The Spectacular Sotogrande Polo Season is Finally Here!
Jun 29, 2023
IT’S POLO SEASON IN SOTOGRANDE
The exclusive resort of Sotogrande comes alive in Summer when the population expands from the year-round figure of 2,500 residents to some 12,000. Summer in Sotogrande is not only by the beautiful natural surroundings, beaches and beach clubs, golf and sailing, the most stunning properties but Polo, the sport of kings becomes the main attraction.
Fast moving, skillful and incredibly graceful, polo is a stellar spectator sport and where better to watch this exciting equestrian sport than the resort of Sotogrande.
The grounds are considered among the best in the world – incredible natural setting.
The season got underway in May with several tournaments leading up to the 52nd International Polo Tournament from 24th July to 26th August held at the Ayala Polo Club grounds.
One of the biggest polo events in the world sees 150 international teams taking part – including stars of the international polo scene. The international tournament has Bronze, Silver and Gold Cup tournaments staged consecutively over the four-week period.
A Social & Sporting Event
As much of a social event as a sporting fixture, these tournaments attract large audiences of up to 6,000 people for the international finals. Expect a vibrant, elite crowd made up of Sotogrande residents – including many well-known Spanish and international families – celebrities, royalty – the now King Charles, and sons William and Harry have all played more than a few chukkas here – public figures and politicians – and the attendant media presence.
The Polo season, which stretches from May to September will see some 1,300 horses, or polo ponies, compete in no less than 250 games. A game of incredible skill and dexterity – of both horse and rider – polo is simply mesmerizing to watch. Such is the speed and exertion, the players are allocated 4 horses each, changing their mount after each “chukka” of 7-8 minutes long. The thundering of hooves, the athletic riders, the sharp turns, the “thwack” of the polo mallet on the ball all make for the most exhilarating equestrian spectacle.
High goal polo is the equivalent of Premiership football – and the best players in the world have the same cache as other sporting superstars – the likes of Beckham, Ronaldo or Nadal.
There is no charge for spectators at the event, but VIP access is available with options on private enclosures with catering.
The After-Polo Scene
The ambience at the polo events in Sotogrande is refined yet relaxed and the grounds include bars, restaurants and shops to browse between games. The dress code is casual chic; for the gentlemen – shorts, polo shirts, linen shirts, summer dresses for the ladies, summer dresses and Panama hats for all.
Following the games, the mood remains low-key and family friendly, with barbecues, Argentinian grills, live music and legendary after parties.
Polo has been an integral part of Sotogrande since its inception in 1965 when American Filipino businessman Joseph McMicking decided to scour the coast of Southern Spain for a site on which to create a residential resort. He sent Enrique Zobel, one of the founders who discovered the 2,500 hactares of untouched natural paradise languishing on the coast of Cadiz, close to the river Guadiaro an avid player, which would soon become the basis of Sotogrande.
Polo’s Progress in Sotogrande
From the makeshift polo fields of the founders, no-one could predict that one day Sotogrande would be home to some of the finest polo fields in the world, and become host to 150 of the best teams from around the globe.
The growth of the resort was slow and steady, and whatever the initial vision of Joseph McMicking, 60 years on Sotogrande has surpassed all expectations; Sotogrande became a magnet for leading families, aristocrats and magnates – an elite, yet relaxed crowd, who relished the wide-open spaces as an opportunity to create superb sports facilities.
Decades later, Sotogrande’s reputation as a sporting paradise goes before it. Home not only to top class high goal polo, but also to championship golf, Valderrama has hosted numerous Volvo Masters tournaments along with the prestigious Ryder Cup in 1997. Add to this the beautiful marina – the Puerto Deportivo de Sotogrande – the leisure port was founded in 1987 along with the Yacht Club, the Real Club Marítimo de Sotogrande. With tennis, paddle tennis, gyms and spas, in this unique resort a healthy lifestyle is served.
Polo Fields of Gold
Over the years, as interest in the sport expanded, various polo fields have been created starting on the beach, in Paniagua, then Puente del Hierro, Santa María Polo Club and Ayala Polo Club at Hacienda de San Enrique.
Credited with reviving interest in Polo in Spain, Santa María has some of the finest facilities in the world, the club has 7 polo fields, 4 of which are world class. As well as the manicured turf, the club includes a children’s play area, shopping village, a gastro garden and bar area and is a hub for leisure in the Sotogrande summer season.
A haven of peace and tranquility for ten months of the year with a lively, summer season, Sotogrande is a beautiful place to live, especially for sports and nature lovers thanks to the stunning facilities for polo, golf, sailing and watersports. Located on the coastline of southern Spain where Malaga province meets Cadiz, the resort enjoys breathtaking sea views to Gibraltar and the African coastline. With breathtaking beaches, the area is bordered by the River Guadiaro and surrounded by protected Natural Park land.
With a vision to remain a “discreet paradise” Sotogrande has evolved with sensitivity, and well-planned, slow and steady property development has ensured that Sotogrande remains a haven of sport, greenery and wildlife the surrounding area offers excellent hiking and walking routes.
Polo Season Summer Fixtures
- 15-25 June 23th July: Spanish Open Tournament
- 29th June to 9th July: Memorial Tournament M. Prado/Colon de Carvajat
- 31st August – 3rd September: Copa de San Enrique de Guadiaro
- 7-10th September: Farewell Cup
- 24th July to 26th August: 52th International Tournament
- Bronze Cup July 24- July 29
- Silver Cup July 31-August 12
- Gold Cup August 14- August 25
Catch the Polo Bug
If polo captivates you, and you want to learn to play, there’s a superb facility on the outskirts of Sotogrande where you can learn to play, practice and soak up the polo ambience. Polo Valley covers 100 acres, with 3 polo fields, 150 stables and a 12-acre lake, accommodation and clubhouse.