WELLINGTON, Fl., January 26, 2017---- Scribble Horse made history Wednesday at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
The foursome of Kathy Iverson, Ashley Emerson, Kylie Sheehan and Courtney Asdourain won the first Women’s Polo League Tournament with a 3.5-3 victory over Farmington Polo Club (Erica Lipton, Breanna Gunnell, Jennifer Williams, Clarissa Echezarreta).
Masai of Palm Beach (Mia Cambiaso, Hope Arellano, Alina Carta, Belinda Brody) won the consolation game with a 9-4 victory over the foursome of Cecilia Cochran, Slaney O’Hanlon, Annabel Begg and Amy Husan.
The brainchild of Carta, a polo pioneer and one of the highest ranked women in the U.S. in the 1980s, is the first-of-its-kind monthly women’s polo league in the world.
Carta pitched the idea last May to Melissa Ganzi, Florida Circuit Governor and Grand Champions Polo Club president. Ganzi, who is competing in this weekend’s 33rd St. Moritz World Cup Snow Polo Tournament, has been a longtime supporter of women’s polo. Every April, Grand Champions hosts the WCT Finals in front of a packed house.
“This is what polo used to be for me,” Carta said. “We play with friends, laugh and then go have lunch. This leads to a lot of other teams getting formed for other tournaments. I want the girls to play well but also have fun, enjoy themselves and be courteous.
“Melissa was really supportive and gung-ho the first time we spoke,” Carta said. “We had a second meeting in September and after that I started calling all the girls individually which led to other girls being interested.”
Held every Wednesday during the winter polo season, the Women’s Polo League tournament for January featured four teams. Six teams have already expressed interest for February. The January Polo League was sponsored by Gold Coast Feed supporting Best Playing Pony, and La Mer Nails and The Hair Market supporting MVP.
“It’s going to keep growing,” Carta said. “Bring two horses and play one day a week. It still allows the girls to play their tournament polo on the weekend. To think, when I started playing in 1979, we were only two girls. To see this is amazing.”
Asdourain, one of the nation’s top women players, was named Most Valuable Player. Vera, owned and ridden by Clarissa Echezarreta of Farmington Polo Club, another pioneer in the sport.
“I love this concept, it’s amazing to have games guaranteed once a week,” Asdourain said. “The idea was to get out there and play fun, competitive polo. This is a great venue. It’s organized and everything is so professional. It’s helping the women step up their game and take it to the next level.”
Thirteen-year-old Hope Arellano, raised to three goals this season and Mia Cambiaso, raised to two goals, have benefitted from playing women’s polo at a young age. They also have top-playing fathers Julio Arellano and Adolfo Cambiaso, who have been supportive of their daughters since Day One.
“I love it, those girls shred,” Asdourain said. “They are strong players. It’s exciting that they are going to bring the sport forward. We now have people coming up in the sport. It’s not just our generation and then it’s going to die off. They are getting even more experience than the rest of us. By the time they are my age they are going to be lights out and hopefully we will have another Sunny Hale coming through the pipeline.”
Scribble Horse (Kathy Iverson, Katherine Roze, Courtney Asdourain, Kirstie Allen) was runner-up in last year’s WCT (Women’s Championship Tournament) Finals, dropping a 5-4 decision to Palm City Polo.
At 63, Iverson, a talented artist who designed her team’s jerseys, is the oldest player in the league. After a 40-year hiatus from horseback riding, Iverson took up the sport two years ago after her husband died.
“Other women think they are getting too old to play polo and I just started two years ago when I was 61,” said Iverson, the team’s patron who moved up to a 1-goal rating this season. “I couldn’t be happier with this team.
“I went back to what makes me happy and that’s horses,” said Iverson, who took her first polo lessons with top-ranked instructor David Brooks of Triangle Area Polo in Raleigh, N.C. “And yes, I win because I am with these young girls who just go get ‘em and know how to play.
“If I found polo fifty years ago I’d be good by now,” Iverson said with a smile. “
Women’s polo is not only the fastest growing sector in the sport, but also the fastest growing women’s sport overall.
Sunny Hale, the first woman in U.S. history to win the U.S. Open, spearheaded the sport’s growth with the creation of the WCT, the largest women’s polo league in the world, and women’s polo rankings. The Women’s Polo League offers another opportunity to women players of all ages and skill levels to play on a regular basis.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters 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, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
Metropolitan Cup (6 goal): Saturday, Championship Final and Handicap Final.
Aspen Valley Cup (8 goal): Sunday, Final 10 a.m., Handicap Final, noon.
The Limited Edition Series (12 goal): Saturday, Handicap Final, 1 p.m. and Final, 3 p.m.
FEBRUARY: 1-26, Halo Polo Trophy (6 goal) and Top Pony 8 Goal Series; 1-25, USPA Sieber Memorial Trophy; Women’s League, every Wednesday.
FEBRUARY 22-March 11: Sterling Cup (20 goal) and John T. Oxley Memorial Trophy (Subs. Handicap).
MARCH: 1-26, Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal) and The Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; 1-25, The Top Pony 12-Goal Series; Women’s League, every Wednesday.
MARCH 1-11: $50,000 National 12-Goal Tournament (Single elimination).
MARCH 15-April 1: National 20-Goal; Santa Rita Abierto (Subs. Handicap).
APRIL 1-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all single elimination.
APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals), Women’s League, every Wednesday.
APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals and Women’s Polo Week.
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi, Flexjet and first-year team Grand Champions Polo Club. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes complimentary food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.