Everybody knows that Argentina is famous for football, but there is another, less known sport that has a long history here: polo.
The game arrived in the 1800s with British settlers in
the Argentine pampas (plains) playing
polo in their free time. Argentina has since become internationally renowned in
the sport, making it the perfect place to take in a match -- or even have a go at
Where to watch
Starting 25 September, the annual Tortugas Country Club Open Polo Championship signals the start of the Argentine polo high season and is an
excellent opportunity to see professional players in action. Featuring Argentine
polo teams with some of the best handicaps
in the world, the tournament ends with a match on 13 October where the winning
team receives the prestigious Emilio Anchorena Cup. All matches take place at
the club’s polo fields, located just north of Buenos Aires near the suburb of
Pilar, and tickets prices range between 60 and 420 Argentinean dollars
depending on the game and seating area. Tickets are only available for purchase
at the club and can be bought on the day of the match.
This tournament is one of the three most important in
Argentina, along with the Hurlingham
tournament in October at The Hurlingham
Club in the northwest of the city, and the Argentine Polo Open Championship, the
world’s most prestigious tournament, which takes place from late November through
December at the Campo Argentino de Polo in the
Palermo neighbourhood. Collectively, these competitions are known as the
"Triple Crown". While teams from all over the world can compete, most
players are Argentine.
Polo’s low season runs from February through March,
though quality games can still be seen.
Where to play
The Puesto Viejo Estancia, a 250-acre cattle ranch,
polo club and boutique hotel, located just under an hour southwest of Buenos Aires, recently introduced Polo Days, where visitors can spend a full day learning about
polo, taking a lesson with a professional instructor and watching a match. Guests
are picked up at 10 am by a private car in Buenos Aires and driven to the ranch,
where they are given a tour of the property and stables, get an overview of the
rules and history of the game, and, after some initial instruction, saddle up a
horse and have a go. After a homemade lunch, guests can roam the surrounding countryside
on foot or bike and relax around the pool. A second polo lesson is followed by watching
the local polo club play, during which guests are talked through the finer details
of the game. At 8 pm guests return to Buenos Aires. Polo Days cost $150 per
person, and bookings should be made in advance.
Fitzgerald is the Buenos Aires Localite for BBC Travel. He also writes gringoinbuenosaires.com.