Eighteen teams, six nations: A record-breaking 2023 edition!
The 23rd edition of the Open de France de Polo (September 1st to 17th, 2023), born with this century, promises to be gigantic. And yet, since the beginning of its history, and even more so since 2020 when the tournament took a new turn, French polo‘s top event has always offered thrilling moments with world-class teams and players.
The apotheosis was reached in 2020 with the anthology game between two of the three current young wonders of Argentine polo, the Castagnola brothers, Barto and Jeta, in a match between Talandracas (France) and Les Lions (Great Britain) which ended with a score that was both overwhelming and extremely close: 14 to 15! But this year‘s French Open is sure to take on a whole new dimension, particularly with a record of 18 teams already entered. Thus, the French tournament outstrips major English ones such as the Queen‘s Cup and the British Open (Gold Cup) in terms of the number of teams entered.
To host all these teams, the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly has teamed up with the La Magdeleine club, which will host three of them and, as well as with Sainte-Mesme, who will host part of the tournament in the south of Paris. Some subsidiary cup matches will also be played at La Moinerie, located in the same geographical area. La Magdeleine, winner in 2021, and Sainte-Mesme, winner in 2009, 2011 and 2018, will of course be taking part in this edition of the Open.
Seven 8-goalers in Chantilly!
Beyond the numbers, it‘s the quality of the players that will also mark this 23rd edition, with some of the world‘s greatest professionals, led by Nico Pieres (h8), winner of the most prestigious and famous Argentine Open, which is played in the heart of Buenos Aires, in Palermo, the „Cathedral of polo“, in front of 18,000 spectators. The Argentine Open is reserved for the world‘s top forty players, fourteen of whom will be in Chantilly in September: a first for France!
In addition to Nico Pieres, the young prodigies Juan Matin Zubia (h8) and Rufino Bensadon (h7) will be in Chantilly for the title holder Talandracas, thus presenting the same formidable line-up as last year. Bautista Bayugar (h8, Los Dragones, FRA), La Dolfina players Guillermo Terrera (h8, Eternal J), Alejandro Muzzio (h8, Clinova, UK) and Diego Cavanagh (h8, Brittany Polo) and Facundo Llorente (h8, La Magdeleine, winner of the Franch Open in 2021 and recent Queen‘s Cup finalist) will also be present. Also of note is the return to Chantilly of Facundo Sola (h7), 12 years after his French Open victory with Murus Sanctus and who was a finalist in the Argentine Open in 2013 and 2018.
Six nations will be represented at the 2023 Open de France: Argentina, England (including the legendary Emlor team), Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and, of course, France with thirteen teams.
Women take centre stage
The Women‘s Open is not to be outdone, with the maximum possible number of eight teams already entered! Teams from Germany, England, Luxembourg and, of course, France will be joined by some of the world‘s greatest female players, including British 10-goalers Nina Clarkin and Hazel Jackson, and Argentine 9-goaler Lia Salvo, who is returning to the competition after the birth of her daughter India in April. Year after year, women‘s polo is progressing at lightning speed, and these matches are just as interesting to follow as those of men‘s polo or rather „mixed“ polo as women can take part in all the tournaments, like Dutchwoman Nicky Sen and Frenchwomen Isabelle Larenaudie and professional Elena Venot, who will be seen in the mixed Open de France.
These three weeks of top-level competition on the magnificent facilities of the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly are magical. Moments of encounter between the great Argentine players, who are very accessible, and the young French professionals, inspiring interactions, horses that are more and more extraordinary every year, matches every day, in the calm of the early hours of the week or in the excitement of the weekend, with live commentary and re-commentary in the evening in the Orangerie bar (particularly during the convivial ‚Vendredis du Polo‘ with asado and fiesta), parallel tournaments such as the highly competitive Trophée Castel, where you can also see some great players, and, to cap it all, a flamboyant and festive finals day.
The Open de France: The French polo event not to be missed. Access to the grounds is free, even on the days of the semi-finals and finals.
Photos by R&B Presse