Introduction to the Polo Scene in Sotogrande

Sotogrande, renowned for its luxurious lifestyle and first-class amenities, is also celebrated for its vibrant polo scene. This prestigious sport, often referred to as the “Game of Kings”, has become an integral part of Sotogrande’s cultural fabric, attracting enthusiasts and players from around the world.

History and Evolution of Polo in Sotogrande

Polo was introduced to Sotogrande in the early 1960s by the visionary entrepreneur Joseph McMicking, who was captivated by the sport’s elegance and dynamism. Since then, polo has flourished, becoming a cornerstone of the community. The sport’s evolution is marked by the establishment of prestigious clubs and the hosting of international tournaments, significantly contributing to Sotogrande’s reputation as a premier polo destination.

The polo season in Sotogrande is a highlight of the social calendar, featuring a series of high-level tournaments that reach their peak during the summer months. The International Polo Tournament is the crown jewel, attracting elite players and affluent spectators. This event not only showcases top-tier polo skills but also provides a social platform for networking and celebration, set against the stunning landscapes of Sotogrande.

Polo in Sotogrande

Sotogrande has solidified its position as a global polo hub, comparable to iconic destinations such as Argentina, England, the United States, France and Dubai. The quality of its facilities, the organisation of high-calibre tournaments, and the participation of international elite players position Sotogrande among the most prestigious places to play polo. This global recognition attracts fans and professionals from around the world, reaffirming its status as a polo epicentre.

In Sotogrande, polo is more than a sport: it is a lifestyle. The elegance of the game and the camaraderie between players and spectators foster a unique social environment. Exclusive events, glamorous parties and charity functions revolve around polo matches, offering residents and visitors a taste of Sotogrande’s luxurious lifestyle.

What is Polo and How is it Played?

Polo is an exciting and competitive sport that pits two teams of four players each, riding on horseback. The main objective is to score more goals than the opposing team by hitting the ball through the goalposts.

Polo Horse and player

Essential Equipment

  • Helmet: Mandatory for all players, grooms, and assistants during tournaments and matches, with a regulation safety harness.
  • Mallet: Handled with the right hand, made of flexible bamboo cane, with height adjusted to the horse’s size, ranging from 48 to 54 inches (1.22 to 1.37 metres).
  • Elevator Bit: Lifts the horse’s head and provides control to the rider.
  • Martingale: Used to properly position the horse’s head.
  • German Rein: Forces the horse to flex its neck, allowing maximum control for the rider.
  • Tail: Must always be braided, tied, and folded.
  • Boots and Kneepads: Protect the rider, without buckles or buttons that could damage other players’ equipment.
  • Bandages: Support and protect the horse’s legs.
  • Ball: Made of wood or plastic, weighing 120/135 grams with a diameter of 78/80 mm.

The Game

  • The Horse: Crucial in polo, representing between 60% and 80% of the player’s performance. They can reach speeds of up to 70 km/h.
  • Handicap: Measures the player’s skill on a scale from -2 to 10. The sum of individual player handicaps results in the team’s handicap.
  • Team: Composed of four players with specific positions:
    • Number 1: Forward
    • Number 2: Attack and midfield
    • Number 3: Playmaker
    • Number 4: Defence (back)
  • Chukkers: Matches divided into seven-minute periods. In Sotogrande, tournaments are played in 6 chukkers for high and medium handicap and 5 chukkers for low handicap.

The Field

  • Dimensions: Maximum length of 275 m and minimum of 230 m, with a maximum width of 146 m and minimum of 130 m.
  • Goals: Two wicker posts, three metres high, separated by 7.30 m.

Main Rules

  • Strikes: Performed from both the right and left side. These can be forward, backward (backhander), or “neck shot” (under the horse’s neck).


