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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Table of Contents 10

Letter from the Captain

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Polo: A Brief Guide

Aiken Polo Club 2016 P.O. Box 3021 Aiken, SC 29802 Volume 12, Number 1. Published annually Editor & Publisher: Pam Gleason

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Duties of a Spectator

Layout & Design: Gary Knoll, Aiken Horse Productions

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Gear of the Game

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Tournament Results

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Getting into Polo

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Importance of Teamwork

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Mead Hall Polo Connection

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Better Your Game with Adam Snow

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Aiken Polo Story

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Polo Glossary

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Index of Advertisers

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Photography by WarhorsePhotography.com Gary Knoll Pam Gleason Unless otherwise noted, All images property of WarhorsePhotography Š 2016 www.WarHorsePhotography.com WarhorsePhotography@gmail.com

Advertising Inquiries: Susie Kneece SKneece@bellsouth.net 803-646-3302 On The Cover: 8 Goal Action on Whitney Field Kegan Walsh on the ball Randy Rizor goes for the hook Bob Stanton follows up Photography by Gary Knoll

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

Editorial Inquiries: Aiken Polo Magazine P.O. Box 332 Montmorenci, SC 29839 803.643.9960 www.aikenpoloclub.org aikenpolomagazine@gmail.com


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Letter from the Captain

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his season we welcome the 134th year of polo in Aiken. Equestrian activity of all disciplines continues to bring attention to this great community and Aiken Polo Club is making its own headlines with an expanded youth program and tournament offerings. Having grown up around polo on Whitney Field, I am especially happy to see the next generation playing at the club. Youth polo has had an important place in Aiken Polo history for at least a century, going back to Mrs. Hitchcock who coached her Meadow Lark and Aiken Prep School teams on our fields. Those players included my father, Pete Bostwick, who had an amazing polo career and passed his love of polo on to me and my brother Rick. When we were young, we often played as a family team, and seeing today’s families playing together reminds me of the good times we had, and the family atmosphere of polo from a few decades ago. It is good to see that coming back. Last spring, the whole polo community came out to watch Julio Arellano win the 12 goal with his daughter and his two sons, and this season we are looking forward to seeing the young players coached by our own Tiger Kneece playing in junior matches. Polo is a great family sport, and I hope to see more family teams competing here in the future. Here at Aiken Polo Club, we welcome you to join our polo family, whether you are a player, a fan or a first time visitor. One of our other recent projects to help improve polo in Aiken is a campaign to preserve historic Whitney Field. The “Brick Campaign” to date has enabled us to build a spectacular viewing pavilion, named for Alan Lyle Corey III who worked so hard to make the project a reality. We expect to install permanent flooring in this pavilion soon, followed by the laying of commemorative bricks. We hope you will consider purchasing a memento brick as a personal tribute which will become a permanent part of Aiken’s polo legacy. You will be helping us preserve the history of polo, while at the same time contributing to and ensuring its future.   We hope to see you on the field or the sidelines this season at Whitney Field!

Charles S. Bostwick

Aiken Polo Club has been playing on Whitney Field since 1882. Need more information? Visit our website www.aikenpolo.org. For daily updates call the hotline:803-643-3611. Find us in Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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A Brief Guide to Polo

Written by Pam Gleason Photography by Pam Gleason & Gary Knoll “I tell you, a corpulent, middle aged literary gentleman finds a stiff polo match rather good exercise.”- Theodore Roosevelt

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ight players, two umpires, ten horses, eight mallets, two whistles, a vast green field and a little white ball. That’s what it takes to have a chukker of polo. Of course, at a polo game, each player on the field has at least three to five more horses back at the trailer. Every player usually has a groom or two there as well, along with a trailer load of saddles, bridles, leg wraps and extra mallets. There are also goal judges at each end of the field to signal whether or not a goal has been scored and to place a ball on the endline if a ball is hit out. Then, there is someone to put the numbers up on the scoreboard, an official on the sidelines to keep time and blow the horn when the chukker is over, an official scorekeeper and the all-important “third man” or referee, who settles disputes between the umpires. Polo is a major production and a lot of work.

Pam Gleason

12-goal action: Kenny Ray Personal Fitness versus Crestview

For the player, however, the thrill of the game more than makes up for the immense investment of time and resources it demands. Polo, it has often been said, is not just a game, but a way of life. Once a person is bitten by the polo bug, all of the hard work surrounding the game fades to insignificance. 12

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The only thing that is important is the action on the field.

The Team

Each polo team is comprised of four mounted players. Players must carry their mallets in their right hands, whether or not they are right-handed. The first object of the game is to drive the ball down the field and into the opposition’s goal. The second object is to prevent members of the other team from hitting the ball into the goal that one is defending. Each of the four players on the team wears a jersey numbered from 1 to 4. The number refers to the player’s position on the field. Those wearing the Number 1 are primarily offensive players, whose job is to run to goal, hoping for a pass from their teammates so that they can score. The Number 2 is also an offensive player, but he must be more aggressive, breaking up the offensive plays of the other team, and putting “his nose in every play and continually forcing the attack,” according to the polo legend Tommy Hitchcock. The Number 3 player is usually the strongest on the team. His job is to hit long balls, set up teammates, plan the plays and make them happen. He also must cover the opposing Number 2. The Number 4, or Back, is primarily defensive. He covers the opposing Number 1 and generally “shuts the back door” preventing the other team from scoring. The Back must also get the ball to his or her teammates, often by hitting long back shots.

Handicaps

Like golfers, polo players carry handicaps. The handicap is expressed as a number of goals. This number reflects the player’s overall ability on the field, taking into account hitting ability, game sense, team play, horsemanship, sportsmanship and quality of his or her horses. Handicaps run from C


Gary Knoll

Matias Magrini scores for Crestview in the Copper Cup

(-2, or beginner) up to 10 (the best in the world.) A “goal” is how many goals a player is theoretically worth to his or her team, but has nothing to do with how many he or she might actually score in a game. Players are assessed and assigned a handicap in the fall and the spring after the summer and winter seasons respectively. They normally keep their handicap until the next handicap meeting, though occasionally someone playing significantly above or below his or her rating has a handicap change mid-season. To arrive at a team handicap, one adds up the individual handicaps of the four players on the team. Three 1-goal players and one 4, for instance, would make a 7-goal team. Tournaments are classified by how many goals they are. For instance, Aiken Polo Club runs the 12-goal USPA National Copper tournament in the fall; no team on the roster may be rated more than 12 goals. A lower rated team could play in the Copper Cup. If they were playing against 12-goal team, they would start the game with one goal on the scoreboard. In some tournaments, the outcome of the game might be decided by half goals, which are generally not reflected on the scoreboard. Several years ago, the USPA addressed what it called “handicap compression” by establishing three half goal ratings for players on the lower end of the handicap scale. These are a B.5 (minus one half ), A.5 (plus one half ) and a 1.5 (one and a half ). As a result, sometimes one team is rated half a goal less than the

other team. In this case, if the scoreboard reflects a tie, the lower rated team will actually be the winner by a half goal. Half goal ratings only count in 6 goal polo and below. The handicapping system keeps teams that play against one another relatively even and allows players of different ages and abilities to compete on the same field. Men and women are rated on the same scale and regularly play with and against one another on an equal basis. Handicapping also gives rise to the unique pro-am aspect of polo. There is very little purely professional polo in the United States. The most usual situation is to have amateurs hire higher rated professionals to play with them, thus raising the level of the competition. The majority of amateurs are 1 goal and below. Players who are 3 goals and above are usually professionals who play for a fee.

