The Ylvisaker Cup is played annually as a tribute to William T. “Bill” Ylvisaker, a true pioneer who was responsible for developing the Wellington, Florida, area into the high-goal winter polo capital of the world. Ylvisaker contributed extensively to the sport’s resurgence in the 70s and 80s. Out of the unwelcoming, wild and forbidding marsh on the edge of the Florida Everglades, he created the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club. Palm Beach Polo Club flourished and the town of Wellington sprung up around it, going on to successfully host not only, polo but numerous other equestrian sports.
As for Ylvisaker’s personal playing record, he began with two National Interscholastic Championships in the 40s, continuing his polo career at Yale University, ultimately reaching a 7-goal handicap at the height of his career. His notable wins include a 1972 U.S. Open Polo Championship victory, a USPA Gold Cup, and two Coronation Cup titles (Great Britain versus United States), among many others. Ylvisaker co-founded the Polo Training Foundation (PTF) in 1967, and served as its first Vice President. He also served as Chairman of the USPA from 1970 to 1975. He was inducted into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in 1996.
Established in 2003, the prestigious tournament has consistently fielded talented rosters of up to 16 teams over the past decade. New Bridge-La Dolfina captured back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007, the only consecutive wins by one team in the history of the Ylvisaker Cup.
Continuing action in the inaugural Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super Series, the Ylvisaker Cup will serve as the second qualifying leg of four prestigious national tournaments (Joe Barry Memorial, Iglehart Cup, Continental Cup), with each winning team moving on to the final event. Should a team win more than one qualifier, that team will automatically advance to the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super-Series Championship.
An innovative effort spearheaded by Tournament Committee Chairman, Stevie Orthwein, to draw more teams into medium-goal competition than in previous years, the Super Series will be played across multiple clubs, with the Championship Final hosted on April 9, 2023 by the National Polo Center – Wellington (NPC). Participating clubs include Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida) and Sarasota Polo Club (Sarasota, Florida) as well as the Wellington Polo Tour (WPT) led by Patagones Polo Club (Wellington, Florida) and a series of private fields falling under the WPT umbrella. Read more about the Super-Series here.
The Ylvisaker Cup will be guaranteed three Sunday matches on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One (January 29, February 5 and 12), including the Ylvisaker Cup Final on Sunday, February 12.
To reinforce the idea that all participation is encouraged, players may compete in as many events as they would like on either the same team or on different teams. Yet, if a player triumphs in more than one event but on different teams, that player must choose which team he or she would like to compete with in the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super-Series Championship and the other team may use a substitute. Qualifying teams must maintain at least two of their original members in order to play in the Championship.
In 2022, the battle for the Ylvisaker Cup featured a face-off between two newcomers, La Fe (Lucas Escobar, Robi Bilbao, Francisco Elizalde, Louis Devaleix, sub. Nico Diaz Alberdi) and CK Shack (Kristos “Keko” Magrini, Santino Magrini, Joaquin Panelo, sub. Bautista Panelo). Leaning on the firepower of Keko Magrini and distance shooting of Joaquin Panelo, CK Shack set the tone early, but a determined and cohesive La Fe team led by Elizalde fought back. Ultimately, the thrilling match came down to the final seconds of play, with CK Shack holding on to hoist the Ylvisaker Cup 12-11. Read article here.
Hosted and managed by the WPT and Patagones Polo Club, this year's competition will feature a deep field of 16 competitive teams vying for the prestigious title. Including many returning teams and players to South Florida and the WPT, Tonkawa, Dundas, Catamount, Loudmouth, SD Farms, G-Squared and G-String Polo Ponies join nine teams from the Joe Barry Memorial for the opportunity to advance to the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super-Series Championship.
Current reigning champions Kristos "Keko" Magrini (G-String Polo Ponies), Santino Magrini (Palm Beach Equine) and Joaquin Panelo (Old Hickory Bourbon) will each represent new teams, as 2022 runners-up Robi Bilbao, Francisco Elizalde and Louis Devaleix unite with Rufino Merlos in an attempt to avenge their prior finals loss.
Three Active Team USPA members are represented on the field, as well as seven Team USPA alumni. Three celebrated female polo players, Maureen Brennan (Iconica), Sarah Siegel-Magness (Dundas) and Gillian Johnston (G-String Polo Ponies) will also be represented in the competition.
Patagones Polo Club will be taking advantage of the USPA's Bridge to High Goal Initiative (B2HG) for the Ylvisaker Cup, which provides eligible USPA Member Clubs three USPA Professional Umpires (two mounted officials and one third man) at 50% of the regular cost to the club.
The Bridge to High Goal Initiative (B2HG) has been created to support polo between 12 and 16 goals, an under-supported level of polo in the United States. The goal of the program is to build a bridge from low-goal polo to high-goal polo that provides a safe environment for competition, which will allow for the cultivation of sponsors and the advancement of aspiring professionals.
2022 Ylvisaker Cup Champions: CK Shack - Kristos "Keko" Magrini, Bautista Panelo, Santino Magrini, Joaquin Panelo. ©David Lominska