If you love following the Formula One circuit, the World Polo Tour is the equestrian version: fast ponies, high level competition, and the world’s best competing to be champion. The World Polo Tour incorporates the highest-level polo tournaments around the globe and ranks the world’s top players.
Every polo player has an assigned handicap: a rating given to them by their national polo association, as judged by their peers, home clubs, and/or regional governing authority. The World Polo Tour ranking raises the bar, by ranking players according to their individual performance in the world’s top tournaments. Points are accumulated during the year; prizes are awarded to each month's best player and to the overall best player of the year.
Unlike in Formula One where drivers and teams ship their cars, equipment, and personnel around the race circuit, on the World Polo Tour many players play strings of top-level ponies arranged through local polo organizations. A few special ponies may make the trip from one country to the next, but only the absolute best will make the long trips overseas to play the most important tournaments of the year.
The tour begins in Wellington, Florida. Located just inland from Palm Beach, the equestrian capital of North America is home to the highest level of polo played in North America. Tournaments such as the C.V. Whitney, Gold Cup, and U.S. Open are just a few of the premier trophies up for grabs during the Florida season.
Dubai follows as one of the most sought after high-goal tournament destinations, hosting five high-level tournaments, including the Dubai Gold and Silver Cups. Known for hosting some of the most competitive local and international players, this is one of the ultimate destinations on the tour. The UAE polo team has gone global the last few years, with team sponsor Maitha M R Al Maktoum proving that women belong on the World Tour every bit as much as the men do. Dubai is a very popular destination amongst the British professionals and sponsors: it is a short flight from the UK, and it’s an exciting alternative to the Florida scene. Once players experience polo in the desert climate in the heart of one of the most modern cities in the world, other destinations pale in comparison.
Just as the Race of Champions Snow & Ice pits the world’s greatest drivers against the elements of the Baltic Sea, some of the world’s best polo is also hosted on snow and ice. The famed snow polo tournament held on the frozen lake St. Moritz in Switzerland is a unique invitational tournament held at the end of January each year. The highest level of polo played on snow in the world, it is also one of the more exclusive polo events on tour, with luxury parties, sponsors, and of course, plenty of chilled Champagne.
Formula One’s presence in Europe throughout the summer months is echoed by the World Polo Tour. Running from May to July, while the weather is at its best, the English polo season includes tournaments such as the Prince of Wales Cup, The Queen’s Cup, the British Open, and more. Tournaments are played at the famed clubs of Cowdray, Royal County of Berkshire, and Guards Polo Club; all located just a short drive from London.
Both France and Spain have a reputation for great polo and even better polo parties in summer. In France, competitive tournaments and swanky events are found near Paris, in Normandy, and in St. Tropez. Sotogrande, located in the Andalusia region of Spain, is home to the Copa de Plata and Copa de Oro –the ultimate tournaments to see and be seen amongst the world’s best players in August.
As summer comes to a close in Europe, most players head to Argentina. Home to the highest-level polo tournaments and the best ponies and players, the Argentine polo season is the highlight of the year. The season kicks off in September and for almost three months the most epic players, ponies, and spectators converge for polo, culture, and festivities that define the Argentine polo life. The pinnacle of the season is the Argentine Triple Crown: incorporating the Tortugas Open, Hurlingham Open, and the Argentine Open. The Argentine Open is also known as ‘Palermo’ for the location of the legendary fields amidst the bustling Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Winning at Palermo is every player’s dream. If the ultimate destination for Formula One is Monaco, then the ultimate destination for polo is Palermo.
Just as Formula One unites fans across the globe who share a passion for motorsport, the World Polo Tour brings together polo’s greatest international players, sponsors, and spectators. Every destination on the tour has its own unique character both on and off the field; from partying in Spain and France, to rubbing shoulders with royalty in England, to living the epic Argentine lifestyle amongst the sports’ greatest. The only way to genuinely appreciate each destination’s polo culture is to experience it firsthand. Pack your passport and your Sunday best and head off to celebrate the world’s best polo players as they compete to be number one.