Chile Comes to Santa Barbara

Lo Casillo

In July and August of 1961, the Santa Barbara Polo Club hosted a team from the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal, of Santiago, Chile, for a best-of-three tournament. The Chilean team played as Lo Castillo; wearing dark shirts in the photo above are Jorge Lyon, Francisco Echenique, Alberto Correa and Jorge Undurraga. Santa Barbara Polo fielded a California team of club members: in the white shirts, Ronnie Toong, Billy Linfoot, Vic Graber and Gary Wooten.

The first game drew a crowd of 6,000, the largest in 20 years at Santa Barbara Polo, who saw California win 10-6. The next week, with the lineups shuffled (Ronnie Toong became a Chilean), Lo Castillo won 5-4. And, after another lineup shuffle, California won the rubber match to claim the International Polo Trophy.

Regardless of the result, the Chilean players were heroes at home. Today, the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal hosts annual tournaments in their honor: the Copa Jorge Undurraga, Copa Francisco Echenique and Copa Jorge Lyon.

And at the award ceremony, the four men from Chile got to meet Jayne Mansfield, who once said, “I want all of my children to take piano and dancing, and the boys polo lessons.”

* * *

My thanks to Brenda Lynn at the Museum of Polo; to Horace Laffaye, whose knowledge of polo history is exceeded only by his gracious generosity; to the website of the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal, of Santiago, Chile; to May Mann, author of Jayne Mansfield: A Biography (1973); and to the dozen or so people who posted this photo on the Web previously without having a clue about what was going on.

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