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Polo world rocked by match-fixing scandal

A high-profile match-fixing dispute has rocked the international polo fraternity and raised serious questions over how tournaments are run in the US.

Fans and players at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPCPB) in Florida were aghast when La Herradura team — featuring Mexican-American Memo Gracida, 50, and Canada’s Frederick Mannix, 26 — deliberately lost a match by 11 goals last week.

“Losing the game was a strategic move to try to win the Open,” said Mr Gracida, who holds a record of 16 US Open wins. “Had we played to win in the semi our ponies would have played four hard matches in 10 days.”

By losing the semi-final against Lechuza Caracas in the Piaget US Polo Association (USPA) Gold Cup, La Herradura sought a more favourable seeding in the US Open, which started yesterday (30 March).

“The USPA says we didn’t violate any rule,” said Mr Gracida, who held polo’s maximum handicap of 10 goals for 20 years.

Mr Mannix, polo’s highest ranking amateur, left the field 1min into the match, and was replaced by Jose Celis, joining Gracida and his son, Julio, and American pro Kris Kampsen, who trotted around to lose 18-7.

The IPCPB immediately banned the La Herradura players, except Mr Mannix, from competing at Palm Beach for the rest of the year. But the USPA contradicted the ban by declaring the four players eligible to play the US Open, owned by the USPA
but hosted by the IPCPB.

Read this news report in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (27 March, ’07)

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