Updated: Dec 6, 2021
A display of the three tournament gauntlets.
Photo by UNITED STATES POLO ASSOCIATION
The U.S. Open Polo Championship, the most prestigious polo tournament in the nation, will return to Wellington from March 28 to April 18 with participants from all over the world on the U.S. Polo Association Field at the International Polo Club Palm Beach and expects to draw participants from all over the world. Viewers are excited to see star athletes, impressive horsepower, extreme competition, and passionate team owners.
The U.S. Open Polo Championship is the culmination of the Gauntlet of Polo during the Florida winter polo season. The Gauntlet of Polo consists of the C.V. Whitney Cup, the U.S. Polo Association Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship. A total of $200,000 in prize money is guaranteed for the three tournaments.
“There’s just nothing like hearing the horses run throughout the field. I mean, everything about it is amazing, the horses, the sound of the mallet hitting the ball. It’s all so much fun,” said Victor Concepcion, a sales associate for the International Polo Club.
Last tournaments Team Pilot (Facundo Pieres, Gonzalito Piers, Curtis Pilot and Kristos “Keko” Magrini) captured all three Gauntlet of Polo events and was crowned Gauntlet champion.
“We are all on pins and needles to see the best that American polo can offer in 2022,” USPA Chief Operating Officer Chris Green said.
The 2022 U.S. Open Polo Championship and other Gauntlet of Polo events mark a one-year extension of the original three-year tournament agreement between the USPA and the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington. Polo season begins Sunday, Jan. 2, with the Iglehart Cup and concludes Sunday, April 22, with the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final.
For the first time, individual team entries will be accepted for all three tournaments in the high-goal Gauntlet series, increasing competition.
The U.S. Open Polo Championship originated at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, back in 1904. Just two teams competed over four 15-minute chukkers. TheOne hundred years after the tournament began, the U.S. Open Polo Championship moved to the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington where it has been since 2004. The Gauntlet of Polo tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first cancellation of the U.S. Open Polo Championship since World War II in 1945.
USPA Chairman Steward Armstrong said the partnership with the International Polo Club Palm Beach over the last three years has been a significant success for the game of polo. The Gauntlet of Polo events have brought players, fans and enthusiasts from around the globe.
“What brings people to attend these winter events really just comes down to the love for equestrian sports,” Concepcion said.
The International Polo Club is planning to welcome spectators to enjoy polo events from stadium seating or on the covered patio over brunch. Many attendees show up in their Sunday best, complete with a fascinator or wide-brimmed hat. “A lot of ladies dress up for the events. It’s a fun activity they love to do,” Concepcion said. “We always compare the fashion of these events to the Kentucky Derby scene in ‘Pretty Woman.’ The energy is just great.”
One ritual is the halftime divot stomping. Attendees meet in the middle of the field to replace the divots unearthed during the match.
Champagne is often passed around for a quick toast as people gather on the field.
“The aura of the place is something you have to check out at least once,” Concepcion said.
COVID protocols might still be in place. Visit InternationalPoloClub.com for the latest information.
Except for the Iglehart Cup, the tournaments this season will be live-streamed on Global Polo TV, accessible at GlobalPolo.com and through platforms such as iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
The Global Polo Pass provides access to polo events from around the world. USPA members receive a complimentary Global Polo Pass.