The Field

A regulation polo field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide. Many polo fields (including Aiken’s Whitney Field) are equipped with low sideboards, which help to keep the ball from going out of bounds. Although the play stops when the ball crosses the boards, horses and players regularly jump them and keep on playing as long as the ball itself stays on the field. This is why polo fields are marked with a run-off area or safety zone. Spectators must take care not to park their cars or let their children or pets play in this space. Obviously, no one should ever attempt to sit on the sideboards while the game is in progress. Fields in the American South are usually planted with Bermuda grass. The better fields are sprigged with a Bermuda hybrid developed by the University of Georgia at its Tifton campus about 50 years ago. Fields must be mowed several times a week, and even every day. They are also watered, fertilized, limed, aerated, rolled and treated with various herbicides, growth inhibitors and insecticides. Serious field maintenance requires a professional crew, but spectators can do their part. At half time and after the last chukker of every game, everyone present is invited to come out and help replace divots kicked up during the action. This keeps the ball rolling straight and makes the game faster and more fun to play and to watch. “Doing divots” after Aiken Polo Club 2016

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the game used to be one of the most important duties of a polo spectator. These days, however, the field is generally put back by a professional crew which ensures that it stays in top condition throughout the season.

The Play

A polo game is divided into four or six periods, called chukkers. The word chukker sometimes spelled ‘’chukka’’ is derived from the Sanskrit word referring the turn of a wheel, which was presumably the way chukkers were once timed. Each chukker consists of seven to seven and a half minutes of playing time. The clock is stopped for foul shots, but keeps running after a goal is scored or if the ball goes out of bounds. If the ball does go out of bounds and rolls up to you, you must resist the urge to toss it back onto the field. The umpire will call for a line-up and bowl the ball in. He has plenty of balls in his polo ball bag, but sometimes will be happy if you give him one that you pick up. The play generally begins with a line-up at the center of the field. The umpire bowls the ball between the two teams (the “throw-in’’), and each fights to gain possession. Most of the rules in polo are based on the concept of the “line-of-the-ball.’’ The line of the ball is an imaginary line that the ball creates when it is hit. Generally speaking, a player must not cross this line if there are players behind him who are on the line and therefore have the right of way. This sometimes means that a player must take the ball on the left side (near side) of his horse, and sometimes means he is not allowed to make any play at all. A goal is scored when the ball passes between the goal posts at any height. When this happens, the players return to the center of the field for another line-up and bowl-in. After every goal, the teams switch directions. This equalizes field conditions, but can be a bit confusing to the novice spectator, who may not understand why the team he was cheering for suddenly seems to be going the wrong way and shooting at the wrong goal. If the ball does not pass through the goal posts but merely goes over the endline, the defending team gets a free hit, or “knock-in’’ from the point where the ball went out. Defensive play in polo consists mostly of 14

Aiken Polo Club 2016

“hooking’’ and of “riding off.’’ Players may use their mallets to hook or strike an opponent’s mallet while the opponent is in the act of hitting the ball. Players may reach across their own horses, but they may not extend their mallets in front of, over, under, or behind their opponent’s mount. They also may not hook their opponent’s mallet when it is above the level of the shoulder, nor may they strike it with undue force. A player may use his horse to “ride off ’’ his opponent so as to push the opponent away from the ball or otherwise spoil his shot. Polo is a contact sport, and horses and players often bump each other quite hard in the heat of the action. However, it is a foul to bump with undue force, or to do anything that endangers the other player or his mount. If any player infringes on the rules, the umpires blow their whistles for a foul. The team fouled then gets a penalty shot or a free hit. Depending on the severity of the foul and where it occurs, the ball may be hit from the point of the infraction or moved down the field closer to the fouling team’s goal. If the two mounted umpires disagree on Gary Knoll whether Pam Gleason in a rideoff with Alison Patricelli or not a foul occurred, they go consult the third man who acts as the referee. Filming and instant replays are innovations that arrived at some clubs recently. Important games are filmed with drones, and each team has the opportunity to challenge a limited number of foul calls each half. In this case, a special instant replay referee reviews the game tape and makes the final call. In most cases, however, the third man’s opinion is


the ultimate word. Polo being a gentleman’s game, it is a foul to appeal a foul. It is also a foul to argue with the umpires. Umpires may call a technical foul on players exhibiting unsportsmanlike behavior. They do this by pulling a red handkerchief from their back pockets. If a player incurs too many technicals in a game, he is asked to leave the field and his team may have to continue playing three to a side.

along young horses. Polo ponies generally stand between 15 and 16 hands. They are trained to stop and turn quickly, to boldly face oncoming horses, to tolerate fastmoving mallets and balls, to ride-off, bump, and run like the wind when asked. Players say the horse makes up 60, 70 or even 80 percent of a player’s worth. An exceptional string of horses can make the difference between a good and a great player. Conversely, a player mounted on a slow, sluggish, unwilling or unmanageable horse can be quite useless to his team. After all, you can’t hit the ball if you can’t get to it. Since each game is four or six chukkers long and a horse may play in one or possibly two chukkers, every player must have a minimum of two or three horses to play a full game. Most have more: one horse per chukker is a good rule of thumb, and many players have one or two extras as well, or even a whole second string. Building, conditioning and maintaining a good string is one of the primary preoccupations of players at every level. Everyone wants faster, handier, quicker, easier ponies. Top horses are hard to come by, and it is rare for a player to have an entire string of great horses all at the same time.

The Life Gary Knoll

Cesar Polledo, MVP of the Officer’s Cup 8 Goal

The Horses

The animals used in polo are called ponies, but they are usually not really ponies at all. By definition, a pony is a horse standing 14.2 hands or below at the withers. (A hand is four inches, so this means 58 inches or below.) Most true ponies belong to specific pony breeds, although there are many individuals from larger breeds that could qualify as ponies because of their height. In America, most polo ponies are Thoroughbreds, and some began their careers as racehorses. Others were bred specifically for polo, and still others were imported from Argentina, where polo-pony breeding and training is a big industry. Aiken has a growing reputation as a top place to breed, train and bring

Polo was once the sport of kings, played only by the wealthy leisure classes. Today, although playing certainly requires a significant investment of time and money, it is played by men and women from many different walks of life, from England’s Prince Harry to the local veterinarian, real estate agent, blacksmith or fence builder. Polo can be played on many different levels and by players of all ages and abilities. Polo professionals and serious amateurs may play polo full time and year-round. More casual players might play on the weekends, or on occasional evenings after work. Whatever their level of commitment, all polo players share in the special world of polo; a world with its own language, its own worries and its own set of celebrities. They are united by a shared passion for horses, a shared commitment to the sport, and a shared connection to the traditions of the past. Need more polo info? Visit our website: www.aikenpolo.org Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Gary Knoll

Duties of a Spectator

U

nlike most spectator sports, polo requires active participation. If you’re planning to watch, be prepared! Whether you are watching from the Alan Lyle Corey III pavilion, the bleachers or a fieldside space, remember the following points: 1. Keep you eye on the horses. Action often extends quite far beyond the edge of the field and some horses stop faster than others. The riders generally have great control over their mounts, but they are usually paying so much attention to the game, they often are not watching out for spectators. 2. Keep your eye on the ball. Polo balls are made of hard plastic and they might be going as fast as 110 mph. They often do fly off the field at speed. If one is coming towards you, get out of the way. Never ever try to catch it. 3. Keep your pets on a leash and you children close at hand. Dogs may watch the game, but are definitely not welcome to play it. Children love polo, but please do not let them climb on the sideboards or play in the safety zone during a chukker. 4. Be prepared for the half-time divot stomp. Halftime is after the second chukker (in a four chukker game) or the third chukker (in a six chukker game.) Spectators are invited onto the

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

Marcos riding off Horacio Onetto in front of a big crowd

pitch to walk off their picnics and help maintain the field by replacing clods of dirt torn up by galloping hooves and stomping them in. This is also a good time to chat with friends and show off your dress, your dog or your child. Just get back to the sidelines before the players return to the field. 4. Feel free to ask the players or officials if you have any questions about the game after it is over. Polo players are an enthusiastic group and love to talk polo. Compliment a player on his horse, and your relationship will be off to a good start. (“I loved the horse you played in the fourth chukker. Where did that horse come from?”) 5. Keep track of goals scored by each player on your scorecard. Remember that teams change ends after each goal. If the Blue team scores at the west end of the field, they will be trying to score at the east end in after the throw-in. 6. Have fun!

