SYV Polo Classic returns Oct. 2

The annual Santa Ynez Valley Polo Classic, benefiting Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, will return to Happy Canyon Vineyard at Piocho Ranch in Santa Ynez on Saturday, October 2.

Joel Baker, a renowned professional polo player and former coach of the U.S.A. Polo Team, has returned as player coordinator.  The longtime Valley resident has supported People Helping People for more than 20 years. Joel is joined by accomplished polo player Meghan Gracida; together they have curated an outstanding line up of top-notch teams and competitive matches. The Main Match features Team Brady Group playing Ramsey Asphalt Construction and the preceding Ladies Match will see Team Grand Avenue Real Estate face off against Team Women’s Independent Giving Society (WIGS). 

Meghan Gracida shares, “It brings all of the players and me great joy to be able to play the sport we love, on the horses we love, in front of spectators from this great valley that we love— all to benefit those who receive support from People Helping People. It is our honor to showcase polo for such a special cause.” 

Event Co-Chair Nancy Hunsicker commented that “Equestrian sports are unique in that women and men compete on an equal basis and against each other, right up through the Olympic level. In addition to the rapidly growing popularity of Ladies Polo leagues, higher levels of Polo competition are seeing increasing numbers of participation by women as higher goal competitors; in fact,2 out of every 3 new members of the US Polo Association are now women.  This year, the SYV Polo Classic is delighted to celebrate the many contributions of women to the world of equestrian sport competition.”

John Kuelbs, Board President explains, “We are so grateful to our community for rallying around this highly anticipated event by sponsoring, volunteering and attending. By bringing world class polo to the Santa Ynez Valley, the Classic’s mission is to raise much-needed funds for People Helping People’s programs to improves the lives of adults and children in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.”

The SYV Polo Classic is presented by Happy Canyon Vineyard and made possible in part by a generous grant from the Mindel Family Foundation. First Bank and Montecito Bank & Trust sharply increased their sponsorships this year as well.

Event Co-Chair Alanna Tarkington emphasized, “The needs in our community have multiplied many times over as a result of COVD-19’s economic impact.  The organization’s spending on assistance related to housing,homelessness prevention, and food insecurity has risen at alarming rates. This fundraiser is critical for PHP to fully realize it’s mission.”

For more information about the programs at People Helping People, visit For more information about the SYV Polo Classic, visit

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