American Polo Horse Association Makes History At 126th Argentine Open
The American Polo Horse Association made history at the recent 126th Argentine Open at Palermo Field One.
By: Sharon Robb
For the first time in the 14-year history of the association founded by legendary Hall of Famer Sunny Hale, the AHPA sponsored a Best Playing Pony award at the Argentine Open. It had always been one of Hale’s dreams before she died February 26, 2017 in Norman, Okla. at age 48 due to complications from cancer.
Dolfina B09 Cuartetera, played and bred by 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, was selected AHPA BPP and earned $20,000 and another $5,000 for the breeding association. The check was presented to Cambiaso, Bob Jornayvaz of Valiente and the horse’s grooms by Juan Bollini Sr. and Grant Ganzi of Grand Champions Polo Club, home of the AHPA.
“We are very thankful to have had Juan Bollini and Grant Ganzi presenting the Best Playing Pony Award of the American Polo Horse Association to Adolfo Cambiaso’s Dolfina Cuartetera B09 after the final of the 126th Argentine Polo Open Championship at Palermo,” said AAP President Eduardo Novillo Astrada.
“It’s been something incredible for polo, for the AAP, and the best way to honor Sunny Hale’s legacy, the legacy of a woman who lived for her passion, horses and polo,” Astrada said. “We also want to express our gratitude to Melissa Ganzi for her remarkable work to keep Sunny’s legacy alive”.
The honor capped an incredible tournament for Cambiaso’s La Dolfina team, winners of a record seventh consecutive Argentine Open with teammates Pablo MacDonough, Pelon Stirling, Juan Martin Nero and subsitute Rodrigo Andrade with a 16-12 victory over Ellerstina.
Cuartetera was Cambiaso’s biggest star when he decided to clone the mare, then 17 years old. He and his partners have created more than a dozen clones of the original Cuartetera, honored as the best polo horse in history.
The American Polo Horse Association was created in 2006 by Hale to recognize polo ponies in America and encourage events that showcase them and hard-working dedication of grooms. The first Argentine Open recipient did not have to be an American horse, just the best horse.
It was only fitting it was one of Cambiaso’s horses to receive the prestigious award. Hale and Cambiaso were longtime friends. It was Cambiaso who requested Hale, the best woman’s player in the world who played the game better than the vast majority of men she met on the field, be hired by Tim Gannon’s Outback Steakhouse Polo Team.
Hale, rated at 5 goals in the men’s rankings, went on to become the first woman in history to win the 2000 U.S. Open Polo Championship with Outback’s Phil Heatley, Lolo Castagnola and Cambiaso, igniting a movement in polo around the world for women. She remains the most influential person in where women’s polo is today.
In 2006, Hale also created the WCT Finals, which has adult and junior qualifiers for U.S. and international players with more than 20 qualifying tournaments around the world. She also created a ranking system solely for women players.
Her legacy continues at Santa Rita Polo Farm that hosts the weekly WCT Ladies League January through April and Grand Champions Polo Club that hosts the WCT Finals in April.
Grand Champions enjoyed a successful 2019 fall season and is now preparing for the upcoming 2020 winter season that features the second year of the 26-goal World Polo League.
During the 2019 fall season, the nation’s busiest and largest with 18 polo fields, hosted both medium and high goal polo tournaments.
The well-organized fall tournaments attract players from all over the United States and world including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, England, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria and South Africa.
The club takes pride in teaching and sharing the exciting sport of polo with anyone interested in learning. Grand Champions’ sister club Aspen Valley Polo Club is coming off its most successful and historical summer season.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm cater to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program at the turnkey facility.
The Polo School, a 501c3 organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its’ mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA club, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099.