On Sunday 25 November we attended two polo games, the HSBC Cup and the Chandon Cup, at the Palermo polo grounds. We were so lucky to get back to Buenos Aires just in the nick of time to see the culmination of the Argentine season by the 114Â° Campeonato Argentino Abierto Movistar. We have never before paid $100 per seat for a sporting event — but this one was worth at least that. And not least for the opportunity to see a cross section of fashionable Portenos at play. Our favorite pics gallery is here. For our more complete photo coverage — see HSBC Cup, and Chandon Cup.
Each player fielded up to twenty-two remarkable horses [yes, that is one rider for 22 mounts -- horses which are swapped in a couple of seconds of fluid movement from one saddle to the next]. The majority of these horses were identified as the Polo Argentino Breed, dryly described by the The Argentine Association of Polo Pony Breeders‘ as follows:
“This is how at the present time we have achieved a polo pony biotype that is highly efficient as regards its skills.
“The origins of this breed are to be found in the criollo (native) horses that already existed in the area and were used to play the game and which were selected for breeding. Simultaneouslyâ€“and brought in specially by Anglo-Argentine playersâ€“the introduction of thoroughbred racehorses (S.P.C.) began, which accelerated crossbreeding and began slowly to absorb the original criollo.
“In time the Quarter Mile and Arab breeds were incorporated, though in a lesser degree, to make the most of certain special characteristics of each breed. This great genetic variability, added to a rigorous selection generated by the game itself and to the naturally favorable conditions of the area, are what make Polo Argentino unique in the world.”