  • Incorrect mallet use: Prohibited to hit the ball or insert the mallet between the horse’s legs.
  • Body check: Not allowed to push the opponent with the horse’s body.
  • High mallet: Cannot hook the opponent’s mallet above the shoulders.
  • Line crossing: Prohibited to cross the ball line if another player is already on that line.
  • Line crossing II, Interference: The player crossing the ball line perpendicularly or diagonally commits a foul.
  • Right of way: Players must yield based on the direction of the ball.
  • Head-on approach: If two players approach the ball from opposite directions, they must veer left to avoid a collision.


  • Game Start: Begins with a “throw-in,” where the umpire throws the ball between the teams.
  • Bell: Rung at the end of the 7-minute chukker.
  • Flag: The “banderillero” stands behind the goal line and waves a red flag for a goal. If not a goal, they signal the side where the ball went out.

Polo is a sport of great skill and strategy, where coordination between rider and horse is essential for success on the field. In Sotogrande, polo competitions are a highlight, attracting players and fans from around the world.

The Exciting 2024 Polo Season in Sotogrande

Sotogrande is gearing up for another thrilling polo season, reaffirming its status as a top destination for this elegant sport. The 2024 season, organised by Ayala Polo Club in collaboration with Minuto7, promises a calendar filled with competitive, high-calibre events that will captivate enthusiasts and newcomers alike from May 28th to September 15th.

Santa Maria Polo Club

Key Events of the 2024 Polo Season

The season kicks off with the Copa Bienvenida KE Sotogrande from May 28th to June 2nd. This opening event sets the stage for the intense competition and sportsmanship that define Sotogrande’s polo scene.

Following closely is the Joseph McMicking Cup from June 6th to 16th, continuing the tradition of high-level play. The month concludes with the Spanish Open from June 20th to 30th, featuring low and medium handicap tournaments (6-8 and 10-12 goals, respectively).

July begins with a tribute through the Memorial Manuel Prado & Colón de Carvajal and the Memorial Founder Enrique Zóbel, held simultaneously from July 4th to 14th. These memorials not only honour significant figures in the sport but also highlight the ongoing commitment to polo excellence.

The highly anticipated 53rd International Polo Tournament begins in late July, with the Bronze Cup from July 22nd to 27th. This prestigious tournament also includes the Silver Cup (July 29th to August 17th) and culminates with the Gold Cup (August 19th to 31st), showcasing top-tier polo in three categories: Low, Medium, and High Handicap.

The season concludes with the San Enrique de Guadiaro Cup from September 5th to 9th and the Farewell Cup from September 12th to 15th, offering participants and spectators the final opportunity to enjoy the sport throughout the year.


Top Teams and Players in the 2024 Polo Season

The 2024 polo season in Sotogrande will be spectacular, with a stellar lineup of teams and players. The Dubai Polo Team, winners of the recent Gold Cups, and the MB Polo Team of Mateen Bolkiah, which returned with strength in 2023, are ready to shine. Sainte Mesme, with its Franco-Luxembourgish origin, remains a strong contender, while Amanara and Jolly Roger aim to repeat and improve their feats from last year.

Among the players, Pablo Mac Donough and Facundo Pieres, both giants of Argentine polo, promise to showcase their talent. Young prodigies Camilo and Bartolomé Castagnola (H), along with Adolfo Cambiaso (N), are set to dazzle with their electrifying play. And we cannot forget Juan Martín Nero, one of the best defenders of all time, returning to his beloved fields of Sotogrande.

With this mix of experience and youth, the 2024 season promises to be an event filled with excitement, speed, and unforgettable moments. Don’t miss it!

Polo Players Sotogrande

A Hub for Polo Enthusiasts

Every year, the fields of Los Pinos and Ayala become a meeting point for international players and fans, drawn by the vibrant community atmosphere and the rich history of the sport in the region. The 2024 season offers continuous entertainment, networking opportunities, and the unique lifestyle experience that Sotogrande offers. In addition to polo matches, there are numerous surrounding activities:

  • Pavilion Shopping Area: Located at the Los Pinos Headquarters Pavilion, featuring shops with international brands selected for their successful track record and high quality for the International Polo Tournament.
  • Last Chukker: The perfect setting to enjoy the polo atmosphere with live music, cocktails, and unique experiences.
  • Kids’ Zone: A children’s leisure area where kids can have fun while their parents fully enjoy the tournament.
  • Food Trucks and More: A variety of food trucks offering diverse culinary options, including Argentine grill and ice cream, and a drinks bar.

