The polo world waves goodbye to two legends


The polo world lost two of its greatest players in one day, 26 March, when the deaths of Bob Daniels and Juracy Santos were announced.

Bob Daniels, a native of the United States, passed at the age of 74 following a polo accident. Daniels was taking part in a 12-goal game at his Pony Express field in Wellington, Florida when he was flung from his horse as it stumbled.

The polo patriarch landed on his head, and was flown to St Mary’s Medical Centre in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was placed on life support. He died on Saturday morning.

Robert ‘Bob’ Daniels was a longstanding admired member of the polo community. A member of the United States Polo Association since 1981, Daniels led a long and distinguished career. He spent sixteen years, from 1996 to 2011, competing U.S. Open Polo Championship with Pony Express.

He also competed 16 consecutive years (1983-1998) in the East Coast Open. He captured the title with a 6-5 win over Excalibur at the Myopia Hunt Club in 1988, alongside his teammates Raul Roldan, Gonzalo Heguy and Segundo Ortiz.


Players of mountain polo. (Courtesy: National Geographic)

Daniels was honoured at the USPA Gold Cup final in Palm Beach, Florida, where flags flew at half mast at the International Polo Club. Before the first game, a minute’s silence was observed. Daniels’ six sons rode to midfield with a riderless horse led by the late champion’s coach and polo pro, Tomas Goti.

The second loss was that of Brazillian polo star Juracy Santos. Santos, Brazillian-born but based in the United Kingdom, passed aged in his 50s, following a long coma after a head injury in 2014.

Santos was playing the Phoenicians Cup when he fell from his horse, hitting his head following an equestrian collision. His fall prompted the Hurlingham Polo Association, the sport’s UK governing body, to introduce compulsory helmet safety rules.

Held of life support at the Royal London Hospital, Santos was moved to Brazil to be closer to his family. He was comatose for 18 months.

Santos began as a rodeo rider, before moving to England to pursue polo. His career took him all over the world, throughout Europe, as well as the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, and Uruguay.


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