Pam Gleason


Gear of the Game The Helmet is required equipment. The most common helmets are made of reinforced, padded plastic with a cloth or leather covering. They are modeled after the pith helmets that the British wore in 19th century India. Modern helmets are designed to fend off flying balls and mallets and to protect the head if the player should fall.

The Team Jersey

sports the color of the player’s team and the number of the position that he plays. (From 1 to 4)

The Bit controls the

horse. Polo players use many different kinds of bit. This one is called a gag and is the most common bit in polo.

The Breastplate

steadies the saddle and keeps it from sliding back. This one has plush cover on it to make it more comfortable for the horse.

The Martingale

is a leather strap that runs from the noseband to the girth. It keeps the horse from raising his head too high.

Leg Wraps & Boots

The Mallet is made of

malacca cane. It usually has a fair amount of “whip” and can bend quite a bit during a hard swing. The head is made of tipa, a South American wood. Both sides of the head are used to strike the ball.

Alex Lopez

provide support to tendons and ligaments as well as protection from balls and mallets.

Polo plates are special, lightweight horse shoes. Made of iron, they

have an inner rim and an outer rim. The inner rim is slightly higher than the outer one, making it easier for the hoof to pivot in all directions. Gary Knoll

Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

Pam Gleason, Board of Directors, Aiken Polo Club Gary Knoll


Pam Gleason

Above: Barb Uskup. Board of Directors, Aiken Polo Club, in a hard ride off with Kareem Rosser Below: Phil Staples, APC Member, ahead of teammate Chilo Cordova & opponent Pancho Eddy

Pam Gleason


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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Tournaments Fall 2015-Spring 2016 The highlight of Aiken Polo Club is its tournament season. The club has tournaments that start at the 4 goal level and go up to the USPA National Copper Cup 12 goal, held each fall. We also have junior polo, and this year we are welcoming women’s polo back onto our fall lineup. Last season, APC held nine competitive tournaments and Whitney Field saw lots of exciting action. We anticipate the same this season, so don’t miss a Sunday. Visit our website for schedules and updates. www.aikenpolo.org. Or call the hotline: 803-643-3611.

USPA Governor’s Cup 6 Goal; September, 2015

Brookland Dragoons defeated Casa Bella 10-6. Luis Galvan, Marcos Onetto (MVP), Thomas Ravenel, Richard Terbrusch. Best Playing Pony: Fanta, Marcos Onetto. Ann Uskup presenting. Alex Pacheco photos.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


USPA National Copper Cup 12 Goal; October 2015

Gary Knoll

Crestview defeated Skaneateles,12-10. Connor Deal, Alan Meeker, Matias Magrini, Hugo Lloret, MVP: Mariano Obregon for Skaneateles. BPP: Rubia, Hugo Lloret. Cissie Snow & Samira Waernlund presenting.

Alex Pacheco

Alex Pacheco

Aiken Polo Club 2016

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USPA Officer’s Cup 8 Goal; October 2015

SD Farms defeated Duck Hill/Peachtree. Wesley Bryan, Fernando Olivera, Cesar Polledo (MVP), Kegan Walsh (not shown). BPP: Mozzarella, Marcos Onetto. Jackie Karllson of Taylor BMW presenting.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

Top: Fernando Olivera versus Marcos Onetto Above: Kegan Walsh. Photos by Gary Knoll


Corey Cup 6 Goal; October 2015

Woodlawn defeated Heritage Farm/Kings Row Coffee, 8-7. Phil Staples, Agustin Arellano, Chilo Cordova, Omar Cepeda (MVP.) BPP: String Cheese, Agustin Arellano. Pat Corey presenting.

Photo by Gary Knoll

November 2015: Fall Challenge 4 Goal

Woodlawn defeated Living the Vision, 10.5-6. Phil Staples, Chilo Cordova, Omar Cepeda (MVP), Josh Daniels. BPP: Activa, Omar Cepeda. Jami Chandler presenting.

Chilo Cordova hitting; Phil Staples behind Aiken Polo Club 2016

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USPA Sportsmanship Cup 6 Goal; May 2016

LBL Polo defeated Living the Vision/Gold’s Dragoons. Luis Galvan, Marcos Onetto, Alison Patricelli (MVP), Richard Terbusch. BPP: Fanta, Marcos Onetto. Chip Cooper of Cooper Motors presenting.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

MVP Alison Patricelli versus Jesus Ontiveros. Photo by Pam Gleason.


Cup of Aiken 6 Goal; May 2016 (carried over from fall 2015)

Blackberg Ranch defeated LBL Polo. Derek Berg, Eddy Martinez (MVP), Hope Arellano, Pedro Lara. BPP: 223, Luis Galvan. Photos by Katherine Thomas.

Aiken Polo Club 2016

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USPA Dogwood Cup 6 Goal; May 2016

Brookland Dragoons defeated Blackberg Ranch 8-5. Richard Terbrusch, Thomas Ravenel, Marcos Onetto (MVP) Luis Galvan. BPP: Susie, Omar Cepeda.

Omar Cepeda rides off Marcos Onetto. 30Photo by Gary Aiken Knoll.Polo Club 2016


June 2016: USPA Congressional Cup 8 Goal.

New Hope defeated SD Farms, 11-8. Luis Galvan, Dennys Santana (MVP) Pedro Lara, Theresa King. BPP: Elma, Cesar Polledo, owned by Sayyu Dantata.

Cesar Polledo hits while Dennys Santana goes for the hook. Theresa King follows up. Photo by Gary Knoll.

Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Getting Into Polo Learn to Play by Pam Gleason

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olo is more than just a game. It is a lifestyle, an addiction, and often even an obsession. A unique sport that combines the thrill of speed, the pleasure of hitting a ball, the joy of teamwork and an unequalled partnership with a beautiful and athletic animal, it is exhilarating in a way that is hard to beat. In addition, playing polo gives you access to a worldwide polo culture and makes you part of a special international club. Winston Churchill, a polo player himself, is often quoted as saying that

a myth. Polo players come from all parts of society. They are men and women, princes and dukes, members of the leisure class and people who work hard for a living at both blue and white collar jobs. There are old people and young people, small people and large people, individuals with incredible athletic prowess and those with average skills. Although it is not a sport to be taken up lightly, it is possible for pretty much anyone with the time and desire to give it a try.

Pam Gleason

Growing up in polo: Malia Bryan tries to hook Hope Arellano. Both teenagers are from polo families with two parents that play.

