BUILDING A POLO LEGACY ACROSS AMERICA - AN ARTICLE BY CLICKPOLOUSA | U.S. POLO ASSN.

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BUILDING A POLO LEGACY ACROSS AMERICA - AN ARTICLE BY CLICKPOLOUSA

Jul 02, 2024 6:46 PM

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Ignacio "Nachi" Viana's journey from Uruguay to the United States has led to a string of victories for the 6-goaler, solidifying his reputation in the American polo scene. ©Katie Roth
Ignacio "Nachi" Viana's journey from Uruguay to the United States has led to a string of victories for the 6-goaler, solidifying his reputation in the American polo scene. ©Katie Roth

Ignacio “Nachi” Viana's journey from Uruguay to the United States exemplifies passion for the sport. Four years ago, he moved to study at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia), but after the pandemic hit, he fully committed to his polo career. Starting with a 3-goal handicap and support from his older brother Felipe Viana*, Nachi built a strong foundation, acquiring horses and playing year round.

Navigating through various polo circuits, Viana’s journey includes successes in South Florida and Aiken, South Carolina, where he plays with Alison Patricelli. Facilitated by Patricelli’s groom Martín Pehuape, Viana’s professional partnership with LBL Polo has proven to be incredibly successful.

In addition to his achievements with LBL, Viana has continued to collect titles with several teams throughout the country. Competing with BTA, he recently won the Iglehart Cup, a qualifying tournament for the NPC 16-Goal Championship held at the National Polo Center - Wellington. He also clinched multiple titles with Hillcroft, including the Midwest Open and Kentucky Open, further solidifying his reputation in the American polo scene.

Viana competing for Hillcroft at Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, Florida. ©Julio Aguilar
Viana competing for Hillcroft at Sarasota Polo Club in Sarasota, Florida. ©Julio Aguilar

What brought you from Uruguay to the United States?
“I have been in the United States for four years. I came to study at the University of Virginia, and when the pandemic hit, I fully dedicated myself to polo. At that time I had a 3-goal handicap, and with a bit of help from my brother Felipe, who lent me horses, I was able to organize myself. I bought some horses, and now I play almost all year round.”

Can you describe your journey through the different polo circuits?
“[This year] I started in Florida, playing 12, 14 and 16-goal tournaments. From Florida, I went to Aiken, playing in 8-goal tournaments, then I will continue to California. In previous years I also spent time in Boston [Massachusetts] between July and August. In September, I moved on to Kentucky. So, I would say that I play all year round.

Last year with Alison, we played six tournaments in total. The first three tournaments we played between May and June [Tommy Hitchcock Memorial, Pete Bostwick Memorial, Regional President’s Cup] and we won all three, then we played three more in October [Northrup Knox Cup, National President’s Cup, Bronze Trophy] and we won those three tournaments as well. This year, we have already played three tournaments and won them all. We have done very well together!”

LBL Polo's Alison Patricelli and Ignacio "Nachi" Viana. ©Katie Roth
LBL Polo's Alison Patricelli and Ignacio "Nachi" Viana. ©Katie Roth

How did you establish your relationship with Alison Patricelli and LBL?
“I came to Aiken because of Alison, and also because of her groom, Martín Pehuape, who called me, and that's how our relationship started. We have a great record of nine tournaments won out of nine played, so we can't complain.”

What other tournaments did you play in the United States?
“In Florida last year, we reached two 16-goal finals with BTA, and although we didn't win them, we did very well. This year we made it to two finals; we lost the first one by a goal and won the second one. It was great. Winning a 16 goal in Florida is important because the level of competition is very high. With Hillcroft, we won the 14-goal Midwest Open and then the Kentucky Open last year. You could say that LBL, BTA and Hillcroft are teams I have played with the most in recent seasons.”

A victorious Viana congratulates BTA teammate Steve Krueger. ©David Lominska
A victorious Viana congratulates BTA teammate Steve Krueger. ©David Lominska

*Felipe Viana is Team USPA alumnus. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher-rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.