When Jenny Luttrell comes to town she doesn’t pack lightly. As patron of the Cotterel Polo Team she brings 40 horses, three professional polo players, their families and two dogs - all the way from her home State of Colorado.
Her team for the 12 goal season is Ignacio Saracco rated 3, his brother Luis Saracco rated 4, and Ruben Coscia rated 5. Jenny is an “A” another way saying zero – a very respectable rating for a patron. The handicap ratings for polo start at negative 2 and go up to ten. The combined handicaps must add up to the tournament level of 12.
Polo is a sport at which a person of any stature can excel. Men and women play on the same teams, although there are some tournaments that are for women only.
Jenny started playing at Colorado State University, she says one of the reasons she chose to move from Utah to Colorado for college was because the CSU brochure said they had a polo team. The first day she showed up for a meeting of the women’s polo team there were 25 horse-girls there vying for three spots on the team. That large group whittled down to only a handful by the time they found out how much work it was – no grooms were involved. They had to clean the horses, tack them up, play polo, un-tack the horses, wash them down, and take them back to their stalls – it’s not a job for the meek. Jenny, who had started showing Arab/Saddlebreds at the age of 14, said she was hooked on polo the first time she held a mallet. In the small world of polo it is not a great surprise that one of her teammates from CSU, Melanja Jones, is now the polo manager at the Santa Barbara Polo Club.
Jenny still does the hard work; she is not one of the patrons who helicopters in just before a game. She spends her days at the barns and takes sets of horses out for exercise in the mornings. A set is a group of horses with the rider on the center horse and two or three horses on either side all stringed together with a lead line – they gallop around the track side by side.
The Cotterel name was chosen by Jenny’s number one fan (her mother, Claudia) who often travels with her to watch. Cotterel is the name of a mountain range near Jenny’s grandfather’s farm in Idaho. When not traveling to compete in polo Jenny manages her own farm in Colorado and has started breeding and training polo horses.
Jenny formed the Cotterel polo team in 1996 and has maintained a very consistent team of professionals. (It is not uncommon for a patron to put together a team for just one or two months of tournament play.) This consistency has paid off. When the team traveled to Indio, this past winter, they won the 12 goal Wendell Kerley Memorial Tournament at the Eldorado Polo Club. Rueben Coscia is the newest addition to the team. He came on board when they needed another American player.
You may have noticed a lot of Argentine names on these teams (and you’re right). The United States Polo Association has created a new rule to give American professionals the opportunity to get more play time to increase their skills and move up in the rankings. In all tournaments sanctioned by the USPA there has to be at least one American in addition to the Patron. Rueben Coscia was born in Argentina but he is now a naturalized US citizen and rounds out the Cotterel team with two Americans and two Argentines.
Jenny’s competitors in the June 12 goal season are: Lucchese: sponsored by John Muse (O), Santiago Torres (5), Andres Weisz (5), and Felipe Vercellino 1. Mansour: sponsored by Ben Soleimani (0), Santiago Von Wernich (5), Santiago Wulff, (5) and Justin Klentner (1). Film Finance: sponsored by Leigh Brecheen (0), Jesse Bray (3), Joe Henderson (4), Santiago Trotz (5) and Farmers and Merchants: sponsored by Henry Walker (2), Luis Escobar (7)--------------
The current standings for the Vic Graber Memorial, the 12-goal tournament which concludes on Sunday at the Santa Barbara Polo Club:
Cotterel 1 0
Farmers & Merchants 0 1
Film Finance 0 1
Lucchese 1 0
Mansour 0 0
The next match at the Santa Barbara Polo Club will be Sunday, June 8th at 1:00 with the Vic Graber Memorial Tournament. Lunch and drinks are available for purchase at the events. The club is located at 3300 Via Real in Carpinteria. For more information call 684-6683.
Polo can be a difficult spectator sport because the field of play (when played on the grass) is approximately the size of nine American football fields. Not only that - the direction of play changes after each goal, so you can take a sip of champagne, look up, and find your favorite team galloping in the other direction! Arena polo is a much easier spectator sport since the field is only the size of one American football field and the direction of play only changes after each chukker.
Santa Barbara resident, Julia Michelle Dawson, is a member of the United States Polo Association and has been writing about polo for the past ten years.