Polo on Snow and Sand.
This weekend saw two exciting polo events, one being played in Kitzbuhel, Austria on the snow, and the other being played in the UK at Hickstead on the sand.
The tournament in Kitbuhel was the Snow Polo World Cup, an event that was started in 2003 by Tito Gaudenzi and his father Reto with four teams and 1,000 fans. It has grown into one of the country’s major sporting events, with six international teams and major sponsors, attracting more than 15,000 fans over the three day tournament.
The winning team was Bendura Bank who, despite losing against Engel & Volkers on the opening day, were able to defeat them in the final on Sunday.
Bendura Bank (Melissa Ganzi, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and Tito Gaudenzi) will return to the 34th St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup for the third consecutive year (Jan. 26-28) along with a fourth player who is yet to be determined.
Melissa Ganzi is president of Grand Champions Polo Club and USPA Florida Circuit Governor. She has made snow polo history for the second time in three years as the first woman to win the Kitzbuhel tournament. In 2016, she was the first woman to compete in the St. Moritz Snow Polo World Cup and first to make the 2017 final. She is also the first woman to win the St. Regis Snow Polo World Cup Aspen title as team captain of Flexjet.
The 2nd Playnation Arena Polo Masters took place at the All England Polo Club Hickstead this weekend after the huge success of the same event back in 2017.
Played under snow polo rules, the tournament is arena polo with a twist! Players compete off their grass handicap plus one goal and this year the tournament was played as 9 goals. Four teams participated this year with title sponsor Playnation inviting all teams to stay for the weekend at the stunning Alexander House Hotel. This made for a fun weekend of competitive polo supported by camaraderie and a very social Friday and Saturday evening.
The snow polo twist also meant that the rules are slightly different with ‘no turning’, which opened up the run of play and made for some very fast, open arena polo and a lot less whistle.
On Saturday Astra defeated Gamestec 15-8 and in the second match Playnation narrowly beat Bell Fruit Games 9-8.
The subsidiary and final made for some fun and exciting watching for the spectators and sponsors with two tightly contested and very competitive games. The final saw Playnation (John Bunn, Howard Smith and Seb Dawnay) take an early lead and, despite a come-back by Astra after half time, Playnation were able to hold on to a comfortable lead to win the tournament.