Having a Blast! Before the Tournament Three Polo Clinic Students loading their ponies.
Major Collins Promoting Polo to Next Generation
Story by Sheryel Aschfort and Kirsten Braden. Photography by Sheryel Aschfort "The Polo Paparazzi".
Beautiful weather and the world class Polo facility the International Polo Club made Florida Junior Polo's Major Collins Memorial Polo Tournament an exciting and fun day for all involved. Major Collins was a military man and a polo player who was based out of the longstanding Gulfstream Polo Club in Wellington. A passionate polo philanthropist he left an endowment to promote sporting endeavours in particular those introducing polo to the next generation such as juniors tournaments.
Organised by the Polo Training Foundation (PTF), the Educational Division of the USPA , the day started at 9am with Red Barn, Tackeria II and Alex Photo battling it out in a round robin. Tackeria II eventually came out on top with +3 net goals and Nico Escobar named Most Valueable Player (MVP), while Joaquin Avendano's pony Pink Panther was named Best Polo Pony (BPP).
Meanwhile, at 10am, Cilantro's, Blanco TX, and Tackeria 1 played another closely matched round robin. Tackeria 1 pulled ahead with a +1 net goals overall to win the game. MVP was awarded to 6 year old Juan Cruz Collardin, while the BPP award went to "Cellulite" ridden and owned by Brinkley Erb.
At 10:30am County Line Feed and Nano's Mallets took to the field. MVP River Blake helped his County Line Feed team to victory and Joseph Schwartz of Nano's Mallets received BPP for his pony Christmas Tree. At the same time Bailey Biddle and William McLeavy competed in the Lead Line Division. This is a division that gives our youngest polo enthusiasts an opportunity to be involved in the sport safely. These children are generally about 3 - 7 years old and are not safely able to control a horse solo so they are led around by an adult using a 'lead line'. Thus the children have a lot of fun, and so do the ponies and the lead line holders!
At 11am, HorseGate and La Martina took the field for 4 competitive chukkers! MVP Matias Gonzalez took his HorseGate team to victory over La Martina..
BPP went to "Soxio," ridden by Matias Gonzalez and owned by HorseGate Farm.
Trophy presentations were followed by a lovely lunch provided by Cilantro's Deli.
In Safe Hands!
Daniel Jones, Olivia Peacock, Donovan Stratemann, Pierre Chaux, Anson Moore, Juan Cruz Collardin, Jack McLean, Boone Stribling, Grant Braden, Mateo ChauxYasmine Fosu
Juan Cruz Collardin 6 year old son of ToTo Collardin ..well known 7 goaler
Juan Cruz in action
Juan Cruz Won MVP...No saddle ..no stirrups
Grant Braden 11
Eleven year old Grant Braden's family belong to the International Polo Club Palm Beach where Grant has been going to watch high goal since he was a toddler. His idol is family friend 6 goaler Kris Kampsen, who was first to put him on a polo pony, and gave him some lessons. From that moment Grant was hooked! When Kris went to the Hamptons for the 2011 summer season Grant started to ride with Roberto Narvaja owner of El Sur Polo Club: "We spent the Summer cantering up and down Wellington bridle paths to get me more secure in the saddle" says Grant. "Then I was finally given a mallet!". Grant is home schooled by his Mom, Kirsten who was an eventer and dressage rider. Once Grant showed a passion for polo his Mom quickly followed and began to learn the sport too. As part of their polo initiation he and his Mom took a "school field trip" to Estancia Don Manuel in Canuelas, Argentina to undergo a week of polo boot camp with Emiliano Blanco. "The experience of being in a country so strongly identified with polo was incredible" said Kirsten. "Grant was only meant to stick and ball all week, but he learnt so much he ended up in the weekend school tournament!" said the proud Mom. Grant will continue to partake in any Junior Training Foundation events and rides every day that he can at El Sur. "We have arena polo here" said Grant. "So I can pretty much play and learn every day as long as its not a monsoon or a hurricane!" Grant also hopes his Mom/Teacher will take him on another school field trip to Argentina in April.
Juan Cruz Collardin Most Valueable Player Award
Major Collins going Strong.
More Photography by Sheryel Aschfort "The Polo Paparazzi" at www.thepolopaparazzi.com