Camacho Cup announced for 2009

The Camacho Cup Will be Played at

The Villages in 2009

By Alex Webbe


Dust off the Camacho Cup; The Villages Polo Club in Central Florida will host the 67-year-old trophy that was last played 21 years ago at Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.

The Camacho Cup is an international competition in polo that was created in 1941 when the polo-playing President of Mexico, General Manuel Avila Camacho, donated the cup for play in 1941 between the top players from Mexico and the United States.

Early competition success favored the United States as it won the first five series led by Michael Phipps and Cecil Smith, Winston Guest and Stewart Iglehart, Laddie Sanford and Dutch Evinger.  Later U. S. teams would include Red Armour and Allen Scherer.  The free ride ended in the 1976 contest, however, when Guillermo (Memo) Gracida, Jr. joined his father on the team that scored three straight wins over the United States in Houston, Texas.

Five years later the series was revived at the Retama Polo Center in San Antonio, Texas where Memo, Carlos and Ruben Gracida were joined by Pablo Rincon Gallardo as they downed the Americans in two of three games.

The U. S. fared no better in a one game competition in 1988 at Palm Beach Polo and Country Club with Roberto Gonzales replacing Gallardo as Mexico kept the cup on the strength of a 9-6 victory.  Next year will mark the ninth playing for the cup.

The Villages Polo Club signed a formal agreement with the Mexican Polo Federation to host the 2009 Camacho Cup at the Central Florida facility next spring.

On hand for the signing was Mexican Polo Federation president Rogelio Igartua, and Jim Parr, representing The Villages.  Also present were Mexico’s team captain, Carlos Gracida (who played on the past two winning teams from Mexico) and American team captain 9-goaler Mike Azzaro.

“We are proud to continue this tradition,” said Igartua, “and The Villages is a wonderful place for this to happen.”

Parr said that The Villages was both honored and privileged to host the event.

“We’ve developed a friendship with the Mexican Polo Federation over the last four years,” said Parr, “they come up here and participate in our international competitions and we have a great relationship with the Mexican players.  The prospect of hosting the Camacho Cup, however, is very humbling.”

Carlos Gracida will be playing in his third Camacho Cup series having played on winning teams in 1981 and 1988.

“My father and my brother both played in the (Camacho) Cup,” he said.  “There’s a lot of tradition, and playing in it means a lot to me.”

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of us,” said Azzaro, America’s highest rated player.  “I know the Mexican team is going to be very talented,” he added, “me, I’m looking for the right team combination for the US.”

‘Traditionally the series has been played between the top four players from each country,” said Gracida, “and we’re certainly looking forward to the challenge.”

An added bonus next spring will revolve around the Junior Camacho Cup that will be played in combination with the main event.

“There was a great Young Guns match on Sunday,” said Gracida, “after watching the competition and the skill level of the players I thought that it would be great addition to this international series.”

The inauguration of the Junior Camacho Cup was looked upon as a giant step in the development of international competition for young players.

“There is no reason this competition can’t be played every year,” said Igartua.  “We’re going to be looking at alternating the cup play between countries and are thrilled to revive this important international competition at The Villages next spring.”

The exact date of the event has not been set, yet, and will determine on the availability of the high-goal players.