Oak Brook Polo Team 






On Thursday, February 22nd the Oak Brook Polo Team departed for Kingston, Jamaica where we were greeted by a member of the Jamaica Tourist Board (“Visit Jamaica”) who let us cut the line through customs before meeting up with our hosts Marc and Zander Melville. Within seconds we had Red Stripes in hand and where toasting to a fun weekend of good friends, sun and polo.

After the team checked into the Courtleigh Hotel & Suites, we freshened up and had a few Red Stripes and aged Jamaican Rum by the pool before leaving for Mark Wates home, a second-generation Jamaican polo player and father to former Oak Brook Polo Team player, Jason Wates, in Bog Walk, Jamaica. We were greeted by other members of the Jamaican polo community, including Rachel Turner, John Byles, Jorge Donovan, and Kelly Wates. The evening was filled with new and old friends sharing hysterical and sometime tearful stories of their times in Oak Brook and Jamaica. Multiple speeches were made from both teams celebrating a rekindled friendship between both nations.

After the late evening, the Oak Brook Polo Team got a good night’s rest to play its first match at the Kingston Polo Club only for it to be cancelled due to rain. So, the late afternoon and evening was spent touring the Club grounds capped off with a delicious BBQ dinner in the Club’s 7th Chukker Bar.

Welcome Dinner, Thursday, February 22nd

@ Mark & Sue Wates home in Bog Walk, Jamaica

Saturday, the well-rested Oak Brook Polo Team woke up to another beautiful Jamaican day with a poolside breakfast and a morning of lounging by the pool and soaking up some much needed sun. That afternoon, the Team had a quick Courtleigh Hotel photoshoot before departing once again for the Kingston Polo Club to play in the Sparkles Productions Polo & Party between Chicago’s Horacio Onetto (Hcap-4), Tod Rackley (Hcap-2), Chris Vangle (Hcap-1.5) and John Greene (Hcap-0.5) and Jamaica’s Paul Lalor (Hcap-3), Mark Wates (Hcap-3), Marc Melville (Hcap-2) and Charlie Chambers (Hcap-0).

John Greene

 The match got off to a fast start with Mark Wates scoring the first two goals of the game to put Jamaica into an early lead and keeping Oak Brook scoreless after the first chukker. One chukker is all the Oak Brook Polo Team needed to get used to their horses and field before putting up two back-to-back goals by Chris Vangel and Horacio Onetto, closing out the second Chukker and half tied 2 to 2. After a brief break, the Oak Brook boys were back on their horses and didn’t hesitate to score their third goal by Horacio Onetto to put Chicago in the lead 3 to 2 by the end of the third chukker. In the fourth and final chukker, Mark Wates scored his third goal of the match to tie it up with only a few minutes left in the game. Both teams battled for the ball only for time to run out on the clock leaving the match tied 3 to 3. Exhausted, both teams agreed to finish the game in a tie. However, it should be noted that a footrace or game of “flip cup” was discussed to determine the game’s official winner. 

2018 Jamaica vs. Chicago Match Poster

The final full day in Jamaica began early in the morning with an hour-long bus ride through, up and around Jamaica’s beautiful mountains and valleys to St. Anne’s Bay. Where we jump on the CHUKKA CAT for day long excursion touring the Jamaican coastline, snorkeling, trekking up the Dunn’s River Falls, zip-lining and partying on the island’s most popular party boats. We drank Red Stripe and Rum Punch, and danced away the afternoon in what was the best way to end the team’s trip to Jamaica. Before jumping on the bus back to Kingston, we were treated to wonderful Jamaican Italian Dinner at Evita’s Restaurant which overlook St. Anne’s Bay. A hidden gem and recommend restaurant to anyone who visits the island. The energy from the day’s activities were evident on the bus ride home, where Chris Vangel proved to us all why he is the best “fun uncle” ever.  We again, all had a good nights rest before departing the next day back to the States.

The Team’s trip to Jamaica, again proves just how deep and rich Chicago’s relationship with Jamaica is and the important role they both play in our respective polo communities. An enormous thank you goes out to our hosts Marc Melville, Charlie Chambers and Mark Wates for an incredible and memorable weekend. We are so looking forward to having the team back in the USA this summer. We also want to thank everyone who made sure we were taken care of, including Hannah Wright, our driver Steve, Ceri Moe, Rachel D’Silva and Camille Bailey, Sue and Kelly Wates, referees Jorge and Craig, the CHUKKA CAT crew, Courtleigh Hotel staff, and the Jamaica Tourist Board.


Daphne Ortiz



The days matches concluded with an authentic Jamaican BBQ and Pig Roast followed by one of the best dance parties on the island. Each one of Oak Brook Polo’s players showed off their superb dance moves to show that Chicagoans know how to grove as the Jamaicans do.

Chris Vangel

Final dinner at Evita's in St. Anne's Bay, Jamaica


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