is drawing to a close as action in California’s Palm Desert gears up for its winter season.
A number of the participants in Aspen’s 10th Annual USPA World Snow Polo Championship will be making their way back to Wellington to prepare for the 2010 season following the six-team tournament that attracted players of the caliber of Carlos Gracida, Nick Roldan, Nacho Figueras, Juan Bollini and Kris Kampsen.
“It was a great tournament,” said Land Rover’s Stuart Campbell. “We’ve been here for a week skiing, partying and playing polo, added the new Director of Polo for The Villages Polo Club.
Joining Nacho Figueras and Nick Roldan on the Piaget entry in Aspen was Marc Ganzi, the captain of the 2009 US Open Championship, but it was his wife Melissa’s Audi team of Kris Kampsen and Juan Bollini that took top honors in the snow competition in a hard-fought 5-3 win that featured two successful penalty shots from midfield by Tournament MVP, Juan Bollini.
On a sadder note, Tom Oxley passed away on Thursday, December 17 at his home in Highland Beach, Florida from brain cancer. He was surrounded by his family. The “Voice of Polo” for the Royal Palm Polo Club for 35years, Tommy was an up-and-coming player with a 6-goal handicap when he suffered a crippling accident in 1968 that ended his playing career. Although his playing days were behind him, his support of the game never wavered. After the death of his father, John T. Oxley, Tommy and his brother Jack Oxley, former Chairman of the United States Polo Association continued to operate the family’s Royal Palm Polo Club and to support the USPA through gifts and donations.
Motion picture star Tommy Lee Jones won’t be playing polo in Florida this winter. His future in the sport is uncertain, as it is rumored that his San Saba Ranch in Wellington, Florida might be for sale. It should be remembered, however, that he has playing facilities at his ranches in Texas and Argentina.
Another of polo’s high-goal patrons, Peter Brant, and his White Birch team won’t be taking to the fields this winter for the first time in decades. It is uncertain whether it is a shoulder injury or family matters that will keep him from competing, but longtime teammate, 10-goaler Mariano Aguerre, has informed us that both Brant and the White Birch horses will be traveling to Wellington where they will participate in practice games throughout the winter season.
One of Florida’s newest polo facilities, the Sunlight Ranch Polo Club in Stuart, will be kicking off the 2010 season with a full schedule of tournaments that will include the USPS Amateur Cup (0-4), the USPA Governors Cup (6-8) and the USPA Woman’s Championship Tournament (0-2). The club, which is located about an hour north of Wellington, features four tournament fields and two practice fields. It also offers a polo arena, a Polo Academy, youth polo and stabling and turnout facilities.
Sunlight Ranch joins neighbors Port Mayaca Polo Club and the Hobe Sound Polo Club in Martin County in anticipation of an eventual northern migration of players in the future. The Hobe sound Polo Club will be trying to bolster its image by offering the Outback Polo League, under the direction of Phil Heatly while Port Mayaca will rely upon its deep polo roots, the support of an extended polo-playing family and a well-orchestrated schedule of medium–goal tournaments.
The International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) will be hosting its Annual Press Conference and draw for the Iglehart Cup, the first of four 20-goal tournaments, on Wednesday, December 30. Tournament play is scheduled to begin on Sunday, January 3rd. With the acquisition of a number of additional fields, IPC will also be offering 8-goal and 14-goal leagues and tournaments throughout the season.