St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow

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The world-renowned St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow will be held on the frozen Lake St. Moritz for the 28th time from 26 to 29 January 2012.
Thursday, 26 January 2012

11.00 a.m.
Engadin St. Moritz Trophy
BMW – Ralph Lauren

2.00 p.m.
Niarchos Trophy
Sal. Oppenheim – Cartier

Friday, 27 January 2012

11.00 a.m.
Hertz Trophy
BMW – Sal. Oppenheim

2.00 p.m.
Nespresso Trophy
Ralph Lauren – Cartier

Saturday, 28 January 2012

11.00 a.m.
Kempinski Trophy
Sal. Oppenheim – Ralph Lauren

2.00 p.m.
Swiss Jet Trophy
Cartier – BMW

Sunday, 29 January 2012

11.00 a.m.
Deutsche Bank Trophy
3rd und 4th place

2.00 p.m.
Cartier Trophy
1st und 2nd place


St. Moritz was one of the first venues in continental Europe to establish polo playing. In the Engadine, the sport dates back to 1899.

The first polo field was laid out in St. Moritz-Bad, after some British cavalry officers had played polo as part of their military training and as a leisure activity. This makes St. Moritz one of the cradles of polo in continental Europe. Shortly before the first-ever Alpine polo match was due to be held, the cavalry officers received orders to sail for South Africa, where the Boer War was being fought. Interest in the sport of polo ebbed in St. Moritz, and no further games were played.

The St. Moritz Polo Club was founded under the chairmanship of Dr P. R. Berry. The founder members included Andrea Badrutt, Peter Kaspar and Col. Lodi from Rome.

1960 to 1964 

A major international polo tournament was held in St. Moritz each summer, involving teams from Argentina, Italy, the USA and England. The event attracted 3,000 to 4,000 spectators each year, from the Engadine and well beyond. The only player from the Engadine at this time – in fact from the whole of Switzerland – was Christian Mathis.


The polo pitch was converted to an altitude training centre for athletes competing in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. For the time being, this put an end to polo in St. Moritz.


Engadine-born Reto G. Gaudenzi, then working in Spain, founded a St. Moritz polo team which competed with great success in many international tournaments.

Dr P. R. Berry, the founder and Chairman of the St. Moritz Polo Club, died. In his later years, he had initiated a reorganisation of the Polo Club. Not long after his death, the St. Moritz Polo Club was reformed under a new Chairman, Christian Mathis. At the same time, the St. Moritz Polo Club founded the Swiss Polo Association (SPA). An all-Swiss team, including Reto G. Gaudenzi, Gianni Berry, Nikki Hahn and Uberto Gasche, played in Switzerland’s first official international fixture against Spain, in Barcelona.

The constitutive meeting of the new St. Moritz Polo Club was held on 7 January. The same year, the Swiss team played in its second international match, this time in the world-famous venue of Windsor, England, against an English line-up. The St. Moritz team was now playing everywhere except in the Engadine. This was a conscious choice on the part of Reto G. Gaudenzi and led to his idea, initially dubbed crazy, of playing polo on the frozen lake. A year later, the first match was played on ice.

On 26 and 27 January, the St. Moritz Polo Club organised and hosted the world premiere of the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow on Lake St. Moritz. The unique white arena on the lake passed its initiation as a polo field with flying colours. The cornerstone for a new highlight in the St. Moritz events calendar had been laid. The tournament was an ideal complement to St. Moritz’s tourist marketing plan.

Christian Mathis stepped down as Club Chairman and was succeeded by Dr P. R. Berry II, the son of the original Club founder.

Daniel Hofstetter, long-serving Vice-Chairman at past winter tournaments, took over the office of Club Chairman from P. R. Berry II.

Acting on one of the Club’s objectives, to organise polo matches, negotiations began with the citizens and municipality of St. Moritz for the takeover of building rights to the San Gian site by the St. Moritz Polo Club. The plan was to lay the land out as a polo field. This same year, the serving Chairman, Daniel Hofstetter, assumed a dual function as Chairman of the Organising Committee of the winter tournament.

Through the personal dedication and negotiating flair of Club Committee members Adolf Hörler and Hans Gartmann, the Club finalised a building permit with the municipality. The field was also to be made available to other event organisers, and would be called San Gian Equestrian Sports Field. It took much hard work to lay out the new polo field. At this altitude, there were unforeseen obstacles to overcome. The newly laid polo field was officially inaugurated on 7 September. Among the guests was the Spanish Crown Prince, Don Felipe de Borbón. Now there was no further obstacle to holding summer events, and the St. Moritz Polo Club applied to FIP (Federation of International Polo) as a candidate for the 1993 European Championships and for the 1994 and 1996 World Cups.

The FIP congress decided to hold the 1993 European Championships and the 1995 World Cup in St. Moritz. One effective lobbyist for St. Moritz was Piero Dillier. Also in 1992, former Club Vice-Chairman and captain of the St. Moritz polo team, Reto G. Gaudenzi, was elected as the new Club Chairman. He took over from Daniel Hofstetter, who continued to serve as Vice-Chairman and to chair the Winter Event Organising Committee. In August, with Reto G. Gaudenzi chairing the Organising Committee, the first summer tournament of the “new era” was held: the BSI Swiss Open. This made St. Moritz the only place in the world where polo was played both on snow in winter and on grass in summer. Summer 1992 also saw the first polo college on the new San Gian Equestrian Sports Field, coached by Argentinian Club member Adrian Laplacette. Among the 25 course participants were three rising stars of the St. Moritz Polo Club, who then became eligible to attend a training camp in Argentina. As a result, the Club was delighted to record a 100% increase in its local players.

