The C.V. Whitney Polo Cup Final


On Sunday February 26th, I had the pleasure of attending the final match of the C.V. Whitney Cup in Wellington, Florida, a city known just to the left of West Palm Beach for its equestrian sports. The match was hosted at the National Polo Center, previously known as The International Polo Club of Palm Beach. The game was between finalists team Pilot and team Valiente. Both of these teams just barely won their semifinals to make their way into the Finals. Valiente won 12 to 10 against Park Place and Pilot against Shack Attack 12 to 11.

The weather, high in the eighties but not as humid as usual, allowed for enjoyable spectation from both sides of the field. The crowd was dressed up similar to what you would see at the Kentucky Derby.

If you’re wondering what polo even is, it can be described as horse-back soccer. Teams consist of four players who ride horses and use their mallets to hit the white ball into the goal. It differs from soccer because every time a team scores, their goals switch, unlike in Soccer when they switch after halftime. The horses are consistently switched, sort of like a pit stop at a car race, so they are not overworked. They’re treated like diamonds. Throughout the game you see staff riding the horses outside the perimeters at a walking pace to get them prepared to be placed into the game.

The match was consistent throughout the two hours. Pilot, the team I was originally rooting for (particularly for no reason) scored two points just a minute or two after they began. At the end of the game, it was tied nine to nine. Soon, Valiente pulled through with one more point (10-9). Although I was rooting for Pilot, I honestly was hoping they would not score because no one is a fan of overtime when you’re outside in the heat. My wishes were granted and when the buzzer reached zero seconds, the score had not changed. Valiente was crowned the winner of the C.V. Whitney Cup of 2023.

My favorite part of the game was not the game itself, but my opportunity to photograph the teams in action. I photographed a polo game (La Elina versus Aspen Valley) last year in April at the same place. I was able to display my collection at the Milford Public Library in September of 2022. So of course, my excitement was through the roof.

Enjoy some of the photos I took in the gallery below. The full day’s worth of photos can be found here.