Darlene Ricker | 09/16/17

High-goal players John Paul Clarkin of New Zealand (7-goal handicap) and Luis Escobar (5 goals) of Florida don’t meet up on the polo field that often, but today they’ll face off as team captains in The Kahala Hotel & Resort Hawaii Invitational of Polo 2017. The All Pro Polo match takes place on Waimanalo Polo Field, home of the Honolulu Polo Club, at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The newly announced team rosters include professional players from three nations: Argentina, New Zealand and the United States. Clarkin’s teammates on the Hawaii Polo Life white team are his cousin Simon Keyte (6 goals), Santi Torres (7) and Gaston “Mono” Gassiebayle (6). Playing with Escobar on the Hawaii Polo Life black team are Mariano “Nano” Gracida (4), Jeff Hall (7) and Iñaki Laprida (7).

At the final day of practice yesterday, Escobar was stoked. “Everything is ready—players and horses. We’re looking forward to having a good competitive game,” he said. Their opponent, Hawaii Polo Life white, he added, “has a lot of expertise, talent and a combination of amazing players. We have to play smart and precise to win.”

Escobar, who owns Santa Clara Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, described how his team lines up. “Mariano is a young player with great polo vision, following in the footsteps of his dad, the great Carlos Gracida. He will be playing offense,” he said. “Iñaki, son of another great player, Cristian Laprida, is basically the engine of the team. He plays offense and will try to break the other side’s defense. Jeff is a top American pro who will distribute the ball to Mariano and Iñaki.”

What about Escobar’s role? “Myself, I make sure everyone is doing his job. I guard the back door, keeping the offense from coming through and scoring goals.”

Officially sanctioned by Argentine Polo Association, the Hawaii Invitational was organized by Chris Dawson, owner of the lifestyle clothing brand Hawaii Polo Life. Himself a polo player, Dawson is a strong supporter of all-pro polo.

Sponsors of the Hawaii Invitational include: The Kahala Hotel & Resort (title sponsor); Cartier (presenting sponsor); Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard (airline partner for the players and official sponsor of the Waimanalo Polo Field for the event); Tesla (official automobile sponsor) and Pommery (official champagne sponsor of The Kahala Polo Lounge).

Tickets and more information: hiinvitational.com

Photos courtesy Hawaii Polo Life