The Emirates Open Polo Championships at Ghantoot gets under way. Image Credit: Organisers

Dubai: The 19th Emirates Open Polo Championships kicked-off on Friday at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club with five top teams battling it out over the next two weeks.

Who are the players to keep an eye on and who are the favourites to lift the prestigious trophy on December 20?

For many, the Emirates Open Polo Championships signals the proper start of the UAE Open Polo scene.

It is a high-profile event that provides fantastic action, close matches, upsets and also produces some unsung heroes, like it did last season when Argentine’s exciting Tommy Panelo picked up the coveted Professional Player of the Final award.

This year’s event has its share of star players, both from the UAE and overseas, with several big-name players from Argentina, ready to showcase their polo skills.

The five participating teams are Abu Dhabi Polo Team led by long-time polo enthusiast and supporter, Faris Al Yabhouni, Abdullah Bin Desmal’s Ghantoot Polo Team, Shaikha Alyaa Al Maktoum and the Al Habtoor Polo Team, Desert Palm Polo Team led by Rashid Al Bawardy and Heider Bangash’s Mahra Bangash Polo Team.

The two highest rated polo players in the 10-12 handicap event are Santiago Cernadas (7) who represents a strong-looking Al Habtoor Team and Ghantoot’s six-handicapper Manuel Toccalino.

A total cash prize of $100,000 is up for grabs with the winning team collecting $60,000 and the runner-up $40,000.

The Emirates Open is widely regarded as one of the region’s most important polo events as it attracts some of the world’s top professional players.

The Teams

Ghantoot Polo Team:

Abdullah Bin Desmal 0

Mateo Lalor Bengolea 2

Esteban Costas 4

Manuel Toccalino 6


Al Habtoor Polo Team:

Shaika Alyaa Al Maktoum 1

Habtoor Al Habtoor 1

Santiago Cernadas 7

Tomas Iriarte 4


Abu Dhabi Polo Team:

Faris Al Yabhouni 0

Sergio Damian Quiroga 2

Hugo Barabucci 4

Martin Donovan 5


Desert Palm Polo Team:

Rashid Al Bawardy 0

Cachilo Marty Hgguy 2

Martin Valeny 5

Sam Intstone 0

Ramiro Cardero 5


Mahra Bangash Polo Team:

Heider Bangash 0

Tariq Al Habtoor 1

Tuki Ruiz Guinazu 4

Federico Von Potobsky 5