The 2021 Texas Arena League (TAL) season began at Legends Polo Club (Kaufman, Texas), the first of four locations. Every player received a U.S. Polo Assn. windbreaker jacket embroidered with the TAL logo. Royal B Threads was on location for this first event to add players names and team/club logos onto the jackets and offer additional engraving and embroidery services to players, teams and clubs. Also on location was equine nutritionist Sharon Choney. Choney will be at every Texas Arena League event to assist players with their needs, answer questions and to present the Nutrena Best Playing Pony awards for each game.
Brady Williams’ buckskin mare Sonita took home two Best Playing Pony awards at Legends Polo Club. “Considering the growth of the TAL league, the number of good players and horses has also risen,” Williams said. “I am excited that my American Quarter Horse Sonita has been selected as Best Playing Pony several times over the years, beating out many nice horses. She even won the award in both the 0- to 3-goal and 3- to 6-goal brackets of the first 2021 TAL event.”
“Sonita is such a great little horse and it has been fun training her into the amazing polo horse that she has become,” Williams continued. “I am grateful that AQHA has decided to sponsor the best playing Quarter Horse award for our TAL season. In the past we have had one from the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) for registered thoroughbreds, but it’s nice to now have an award for quarter horses because there are many that play arena polo.”
JD Polo’s Javier Insua approaching the ball against Crosshair Ranch’s Ashley Owen in the Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
In the Saturday 0- to 3-goal division, the Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz began with a record 12 teams. To be eligible for a USPA military tournament every team must have a military connection.
Rob Phipps travels from Arizona for every TAL event and has been participating for the last two years. “It was a great first weekend of arena polo for the gold standard Texas Arena League,” Phipps said. “It was so great to see people who enjoy the sport of polo especially in the tough times. I am looking forward to the next match.”
Horsegate’s Lance Stefanakis taking the ball on the nearside.
The first Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr. arena tournament began on Sunday’s 3- to 6-goal flight with 11 teams. All teams had military ties including Bar-Spur with Brady Williams (brothers currently serving in the U.S. Navy), Wyatt Myr (father was in the Army) and Mark Osburn. “My two brothers are serving in the U.S. Navy,” Williams said. “I have other family members who have served, but my brothers are my closest connections to the military. I thank them for their service and I am honored to be eligible for the military tournaments. I think of them every time I start a game because one of my brothers used to play polo when we were in college together at Texas Tech University. He is not at a point in his career that allows him to play polo, but I hope that one day we can be on the field together again.”
Both tournaments are single elimination format with winning teams advancing to the next Texas Arena League event February 26-28 at Legends Polo Club. Originally scheduled to be held at Two Wishes Polo Club (Lockhart, Texas) February 12-14, the second event has been postponed to March 12-14 by the TAL Host Tournament Committee due to inclement weather.
Teams that were knocked out at Legends and a new team, Riverbend, joining at Two Wishes will begin two more arena tournaments also in single elimination format – the Southwestern Circuit Arena Amateur Cup and the Southwestern Circuit General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller.
Tequila Sheila’s and Visage.Jobs competing in the Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
In addition to the USPA tournaments which earn players points toward the National Arena Amateur Cup (NAAC), TAL teams and players are gaining points toward End of League awards. With so many great prize sponsors, strong competition and player camaraderie, the Texas Arena League has become extremely popular. “As we kick off the fourth season of the Texas Arena League I am really excited about all the interest that has been generated from arena players in the Southwestern Circuit,” said Brady Williams, TAL HTC and founding member. “Leading up to the start of the season, we had a waiting list for teams to be entered. It’s exciting to be part of the committee that has helped to put on such a great TAL event which is gaining support from sponsors and the USPA.”
Southwestern Circuit General George S. Patton, Jr.
Horsegate (14) def. Polo InterActive (10)
Bar-Spur (14) def. 101 Polo Club (10)
Prestonwood Green (10) def. Elite Motion & Performance (3)
Texas Military def. Elite Motion & Performance Pixies
Prestonwood Green def. Texas Military
Oklahoma (18) def. Legends (16)
Villa Ecleto (18) def. Dallas Polo Club
Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
JD Polo (19) def. Crosshair Ranch (11)
Prestonwood Red (16) def. Leaseplan (10)
Horsegate (21) def. Two Wishes (8)
Elite Motion & Performance (13) def. Shweiki Media (10)
Legends (15) def. Los Gauchos (14)
Visage.jobs (18) def. Tequila Sheilas (8)
Catena Sportsmanship Award winners
Galvin Agency Most Valuable Players
Nutrena Best Playing Ponies
Gemma played by August Scherer, owned by Legends Polo Club
Rocket owned and played by Stephanie Colburn
Rosie (JC – Nurse Beverly) owned and played by Lara Straussfeld
Sonita (AQHA – Holis Sonitalena) owned and played by Brady Williams – 2 wins
Chartreuse played by Megan Rahlfs, owned by Legends Polo Club
Paola owned and played by Javier Insua
Mandarina owned and played by Ariel Rodriguez
Yamin played by Lance Stefanakis, owned by Horsegate
Corazon played by Nacho Estrada, owned by Legends Polo Club
Cara Blanca owned and played by Carlos Ramirez
All photos courtesy of ©Caitlin Demura Photography.