The 121° Paris Open has just come to a close. The tournament grows year on year thanks to the club in which it is held: Paris Polo Club. With a spectacular setting, enviable weather and great facilities, there are plenty of reasons to praise the club. Its central location in the Bois de Bolougne allows players to keep their horses in the club itself, avoiding long lorry journeys.
“Paris Polo Club is beautiful; it’s in the city so you have many things to do. You can play polo and explore Paris at the same time”, says Rico Richert, patron 1861, a team who took part in the Paris Open. “It was Tim Ward, whom I play with, who asked me why we travel to South America when we can play in Paris. We came in April to check out the facilities and thought it was great. Everything is very well organized. I’m very happy to be playing here, especially as we’ve been getting good results”, he laughs.
But Richert is not the only one to praise the Parisian club; Lionel Macaire, player and well-known figure in French polo echoes Richert’s sentiments: “My father, Jacques Macaire, started the polo school in the ’70s. He was the best player of his generation, a great teacher and a polo fanatic. All my family played polo here in Paris. My grandfather started playing in the ’20s, my father in the ’40s, and I started playing in the ’60s. Now my daughter and grandson both play, and my brother also used to play. That’s five generations playing polo here! The defining factor of this club is that it’s located in the center of Paris. It’s amazing that a place this big is located in the middle of the 16 arrondissement.”
This year the Paris Open title went to Red Falcon after they beat the tournament favourites, St. Mesme. Argentine professional Clemente Zavaleta, who played in St. Mesme, explained that playing in Paris was attractive for Europeans. Costa Rican patron Felipe Gómez, whose team Costa Rica competed in the Paris Open as well, also expressed his delight in playing at the club. “My experience in Paris has been excellent. The horses are kept near the club, so we can stay in the city, which is fun and there are lots of activities to keep you busy. You can be in the countryside in half an hour, play a practice and work your horses there. The atmosphere is great; there are not many places like this.”
Many of the players and patrons that come to play in Paris have now made this stop a permanent fixture on their polo calendar. Foxlease patron Eric Steiner, however, now returns to Paris after a number of absent seasons: “I learnt to play polo in Paris about 30 years ago when Lionel Macaire gave me my first polo lesson. I’ve been playing in the US, just outside Washington, in Virginia – I hadn’t played in Paris since I took my first lessons. It has been an amazing experience. The people are first-rate and being in the center of the city is great. I wasn’t expecting much: I rented horses and it wasn’t easy in terms of polo. But the fact that I could play polo and be in Paris was spectacular.”