The 2022 season in Florida has been the most competitive one in years with the introduction of an inaugural 16-goal series. With the GAUNTLET OF POLO at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) and the weekly tournaments at Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) and Grand Champions Polo Club (GCPC) in Wellington, Florida, this year also saw the debut of the Wellington Polo Tour (WPT), a 16-goal series that consisted of three tournaments that took place in different venues over three months. Up to 12 teams participated in this series, which gave many young American players the opportunity to play high level polo in their quest to one day compete in the GAUNTLET.
“The Wellington Polo Tour is a perfect stepping-stone to high-goal polo,” said Tim Gannon, Chairman of the WPT. “It gives medium-goal polo players the chance to make that next journey to a high-goal level. Without medium goal, high goal would not exist.”
2022 Outback Invitational Champions: Palm Beach Equine – Scott Swerdlin, Raul Gringo Colombres, Lucas “Luckitas” Criado Jr., Kristos “Keko” Magrini. Pictured with WPT’s Chairman Tim Gannon.
Tim, how do you gauge a successful first Wellington Polo Tour?
“I would have to say the most important thing at the conclusion of the Wellington Polo Tour is that everyone is happy. The sponsors, team owners, administration, umpires, players and, most importantly, the spectators.”
What are the plans for Wellington Polo Tour’s future?
“In the future we will have more teams and polo fields, bigger crowds and better parties but we were off to a great start and again the objective for 2023 is to just do what we did this year only better to make sure everyone has the greatest polo experience that we can provide. We want it to be the most fun and safest polo experience and the goal is to play fair and be competitive.”
Palm Beach Equine’s Kristos “Keko” Magrini taps the ball ahead of Tonkawa’s Nacho Badiola in WPT’s Outback Invitational.
Juan Olivera is the man behind the scenes for the success of the first Wellington Polo Tour. Olivera was more than a manager; he was the person responsible for making sure that all the pieces fit. “For us, the support of the team owners was the most important thing because without them, the WPT wouldn’t exist,” Juan Olivera told CLICKPOLO. “Jeff Hildebrand, Bob Jornayvaz, Chris Dawson, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gonzalo Avendaño, Francisco Escobar, Joe DiMenna and Sayuu Dantata were the key to making the WPT happen.” Truly a team effort, the WPT was played on seven private venues belonging to different organizations.
2022 Continental Cup finalists Patagones and Tonkawa. Pictured with USPA Executive Director of Services Carlucho Arellano.
“The motto of the tour is to be fair, competitive and fun and I think we achieved that,” Olivera said. “The most important thing is that the Wellington Polo Tour will return next year for its second season.” The 16-goal series featured team owners and pro players, but also many young American players who are making their way in the circuit. “One thing we said is that any team owner who couldn’t play had to be replaced for another team owner or an American player, so that gave players a chance who never had a chance to play at this level before,” Olivera continued.
Patagones’ Santiago Wulff with Tonkawa’s Nacho Badiola defending at his hip in WPT’s Continental Cup.
With great teamwork, Olivera worked alongside Julia Steiner and the people responsible for the different teams, such as Roberto Zedda, Alejo Taranco, Santi Wulff and Jimmy Seward. However, most importantly, the WPT also shared the USPA and U.S. Polo Assn. vision regarding the future of American polo. “The connection we had with them [U.S. Polo Assn.] was very important,” Olivera said. “I would like to thank U.S. Polo Assn. Assistant Vice President of Marketing Shannon Stilson and U.S. Polo Assn. CEO Michael Prince as well as Executive Director of Services Carlucho Arellano, COO/In-House Counsel Chris Green, USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong, USPA President Tony Coppola and the USPA team.”
2022 USPA State of Florida Cup Champions: Loudmouth – Lerin Zubiaurre, Joseph Schwartz, Jason Wates, Kris Kampsen.
After a successful season, one thing is certain: the WPT will return next year with the same collaborative spirit. “The field owners and the fields that we have make the Wellington Polo Tour special,” Olivera said.
All photos courtesy of ©Agustina Fonda/Global Polo Entertainment.