PUTTING SILICON VALLEY ON THE WORLDWIDE POLO MAP
Ciro Desenzani talked with CLICKPOLO USA about the growth of Taqueada Polo Club, a polo development that is constantly growing located at the heart of cutting-edge technology and start-up culture
The challenge of building polo at the heart of cutting-edge technology and start-up culture The intersection of technology and sports has never been more exciting than in Silicon Valley, where innovation and creativity drive the region forward. The Taqueada Polo Club, led by owner Ciro Desenzani and his partner Zoe Cookson, has set out to bring professional polo to the Bay Area and showcase the sport to the community. Taqueada Polo Club is not just any polo club. It's the first high-end polo facility in Silicon Valley, a region known for its cutting-edge technology and startup culture, but not necessarily for its polo scene. Taqueada's aim is to change that by bringing world-class polo to the area and introducing the sport to a new audience. With a focus on top-quality facilities, experienced management, and top-notch horses, Taqueada is setting the standard for polo in Northern California.
However, Taqueada's ambitions go beyond just creating a great polo club. As Desenzani explained in this interview with CLICKPOLO USA, he wants to put Silicon Valley on the global polo map, and he's helping do that by creating the Silicon Valley Polo Team, which will compete in tournaments throughout California and beyond. By partnering with top sponsors such as Tamber Bey Vineyards and Fusion Fund, the team is representing not just the club, but the innovative spirit of the region itself. With Desenzani's experience in polo management and Cookson's expertise in horse training, Taqueada is well-positioned to make its mark on the sport both locally and globally.
“One important aspect of Taqueada is that we always encourage new people to try the sport through our polo school. I think this is fundamental to developing and growing polo as a sport in general”
-What is your project in Silicon Valley, and why did you choose this area? "Taqueada Polo in Silicon Valley is a project I started four years ago with my partner and friend Zoe Cookson, where we saw the opportunity to develop polo in the area. I first discovered Silicon Valley through my good friend Ben Kennedy, who played with me in Argentina for many years and invited me to visit him here. The Bay Area is the global center of technological innovation, and it’s a unique, creative environment that is leading the way to changing the world. The area attracts many people internationally, from engineers to entrepreneurs, with the goal of pushing the technology boundaries in many areas. Here we had the idea to bring professional polo to all the people of Silicon Valley, many of whom have never experienced the sport before, and bring these two extraordinary worlds together."
-What is your experience in managing polo clubs? "In addition to being a polo player, my background in polo management began in Argentina. I have always managed polo clubs and horse organizations for the patrons so that they can have a good time when they come to play. I’ve also always had a good team supporting me. I started with my own place, Taqueada Polo, where I hosted patrons from different parts of the world, and some continue to play with me after 14 years. I continued my career as the club manager for Memo Gracida at the La Herradura Polo Club, and I played there too. Working with Memo, who I consider to be my mentor in polo, allowed me to gain a lot of valuable experience in management and as a player, and I will always be grateful to him for that step in my career. We continue to have a good friendship and we work a lot together in California, his club is just a couple of hours south of Taqueada, in Santa Ynez."
-What is Taqueada’s circuit like? "Taqueada Polo Club starts the pre-season in February. During that time we get the horses fit and play the first practices. The full season is March 1st to June 30th and August 15th to November 30th, and this year we will play tournaments of 4 to 6 goals and 8 to 12 goals. In my case, I travel to Argentina at the beginning of November to play the season and receive all my clients there. We rest the fields in July to recover for the second half of the season and, during this time, I organize our travels depending on where I see fun tournaments to play with my clients. I think this year we will go to Europe."
-What other activities do you host at the club? "One important aspect of Taqueada is that we always encourage new people to try the sport through our polo school. I think this is fundamental to helping polo develop and grow as a sport in general. We also have a really nice group of members, some of which have followed us from the beginning. We also have clients who visit from around the US to take our Polo Clinics. We have everything ready so people can just arrive with their boots on and ready to play with our horses. We have nice places to stay and a full itinerary organized so they can play polo and explore the area. This year we will rotate different professionals, for example, Michel Dorignac and other good players will come to play with us during the season so they can experience Silicon Valley and help us to grow here. Currently, the polo in Northern California is low to medium goal and we want to start to bring high handicaps to the area and work with sponsors."
-How do you manage the organization of horses? Do you have horses to mount players?
"I manage the horse organization alongside Zoe Cookson, who oversees the day-to-day horse training. She has ridden all her life and has experience in different disciplines. She started with polo many years ago and is a great asset to Taqueada. We have horses to mount professionals and visiting patrons, and we have a selection of well-trained horses for sale too. Some of our horses come from States such as Florida and Texas, but we bring the majority from Argentina every year. I play in Argentina for at least a month during the big season to try horses and each year we are bringing more and more back to Silicon Valley. I am careful in my selection so we can provide quality horses for different levels of polo. We like to encourage our members to have good horses so they can learn faster, and the club can play better polo."
-Taqueada created the Silicon Valley Polo Team. What are your plans for the team? "This year we launched the Silicon Valley Polo Team which proudly represents the club, the Bay Area, and our team sponsors. Tamber Bey Vineyards, a top producer of Napa Valley wine, and Fusion Fund, which supports startups that leverage technology and data advantages are fantastic examples of all that Silicon Valley stands for. The team will compete in tournaments here at Taqueada, and throughout California. We also plan on playing other tournaments around the US, always representing Silicon Valley. Between Taqueada Polo Club and representing the team, we want to put Silicon Valley on the global polo map for the first time."