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Tue 25th Sep 2018

FIP European Championships Underway

Italy, Azerbaijan and Ireland off to a flying start

The FIP European Championships kicked off at the Villa a Sesta Polo Club in Italy on Thursday 20 September, with 10 teams travelling from the length and breadth of Europe to participate. Disappointingly, England is not represented in this event, with the HPA Chairman Stephen Hutchinson’s Ireland being the closest team for the home supporters to rally behind. With four matches on the first day, host country Italy, got off to a flying start on Thursday 20 September with a 7-5 victory against rivals Spain, swiftly followed by Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz favourites and strong outsiders Azerbaijan, who defeated The Netherlands 7-3. Germany completely outscored Switzerland in their debut match 13-4½ with France taking home the final win of the day 5-1½ against Slovakia. Following a rest day, play recommenced on Saturday 22 September with another four matches. Azerbaijan continued their winning streak against France 8-4, followed by Ireland’s debut match against The Netherlands, which they won narrowly 7½-7. Italy took home their second match of the competition 10-3½ against Austria in their tournament premier, and Spain finally turned their tables with a 9-7½ win against Switzerland.
On Sunday 23 September, the mounted teams paraded through local town Arezzo holding aloft their nations’ flag alongside a fleet of vintage cars to celebrate the Championships, with an official presentation in the town’s square.
Play continued yesterday, Monday 24 September, with Ireland defeating France 7-7½ followed by an Azerbaijani win over Slovakia 11-7. The Final is scheduled to take place on Sunday 30 September, and with the Ladies’ European Championships starting today, keep an eye on our social media platforms for updates or click here to find out more about the tournament.
The FIP European Championships Teams:
Azerbaijan (8): Fabian Bolanteiro (3), Elchi Jamalli (2), Rashad Hasanov (0) & Agustin Kronhaus (3)
Slovakia (7): Pepe Santamarina (3), Justo Santamarina (0) Felipe Kelly (4 – now injured and to be replaced) & Ivan Weiss (0)
Ireland (7): Creighton Boyd (0), Stephen Hutchinson (0), Mikey Henderson (4) & Max Hutchinson (3)
Germany (8): Niklas Steinle (1), Caspar Crasemann (3), Niclas Sandweg (1) & Caesar Crasemann (3)
Italy (8): Martin Joaquin (4), Edoardo Ferrari (3), Lucas Bertola (0) & Gualterio Gioro (1)
Switzerland (7): Sascha Pictet (1), Martin Lugin-Buhl (2), Simon Lugin-Buhl (2) & Tito Gaudenzi (2)
France (8): Ludovic Pailloncy (1), David Amar (1), Louis Jarrige (3) & Florent Garaud (3)
Austria (8): Diego Braun (4), Robert Kofler (1), Martin Bleier (2) & Walter Scherb (1)
The Netherlands (6): Maurice van Druten (2), Aki van Andel (2), Philip de Groot (1) & Philip van der Kloot Meyburg (1)
Spain (8): Xavier Cunill (0), Antonion Ayesa (3), Tuki Ruiz Guiñazú (4) & Alfonso Figar (1)
Photograph: On Sunday 23 September, the FIP European Championships teams paraded through local town Arezzo to mark the first weekend of the tournament. Courtesy of Villa a Sesta Polo Club

Fri 21st Sep 2018

End of Season Handicap Changes

HPA releases handicap list

On Thursday 20 September, the HPA released their 2018 end of season handicap changes. These changes are causing significant debate as, broadly speaking it means that many -1 and -2 goal players will move up handicap. Those who have played in 8 goal Victor Ludorum tournaments will automatically move up to a 0 rating. Whilst it is an HPA rule, (reference Part Two, Annex B) it is only now that the movement of this bracket of players has been encouraged by the HPA to be enforced. The idea is that the ‘bottleneck’ of -1 and -2 level players will be alleviated, and this can only be for the good. Handicapping is a contentious issue and is certainly one that is well overdue for reform, but it is the way in which the changes have been made that has overshadowed the good intentions behind the directive.

The HPA’s guidelines (including that a player with a 1 goal handicap should be judged on being able solely to have a 50 percent chance of taking the ball from the halfway line to goal, with no specification of speed or marking) has been met with derision. The directive has also been widely criticised by clubs and members due to lack of consultation from the HPA being cited as an issue. Prior to the release of the handicap changes, Polo Times was informed that the Club’s Handicap Committees received the following email on 4 September regarding the proposed changes. We contacted the HPA on Monday 17 September regarding this email and received no comment.
The HPA guidelines for handicapping issued on the 4th September 2018
The clubs were asked to use the following guide:
“I think that all we can say is that with the -2s being pushed up to -1 and the -1s to 0 then the better 0s will need to go +1 and the better 1s should then go to +2 and so on.
In essence, if a player has a 50/50 chance of running to goal from the halfway line or other players are turning on his back hand, they should probably be 1."
The following two emails were sent from the HPA regarding the matter: a factual email and a rationale email, as well as a link to the changes – http://www.hpa-polo.co.uk/eos-handicap-changes/.
Email One: 
Dear All,

Please circulate this to all your members.

The lists can also be seen on the HPA website.