“a polo handicap is a passport to the world.” And Churchill was right. But how do you get this passport? Polo is surrounded by a certain mystique and it definitely has an elite aura. The stereotypical polo player is very rich. He is also male, likely a member of a royal family – and he probably isn’t very nice. Although there is no denying that there are some rich, royal, snobbish polo players, the idea that you have to be rich or have “prince” in your title in order to play is 34

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But if you wanted to get into polo, exactly how would you do it? Broadly speaking, there are three ways to get into polo. The first and easiest way is to be born into a polo family. If your parents play polo, there is an excellent chance that you will be holding a tiny mallet while you are still in diapers, and will progress to marching around the sidelines hitting a ball (with a slightly larger mallet) when you are a toddler. By the time you can read and write, you


might be taking part in junior polo matches, and from there, it is an easy canter to the tournament field. Of course, growing up in polo, you will be familiar with the rules and be a natural, confident rider. Even more important, you will be surrounded by mentors. Your parents, if they want to encourage

Pam Gleason

Lucas Galvan takes after his father Luis. He always has a mallet.

you, will make sure that you have appropriate horses to ride at every stage. They might also assist you in getting on teams and they might play with you in tournaments. Your family will already have all the more expensive things that you need to get to a match, such as horses, a truck and trailer and a room full of tack. Family polo has a great deal to recommend it, and many of today’s best players are from polo families and grew up in the sport. This makes sense: polo requires a combination of different skills, and like anything difficult, tends to favor those who start practicing when they are young. If you did not have the good fortune to be born in the sport, the next easiest way to become a player is to go to a secondary school or a college that has its own polo program. Interscholastic and intercollegiate polo has a long history in the United States. There were several college teams by the first decade of the 20th century and the first

United States Polo Association Intercollegiate Championship in 1922 pitted Princeton against Yale. (Princeton won.) Interscholastic polo is almost as old: the first USPA Interscholastic Championship was played in 1928 – the winner was the Manlius School, then a military academy near Syracuse, NY. Today, Intercollegiate/Interscholastic polo is both growing and thriving. There are 110 recognized I/I programs in the country with regularly scheduled matches as well as regional and national tournaments. (One fairly recent addition to the Intercollegiate roster is the polo team at the University of South Carolina Aiken.) In addition, last year the United States Polo Association created the Middle School League to open competition to younger players. Aiken Polo Club hosts the first Southeast Region Middle School tournament on October 8-9, 2016. Intercollegiate and Interscholastic programs vary widely in exactly what they provide participants. Some of the least structured programs partner with polo schools or private individuals who supply horses, instruction and a place to play. The most established programs have their own horses, facilities and coaches. At some universities, polo is even a varsity sport. Participation can cost students a nominal fee, or it can even be free. As of 2015, graduating high school players even have the opportunity to earn annual polo scholarships from the USPA to attend a college with a polo program. By 2018, the USPA expects to be giving $100,000 annually in college polo scholarships. There are many advantages to Intercollegiate/ Interscholastic polo and it is probably the single best way for new players with no polo background to get into the sport. For the student, it is generally inexpensive, there are good polo horses to ride and it is possible to learn to play along with other players of similar abilities and experience. A few years ago, the USPA started tracking the effect of I/I polo by asking its members if they had been involved in organized polo at their high school or college. Forty percent of them said yes. One of the drawbacks of I/I polo is that it can be difficult for players to transition from a program where everything is provided for them to the real world of polo. Polo after graduation is much more Aiken Polo Club 2016

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expensive and almost always requires the player to have his own organization. This includes a string of polo ponies, a truck and trailer, a place to play and the time to care for and exercise horses on a daily basis, or to the ability to pay someone else to do it. Historically, many college players have stopped playing after they graduate, in order to establish their careers and families. They come back to polo some decades later when they have more time and money to devote to the sport. Recognizing this trend, the USPA has started reaching out to former I/I players to provide them assistance if they want to stay in the game.

Gary Knoll

Pedro Lara rides off Kareem Rosser. Kareem got his start in interscholastic polo at Cowtown and went on to intercollegiate polo at Colorado State. Pedro and Kareem are both part of Team USPA, the association’s training program.

If you have you already been to college or are you too old to go, the third and final way to get into polo is to learn on your own. Some players get into the game by starting at the “ground floor.” For instance, individuals who are already familiar with horses but do not have the wherewithal to buy and maintain their own string might get a job in polo as a groom and then work their way into the game. This can take a long time, and some people who try to get into polo this way never get around to playing much at all. However, there are many professional players who got their start cleaning stalls and have ended up at the very top of the sport, competing at some of the world’s most prestigious tournaments. Other players take up polo as a hobby. How to start? It depends on your budget, your goals, and 36

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the amount of time you have at your disposal. There are a few polo schools around where you might go to take some lessons, and, at some of these places, it is even possible to rent horses by the chukker and play regularly. Or you might elect to take a vacation at a polo school in another country – there are several of these establishments in Argentina. The more usual way is to find a polo professional near you who teaches polo and learn from that player. If you want to become a full-fledged player, you will, eventually, have to buy your own horses and have some way to get them to the field, but if you find the right instructor you might not have to make a major investment right away. Who can play? Do you have to be rich, and an expert rider? The surprising answer is no, and no, although both if these things are helpful. Being a good rider to begin with will make it easier for you to progress, but there are many people who learn to ride at the same time as they learn to play. Being wealthy will make it easier for you to afford the game, especially if you have lofty ambitions, but many people who don’t have a lot of spare cash find a way to play somehow. Like many sports, polo can be played at different levels and with different price tags. To play polo you need three things: time, talent and money. Generally speaking, the more you have of any one of these three things, the less you need of the other two. If you have a lot of all three, you will go far in the sport. But every player will not compete in the 26-goal, any more than every sailor will race in the America’s Cup. Want to give it a try? You can start by asking for an instructor referral from our club manager. Young people who want to play are invited to join the Aiken Polo Club junior program, with practices on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings during the season. In 2015, the United States Polo Association started a program to create certified polo instructors and the USPA has a listing of the instructors who are currently certified by the association on its website. That list will be growing: there will be an instructor’s certification clinic here in Aiken in the fall of 2016. If you do decide to try polo, be forewarned. Polo is an addictive sport, and it can change your life. There is something magical about hitting that little white ball.


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Above: APC Board member Bob Stanton ahead of teammates John Gobin & Randy Rizor Below: APC members at practice. Kathy Iverson, Rick Salter and Lito Salatino Right: Aiken Polo member Randy Rizor rides off Fernando Olivera. Photos by Gary Knoll.


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Pam Gleason

Above: APC member Scott Brown rides off Alison Patricelli Below left: Nate Berube versus APC member Thomas Ravenel; Below right: Gabriel Crespo

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Aiken Polo Club 2016 Gary Knoll

Pam Gleason


Gary Knoll

APC Associate members. Above, Theresa King. Below: Gary Knoll versus Marcos Onetto, Pancho Eddy follows up.

Aiken Polo Club 2016

Pam43 Gleason


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The Importance of Teamwork Owen Rinehart on Polo

Story and Photography by Pam Gleason

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wen Rinehart has been in polo full time since he was 17 years old. He spent his youth playing with his father at arena and outdoor clubs in Virginia, and realized at a young age that he wanted to make a living in the game. After graduating from high school, he went to work for Dick Riemenschneider (“Remo”), a horseman and Virginia polo legend. From there, he took a job with Red Armour, a 9-goal player and 1999 inductee into the National Museum of Polo Hall of Fame. “I think when I started with Red I was 1 goal, and when I left five years later I was 5. I went up a goal a year, and I pretty much did that until I hit 7 goals,” says Owen. “After five years with Red, I was good enough to play professionally and I went out on my own. I had tremendous support from my family, and I got tons of help from other players like Red and Remo, Joe Barry and Tommy Wayman. They were interested in someone that worked hard, and if you did that and kept your nose clean, they would do anything for you.” Owen’s career followed an upward trajectory, and in 1991 his handicap was raised to 10 goals, making him part of a small and elite club. His career highlights are too many to enumerate, but include wins in the U.S. Open and Handicap, the Gold Cup and the Monty Waterbury Cup as well as the Westchester Cup against England and the British Coronation Cup. He was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 2009. Owen’s rise in polo was exceptional, but he says that in the years when he was getting established, there were many others who were playing at about the same level. “There were guys in front of me who were 8, 9, 10 goal players, and then guys who played with me who were coming up – I can name ten who were between 8 and 10 goals. The level of polo in the country was a lot higher then and the amateurs and the sponsors had higher ratings, too. They were 2, 3, 4 goals. Peter Brant was a sponsor and he was 7. You don’t see that any more.” Today, the highest rated American players are 8 goals and there are fewer than half a dozen American high goal professionals. Most sponsors are 0 or 1 goal players. As a result, the level of the tournaments has gone down everywhere except in Florida, simply because there aren’t enough goals available to make up high goal teams. Places that used to have 20 goal polo

