Column by Henri de By
There are few terms that bring such a mix of excitement and anticipation as the
words: spring training. In the US, major league baseball teams traditionally travel to
their well-appointed training camps in Florida. Going south, to take advantage of the
early sunshine, gives players the opportunity to sharpen their skills after the long
winter and to get back into the rhythm.
With snow still on the ground but the English season approaching, the polo-
equivalent of such a trip might be a good plan while your groom gets the horses
ready. Starting up in warm weather — before those chilly chukkers at the beginning
of the UK season — is a good way to get back into the swing of things. For those not
playing arena polo, it might even save you from strains and pains after a long winter.
What it will not save is money, as such trips come with a price tag. Cheap is
not a word ever to be used in connection with polo, unless you want to either look
pompous or score some laughs — possibly both. However, polo schools in Argentina
offer a good deal at a day-rate of between US$350-400. Compared to most hotels
that is quite reasonable when taking into account that for this polo estancias not
merely offer a room. Included are three meals a day (and often free drinks), as well
as two ponies for stick&ball in the morning, frequently with instruction thrown in,
and in the afternoon horses to play four chukkers with professional players. Of
course, there is the long-haul flight from England to Argentina, which is costly. And
you do need to find sufficient time to get away.
Fortuitously, when it comes to making an early start for the English season,
there is now also an Argentine polo school that during spring operates in
Sotogrande, Spain. After all, a round-trip flight to nearby Malaga or Gibraltar will set
you back only between £100-150. At this school, named El Rincon Del Polo
(elrincondelpolo.com), for a daily rate between €400-450 depending on length of
stay, 3-goaler Estani Puch offers the usual program of polo both morning and
afternoon, including full-board and lodgings at a charming Spanish finca or an
adjacent monastery converted into a hotel. If you can spare a week, or even just a
weekend, it is an excellent way to get a drop on the competition. Time to start
thinking about spring.