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Summer, Sand & Polo

Passion and authenticity at the Ibiza Polo Club

By Tanja Horlacher, Photos By Aida Matai

Ibiza is known for its wide sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife. Water sports are a great choice on their own, and hikers and mountain bikers will also find what they are looking for here, in the heart of the Mediterranean. In its hilly interior, this Balearic Island offers visitors the opportunity to practice and learn a very special sport: polo, the sport of kings. Gabriel Iglesias and his wife Eva Márquez founded the Ibiza Polo Club at the heart of the island in 2012.

When playing polo, two teams, each consisting of four players on horseback on a grass playing field, try to get an approx. 8 cm ball into the opponent’s goal using a mallet. In the special Beach and Snow polo variations, the ball has a diameter of about 20 cm. The agile polo horses are changed regularly during the game. Players and animals are protected from injuries by elaborate equipment. A handicap system compensates for different performance levels.

After a very successful international career as a polo professional, Gabriel Iglesias was involved in beach polo tournaments in Palm Beach, Florida and Dubai. The next step was logical for Iglesias: “For me, Ibiza was an ideal place for this sport and in 2010 we organised the first Ibiza Beach Polo Tournament with some of the best players in the world, which was a great success for players, spectators and sponsors. Since then, the tournament has been held every year in August, and in 2019 it will be held for the 10th time. We founded the permanent base for the Ibiza Polo Club in 2012. At the moment, the club has 15 core members and a number of players who come regularly each year for a longer period, including many outstanding international players.”. Guests are always welcome. They can bring their own horses or hire a horse from the club. There are suitable horses for every level of player, so that beginners can ride calmer animals and professionals can try more lively ones.

In the balanced climate of the Balearic Islands, just two hours’ flight from London, the Ibiza Polo Club hosts numerous tournaments from April to October, many of them with ‘Low Goals’, i.e. with a low handicap at amateur level. “We love this particularly entertaining type of polo, in which the character of the event alone makes up a large part of its appeal. The mixed tournament, the Father-Son Cup, the Sunset Cup or the Ladies Polo Cup, all offer the public the opportunity to enjoy the cheerful atmosphere and excellent catering of the Ibiza Polo Club. The line-up for the tournaments is international: Great Britain is a homeland of elegant sport, and royals are also frequently seen at tournaments. On Ibiza, the British meet teams from Germany, Sweden and Austria, as well as teams from the United Arab Emirates, USA, Mexico, Canada, New Zeeland and, of course, Argentina, which is home to the best players in the world today.

The well-stocked tournament calendar is attracting more and more players to the island, and Gabriel Iglesias and Eva Márquez also offer year-round holiday and weekend packages, meaning the grass and sand playing fields are in use almost all the time. Beginners can take their first steps on a polo horse, whilst advanced players can improve their technique under the watchful eyes and with the help of international professionals. For non-riding family members, the island offers 300 sunny days a year, as well as numerous sporting and cultural alternatives for a relaxed, active family holiday.

The tailor-made, low-threshold teambuilding activities are a special feature of the Polo Club. Polo is a real team sport, every player must be able to instinctively rely on their colleagues and their horse. Communication, strategy, and focus on the common goal are the key to success, and here at the Ibiza Polo Club, company teams can gain unique and unforgettable experiences.
The Ibiza Polo Club is also an ideal location for weddings and other occasions. In May there is even the unique Wedding Polo Cup! There is no better connection for horse lovers in love. The large terrace is an ideal setting for formal gala dinners, lively cocktail receptions or a festive brunch. The operators organise the entire event and work together with the best professionals on the island to provide outstanding quality and service for the guests.

The ideal location of the Ibiza Polo Club allows easy access, only 15 minutes from the old town and the port, and 30 minutes from the airport. The club is of course happy to help visitors in any request they need such as accomotion, car rental, restaurant or VIP assistance. Spacious and automatic water supply await four-legged guests on site. Fenced free-wheeling facilities, a grass and sand playing field, as well as a sand track, allow the horses a lot of exercise and optimal training conditions.

Since the very beginning, Gabriel Iglesias has been driving the development of polo on Ibiza with a lot of energy and charisma, as well as his extensive network. “For the first Ibiza Beach Polo Cup in 2010, we succeeded in bringing the world’s best players to the Mediterranean island, and in the following years the best player in the world, Argentinian Adolfo Cambiaso, visited the club several times. The tournaments regularly feature outstanding personalities such as Julio Novillo Astrada, Hazel Jackson, Maru Giménez, Marianela Catagnola, and others”. The Ibiza Polo Club is the official branch of the Federation of International Polo (FIP) on the Balearic Islands. “In addition, the club has international partnerships with various other polo clubs, including El Rey in Cancún (Mexico), Polo Escape in Pattaya (Thailand), Desert Palm in Dubai, the DI Polo & Country Club in Tampa (Florida), and Polo Park Zurich in Switzerland.

The heart of the Ibiza Polo Club are its two founders and operators, Gabriel Iglesias and his wife Eva Márquez. With great passion, they work constantly to anchor the sport of polo on the island and beyond. With a variety of matches on offer, including low-threshold ones, they prove that the sport of kings does not necessarily have to be elitist. Those who are interested can come to watch, they can have lessons, and they can get a taste of polo, without many prerequisites. Then they may find out that it is not primarily a matter of their account balance, even if the sport costs more money than jogging, but that the focus is on team spirit, communication, horse sensibility, quick reactions, and common strategies. Young people are already playing their first small tournaments here, and are growing into the world of polo. And the sport of polo and the Ibiza Polo Club are also moving with the times, as the British main sponsor of the Ibiza Polo Tournament, who presented his meat-free burgers for the first time in Spain whilst catering the tournament in August, is proof of.

Gabriel Iglesias and Eva Márquez recognised signs of the times when they began to establish polo in Ibiza 10 years ago, perhaps laughable to some at that time. Much work, great passion and infinite time have been put into this project, and the success of the Ibiza Polo Club proves them right today. They have still not run out of ideas for the further development of the club. They want to be accessible to as many people as possible and give them the pleasure of polo, and they pursue this goal with great passion and authenticity.