now top out at 16, and places that used to have 16 goal polo have dropped back to 12. Why has this happened, and what can be done to bring polo back up? “I think about that a lot,” says Owen. “And I don’t have all the answers.” One reason for the decline is certainly economic: there are fewer sponsors prepared to support high goal polo. The “great recession” had a big impact on polo at all levels, but especially in the high goal. High goal polo is very expensive, and the economic downturn hit the high goal sponsors just as hard as it hit everyone else. “The first thing to go when money gets tight is polo,” says Owen. Another reason might be that, despite organized efforts to encourage talented young players, there have been few in recent years who have been able to devote themselves to the game 100 percent. This is also partially economic: it is hard to make it in polo, especially in this economy. Good jobs for professional polo players are scarce, and they don’t pay as well as they used to. “I see these guys who are coming up keeping their options open,” says Owen. “And I understand that and I can’t fault them for it. But I think you have to devote 100 percent of your efforts to something. Everything you want to do in life, if you want to do it well, you have to dive in. There is always a chance of failure. My saving grace when I was becoming a professional was that my mother and father were very supportive and I knew I would always have a place to go if everything failed.” A third factor, perhaps, is that the game has changed, largely due to the influence of Adolfo Cambiaso, an Argentine 10-goaler widely known as the best player in the world. Adolfo has been playing in the United States for about 25 years, and his style in this country (though not in Argentina) involves tapping the ball more often than hitting it hard and a tendency to control the ball by dribbling rather than make passes to his teammates. “Adolfo will go down in history as the greatest player that ever lived, and deservedly so,” says Owen. “He changed the game. Very few players in any sport ever do that. But now you have a whole generation that emulates him and that has made it very different. Polo

Owen Rinehart on the ball, USPA National Copper Cup 2015 Aiken Polo Club 2016

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has become a game of possession. You used to hit to an open space, and your teammates would know to go up for a pass. If there was no one there, you might still hit a long ball and get it 150 yards up the field, gain some yardage. But you don’t do that any more. Now no one wants to get rid of the ball.” A corollary to this style of play is the idea that the best players on the team should be the ones hitting the ball. The other players concentrate on defense, taking out an opponent or “setting a pick” to free the better players to run down the field with the ball. “Man first and then the ball will exist forever if you want to be good at polo,” says Owen. “Get the man and the ball will come to you. But now all the sponsors are supposed to do is pick, and as a result they never get any better. It’s happening this way all around the globe: instead of four-man polo, you have three-man polo or two-man polo.” According to Owen, it’s not just the sponsors who are not improving the way they once did. Aspiring professionals may not have as much opportunity to move up because they, too, are often expected to spend the entire game on defense. They might play their position perfectly, but if no one ever passes them

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Aiken Polo Club 2016

the ball, they can’t contribute and improve. “I feel like the only way to bring polo back is to make it four-man polo again,” says Owen. “The professionals need to work with the sponsors to make them better – stick-and-ball with them, help them with their horses. I know that it’s hard, because a lot of these pros are just hired by the game, and they are playing two and three tournaments at once just so that they can pay their bills, but maybe the sponsors could pay them a little more to do it. And then the pros need to use them in the game. I always used to think it was part of my job. If I could make my sponsor play one goal better, that’s just as valuable as if I play one goal better. And if we both play one goal better then we are probably going to win.” But winning, as the saying goes, isn’t everything, and sometimes it is the focus on winning that encourages the more individualistic style of play. If the best player on the team keeps control of the ball, that might improve the chance of scoring more goals, but it is not necessarily good for polo in the long run. “Polo has to get back to the basics: everyone has a position and everyone plays that position,” says Owen. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would put together a team of people that I liked on and off the field, and the first thing I would say to them is I don’t care if I win or lose, I want to play as well as I can, and I want it to be a team effort. The results will speak for themselves. If I had a choice between playing well and losing, or playing badly and winning, I would choose playing well every time. “Polo is a great sport,” he continues. “Maybe the truth is that the sport is cyclical, and we are in a down cycle right now. If you look at history, there was a long gap after World War II when we didn’t have any 10-goal players, and then it came back up. Maybe it has to do with the recession, which I think had more impact than we realize.” Bringing the level of polo up might best be achieved through teamwork on every level. “Our clubs have to start working together on their schedules so that their tournaments are not at the same time and competing with each other. Players need to pass the ball and use the whole team. I am optimistic about polo: it’s the best sport I know of, and I don’t think it will ever go away, but I would like to see it rebound, especially here in Aiken. Aiken is an ideal place to play and a great place to be.”


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Mead Hall and Polo A Historical Connection by Pam Gleason

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ne of the most exciting developments at Aiken Polo Club in recent years is the return of junior polo. The junior program was founded and is run by Tiger Kneece, a former 7-goal player who learned polo on Aiken’s fields, and Tiger’s daughter Summer is among the participants. Like several of her teammates, she is a student at Mead Hall Episcopal School in Aiken. Polo is not an official sport at Mead Hall today, but its connection to Aiken Polo Club is deep and longstanding. Mead Hall, which opened in the 1950s, and Aiken Preparatory School, established in 1916, were merged in 2012. Both have important polo connections. Aiken Prep was founded by the Hitchcock family and their friends, who were also the main promoters of Aiken’s historic Winter Colony. Credit for the creation of Aiken Prep is usually given to Louise Hitchcock (“Lulie”), whose younger son Frankie was a student from the beginning. At the time, the Aiken Winter Colony was in a phase of rapid growth and many families came down from

Future Superstars: the Aiken Prep polo team 1922. Cokie Rathbone (7 goals), Elbridge Gerry (9 goal Hall of Famer) Jimmy Mills (8 goal Hall of Famer) & Freddie Nicholas

New York, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere to spend the colder months in the mild Southern climate. Aiken Prep was designed for those families. Students typically boarded at the school five days a week and came home for the weekends. Initially, Aiken Prep was for grades 4-8, but later it would expand to include additional grades. From the school’s inception, the curriculum always encouraged both academics and athletics. The athletic program included tennis, golf, baseball, boxing, track,

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swimming, shooting, soccer, and, especially, equestrian pursuits. Aiken Prep students rode on the hunt with the Aiken Hounds and they played polo both on horses and on bicycles. Mrs. Hitchcock was a great advocate of bicycle polo, and her children’s programs were perhaps the first, and probably the best-known bicycle polo leagues in the country. From 1919 through the middle 1930s, horse and bicycle polo were official sports at Aiken Prep, giving young players an unequalled introduction to the game. Starting in 1923, Aiken Prep also had its own riding master, Captain William Gaylard, a former British Army officer and a polo player who ran the equestrian program at the Aiken Prep School stables for more than 30 years. (He also often served as the umpire at Aiken Polo Club games.) Captain Gaylard’s students remember him as a somewhat terrifying figure who expected a great deal from his pupils. His riding method could be expressed in a few words: “Legs, body, reins,” and he enjoined the boys to “make much of your horses.” But, however much he may have intimidated his charges, there is no denying that he and Mrs. Hitchcock got exceptional results. In fact, the polo players developed at Aiken Prep from the early 1920s up until

