Evita, Malbec, Messi, Empanadas are all synonymous with Argentina. Ahh one more…. Polo! One of the musts while visiting Buenos Aires, after the wine tastings and the Evita Museum (not necessarily in that order) is going to watch the Polo.
But how did the Game of Kings, the game that originated in Persia over 2000 years ago become so popular and famous all the way down in Argentina?
When did it all begin?
The first Polo tournament to be played in Argentina was back in 1875. It was organised by David Shennan, a wealthy Scottish landowner at his estancia ‘ El Negrete’ in the town of General Belgrano, Buenos Aires Province. The contest was between two teams - Campo v Ciudad (Country v City). It was reported in an English speaking newspaper at the time that some of the ‘Ciudad’ players had never even seen the game played before. Needless to say ‘Campo’ won the competition.
From that day on, Polo grew from strength to strength in Argentina. It became popular with the British and Irish communities and it wasn't long before the locals where joining them.
Polo’s Second home
Like a duck to water, Argentines had a natural skill for Polo. Helped by the ideal conditions found in the ‘Pampas’ or flat glass lands, there was by no means lack of space to play. Another reason for the success is to do with the horses. the native Argentine horse or caballos criollos are highly prized and are specially bred to become Polo ponies. Today many Polo ponies are bred in Argentina and sold around the world.
One also mustn't forget the gauchos and Argentina’s long association with horse hiding which has also helped their success. In a largely rural country, long before the car was commonplace, horses where the no.1 form of transport and the Argentines knew how to ride!
When is it played?
To watch a real polo match you will need to be in Argentina between October and December, Lucky, because that is when it starts to get nice and warm!
Where can I watch Polo?
El Campo de Polo Argentino based in Palermo, Buenos Aires. They hold many matches and tournaments throughout the season. Some are even free! On match days you can find food trucks, bars and restaurants inside the arena, making it a complete day out.
You can find more information on their website - http://www.aapolo.com/
I want to play Polo!
There are plenty of Estancias outside of Buenos Aires which offer Polo days. Enjoy a day in the country, a polo class and if you get lucky, an Argentine Asado!
Follow the link for some Polo Days not far from the city -
Argentina Polo Day
La Amistad Polo
Did you know …?
The top 7 polo players in the world are Argentine.