Max Secunda was raised by his mother, a competitive event rider and also, from a very early age by his stepfather, Julian Hipwood, captain of the England national team for 15 years, he was a 9 goal player who won the Queens Cup, Gold Cup (British Open) and U.S. Open. In addition he played multiple Argentine Opens and was a finalist twice, both times losing to the legendary Coronel Suarez. He was only the second non American to be inducted into the U.S. Polo Hall of fame. For Max, this meant growing up on the global high goal circuit, spending winter vacations in Wellington and summers in Cowdray Park in the UK surrounded by top horses and the best players in the world.
Max left Stowe School at 17 to pursue polo and worked in Argentina for a year at Hector Barrantes’s renowned breeding and training farm El Pucara, it produced horses that formed the foundation of Ellerstina’s and Los Machitos’s current programs including, Luna, Levicu, Top Secret and Sobornado. He left directly to work for White Birch. Max played his first high goal games at 18 for Calumet in the Cowdray Park Gold Cup. He played for Black Bears in 1995 and 1996, reaching the final of the Cowdray Park Gold Cup for the British Open Championship but lost to Ellerston.
He went on to play for a number of other high goal teams including, Isla Carroll, Everglades, Revlon, Peapacton and Cellular One. In 2004, Max moved from Wellington to Vero Beach to manage the burgeoning polo operation of John Walsh, the former host of America’s Most Wanted. It was a ten year relationship that ended in 2014 with Max now managing the Vero Beach Polo Club and continuing to play professionally.
His background in high goal polo makes Max passionate about playing to the best of one’s abilities and constantly striving for improvement. His experiences with world class teammates, like the Merlos brothers, Eduardo Heguy, Mike Azzaro and his Father, Julian Hipwood, make him an ideal and accessible source of knowledge and Guidance on the field. His experiences with some of the largest and most successful teams such as Black Bears and White Birch give him an inherent understanding of top horses and getting the most out of them, plus the organization that goes with it.
In recent years, after being asked to help cultivate new players for the Vero Beach Polo Club, Max discovered a talent for teaching. He is able to push existing players on to new levels through his love of team play and passion for good polo and simultaneously introduce small children to their first steps in polo in a nurturing and safe way that emphasizes technical correctness.
I have known Max since his first polo lesson with me and I have seen him develop into a true professional in the game. I am very proud of him.