World War II would go on to be some of the best in the country. Seven Aiken Prep alumni have been inducted into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame: Alan Corey, Jimmy Mills, Stewart Iglehart, Norty Knox, Elbridge Gerry, Pete Bostwick and Billy Post (Billy Post, by the way, is the model for the Aiken Polo Club player logo.) Many others went on to earn top ratings and compete in the most prestigious tournaments in the country. Notable successes include the Old Aiken team, a foursome of 1618 year-old Aiken Prep alumni who were undefeated in America’s summer tournaments for two years in the late


1920s, playing against seasoned adults with international experience. It was an Aiken Prep tradition to record the names of the captains of each sports team on a plaque on the wall every year. Reading the names of the captains of bicycle and horse polo at the former Aiken Prep is like reading a Who’s Who of prewar American polo. The success of the boys that Mrs. Hitchcock taught for her Aiken and Long Island Meadow Lark polo team earned her the title of “mother of American polo.” Mrs. Hitchcock was inducted into the National Polo Hall of Fame in 1995, mostly on the strength of that record. “Few can be credited with producing as much polo excellence as Louise Hitchcock,” reads her biography on the Hall of Fame website. Mead Hall was named for George H. Mead Jr., the son of a prominent Aiken Winter Colony family with strong ties to polo. George’s father, George H. Mead Sr., was a devoted player on Aiken Polo Club’s fields. His family came from Dayton, Ohio where they were in the paper business, and George senior is credited with bringing the first polo to Dayton in 1916. Playing off a 3-goal rating, he remained devoted to the sport throughout his life and served as the honorary treasurer of the United States Polo Association in the 1930s.

In August 1942, his platoon encountered a sniper on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. According to a citation presented to him posthumously, George “proceeded alone into the depths of the jungle, searched out the hidden offender and shot him with a .45 caliber pistol.” Although he took out the sniper, he was also shot and died, but “he enabled his platoon to resume and complete its mission without further loss of life. The gallant conduct displayed by Lieutenant Mead upon this occasion was in keeping with the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.” He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism. In the middle 1950s, the Mead family donated their Aiken home to St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church in order to create a day school in honor of their son, and Mead Hall Episcopal School was born. Today, Mead Hall encompasses both its own original buildings and the former Aiken Prep campus. and it has classes from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Things that have not changed at the school are the emphasis on learning, both in the classroom and on the sports field. Polo has not been a big part of the school for many decades, but now that Aiken Polo Club has a junior program, a growing number of the school’s students are trying the game. If polo for the young continues to grow here, perhaps Mead Hall will eventually have its own interscholastic team.

Bicycle Polo team 1949: Jimmy Bostwick, Peter Bostwick, Norrie Sellars & Sandy Frame

The Meads owned a winter “cottage” in Aiken called The Pillars, and George junior, along with his two brothers went to Aiken Prep, where George distinguished himself as a scholar and an athlete. In 1932, the year that he graduated, he was captain of the horse and bicycle polo teams, captain of the soccer team, the champion swimmer, president of the “Semper Viridis” club, the winner of the Palmetto Scholarship and the school whip on the hunt. After Aiken Prep he went to the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, and from there to Yale, where he was captain of the polo team. He graduated in 1941, and then joined the Marine Corps.

Junior players, 2016 include Mead Hall students Summer Kneece and Alea Crespo, as well as Liza & Celia Cram, Anna Hale, Daniel McCarthy and more.

A return of polo to the campus would be a natural fit, and might be a positive step for the sport itself. After all, when Aiken Prep had polo back in the 1920s and 1930s it nurtured a whole generation of players who significantly raised the level of the sport in our country. Could that happen again? It is something worth hoping for.

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Wesley Bryan, 2016. Inset: Wesley in 2009 Photos by Gary Knoll


Above: Alan Meeker and Barb Uskup turn on the play: USPA National Copper Cup action. Below: Hugo Lloret gets the hook on Antonio Galvan Photos by Pam Gleason

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A Few Ideas for Improvement Better Your Game by Adam Snow

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ver the summer, I coached a half-day polo clinic in Menlo Park, California. To help participants improve as much as possible in the few hours we had together, I came up with three keywords: positioning, preparation and transition. These words convey crucial elements of almost every fast-paced team sport. If your goal is to make the fundamentals of polo instinctive while you play, these factors warrant both consideration and practice. Positioning is about placing yourself on the pitch in the most effective spot over and over again throughout the course of the game. Since polo often involves four pairs of two (individual members from opposing teams) off the ball, I advise players to position themselves in such a way that they can look “through” the player they are marking to see what is happening with the ball. My teammate, the former 10-goal player, Owen Rinehart, describes this concept as “starting in a position that your opponent wants to get to and then herding” the player you are covering towards a disadvantaged place on the field. (For instance, you might “herd” him over to the boards.) Another way of thinking about this play is being on the goal side of your respective mark. Which goal? That depends whether your team is attacking (offensive goal-side) or defending (defensive goal-side). Lastly, we need to take into account our own personal and horse strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the player we are marking in order to understand and seek the best position for the play at hand. Preparation, for the purposes of this piece, is taking care of those things that will allow you to arrive at the ball in a calm and decisive manner. The great Argentine player Daniel Gonzalez (he won seven abiertos, some of the most important tournaments in the world, as a player and three as a coach) posited that a “polo player’s handicap is proportional to the time they give themselves to look around and make the correct decision on the next play before arriving to the ball.” The best players appear to arrive at the ball with plenty of time because they get there prepared. Knowing the

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options available, having surveyed the field around them, and with the horse at the right speed and distance from the ball all help to make the execution of their plays appear clean and decisive. So, as you approach the ball, try to think about setting yourself up for success. Finding a good rhythm for your horse, riding to a spot that makes the ball easy to hit, and bringing your mallet hand back early enough that you never have to rush your swing can make your plays easier to finish. To take this preparation one step further: think about using your eyes like the zoom lens on a camera. Zoom out, when there’s still time on your approach to the ball. You will locate the players around you, evaluate your best options, maybe even hear a teammate call for a particular pass and have time to pick-out a target. Then, once you have made your decision, zoom in on a spot on the ball. When you get there, hit it the way you have practiced many times on the stick and ball field. Your pass is not always going to come off perfectly, but good preparation helps you execute ball plays the way you would like to. Transitions, switching from offense to defense and vice versa has always been one of my favorite aspects of the game. This is where the respective team advantages show up and most goal scoring opportunities occur. Anticipation, horses, equitation, knowing your particular assignment, and a little bit of guesswork are critical factors for being sharp on transition plays and repositioning yourself as efficiently as possible. The goal is to come out either with the ball, with good field placement, or with a good position relative to your mark. One great way to practice transitions is to play two-on-two on a stick and ball field. In a two


Adam Snow hooks Horacio Onetto. Photo by Gary Knoll

on two match, when you miss your mark on a turn, it shows up clear as day – you can begin planning what to do differently next time. For starters a simple objective is to try to come out of a transition play with the same mark that you entered it with. From there you can improvise with other strategies such as anticipating the direction of the opponent’s backshot or making a calculated guess as to when a bouncing ball will not be hit. To work on these three keywords at the Menlo Park Circus Club, I devised a drill where two teammates attempted to connect on a back-shot pass against one opponent who was pressuring the player on the ball. Preparation (to hit the back-shot with proper angle) and position (for the receiver to be open to receive the pass) were crucial to this transition. And the beauty of this particular play is that, when properly executed, it turns defense

into offense with one pass. When we played a few chukkers together at the end of the drill session, shouts of “transition! transition!” rang around the field when players recognized that they were about to be making just such a switch from defense to offense, or visa versa. I never asked them to signal aloud in this manner (it occurs to me now that they may have just been making fun of their coach!) but, regardless, it’s a great way to consciously prepare for one the most fun and challenging aspects of the game: turning around as fast as you can! Adam Snow, a former 10-goal professional polo player, lives in Aiken with his wife, Shelley Onderdonk, a veterinarian. Adam and Shelley recently wrote and published a book entitled Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen. Find the book at equestrian locations around town or order it online.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Above: Matthew Fonseca tries to hook Chilo Cordova. Photo by Pam Gleason. Below Left: Matias Magrini tries to get past Mariano Obregon and Costi Cossett. Below right: Julio Arellano, America’s highest rated player. Right: Luis Galvan on the near side keeps the ball away from Lucas Arellano & Chilo Cordova. Photos by Gary Knoll.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Members of the next generation demonstrate their skills on Whitney Field. Above: Josh Escapite hits. Below: Summer Kneece on the nearside. Photos by Gary Knoll.

