The Italian polo championships were held last week in Rome. Seven teams (a record) from all over Italy had signed up. Despite the difficult period due to Covid, this large number of teams demonstrates the enthusiasm and growth of this sport in Italy.
The tournament, organized by the FISE (Italian Federation of Equestrian Sports) took place on the two polo fields used for the occasion: the Roma Polo Club, an ancient club on the banks of the Tiber and founded in 1931 by the Duke of Aosta and Acquedotto Romano Polo Club, located in Pantano Borghese.
Four of the seven teams are local, while one came from Turin (Los Avellanos / Clanis, captained by longtime player Gif Turati), and two from Tuscany (Villa a Sesta / Pier.Gio. Captained by Giorgio Cosentino, who often plays in Tuscany despite living in Trani. Nautor’s Swan, captained by Ginevra Visconti who keeps her horses in her splendid estate La Trappola in Maremma).
The tournament took place over two groups in two different locations, to ensure the solidity and composure of the fields, essential for the protection of horses and players.
The first round of three teams took place at the Roma Polo Club. On the first and second of October, the La Vandea, Los Avellanos and Battistoni / Castelluccia teams met to see who would qualify for the finals that would take place on Sunday 4 October.
The Battistoni team, led by Alessandro Barnaba, a well-known JP Morgan banker and shareholder of the luxury brand Battistoni, easily won over La Vandea and Los Avellanos with an overall score of 7-1 and 6-0. In the Los Avellanos-La Vendea match, the latter won 6-0. The following day there was the second chapter of the tournament at the Americana with the following results: Battistoni-los Avellanos 6-0, Battistoni-La Vandea 10-5 and La Vandea-los Avellanos 9-3. Therefore Battistoni easily qualified for the Championship final on Sunday and the Vendée qualified for the third-fourth place match.
The second round of four teams took place at the Acquedotto Romano Polo Club. Villa a Sesta beat Land Rover (captained by Mario Robbiano) 11-3, while the second match, played between Acquedotto Romano (captained by Peter Elser) and Nautor’s Swan (captained by Ginevra Visconti), finished with a score of 6 to 4 for the latter. It should be noted that this was the only team with two female athletes on the field (Ginevra Visconti and Ginevra D’Orazio). These two won the women’s European championship in 2019. The next day, Nautor’s Swan, the winner of the second game, competed against Land Rover, beating the latter 10 to 2 ,. Villa a Sesta, the winner of the first match of the previous day faced off with Acquedotto Romano, easily winning 12 to 4, thus qualifying for the final by goal difference, while Nautor’s Swan would be competing for third place on Sunday.
On Sunday 4th October, the weather forecast was complicated with the possibility of rain. Fortunately this did not come true. The little rain of the previous night had been largely absorbed by the splendid Tifton pitch of the Roma Polo Club. Over one hundred spectators turned up to see the thrilling final of the 35th edition of this historic championship.
The third-fourth place final ended with a clear victory for the team made up of the amazon Ginevra Visconti and Ginevra D’Orazio who won 3 to 1 over La Vandea, thus obtaining the bronze medal. Battistoni, on the other hand, with Patricio Rattagan, true goalscorer and best player of the tournament, could only surrender to the equine power of their opponents (horses are very important in polo and contribute over 50% of the quality of the game). The three professionals of Villa a Sesta (which included Edu Menendez Jr. future promise of polo with his 17 years), scrambled Battistoni 8 to 2 before the second chukker ended. Villa a Sesta then left their foot off the accelerator and thus risked because with less than a minute from the end, Battistoni had recovered, bringing the score to 8-7. In the last desperate play of the match, Battistoni tried to equalize, but the time was now up as the final bell had wrung. Villa a Sesta won the Italian championship for the second consecutive time.The cup was handed over by Marco Di Paola, president of FISE.
The Rome Polo Club Cup (for 5th place) was held in the field of Acquedotto Romano Polo Club. The home team ARPC and los Avellanos and Land Rover met in an American-style tournament in a splendid sun with about thirty spectators. ARPC dominated los Avellanos and Land Rover, winning the tournament. The cup was handed over by Cataldo D’Andria, president of the Roma Polo Club. The team of Acquedotto Romano also had the youngest player of the tournament, Henry Elser, who at 14 years of age contributed significantly to the victory.