The Wellington Polo Tour (WPT) is proving to be the 16-goal competition South Florida needed. Taking place parallel with the GAUNTLET OF POLO® at International Polo Club (IPC) in Wellington, Florida, WPT’s three-tournament series is giving many players the opportunity to play competitive polo and take another step towards the highest level in the United States.
Three Team USPA alumni recently took to the field in the WPT’s Continental Cup™ final, with Kylie Sheehan* and Matt Coppola* competing for Tonkawa, and Jesse Bray* for Patagones. In a rematch of their group stage rematch, Patagones emerged victorious 9-8 to continue their undefeated streak, crowning Jesse Bray the Most Valuable Player.
“The final was a great game. It was our third time playing Tonkawa, and all the three games came down to the last play of the game,” Jesse told CLICKPOLO. Referring to the strength of the competition, Bray continued, “in a game like that, sometimes it just comes down to a few bounces of the ball. At the end of the game, we got a couple more good bounces and were able to make good use of those opportunities to end with the win.”
How did it feel to be chosen as the Most Valuable Player?
“Winning the MVP is great for me, this is a really fun team to play with and I think that when you are having fun, you play your best polo. Everyone works for each other and wants the best for the team, it makes it really easy.”
Jesse also took home the Best Playing Pony blanket thanks to his 15-year-old gray mare Disney (Orchid’s Devil x Vying Princess). A thoroughbred made by Ashton Wolf, Disney has won BPP in other prestigious tournaments such as the 2017 and the 2021 Pacific Coast Open [Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club (SBPRC), in Carpinteria, California]. “Disney winning the BPP is definitely more rewarding than any MVP trophy. I take a lot of pride in my horses, and it starts with Disney. She always gives me everything I ask and more. She really is an amazing horse.”
In addition to the Wellington Polo Tour, Bray will also be competing with The Polo School in the 2022 U.S. Open Polo Championship® at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. ©Global Polo Entertainment
What is your relationship with Patagones like?
“Patagones has been great to me. Santi [Wulff] mentioned this team to me in May or June . In September we confirmed the team and started organizing everything for the season. I feel really lucky to be a part of this organization. The team starts with Joaquin [Avendano], Benjamin [Avendano], and Santi [Wulff]. They only have room for one more, and I’m very lucky to be that player. It’s a great place to be in [Patagones Polo Club] Wellington [Florida]. We have an amazing track, field, and places to ride. That’s the most important thing, so you can prepare the horses in the correct way.”
What can you say so far about the WPT?
“The WPT has been really successful. It’s a super competitive 16-goal league, where you have some of the biggest organizations in Wellington playing. I think it can be a great step for teams and players who want to make it to the GAUNTLET.”
Bray has recently come off a phenomenal run at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California, winning both 2021 Silver Cup® and Pacific Coast Open with Klentner Ranch. ©David Lominska
As an experienced player in California, how does it feel to be playing in Florida?
“For me to come from California to Florida is really hard. It’s hard on the horses, and polo is very competitive here. To travel here and not only compete but to be able to win a tournament really feels good. I’ve invested a lot into my horses and myself to have the opportunity to show myself here.”
How will your season continue?
“After Florida I will go back to California and get ready for the Santa Barbara season with Klentner Ranch. We start on April 29, so it’s a quick turnaround. It will be my tenth year competing at SBPRC, and it has become my home. I really enjoy that season and am looking forward to getting back to California.”
*Kylie Sheehan, Matt Coppola, and Jesse Bray are Team USPA alumni. 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.