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


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Aiken Polo Club 2016

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The Aiken Polo Story

A Long and Distinguished History By Pam Gleason n the late 1800s, Aiken was famous as a health resort and a vacation spot. Not only did it attract many seasonal visitors from the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia, it also brought in hundreds of winter travelers from the North. By

I

In those years, horse sports were particularly in vogue. In 1876, James Gordon Bennett, an eccentric newspaper publisher, saw a game of polo in England and became fascinated with it. Returning to New York with a suitcase full of mallets, he introduced the sport to members of New York society. Polo, which has its roots in antiquity, caught on quickly and began to make its way across the country. Captain Clarence Southerland Wallace, a New Yorker and an executive in the Havemeyer Sugar Company (now Domino sugar) organized Aiken’s first game. That first game took place at the site of today’s Whitney Field on Mead Avenue. According to the March 27, 1882 edition of the Charleston News and Courier, the game was a gala affair attended by about 10,000 spectators. “Gay parties of ladies and gentlemen mounted on prancing steeds dashed over the countryside enjoying the delightful surroundings . . . . Sumptuous luncheons were served. . .The crack military company the Aiken Palmetto Rifles, entertained with dress parades, but all this paled in significance before the brilliant and successful introduction of James Gordon Bennett’s popular national game, polo. It has caused a great sensation and revolutionized the city as far as amusements are concerned.” Not much is known about the very earliest years of polo in the city, but by the 1890s, it was a well-established and popular pastime among full time residents and winter colonists Aiken Polo’s 50th anniversary celebration, 1932. F.S. (Skiddy) von alike. Local historians generally credit the Stade was the marshall of the parade dressed in 1882 costume development of polo in the city to the Hitchcock family, who summered on Long Island 1880, these “tourists” had established a Winter and wintered in Aiken. Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. was Colony in the city. They would come down on one of the first 10-goalers in America and a member the train in November, pursue outdoor activities of America’s first international polo squad in 1886. with a vengeance until April, then pack up and His wife, Louise Hitchcock, known as Lulie, played migrate home. Tourists came from Boston, Chicago, herself, encouraged others to take up the sport and Philadelphia and especially New York.

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Aiken has a long history of female players: Molly Crawford, Frances Post, Helen Knox, Betty Ruckelshaus & Betty Schemmerhorn

organized and coached fast and furious junior games of both horse and bicycle polo. Many young players nurtured in Mrs. Hitchcockís junior programs went on to become the premier players in America in the 1920s and 30s. The Hitchcocks’ son, Tommy Hitchcock, a 10-goal international superstar, was the most famous player in America before World War II. Today, his name is synonymous with polo greatness. He was also, incidentally, a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and is said to have been the inspiration behind the character Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, Aiken was the acknowledged polo center of the South. Great numbers of high-ranked players came to spend the winter, competing daily on the 16 fields the city offered. The horse trainer Fred Post arrived in Aiken in the early 1910s and soon had as many as 100 horses in training, along with a stable full of young players to work them. Polo dominated the Aiken sports scene, and poloists who practiced

in Aiken went on to represent the United States in numerous international matches. Famous players included the Hitchcocks, the Bostwicks, the Gerrys, the Posts, the Knoxes, the von Stades, the Igleharts, Alan Corey Jr., Harry Payne Whitney, Jimmy Mills, Russell Grace, Jules Rompf, Devereux Milburn and Louis E. Stoddard. It was the Golden Age of American polo, and Aiken was at the center of it all. World War II dealt a severe blow to polo everywhere. During the conflict, Aiken’s women’s teams held occasional charity matches to raise money for war bonds. After the war, regular polo resumed on Aiken’s fields under the auspices of the Knox, Bostwick and Corey families. Society was changing, however, and as the years passed, polo in America was in decline. Many of the illustrious players from before the war retired or died, and fewer members of the next generations stayed with polo. Across the country, old clubs were falling to development. Aiken still had Whitney Field and the complex of fields on Powder House Road and a group of families upheld Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Gary Knoll

Aiken’s polo tradition, but it was only a shadow of what it had been in earlier years. Beginning in the mid-1970s, polo was coming back across America. Players from other parts of the country moved to Aiken, joining the descendants of players from the Golden Age and encouraging others to take up the sport. By 1982, the Centennial year of polo in Aiken, the club was on the upswing. Tom Biddle, David Widener and Gene Kneece, wanting to play with their sons, helped develop a new program on Aiken’s historic fields. Tom and Gene’s sons, Tommy Biddle and Tiger Kneece, matured into top professionals, bringing their talents to clubs around the country. Things really heated up in the 1990s when Owen Rinehart and Adam Snow, two of America’s best players, bought property outside town and established the Langdon Road Club to hold medium and high goal matches. Soon, the horseman Dan McCarthy set up a green horse training operation nearby. Then Russ McCall and Matias Magrini established the New Bridge Polo and Country Club, bringing with them more high goal polo. More and more players moved to Aiken, buying up old cotton fields, forests and farms, putting in first class tournament and practice fields.

Other clubs sprouted around the county expanding the polo options. Meanwhile, programs for children’s polo introduced a crowd of young players to the sport, many of whom are now formidable competitors. The newest crop of young players, nurtured in Tiger Kneece’s junior program, will be tournament ready soon. Today, Aiken has an international reputation as a place to play, as well as a place to breed and train polo ponies. Players come to Aiken for the spring season on their way north from Florida, or for the fall season on their way south from points north and west. A growing number of players stay and play year round, and Aiken now has both summer and winter polo, as well as several arenas that hold matches. Polo is an essential part of the city because, as 10-goaler Devereux Milburn remarked many years ago, “so many people who love horses naturally are attracted to Aiken.” This attraction is still as great as it was in Milburn’s day. With its distinguished history and its current popularity, Aiken Polo’s future is bright, and Whitney Field, the oldest polo field in continuous use in the United States, promises to hold its place as the focal point of Aiken’s Sunday afternoons for many years to come. Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016


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Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Polo Glossary

Bump: A player may ride his horse into his opponent’s in order to spoil his shot or remove him from the play. The angle of the bump must be no greater than 45 degrees. A bump is dangerous riding and a foul if either horse is significantly ahead of the other, going much faster than the other, or if the bump causes either mount to lose its balance.

grooms whose jobs may also include caring for, training and exercising the player’s horses six or seven days a week, as well as driving the truck and trailer, cleaning the tack and even cleaning the player’s boots and knee pads.

Half Goal: In some tournaments, the outcome of the

game might be decided by half goals, which are generally not reflected on the scoreboard. There are three half goal ratings for players: B.5 (minus one half ), A.5 (plus one half ) and a 1.5 (one and a half ). If one team is rated half a goal less than the other team and the game ends in a tie, the lower rated team will be the winner by a half goal. The half goal ratings only count in 6 goal polo and below.

