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Sotogrande Polo, Costa del sol Polo, Santa Maria Polo Club.

by Maria Elena Paganini

Interview to Oscar Nieto, General Manager Santa Maria Polo Club

 

You achieved great success with your début; this year the Club has been included in no less than the Grand Slam in the World Polo Tour Category! How has the Santa Maria Polo Club reacted to such an award?

With great pride! To be placed in the Grand Slam category is a clear recognition, not only of the great competition that we have developed, but also of the excellence of our polo fields and our installations. Santa Maria Polo Club is without doubt the best polo club in the world, since none other is able to host a month long competition with so many competing teams.

-Do you think we are approaching an era when the Spanish are getting a clearer understanding of the game of polo itself, and do not just judge it by its lifestyle?

There is no doubt that each time we have more and more visitors. Last year we counted more than 88,000 and many of them are becoming more and more keen on this sport – we notice this when the stands are full of spectators who do not leave until the game is well and truly over. If, over and above this high standard of sport that we already are offering, we include the total leisure package, it is clear that the public will enjoy a complete experience at our events.

-Sports wise, who will be the big stars in this summer of 2016?

We can confirm that this summer we will be seeing the 5 best players in the world. This, I might add, is something quite exceptional outside the Argentine Triple Crown. This summer we will be welcoming Adolfo Cambiaso (nº 1) who returns with the team from Dubai, Facundo Pieres (nº 2), Cambiaso’s great rival, who will be playing with the Ayala Polo Team after a year without appearing in the international circuit.

Juan Martin Nero (nº 3), the best back, number 4, he plays with Lechuza Caracas as usual, and, finally, David “Pelón” Stirling (nº 4) and Pablo MacDonough (nº 5) who participate in the team of Brunei Amibah.

All these players have already reached the Gold Cup in various years, but 2016 means you must beat Adolfo Cambiaso whose Dubai team have not lost a single match in the whole year.

This year we do not just have the winning hand, we have the best FULL HOUSE in our hand and this will ensure a great battle between the teams to win their place on the podium.

Apart from the Magnificent Five, other stars of the polo world will take part in the show, such as Eduardo Novillo Astrada, Alejo Taranco, or Facundo Sola.

-This will be the 45th International Polo Tournament; what news, other than sports news, can the Club offer us for this year?

The magnificent installations of the Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande, which are situated in the countryside surrounded by 4 polo fields and are only 30 minutes away from places like Marbella, Gibraltar, or 15 minutes from Estepona, provide new opportunities for visitors to enjoy the afternoons and evenings to the full.

Also, and this is great news, there with be a festival of concerts, and two new restaurants with shelter, which are operated by well-known names in the catering world.

This year we will repeat the Food-trucks Experience, with 6 different types of cuisine, where families can relax and enjoy afternoons and evenings of tapas after the polo matches, or where spectators can come before the concerts and the “After Polo”.

As we have done each year, we will have the shopping village with more than 20 fashion labels, a childrens’ play area with zip lines, rock climbing walls…. And other novelties which we will reveal when the time comes, but which we are sure will be much appreciated by the public throughout the Costa.

– What is the date for the start of the Tournament, and the closing date? (also regarding the Bronze Cup and Silver Cup).

The International Tournament starts on the 27th July, until the 28th August. This makes 33 days of continuous matches and events. As happens every year, the activities are intense and continuous.

The principal finals of the high Handicap Class are:
Bronze Cup, 11th August
Silver Cup, 13th August
Gold Cup, 28th August

But we must not forget that there are also the finals of the medium handicap class, where the standard of play is impressive, with the participation of the best teams of the world in this category.

I would also like to add that from Holy Week and Easter, until the inauguration of the International Tournament, the polo activities in the club do not stop, with tournaments nearly every weekend. On these days, we offer dining, shopping and leisure activities to complement the polo, so visitors can enjoy some unforgettable spring evenings.

-Sotogrande is the world capital of polo, the club always provides perfect organisation at each competition, international sponsors attend year after year, what else does the club expect for this year 2016?

The club is situated in an ideal place for the organisation of corporate events, weddings and private meetings, and the polo games become an additional feature to help increase the visitors’ experience. Premium Sports & Marketing (www.psmk.com), apart from organising the International Polo Tournament, is the agency responsible for managing all these events and other top class meetings, spread over 3 separate venues in the Sotogrande area.
We have contracted high quality professionals and have done deals with big catering organisations, MICE agencies, wedding planners, etc. in order to offer new features which will enhance the quality of all types of events. The reaction has been spectacular and all our local partners (hotels, restaurants, golf courses, water sports, etc.) have got together to provide a wide range of offers which our premium platforms will bring to future events.
On the other hand, we are very keen on our new riding project, where professionals and amateurs in the world of international riding competitions, can find a model similar to that in Palm Beach, Florida (USA). This is when the winter competitions during the cold months of Europe can be combined with the warmth, the outdoor life and the top class facilities of Sotogrande.

 
 

Published in Blog de Maria Elena Paganini |