In late July, the European Championships were held at San Gian. In a way, it was a dress rehearsal for the forthcoming World Cup. The task of congratulating the winning English team on its victory fell to Organising Committee Chairman Peter Märky. More than 13,000 spectators watched the matches. The Swiss national team, with Piero Dillier, Mario Zindel, Reto G. Gaudenzi, Adriano Agosti and Francisco Soldati, all members of the St. Moritz Polo Club, earned itself the bronze medal. This marked the greatest success yet in Switzerland’s polo-playing history.

At the 10th Anniversary Polo World Cup on Snow, the St. Moritz Polo Club boasted 83 members. The world’s first polo tournament on snow had attracted great interest internationally. Other well-known winter sports destinations had taken up the idea and included similar events on their programmes. In June the FIP inspected and approved the San Gian Equestrian Sports Field, which gave the green light for holding the World Cup. Due to the necessary work of adapting the field for the World Cup, no summer tournament was held this year. Instead, Peter Märky, Vic Jacob and Claudio Conrad organised a junior tournament. To release the necessary ponies for training and matches, a polo pony pool was founded, independent of the Club, under the auspices of Claudio Conrad.

Organising Committee Chairman Peter Märky opened the 4th World Cup in the history of polo on 21 July 1995 (following Buenos Aires in 1987, Berlin in 1989 and Santiago de Chile in 1992). The preliminary round took place in Düsseldorf. A grand total of 21,000 spectators enjoyed polo of international quality. Travel specialists Kuoni had marketed the event worldwide, generating 2,355 overnight stays. A total of 212 media representatives reported on the games to 16 countries, and 75 TV channels relayed a total of 65 broadcasting hours. According to rating research by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the 44-minute World Cup summary attracted an audience of around 70,000 in Switzerland. Moreover, the outcome of the World Cup took all the pundits by surprise. On 30 July 1995, in a final of unsurpassed excitement, the battle-hardened Brazilian team beat top favourites Argentina by 11 goals to 10. The courageous Swiss team, all of whose players were members of the St. Moritz Polo Club, came sixth (and last), in line with expectations. 1995 also saw the foundation of the “Top Events of Switzerland” Association in Zurich. This is an umbrella organisation for world-famous cultural and sporting events from all over Switzerland. In addition to the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow in St. Moritz, it includes Art Basel, the Golf European Masters in Crans-sur-Sierre, the Locarno International Film Festival, the Lucerne International Music Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Swiss Tennis Open in Gstaad.

Arrangements were made for the building rights to the San Gian Equestrian Sports Field to revert to the citizens and municipality of St. Moritz. The site had proved unexpectedly costly to lay out and equip. This and reinstatement work after the World Cup and other events placed the Club in financial straits. The reversion of the building rights was a help in overcoming these.

Attendees of the Ordinary General Meeting were informed that the St. Moritz Polo Club had been completely restored to financial health. This had been possible through the willingness of the municipality and the Club’s creditors to help, as well as with generous financial support from some of the Club’s members. At the motion of Claudio and Diane Conrad and Peter Märky, a summer polo camp was started. This event was intended to give both practised players and juniors an opportunity to exchange experience and to gauge their skills on friendly terms.

Armin Diem took over the chairmanship of the Winter Event Organising Committee from Daniel Hofstetter, who had served in this capacity for 10 years. For many years, the Club had been headhunting a member willing to serve as Chairman. This year, at the Polo Gala Night, Reto G. Gaudenzi handed over the reins to Richard H. Dillier. The outgoing Club Chairman was appointed Honorary Chairman for life, in recognition of his services to the sport of polo and to the St. Moritz Polo Club since its refoundation in 1984. As a result of the impending restructuring of the Club, he had also resigned as captain of the St. Moritz polo team in 1997, having served as such since the beginning of the team’s activity. With the death of Andrea Badrutt, the Club lost one of its original founder members and a generous sponsor. At the 1998 Annual General Meeting of the St. Moritz Polo Club the representative of the long-term sponsor of the St. Moritz winter tournament, Horst Edenhofer, Managing Director of Cartier Switzerland, was admitted as the Club’s 100th member.

Urs E. Schwarzenbach took over the organisation of the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow, placing his office at the disposal of the event.

At the 2001 Annual General Meeting of the St. Moritz Polo Club, Urs E. Schwarzenbach was elected as the Club’s new Chairman. Daniel Hofstetter and Adolf Hörler retired from the Committee and were elected Honorary Chairmen of the St. Moritz Polo Club, in recognition of their services.

From 27 July to 3 August, the St. Moritz Polo Club staged a summer polo college on San Gian field. The pioneering Swiss polo player Bernhard Zollinger, the Italian Paolo Grillini and the Australian Ed Judge honed the polo skills of 11 participants spanning an age range from 8 to 54. The training course culminated in a mini show tournament to round off the summer camp. Participants in the Concours Hippique, also being held at this time, were given the chance to participate in a polo taster course. Following the unqualified success of its first polo camp, the St. Moritz Polo Club decided to continue and expand summer polo in St. Moritz in this form. The Committee hoped that this project would garner support, in particular from the local authorities.

The 20th Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow was held from 22 to 25 January this year. Four evenly matched teams, with a total handicap of 20 goals each, competed for the coveted Cartier Trophy. First-time participants in the winter tournament, the Polish Larchmont team, carried off the prize. One of the highlights of the anniversary event were the appearances of the British Royal Household Cavalry, invited to the tournament by Chairman Urs E. Schwarzenbach as a birthday surprise. To mark the 20th anniversary of the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow, the St. Moritz Polo Club published the anniversary book entitled 20 Years Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow St. Moritz.

St. Moritz Polo AG was incorporated as a limited company and took over the organisation of the Polo World Cup on Snow. Chairman of the Board of Directors was Urs E. Schwarzenbach; his fellow Board members were Heinz Reber and Diego Schwarzenbach.