After an abrupt end to the 2020 polo season last March due to the pandemic, high-goal action returned to Wellington this month.
Underway currently at the International Polo Club Palm Beach is the 18-goal Joe Barry Memorial Cup, to be followed by the 18-goal Ylvisaker Cup. Then, all eyes return to the Gauntlet of Polo — the triumvirate of prestigious high-goal tournaments that mark the highlight of the season.
The 2021 Gauntlet of Polo season will kick off right where it left off last year with the concluding rounds of the 2020 USPA Gold Cup. The four teams remaining in that tournament will continue play, leading up to the final, set for Sunday, Feb. 14.
After that, the third season of the Gauntlet of Polo gets underway with nine teams on the marquee. With limited availability at the stadium due to the pandemic, an emphasis has been made to show the action-packed games live through Global Polo TV over the internet.
“We are definitely remaining flexible and staying incredibly safe,” USPA Global Licensing Assistant Vice President of Marketing Shannon Stilson told the Town-Crier. “We have lots of protocols in place for the facility and for the players and the grooms. There will be limited availabilities for a Sunday brunch, which is by reservation only, and there will be no general admission permitted in the stadium this year.”
But Stilson stressed that fans can still get a close-up, live view of all the action, as it happens, on Global Polo TV (GPTV). Recently introduced, this internet-based service offers “the highest clarity on any device whether it is your cell phone, TV, tablet or computer,” she said.
“Polo is, of course, a global sport,” said Stilson, who explained that Global Polo TV brings the action as it is happening with multiple cameras and expert announcers.
“The Gauntlet of Polo is the pinnacle of American high-goal competition. It offers the largest prize purse in all of polo with $1 million total on the line for the winners,” said Stilson, pointing out that it features the most skilled athletes in the world and the finest horses on the planet.
Hosted by the United States Polo Association, USPA Global Licensing and the International Polo Club Palm Beach, the third Gauntlet of Polo season begins on Feb. 17, and the finals of each tournament will be played on the official U.S. Polo Assn. Field 1 at IPC.
A virtual media event was held with speakers from a variety of exotic locations on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 6. It provided updates on the upcoming season, its safety restrictions for on-site participants, the competing teams and an explanation of the three viewing plans to see the tournaments on Global Polo TV.
The 2021 season begins with the C.V. Whitney Cup from Feb. 17 through March 7. Next up is the USPA Gold Cup, running from March 10 through March 28. The final tournament of the Gauntlet of Polo is the illustrious U.S. Open Polo Championship, which will be held from March 31 through April 18.
The reigning champion Pilot team from season one will be competing among nine teams for the trophy and prize money in this year’s battle, which has been revised. It still provides the guaranteed total of $1 million in prize money, but now the runners-up in each tournament get in on the winnings. $100,000 will be awarded to each winning team in the C.V. Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup, with $25,000 to each team that is runner-up. Further, the winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship will receive $200,000 prize money, and $50,000 will be awarded to the runner-up. The element that makes the purse so valuable is that any team winning all three tournaments consecutively earns a $500,000 bonus and will be crowned as the Gauntlet Champion.
This year offers another change in that a donation will be made by USPA Global Licensing to the charity chosen by the final two teams.
“The Gauntlet of Polo season will jump start from where it left off last year with four teams competing,” said the USPA’s Carlucho Arellano.
Those four teams remaining in the 2020 USPA Gold Cup are Daily Racing Form, Las Monjitas, La Indiana and Pilot.
Arellano said that the nine teams competing in the 2021 tournaments are some of the best teams in the world.
The rosters include: Aspen/Dutta Corp with Stewart Armstrong, Timmy Dutta, Lucas Diaz Alberdi and Gringo Colombres; Coca-Cola with Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusarreta, Nico Pieres and Mackenzie Weisz; Cessna with Chip Campbell, Mariano Obregon Jr., Ezequiel “Gallego” Martinez Ferrario and Jared Zenni; La Indiana with Michael Bickford, Jeff Hall, Polito Pieres and Nico Escobar; Pilot with Curtis Pilot, Gonzalito Pieres, Facundo Pieres and Kristos “Keko” Magrini; Park Place with Andrey Borodin, Hilario Ulloa, Juan Britos and Matt Coppola; Santa Clara with Will Johnston, Miguel Novillo Astrada, Felipe Vercellino and Luis Escobar; Scone with David Paradice, Adolfo Cambiaso, Adolfo “Poroto” Cambiaso Jr. and Mariano “Peke” Gonzalez Jr.; and Tonkawa with Jeff Hildebrand, Sapo Caset, Francisco Elizalde and Cody Ellis.
J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of USPA Global Licensing, called the lineup “nine amazing teams for 2021.” He noted that USPA events are where spectators “find the best players, the best horses and the best fields.”
“We are really excited,” USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong added. “The teams are really organized. There are great players on the teams. The Gauntlet of Polo is an especially competitive series this year with well-prepared teams. It will be a great spectator event.”
Accessible on any device, anytime, GPTV provides a safe and convenient portal of content for fans and members of the polo community. For more information, find GPTV at www.globalpolo.com and on major app services, including iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon Fire. For specific Gauntlet of Polo information, visit www.uspolo.org/gauntlet-of-polo.