Many clubs have done their best to follow the guidelines below but inevitably some have interpreted the guidelines differently. Clubs are therefore being offered the opportunity to review the handicaps awarded to their members in the light of the handicaps awarded to players at other clubs. If any player is unhappy, they should ask their club to put forward their case, copied to the HPA. Please note that the proposed tournament conditions for 2019 will not allow anyone to play in the 8 goal and above unless they are 0 goals.
The guidelines in Annex B of the Blue Book state as follows:
·      A –2 goal player may play in tournaments up to 6 goals and a club may award a –2 handicap to a playing member once they have passed the rules test and are considered safe. The club must inform the HPA in writing that their member has been raised to –2.
·      A –1 goal player may play in any tournaments up to 12 goals for which he is eligible. A player should be raised to -1 once they have become an established and playing member of the club.
·      A 0 goal player may play in any tournaments, including High Goal, for which he is eligible. A player should be raised to 0 once they are safe to play 8 goal or above and have achieved success in tournaments

In addition, Stewards have endorsed the principle that the Committee should not protect the younger players to the extent that they have done to date and should move towards putting younger players up in handicap more readily to encourage them to play to their handicap and to allow other young players a chance.
If you do not appear on either handicap list and believe you are a full playing member of the HPA then please contact the HPA office.
Kind regards,
Lucinda Wright 
Membership, Communication and Passports
Email Two: The Rationale
Dear Clubs
Please pass on to your members.
The main reasoning for reaffirming the handicap rationale is explained below:
The minus handicap bracket was originally an introductory level. There will always be exceptions to the rule but it seemed odd that a player could hold a minus handicap year upon year if they were playing regularly. Indeed there are players out there that have held a -2 handicap for 5 to 10 years, which doesn’t seem right for an introductory level handicap. This is replicated for -1.
There is a huge number of minus goal players (approx. 90% of the playing membership) which creates a bottle neck at this level. Granted we have shifted the bottle neck upwards but we hope that it will have elongated somewhat, making the handicap system more fair, understanding it is not a perfect system.
The big clubs have artificially kept players down, for a variety of reasons.
It is hoped it will foster development and growth in the sport. It is a sport where seemingly no one wants get better!
This isn’t a new concept. A number of low goal clubs have been consulted and though some have disagreed with our rationale, there are more who have seen this as a positive move.  As stated we are simply reaffirming the handicap rationale. But as a low goal polo manager put it, it has ‘the aim of creating a more balanced polo system that will allow players lower down to flourish more readily.’
Thank you for your understanding
Kind regards
Will Mawby MBA
There has been general concern about these changes over the past week, with much controversy over the handicap rules as stated in Part Two Annex B. Clubs have been quoted as saying, “During a period of change their needs to be a period of consultation with those affected, which we feel has not been given to players by the HPA.” 
We have also received the subsequent comments following the announcement:
Comment One: “Many low goal teams have gone up 3 goals overnight from a -1 team to an uncompetitive 2 goal team – resulting in that we need to change the pro… and then need to livery horses to a different yard … potentially change Club to where the new pro is based etc ?!”
Comment Two: “The timing could not be worse as low goal polo is already on its knees. The HPA need to make time to visit every Club in the country at least once every three years to get a better understanding of what is happening at every level of the sport before making any further changes – the low goal patron's polo enjoyment is equally valid as the higher goal players!”
Comment Three: “The HPA's arrogance beggars’ belief. The end of season handicaps are a complete shambles – full of inconsistency and bias.”
Clubs will now go through a two week ‘teething period’ following the handicap changes, with members invited to speak to their Club representatives to share their opinions. 
We would be very interested to hear your views. Should you wish to share your opinions on the new HPA handicaps with us, please contact Polo Times here

Thu 20th Sep 2018

The 54th Jockey Club Open

Second Semi Final cancelled

Following 45mm of rain on Tuesday 18 September, the second Jockey Club Open Semi Final between Las Monjitas and Pilará Black Label was cancelled. Taking into account the fact that the Final is scheduled for Saturday 22 September and with The Tortugas on the horizon, as well as The Hurlingham and Argentine Open qualifiers, the decision was made to place the two highest scoring teams, thus far, into the Final on Saturday. Pilará Black Label will come up against La Dolfina Brava I at a venue, which will be confirmed tomorrow. If it cannot be played at The Jockey Club in San Isidro, it is more than likely that it will be played at The Alfredo Lalor Headquarters in Pilar.

The 54th Jockey Club Open Final Teams:
Pilará Black Lable (29): Julio Novillo Astrada (7), Juan A García Grossi (7), Alejandro Muzzio (8) & Matías Torres Zavaleta (7)
La Dolfina Brava I (27): Diego Cavanagh (8), Cristian Laprida (8), Poroto Cambiaso (1) & Adolfo Cambiaso (10)
Photograph: The 54th Jockey Club Open Semi Finals have been rained off causing a change in schedule. Courtesy of the AAP

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Mon 10th Sep 2018
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Fri 7th Sep 2018
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Thu 6th Sep 2018
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Thu 6th Sep 2018
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Wed 5th Sep 2018
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Tue 4th Sep 2018
The Guards Ladies’ Charity Tournament for the Lord Patrick Beresford Trophy
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Mon 3rd Sep 2018
Sotogrande wins for La Indiana, Ayala & Sotoisla
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Fri 31st Aug 2018
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