After a rain cancellation at Two Wishes Polo Club located in Lockhart, Texas, Texas Arena League (TAL) moved to Brookshire Polo Club (Brookshire, Texas) in the Houston area for the third Texas Arena League event of the season. A first time TAL host club, Brookshire Polo Club has hosted multiple intercollegiate/interscholastic events over the years in their beautiful and fast arena. “The Brookshire event was the first time I’d travelled outside of Dallas for a tournament,” said Southwestern Circuit Arena Challenge Cup participant Cale Curtain. “It was a beautiful venue with an awesome arena. It’s great to get to play in such top-notch facilities at home and on the road.” A record forty teams competed over the weekend in four different levels of competition, aptly referred to as an “arenapalooza.”
Tequila Sheilas’ Megan Rahlfs carries the ball along the boards with Leaseplan’s Mark Osburn attempting a hook.
The 0- to 3-goal Southwestern Circuit Admiral Chester W. Nimitz military tournament, which began with 12 teams at the first TAL event, boiled down to a round-robin final between Visage.jobs (Joss Lefrancois, Jan Pieter Zweegers, Nadir Khan), Horsegate (Nick Stefanakis, Lance Stefanakis, Anson Moore) and Legends Polo Club (Nacho Estrada, Verity Cameron, James Glew) with each team having a 1/1 record in the round robin the win went down to a net goals tie-breaker with Horsegate coming out on top.
Also in the 0- to 3-goal, the Southwestern Circuit Arena Amateur Cup Final was played. Tequila Sheilas (Abi Abel, Megan Rahlfs, Kate Howe) faced off against Leaseplan (Lisa Yanskey, Mark Osburn, Brady Williams) with Leaseplan coming out the victors.
“I took my first lesson at Prestonwood [Polo Club] last April and quickly got addicted to the sport. As a new player, the Texas Arena League has been a fantastic introduction to arena polo and fun way to meet and compete with other players in Texas. I’m looking forward to TAL next year and seeing how what I’ve learned in the arena will translate to the field this spring!” – Cale Curtain
Play started in two more 0- to 3-goal USPA tournaments, the Southwestern Circuit Arena Challenge Cup with Prestonwood (Vaughn Miller Sr., Cale Curtain, Audrey Montgomery) losing to JD Polo (Ekaterina Kotova, Javier Insua, Tanner Kneese). Two Wishes (Servando James McHazlett, Ariel Rodriguez, Lara Straussfeld) won a round robin in the same tournament against Tesla (Amanda Osburn, Brady Williams, Megan Flynn) and Houston Mix (Grace Mudra, Isabel Artzer, Ashvath Bhatia).
Four Horsemen’s Kitana St-Cyr playing the ball, Crosshair Ranch’s Cody Goetz on defense.
In the Southwestern Circuit Arena Sportsmanship Cup, Four Horsemen (Stephanie Colburn, Ally Vaughn, Kitana St-Cyr) defeated Crosshair Ranch (Ashley Owen, Alex Bryant, Cody Goetz) and Houston Girls (Bridgette Price, Abi Benton, Lily Lequerica) got the win over Shweiki Media (Gal Shweiki, Rob Phipps, Karl Hilberg).
Horsegate’s Lance Stefanakis competing in the Southwestern Circuit George S. Patton, Jr.
Two military tournament finals were held at the 3- to 6-goal level including the inaugural Southwestern Circuit George S. Patton, Jr. arena tournament with a round robin between Oklahoma (Vaughn Miller Sr., Chris Jones, Lisa Yanskey), Prestonwood (Vance Miller, John Dencker, Cale Curtain) and Horsegate (Lance Stefanakis, Ariel Mancebo, Anson Moore) with Horsegate taking the honors and the win of a tournament that began with 11 teams.
Dallas Polo Club’s Will Walton approaching the ball, closely followed by Elite Motion & Performance’s Lara Straussfeld.
In the Southwestern Circuit General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Dallas Polo Club (Will Walton, Don English, Whitney Walker) defeated Elite Motion & Performance (Amanda Massey, Stephanie Colburn, Lara Straussfeld) in what could have been an Intercollegiate/Interscholastic alumni tournament with Texas A&M University, University of Texas and interscholastic teams represented.
Legends Polo Club’s August Scherer making a play on the ball while being ridden off by Texas Military Polo’s Wyatt Myr.
The Southwestern Circuit Sherman Memorial tournament began with Legends Polo Club (Kim Buttram, August Scherer, Nacho Estrada) coming out ahead over Texas Military Polo (Karl Hilberg, Gal Shweiki, Wyatt Myr). Houston Boys (Mark Prinsloo, Will Mudra, Joe Bob Lequerica) proved the small can also be mighty in a win over Bar-Spur (Mark Osburn, Ashley Owen, Brady Williams) and Riverbend (Hannah Reynolds, Cara Kennedy, Joanie Jackson) took the win over Polo InterActive (Jose Velez, Javier Insua, Ariel Rodriguez).
Oklahoma’s Chris Jones turning onto the ball.
Ashley Owen competed in both the 0- to 3-goal and 3- to 6-goal and her 10-year-old daughter, Emrey, is playing in the C-Flight. “It was a long trip to get to Brookshire from Midland [Texas], but the traveling is also part of the fun with friends and family. TAL is a great opportunity to play competitive arena polo and it is truly rewarding to have my daughter getting to play in C-Flight this year. Now we are grooming for each other. I was grateful to bring home the Catena Sportsmanship Award and even more proud of our horse Money to win Nutrena Best Playing Pony this week. It was our first BPP and he played so well he made me look better than I am! He’s one of those horses that you just know you will have a strong chukker on. I am excited to use my Nutrena coupons to get more Senior feed for him! I think it’s the best prize you can receive,” Owen said. “It was great to get to reunite with fellow Tech alum and I think a few more may try to play in TAL next year.”
Ashley Owen, riding Best Playing Pony Money, competed in both the 0-3 goal and 3-6 goal tournaments at Brookshire Polo Club.
Galvin Agency Most Valuable Player
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Joanie Jackson (MVP in two divisions)
Joe Bob Lequerica
Galvin Agency Most Valuable Player Grace Mudra.
Catena USA Sportsmanship
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Vaughn Miller Sr.
Catena USA Sportsmanship award recipient Vaughn Miller Sr.
“Competing in TAL has pushed me to step up and improve as a rider and player and it was really rewarding for one of my horses to receive Best Playing Pony at the Brookshire event. Even if I’m hesitant to dive in, Nola always gets me there and gives me the opportunity to make a play and contribute to the team.” – Cale Curtain
Nutrena Best Playing Pony
Katniss – played and owned by Will Walton
Sunflower –played by Lalo Ramirez and owned by Villa Ecleto
Outlaw – played and owned by Hannah Reynolds
Whiteclaw –played by Shane Rice and owned by Hidden View Farm
Sonita – played and owned by Brady Williams
Nola – played and owned by Cale Curtain
Panela –played by James Glew and owned by Legends Polo Club
Money – played and owned by Ashley Owen
Izzy – played and owned by Brady Williams
#45 – played by Joe Bob Lequerica
Negrita – played by Lance Stefanakis
Izzy –played by Amanda Massey, owned by Brady Williams
Whiskey Doc – played and owned by Wyatt Myr
Luna- Cara Kennedy
Nutrena Best Playing Pony Sunflower, played by Lalo Ramirez and owned by Villa Ecleto.
All photos courtesy of ©David Murrell.