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Spain tops U.S. in Wellington-hosted Polo World Championship

Polo grounds at the National Polo Center- Wellington.

Photo by Running Iron Creative via US Polo Association.

The National Polo Center - Wellington made its international debut hosting the global XII FIP World Polo Championship from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6 with teams from Argentina, Australia, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Uruguay and the United States.

Spain won its first world championship by beating the United States 11-10 in overtime in the final on NPC’s U.S. Polo Association Field One in front of a sold-out crowd. Uruguay, competing in its first FIP World Polo Championship, took the bronze with a 9-7.5 win against Argentina.

“It was total war the whole game,” U.S. team member Lucas Escobar says. “They played amazing. We just couldn’t win it in the end. My hat goes off to them.”

Team Spain's Nicolás Ruiz Guiñazu, Luis Domecq, Pelayo Berazadi and Nicolás Álvarez celebrating their win in the Zone C qualifier.

Photo by Justine Jacquemot via US Polo Association.

Both the United States and Spain went 3-1 before the final.

The United States beat Australia 9-4, lost to Italy 6-4 and defeated Uruguay 7.5-7 before topping the defending champions and competition favorites, Argentina, 9-8 in overtime in the semifinal.

From left to right, USPA President Charles Smith, Team USA Coach Julio Arellano, Hope Arellano, Agustin Arellano, Lucas Escobar, Nico Escobar, Assistant Coach Jesse Bray, Jake Klentner, Nico Diaz Alberdi and Joaquin Avendaño.

Photo by David Lominska via the US Polo Association.

Spain beat Pakistan and Mexico and lost to Argentina before a semifinal win over Uruguay, 10.5-7.

Hope Arellano made history in the tournament as the first woman to compete for the United States in an FIP World Polo Championship.

USA's Hope Arellano was the only woman competing in the FIP World Polo Championship.

Photo by Matias Callejo via US Polo Association.

Another U.S. player, Agustin Arellano, says, “This entire team has been such a beautiful thing to be a part of. I have met people from all over the world that will be friends for a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who made this so special, from the calls, texts and the cheering on the sidelines.”

It was the second time the United States hosted the tournament and the first in 24 years.

The competing teams arrived by Oct. 26, when they each drew one of eight evenly matched strings of 22 horses provided by J5 Equestrian. The opening ceremony Oct. 29 included a classic team parade.

“I think that the event went smoothly and exceeded all expectations,” says Felipe Del Sel, a tournament coordinator. “It was the perfect event to present the National Polo Center - Wellington to the world. The U.S. is a great place to host these types of international events, and Wellington, being one of the polo capitals of the world, was the perfect setting.”


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