IPC players to compete in Mexico By Alex Webbe
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Brandon Phillips, Martin Pepa and Nic Roldan will be traveling to Mexico City this
coming weekend to compete against a Mexican polo team that will include Polo Hall of
Famers Carlos and Memo Gracida. Joining them will be the president of the Mexican
Polo Federation, Guillermo Steta.
Billed as Mexico vs. “the Rest of the World”, Phillips, Roldan, Pepa and Steta will face
Carlos and Memo Gracida, Valerio Aguilar and Alvaro Fernandez. The two Gracidas
and Fernandez competed this past season as La Herradura in 20-goal competition
at the International Polo Club. Martin Pepa has competed at IPC over the years with
Black Watch, Circa and a number of other teams. For the last few years Brandon
Phillips and Nic Roldan have been promoted by the media as a couple of the more
popular faces of polo at the International Polo Club while Steta has competed in
medium goal competition at IPC the last few years.
The match will take place at Campo Marte, the historic military polo ground in the heart
of Mexico City and is expected to attract a crowd of over 10,000.
The sport of polo has deep roots in Mexican sports history as Mexico began
playing polo internationally by the early 20th century, even hosting the World Polo
Championship games in 2008. Mexican businessman Manuel Escandon-Barron was
credited with bringing the game back to Mexico after watching the game being played
in the United States in the late 19th century. Mexico fielded a polo team in the 1900
Olympics, the first time polo appeared in the Olympic Games, and finished in 3rd place
in the 1936 Olympics, behind Argentina and England.
Under the patronage of General Camacho, the four Gracida brothers (Gabriel,
Guillermo, Alejandro and Jose) represented Mexico in international competition on the
polo scene, even managing to capture the United States Open championship in 1946.
World-class players emerged from Mexico in Antonio Herrera, the Bermudez brothers
and the Gracida off-springs.
In the late 1970s the United States “hijacked” top Mexican players Memo and Carlos
Gracida, both of whom became a central part of the American polo scene for nearly four
decades. Memo Gracida holds the record for most number of US Open Championships
won with 16. Carlos is in second place with 9 US Open wins but holds the record in
England with 10 British Open Championships to his credit. Their cousin Ruben Gracida
made his way to Florida where he competed at the highest-level, attaining an 8-goal
handicap and won a couple of US Opens as well.
“Polo has an historically strong fan base here,” said Guillermo Steta, “a base that
includes several former presidents.”
The Camacho Cup, honoring Mexico's polo-loving president, General Manuel Avila
Camacho, was inaugurated in 1941 in Mexico City. Although first dominated by the
United States with wins in 1941, 1946, 1974 and 1976, Mexico has held the cup since
1981, with wins in 1981, 1988 and 2009.
It is not surprising that once an influential Mexican businessman, Manuel Escandon-
Barron, saw the game of polo played during a visit to the United States in the late 19th
century that he would initiate games with his friends. Attracted to the fast-paced play
that requires a superior horse and riding skill, Mexicans embraced the fledgling sport.
By 1881 the first polo club, Jockey Club Mexicano, was started; presently there are six
professional polo clubs in the country. international polo club polo players mexico