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HOT Attractions - Sport of Kings

Located on the Costa del Sol in the Spanish province of Andalucía, Santa María Polo Club in Sotogrande  is considered one of the most prestigious resorts in mainland Europe. Hosting some of the best annual sporting and social events in Southern Spain, Santa María is well worth a visit...

Report: Carolyn Mowlem

Dubbed ‘the Wimbledon of polo pitches’, and frequented by royals and A-list celebrities, Sotogrande’s world-famous Santa María Polo Club is universally acclaimed as the most prestigious in mainland Europe, with the elite of athletes – skilled players and thoroughbred ponies alike – thrilling spectators with their awesome speed, stamina and agility.

As with Formula One, polo may not be a sport in which most of us can aspire actively to take part, but watching the arduous and physically demanding match unfold - admiring the outstanding horsemanship and precision accuracy of the players… and bewitched by the thundering hooves of the horses galloping flat-out at 35 miles an hour, yet astonishingly stopping and turning on a sixpence with all the poise of a ballerina - is an unforgettable experience available to all, and everyone is sure of a warm welcome.

If you’re unfamiliar with polo and would like a rundown of the rules, there’s bound to be a friendly fellow-spectator on hand and more than willing to explain them to you, and as a favourite haunt of, for example, Fergie, Princes Andrew and Harry, Jodie Kidd and a star-studded roundup of Spanish and international celebrities, not to mention the world’s most accomplished players, you never know who you may end up rubbing shoulders with!     

Founded in 1965 by Enrique Zobel, nephew of Joseph McMicking - the visionary American responsible for creating the renowned Sotogrande estate - Santa María Polo Club held its first tournament two years later, and in 1971 hosted the inaugural edition of the now legendary international Copa de Oro de Sotogrande (Sotogrande Gold Cup), celebrating its 35th year this summer, sponsored by Lexus, and one of the major annual sporting and social events in Southern Spain.

The 2005 polo season was attended by no fewer than 42,000 spectators, and the exciting final of the Gold Cup was televised for the very first time, reaching a massive viewing audience of 248 million people in 55 countries around the globe.

Taking place this year from 26 July to 28 August, and the largest edition to date, a total of 32 teams of world-class players – from England, Argentina, Switzerland, Italy, Chile, Belgium, Colombia, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Holland, France and, of course Spain - the XXXV Lexus International Polo Tournament is divided into three levels: high goal (19-20 goals); medium goal (10-12 goals); and low goal (4-6 goals).

The low and medium goal games are played on the Puente Hierro and Los Pinos fields respectively, apart from the Gold Cup final, held on the Río Sotogrande pitches which, together with the Los Pinos grounds, are also the venue for the high goal matches. The low goal competitions kick off at 11am, with the medium and high goal games starting at 5pm, and complemented by a parallel range of social and leisure events, a memorable, fun-filled and action-packed day out for all the family is assured.

With a total of nine polo fields, clubhouse, restaurant, marquée, sunny terraces, polo academy, stables and specialist veterinary clinic, it’s no surprise that Santa María Polo Club is fast becoming one of the finest high goal centres in the world. But never ones to rest on their laurels, the Club have recently unveiled an ambitious expansion programme aimed at consolidating its pole position. Work begins next year on an imposing new clubhouse and impressive grandstand with shopping, services and events areas located at the Los Pinos grounds, to be followed over the next few years with luxury hotels and private residences, together with a Wellness Centre and clinic.

The ancient inscription on a stone tablet next to a polo ground north of Kashmir succinctly sums up the sentiments of both players and aficionados some 4,000 years on: ‘Let other people play at other things, the King of Games is still the Game of Kings’.



Santa María Polo Club
Finca Los Pinos, Ctra. A7 (Direction Málaga), Exit A-133, Sotogrande, San Roque, Cádiz
Tel: (+34) 956 610 012
Fax: (+34) 956 610 132
Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 61 - 2006

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