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The La Rosita Cup: a Polo Tournament with a difference

29th December 2012

There are plenty of things to do at Estancia La Rosita besides riding.

We’ve been on walks to spot and photograph the prodigious birdlife; we’ve had a cooking demonstration given by Fernando’s mum, Alicia, a lasso class given by the gaucho Marola and a tango lesson and a wonderful show on the terrace of the estancia by two professional dancers. We went into Esquina for a bit of retail therapy and a trip to the local bar and some of the group even went piranha fishing, catching seven little nippers in less than two hours. We’ve lounged by the pool and read books in the hammocks.

But this is Argentina and no equine trip here would be complete without having a crack at polo, which tried our hands at yesterday in the inaugural playing of the La Rosita Cup!

The afternoon started somewhat inauspiciously however when Fernando announced he had some good news and some bad. The good news he declared was that the team shirts he’d ordered had come back from the tailor – the bad news came when he pulled them out of the bag. His supplier had taken it on himself to be creative and had delivered 15 shirts, in shocking sets of day-glow stripes. Never mind, we assured Fernando today wasn’t about the shirts.

With none of us other than WF guide and ex-champion jockey Richard Dunwoody – who had come to help me on the trip – having ever played polo before we were first talked through the basics knocking a ball around, croquet-style, on the front lawn. From here we mounted our horses, still non-really the wiser, and rode out to the polo ground. Polo is massive in Argentina and all estancias have a pitch on which to play; at La Rosita it was cut especially for the occasion.

Mounted on our horses, each sporting our garish new shirts with our names on our backs, we split into four teams A, B, C & D – with A playing C and B playing D and the winners of each match playing a final. And after goals, last minute equalisers, goal line clearances, penalty shoot outs, two falls – somewhat embarrassingly (and perhaps a shade ironically), Richard and I – some extremely dubious play by the Argentine ringers making up the numbers and many screams of joy and pain, we did come up with a winner.

And beside a tiny canvass pavilion erected just for the occasion, Fernando’s pretty sister Barbra handed out the prizes and champagne was opened just as the sun was setting. It wasn’t the most impressive display of polo you’ll have ever witnessed but it was a huge amount of fun and as we rode back to the estancia, I think we all felt like winners.

Jonny Bealby

Rock singer, writer and travel entrepreneur, Jonny Bealby has streetwise savvy and miles of travel under his belt. His experiences have given him the …

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