SB Polo WCT Qualifier a HitBy Paige Beard June 28, 2011
Goal-hungry gals from three continents descended on the polo fields of Santa Barbara June 23-26 for the Santa Barbara Polo Club’s Second Annual Ladies World Championship Tournament Qualifier, presented by Terry Ryken’s Sotheby’s in support of Girls Inc.
The Estancia Ventarron and Empire Polo teams wound up battling it out for the top prize on Sunday before a crowd of more than 1,500, with Estancia Ventarron ultimately crowned the Santa Barbara WCT winners with a final score or 8-5. But the action-packed weekend started on a Thursday with a Calcutta team draw for charity, surfing party and Trésor de Vintage trunk show, in addition to the polo festivities.
The tournament was played round-robin style over two days, with competition getting underway June 24 as Terry Ryken’s Sotheby’s took on Empire Polo in 2-4 goal play. Polo players are identified by their handicap rating – based on many factors including horsemanship, talent and the number of goals they can be expected to score, from -2 to 10.
Empire Polo came out ahead of Sotheby’s after the first two chukkers. Playing for Empire was Roxy Keyfauver (1), Danielle Travis (0), Carolyn Stimmel (1) and Cybele Jordan (0). Sotheby’s consisted of Kristy Waters (2), Cecilia Cochran (1), Karen Reese of Aiken SC (1) and Megan Judge of Central Coast Polo (0).
Estancia Ventarron – Sunny Hale (3), Natascha Baecher(1), Kate Weber(0) and yours truly (Paige Beard, 0) – next held their own against Sotheby’s, then barely kept the lead against Empire by winning the last chukker by a single goal scored in the final 20 seconds. Going into the finals on Sunday Estancia Ventarron was on top with Empire close behind 5-4.
Saturday morning a group of players ripped, testing their mettle against the sea ― surfing! It was definitely age defying. Kristy Waters’s daughter Madison, age 8, took the wave rider trophy hands down. Other surf stars include Kate Weber, Carolyn Stimmel and Cecilia Cochran.
Later that afternoon, the entry-level matches began, with Holiday Inn Express/Urban Dog dominating Jaeger Le Coultre 6-2. Playing for Holiday Inn were Kim Garsed (0), Alice Zegers (-1) and Kendra Clark (-1). Swinging for Jaeger: Santa Barbara Polo Club manager Melanja Jones (0), Brinkley Erb (-1), Daisy Gabbard (-1) and Anita Wulff (0)
The next match saw Oldman Cooley beating Blanco Texas by three goals. The Oldman team consisted of Gabby Questal (0), Emma Stachowisz (-1), Erin Britten (0) and Susan Cooley/Julie Ronning (-1), while Blanco featured Claudia Uretz (0), Connel Erb(-1), Daisy Winner (-1) and Kerstie Allen (0)
On Sunday June 26 the matches rolled bright and early with the consolation game for the Entry Level players starting at 9 a.m. on Meekers’ field. Jaeger defeated Blanco by two to win third place. Ten-year-old Brinkley Erb made a very aggressive debut in her first ladies tournament, carrying the ball down the field and bumping like nobody’s business.
The Entry Level Final between Oldman Cooley and Holiday Inn was a horse race. Gabby Questal dominated from the first chukker, but Kim Garsed and Katy Connell answered back with Kendra Clark scoring one of the remaining goals. It was competitive down to the very last five seconds, with Erin Britten pulling out all the stops and scoring on a pass claim victory, Oldman 5 / Urban Dog 4. Gabby was crowned MVP and Kim Garsed’s first and fourth chukker horse Eko won Best Playing Pony. Alice Zegers was honored Best Sportswoman.
The WCT Final began at 1 p.m. with all three teams parading onto the field to continue Friday’s round-robin play.
Empire and Sotheby’s took the field for the first two chukkers, playing fast and furious for what wound up a very close match. Sotheby’s Kristy Waters was on fire and had a lot of help from Karen Reese and Cecilia Cochran. But Empire held strong, with Carolyn Stimmel and Cybele Jordan scoring goals. At the end of the two chukkers it was Empire on top, 11-10.
Estancia next took on Sotheby’s and ended the two chukkers with a narrow lead of 7-5. Next up were Estancia and Empire battling it out for the win. It was Sunny Hale and Kate Weber who took charge. Danielle Travis answered back with a goal but in the end Estancia was on top. Kate Weber received the MVP award and Connie Atkinson’s Machu Picchu, ridden by Carolyn Stimmel, was Best Playing Pony. Megan Judge won the Best Sportswomanship award for her umpiring, horse loaning and gear efforts.
But the weekend was about more than sport. At Thursday’s Calcutta the teams were auctioned off for charity and the girls modeled their Cheval polo jerseys. On Friday, in front of the clubhouse on Field 2, local KEYT anchor and Girls Inc. alum Paula Lopez was joined by 40 Girls Inc. members. Whodidily supplied cupcakes for the group, which partook of polo lessons. Sunny Hale gave Lopez some pointers, explaining the strokes and hits while the girls looked on. A Q&A session followed, then a foot mallet contest with the girls. That night the girls were feted at a barn party at the Centennial Café, joined in karaoke and dancing by the 12 goal players, club members and guests.
Saturday night’s festivities included a fabulous Trésor de Vintage trunk show and cocktail party where 20% of all the vintage clothing and accessories profits and the take from a silent auction (as well as net proceeds from the tournament) went to Girls Incorporated Greater Santa Barbara and Carpinteria ― “To Help Make Girls Strong, Smart and Bold!”
For more information about the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, visit www.sbpolo.com
The polo action was streamed live to www.livefrom.com , where it is archived for viewing on demand.
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