Polo the game of kings back in Monte-Carlo for its second edition

2nd Edition of the Monte-Carlo Polo Cup, Cartier trophy

MCPC logoPolo, the game of Kings was back in Monte-Carlo this past weekend with matches played in the nearby stadium of Devens in Beausoleil July 4 to 6, 2014. It was the 2nd edition of the Monte-Carlo Polo Cup, Cartier Trophy organized by the MC Polo Club with the participation of four international prestigious teams of three players each: Monaco and Ireland who also participated last year plus Switzerland and USA who came with their horses and their sponsors. This tournament had been selected as the 4th stage of the Centennial Maserati Polo Tour in collaboration with official supplier La Martina, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the legendary automobile company, including the most famous polo grounds in the USA, Asia via Europe and Middle East. MCPC President and Monaco resident Francesco Mitrano has a passion for equestrian sports, and has managed to inscribe this event in the agenda of the Principality under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert. The image of this tournament is enhanced by the participation of reputable sponsors like Cartier, La Martina, EFG Bank, Cipriani and Twiga Monte-Carlo, Maserati and other local partners.

Mitrano who created the Monte-Carlo Polo Club has worked against all odds ignoring setbacks and criticism to make his dream a reality, and even if we should acknowledge some logistic flaws, it is true he persisted and organized this Polo tournament not once but twice, a proof to his determination. His objective is to introduce the sport of Polo in the Principality and surrounding areas, and he certainly has captured their attention as the public was there in great numbers enjoying the show given by riders and horses battling on the grass, while sipping champagne in a convivial atmosphere. Polo is a fast, physical and exciting sport played on manicured lawns and which objective is to knock the ball into the goal, but it is the only game in which the teams change ends when a goal is scored. It  is a sport that attracts a diversity of people and you may find yourself mingling with celebrities and royalty. The mid-match tradition blends grounds-keeping and cocktail hour, and people pour onto the field Champagne-in-hand to replace divots in the grass, but in Devens people preferred to stay under the tent enjoying their drinks. Maybe the ladies, who were elegantly dressed, did not realize that there is grass all over the premises so they should avoid high heels that will sink right in if they try engaging in divot stomping! Maybe next time they will wear smart and chic comfortable shoes.

Traditional parade in the Casino Square 

The 3-day program started on Friday when the four Polo teams met the members of the Press in the Salle Empire of the Hotel de Paris, followed by what is becoming the traditional parade of riders and horses in the Casino Square, a unique spectacle that was not hampered by rain.

The Polo matches in Devens

The first matches scheduled Friday afternoon at the nearby Devens Stadium in Beausoleil, France, had to be canceled as the rain made the grounds not playable, but the weather improved and competition was resumed on Saturday with the finals on Sunday, with plenty of action on the field.

The classic Ladies’ Hat Contest

There cannot be a Polo tournament without the classic Ladies Hat Contest that this time around was under the theme “Summer Flowers.” There were some creative entries and some that were not. After a very long deliberation the Jury, that included David Shilling designer extraordinaire, artist Marcos Marin and representatives from the sponsors, selected a rather simple but pretty hat worn by Maria Ruchonnet Alekseenko (No. 8). Maybe it was the flowers with the Monaco colors matching her clothing that did the trick. Rumanian Soprano Delia Noble animated the contest delighting the guests with beautiful songs, and Brazilian Artist Marcos Marin exhibited his sculptures on the grounds, adding to the glamorous ambiance.

The prize ceremony

The tournament culminated with the highly anticipated Cartier Trophy Ceremony. The main prize went to the team from Ireland sponsored by Cipriani-Twiga under captain Bryan Lynam who had won with the Monegasque team in 2013, and Flavio Briatore came with his little son to support them. The Monaco team sponsored by Cartier came a close second lead by Francesco Mitrano who is also President of the Monegasque branch of the International Polo Federation (FIP). The Swiss team lead by Piero Dillier a veteran of the sport and also representing Europe for the International Polo federation and sponsored by Maserati came third. Fourth place went to a team on the other side of the ocean, USA backed by EFG Bank and represented by captain Kazi Bash. Argentine Lucas Labat received a special prize from La Martina for the highest goal scorer of the tournament. For additional information go to http://www.montecarlopoloclub.mc

 The festivities closed with a Gala Dinner at the Monte-Carlo Beach Club with proceeds to benefit Ecoute Cancer Reconfort, presided by Adeline Garino. This Monegasque association created in 1982 under the honorary presidency of HSH Princess Stephanie, provides psychological and financial assistance to people suffering from the disease. For more information visit www.ecoutecancerreconfort.org

Understanding the Polo handicap system

The Polo handicap is a system created by Henry Lloyd Herbert, first president of the U.S. Polo Association, at the founding of the USPA in 1890 so teams could be more evenly matched when using players of different abilities. The players are rated on a scale from minus-2 to 10. Minus-2 indicates a novice player, while the one rated at 10 goals has the highest handicap possible. It is so difficult to attain this top score that there are fewer than a dozen in the world. I am proud to confirm that all ten-goal players today are Argentine (see world ranking below), with the exception of David Stirling born in Uruguay – although he plays in Argentina. Handicaps of five goals and above generally belong to professional players. It is not an estimate of number of goals a player might score, but rather of the player’s worth to his or her team.

World Ranking

  1. Cambiaso, Adolfo (Argentina) 1036 points
  2. Pieres, Facundo (Argentina)  976 points
  3. Nero, Juan Martin (Argentina) 840 points
  4. Mac Donough, Pablo (Argentina) 761 points
  5. Stirling Jr., David (Uruguay) 753 points
  6. Pieres Jr., Gonzalo (Argentina) 703 points
  7. Ulloa, Hilario (Argentina) 582 points
  8. Aguerre, Mariano (Argentina) 569 points
  9. Caset Jr., Guillermo (Argentina) 557 points
  10. Pieres, Nicolas (Argentina) 556 points

 

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