Although 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, this year has had some happy moments for 6-goaler Jesse Bray*. His biggest polo victory was winning the 2020 Pacific Coast Open (PCO) with Klentner Ranch (Jesse Bray, Geronimo Obregon*, Marcos Alberdi, Justin Klentner) at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (Carpinteria, California). However, he has also been improving his level of play on a daily basis. “I think my career is on the rise right now,” Bray said. “I have a lot to prove and want to continue improving as much as I can.”
Jesse Bray played for Ohana in the 2020 Spreckels Cup at Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California. ©Kerri Kerley
“To keep growing as a polo player I need to play in Argentina as often as possible,” Bray continued. “I think it is the place that will improve my polo the most besides Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. I would also like to go back to Florida soon to play the high-goal season at the International Polo Club Palm Beach [Wellington, Florida].” Traveling to Buenos Aires [Argentina], Bray will play in the Copa Cámara de Diputados with Facundo Obregon, Costi Caset* and Facundo Llosa.
In 2018, as a member of Team USPA, Jesse Bray mentored under Alfonso Pieres in Argentina. ©ClickPolo
Regarding polo in America, Bray is optimistic about the future of the sport. “I think polo in the United States is strong,” he commented. “In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic Santa Barbara had eight teams in the 12-goal, eight teams in the 16-goal, and another six teams in the 8-goal. It was maybe the most competitive summer we’ve had in the eight years I have been coming to Santa Barbara.”
Winning the 2020 Pacific Coast Open was an unforgettable experience for Bray, defeating Santa Clara 9-8 in a tight final. “Winning the Pacific Coast Open was very important to me,” Bray said. “I think it is the tournament everyone wants to win when they come to Santa Barbara. Also, with the U.S. Open Polo Championship® not being played this year, the Pacific Coast Open was perhaps the most important tournament in the country.”
Klentner Ranch’s Jesse Bray with a booming neckshot surrounded by Santa Clara players during the 2020 Pacific Coast Open Final. ©David Lominska
This triumph to end the season came with an added bonus. “I’m very happy that I was able to win with Justin [Klentner],” Bray noted. “We [Klentner Ranch] won the 2018 Silver Air Pacific Coast Open and unfortunately he was not able to play in the final due to an injury so it was especially important for us to win this year.”
2020 Pacific Coast Open Champions: Klentner Ranch – Marcos Alberdi, Geronimo Obregon, Justin Klentner, Jesse Bray. ©David Lominska
Although the tournament season didn’t go exactly as planned, Bray was able to be productive. “My year started off being back in Indio, California, for the first time in five years,” he said. “When the season finished early due to COVID-19, I was able to spend time riding my young horses with my dad. We have a group of 14 homebreds from four-year olds to weanlings coming up now. We were lucky that the Santa Barbara season was able to begin and I played from May until October 4, 2020.”
*Jesse Bray, Geronimo Obregon and Costi Caset are graduating members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.