United States Polo Association Women’s Open Championship

Experience the behind-the-scenes makings of a historic event at the National Polo Center in Wellington, Florida with Dr. Gregory Beroza, aka HorseDoc ‘Talking Horses.’

Runner-Up Members Team Dundas and Winners Team La Fe Receive Honors. Photo by GBeroza.

March 19, 2023 (Wellington, FL) — What a unique thrill it was covering this historic event. This is the first time in the history of the sport that the United States Polo Association exclusively showcased the final winning match on the #1 Polo Field at the 3pm Sunday Afternoon premier spot. For the first time there were five teams that met the extraordinary 24 goal limit (women’s rating) of to enter the pre-finals elimination competitions that took place earlier in the week at the Port Mayaca Polo Club near to Lake Okeechobee Florida.

The five competing teams in order of their finishing positions were:

1st Team La Fe  1) Winifred Branscum 1-goal; 2) Pamela Flanagan 5-goals; 3) Hope Arellano 8-goals; 4) Hazel Jackson 10-goals

2nd Team Dundas  1) Ana de la Fuente 1-goal; 2) Erica Gandomcar-Sachs 5-goals; 3) Mia Cambiaso 8-goals; 4) Nina Clarkin 10-goals; Sarah Siegel Magness (injured) 1-goal

3rd Team BTA  1) Sophie Grant 5-goals; 2) Maddie Grant 5-goals; 3) KC Kruger 6-goals; 4) Sarah Wiseman 7-goals

4th Team San Saba  1) Dawn Jones 5-goals; 2) Kylie Sheehan 5-goals; 3) Lottie Lamacraft 6-goals; 4) Lizzy Parsons 8-goals; Gillian Johnston (injured) 6-goals

5th Team El Cid Fitness  1) Heather Souto 5-goals; 2) Cecelia Cochran 5-goals; 3) Fatima Balzano 6-goals; 4) Mili Sanchez 8-goals

The United States Women’s Polo Association was the first and only exclusively women’s polo association in American polo. It was established in 1937 and dissolved two years later. Women were subsequently welcome into the current United States Polo Association (USPA) in 1972. While women were eligible to compete with men in polo championships, the Women’s Polo Open was officially recognized as an independent tournament in 2011 and has been played exclusively in south Florida since 2018.

Polo ponies on the field before the start of the match. Photo by GBeroza.

There has been a significant increase in women’s interest in polo and membership in the USPA so that the current goal rating for the Women’s Open was raised to 18-4 goals for the first time in tournament history. This year two of only nine 10-goal rated women polo players in the world competed in the 2023 Women’s Open. Nineteen-year-old Hope Arellano is the highest rated female American polo player at eight goals.

Team Le Fe took an early lead in the first Chukka, with two goals scored by Hope Arellano.  Nina Clarkin of Team Dundas answered with a goal but Team Dundas was unable to catch up to Team La Fe’s constant scoring during the match. Both teams fought hard throughout the entire match with every goal being hard earned. There was visibly intense competition between the two 10-goalers; Hazel Jackson and Nina Clarkin (both from England). There was equally intense competition between opposing team 8-goalers; Hope Arellano and Mia Cambiaso. Le Fe never lost their lead during the six chukkas of play. At half-time they had a 6-4 advantage. The game ended with Team La Fe 12 goals and Team Dundas six goals.

Emotional on-field winning by Team Le Fe. Photo by GBeroza.

On-Field winning Team Le connections. Photo by GBeroza.

Game’s end was especially emotional for winning Team La Fe. Both Teams were evenly matched, however, as winning Team La Fe member, Pamela Flannagan stated after the match, “I just think we wanted it more!” Both teams played their hearts out and the overflow crowd responded during the entire match and at its conclusion with their appreciation. At closing ceremonies, Team La Fe’s Hope Arellano received MVP and her mount ‘Macumba’ took Best Playing Pony honors.

Team La Fe MVP Hope Arellano with former 9-goal Dad Julio Arellano. Photo by GBeroza.

You can vieqw the full Youtube video coverage via https://www.youtube.com/@TalkingHorses/videos or listen to the podcast via www.WuzUpDoc.com Podcast site or Youtube.

What a thrill covering this event with friends like Angel Vasquez and Legendary Tony Cappola. The players are truly amazing athletes.

Ponies at the trailer before the match. Photo by GBeroza.

Dr. Gregory A. Beroza, DVM, DACVS, DABVP has been a practicing veterinarian and consultant for 42 years; and HorseDoc® ‘Talking Horses’® media host, author, and consultant since 2007. Dr. Beroza is a multimedia host and broadcasts his productions, including a new Podcast, via his WuzUpDoc Media website: www.WuzUpDoc.com. He can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social media sources.

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Dr. Beroza with announcer Tony Cappola-Angel Vasquez, Jr. Photo courtesy of GBeroza.