How to Participate and Enjoy Polo in Sotogrande

Free Entry to Polo in Sotogrande

We are pleased to announce that entry to polo matches in Sotogrande is completely free. We encourage everyone, whether residents or visitors, to attend and enjoy the exciting polo matches. It is a unique opportunity to experience this thrilling sport up close and enjoy the exclusive atmosphere that Sotogrande offers.

Match Locations

Ayala Polo Club:

Address: Hacienda de San Enrique, Km 1, 11312 San Enrique A-7, Exit 133; Road, A-2102, San Roque, Cádiz, Spain
GPS Coordinates: 36°18’53.9″N 5°17’33.7″W

Ayala Polo Club, Los Pinos Headquarters:

Address: Finca Los Pinos, Ctra. A7, Exit A133, Autovía del Mediterráneo, 11310. Sotogrande, Cádiz, Spain
GPS Coordinates: 36°17’36.5712″N 5°17’6.3204″W

Website for Schedules and Locations

For match schedules and locations, visit the official Ayala Polo Club website: This site provides an updated calendar of all scheduled matches, as well as detailed maps for each location.

Polo en Sotogrande

Polo Facilities and Clubs in Sotogrande

Sotogrande boasts world-class polo facilities among the best in the world. These clubs offer superb fields and top-notch amenities, creating a haven for players and fans alike. Known for combining sporting excellence with social interaction, these venues are established as focal points for the polo community in Sotogrande.

1. Ayala Polo Club

Founded by Iñigo Zobel, Ayala Polo Club has played a crucial role in the development of polo in Sotogrande. With exceptional fields and a polo school, the club is known for its family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Ayala Polo Club focuses not only on competition but also on the training and development of players of all levels, offering classes and clinics throughout the year.

2. Santa María Polo Club

One of the most prestigious and recognised clubs in Sotogrande and Europe. Santa María Polo Club stands out for its high-quality facilities and for hosting some of the world’s most important tournaments, including the famous International Polo Tournament. The club features several top-level competition fields, among the best maintained in Europe. Additionally, it offers a complete experience with luxury hospitality areas, restaurants, bars, and social events attracting an international clientele.

3. Iridike Polo Club

Iridike Polo Club, founded by Luciano Irazábal and his wife Marina, began in Uruguay with leather goods and polo horses. Over time, it expanded to include a polo school and developed facilities in Sotogrande, including an estate with holiday villas and the High Competition Club Puente de Hierro. The latter boasts three fields and over 80 stalls, serving as a key centre for low handicap polo in the region.

4. Polo Valley

Distinguished by its comprehensive approach to polo and wellbeing. This club not only provides facilities for playing and training in polo but also offers personalised training programmes focusing on physical condition and technique. With a relaxed atmosphere and an emphasis on the learning experience, Polo Valley is ideal for beginners and players looking to refine their technique in a quieter, controlled environment.

Each of these clubs contributes to the rich polo culture in Sotogrande, making it one of the most attractive destinations for lovers of this sport. With its world-class fields, training programmes, social events, and strong sense of community, Sotogrande remains an international polo epicentre.

Polo Horses

Why Sotogrande?

With a long tradition as the venue for world-class polo events, Sotogrande continues to be a landmark for this sport. Its facilities are among the best globally, and its community warmly embraces the spirit of polo. Whether you are an experienced enthusiast or a curious observer, the polo season in Sotogrande offers something exciting for everyone, making it a must-visit destination for all who appreciate this dynamic and elegant sport.

Rita Godino, David Bizcocho and Gloria Perez Lozano standing in the press meeting at Cancha II in Sotogrande
Rita Godino, David Bizcocho and Gloria Perez at the 2024 Polo season press conference