Handicap: Every player is assigned a handicap from C

(-2) to 10 goals. This handicap reflects the player’s theoretical worth to his team and has nothing whatever to do with how many goals he might score during a match. On each team, the four players’ handicaps are added together to arrive at a team handicap. Team handicaps are used to classify tournaments: in an 8-goal tournament, the teams have a maximum of eight goals, for instance. If a 7-goal team plays against an 8-goal

Pam Gleason

Chukker:

A period in polo is called a chukker, or sometimes a chukka. Each chukker lasts seven to seven and a half minutes and there are usually either four or six chukkers in each game. After each chukker, the players leave the field and then return with fresh horses for the next chukker. A horse may play one or at most two chukkers in a game.

Divot: A loose piece of turf created by galloping hooves, or by horses stopping and turning quickly. At halftime, spectators are invited on the field to replace the divots, otherwise known as stomping the divots. Flagger: An official who is stationed behind each goal to determine whether or not a goal has been scored. If yes, the flagger waves his flag over his head. If no, he waves it down by his feet. Goal:

The purpose of polo is to score goals by hitting the ball through the goal posts. After each goal is scored, the teams switch directions and return to the center of the field for a throw-in. “Goal” is also a term for a handicap, as in “How many goals are you?” (See “Handicap”.)

Groom: The person who cares for, tacks, untacks and washes the horses during the game. Many players have fulltime 78

Aiken Polo Club 2016

Gary Knoll

team, the 7-goal team will start the game with one goal, on handicap.

Hook: A player may hook or strike at his opponent’s mallet when the opponent is in the act of hitting at the ball. He may not reach over, under or across his opponent’s horse: this is a cross hook and a foul. A high hook (above the level of the player’s shoulder) is also a foul. Knock-in: When the ball goes over the endline but not through the goal posts, the team defending that goal gets a free hit or knock-in from the point where the ball went out. Attacking players must stay 30 yards away from the hitter until the ball is in play. Line of the Ball: The imaginary line that the ball creates from where a player hits it to where it is going. The line extends indefinitely across the field. Many of the right-of-way rules in polo are based on the concept of the line of the ball. Generally,


one tries not to cross the line of the ball, especially in front of someone who is on the line.

Mallet: The polo stick. Since polo is not croquet, players

do not have to hit the ball with the pointed end of the mallet. Instead, they hit it with the side of the head, at the juncture of the head and the cane.

Near Side: The left side of the horse. One normally handles the horse on his near side. A near side shot is one taken on the left side of the horse. All players carry their mallets in their right hands, so to execute a near side shot, they must lean across the horse. Off Side: The right side of the horse. The most common shot in polo is an off side forehand, a forward shot.

Sideboards: Low boards that help keep the ball from

going out of bounds. If the ball goes over the sideboards, the players line up facing the boards and the umpire bowls the ball between them, just as he does after a goal. Although play stops if the ball goes over the boards, horses jump them regularly and keep on playing. Time does not stop when a ball goes out of bounds. However, if the ball goes out of bounds or hits the boards after the 30-second warning horn has sounded, this will end the chukker.

Sudden Death: If the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the game goes to sudden death overtime. The overtime chukker is timed just like a regular chukker, and ends either if a team scores, or at the seven-and-a-half minute mark. Tack-time: A time out that is called because one of the

players has a piece of broken equipment. Unless the player with the broken equipment is in imminent danger, tack-time is only called after the play has stopped for some other reason, such as a foul or a goal. The player is allowed to leave the field to repair or replace the broken item.

Tail shot: A back shot executed at an angle behind the horse. The opposite of a tail shot is a cut, or an open shot Technical: A penalty exacted against displays of poor sportsmanship.

Third Man: The third man sits on the sidelines and

watches the play carefully. It is his duty to settle disputes between umpires by giving his opinion as to whether or not a foul was committed.

Throw-In: The way a ball is put into play in a neutral Gary Knoll

Penalty One: a dangerous foul that takes place near the

goal, created when a defending player attempts to stop an attacker from scoring. In a Penalty One, the team fouled gets an automatic goal. The teams do not change ends, and the ball is thrown in at the 10 yard line.

Pony:

Although they are full-sized, full-grown horses, polo mounts are called ponies. This term comes from the early modern history of polo when players really did ride ponies. Today, most are Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses.

Pony Goal: a goal that is scored by a pony kicking it in. Pony goals count just the same as goals scored by players.

Ride-off: In a ride-off, a player encourages his horse to lean into his opponent’s horse in order to keep his opponent from hitting the ball. The rider may also make contact with his opponent, but only with his shoulder. Elbowing is a foul. Safety: If a defending player hits the ball over his own endline, the umpires blow the whistle for a safety. The attacking team takes a foul shot 60 yards out, parallel to the point at which the ball went out of bounds.

situation, such as at the beginning of the game, after a goal, or if the ball goes out of bounds. The umpire lines the two teams up facing him, and then bowls the ball between them. Each team fights for possession.

Stick and Ball: practicing polo by cantering around,

hitting the ball.

Shoot-Out: If the game is tied at the end of the game and the players do not want to play a sudden death chukker, or have already played one, the winner can be determined by a shootout. In this case, each player on each team takes a turn hitting a 40-yard foul shot. When all four players on each team have hit, the team that has scored the most goals is declared the winner by one goal. If the teams are tied, then the players hit again in turn until one team comes out ahead. USPA:. The United States Polo Association is the governing body of equestrian sport. Established in 1890, the USPA is the second oldest sports governing body in the U.S. (The United States Tennis Association, founded in 1881, is the oldest.) The USPA formulates and updates the rules, establishes the handicaps and works to promote and improve the sport. It is possible to join the association as a full member, a junior member or a student member. If you are a polo fan, you can even join as an associate member. (www.uspolo.org)

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Index of Advertisers

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Aiken County Farm Supply

47

First Citizens Bank & Trust

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Aiken Pest Control

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Floyd & Green

9

Aiken Polo Sponsors

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Gypsy Belt

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Aiken Saddlery, Inc.

23

Harrison K-9 Security Service, LLC

4

Aiken Veterinary Clinics, P.A.

75

Harvard's Wine & Beverage

54

Aiken Yoga

74

Holley Tractor

51

All Star Rents

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Hutson Etherredge Companies

58

Auto Tech

73

Inner Beauty

16

Banks Mill Feeds

55

Kenny Ray Personal Training

22

Be Fly Free

54

Lionel Smith Ltd.

61

Bee Healthy

46

Marketplace Paints

50

Bespoke

46

Mead Hall Episcopal School

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Boxwood Bicycle Polo

77

Meadow Hill LLC

60

Breeze Hill Plantation

75

Meybohm Realtors Stinson

3

Brick Campaign

58

Meybohm Realtors Turner

67

Bruan Weaver Designs

70

Michael Brown DVM

22

BWX

6

Monetta Farrier Specialties

54

Carolina Eastern, Aiken

74

Mr. Central

61

Carriage House Inn

75

Oak Manor Saddlery

16

Charles Fliflet CPA

72

Polo Life, the book

60

Cold Creek Nurseries

74

Prestige Appliance

58

Cooper Motors

33

Prime Steakhouse

60

Copper Horse

70

Ray Massey

77

Creative Financial Strategies

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Ronnie's Hitches & Trailers

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Crescent Motors

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SC Shavings

58

Crestview Genetics

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Shane Doyle

83

Dave's Grill & Grocery

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Taylor BMW Audi

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Derrick Equipment

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The Bradley

84

Designer Builders

5

The Cato Corporation

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Dixie Well

72

The Saddle Doctor

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Dumpster Depot

59

The Tackeria

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Edward Jones

67

The Willcox

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Enviroscape

32

Tod's Hill/ReMax

2

Equine Divine

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Warhorse Photography

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Equisport Agency

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Warneke Cleaners

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Estrella Equine

54

Aiken Polo Club 2016


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Historic Aiken Polo Skiddy von Stade by Pam Gleason

F

rancis Skiddy von Stade, born in 1884, grew up with the love of horses in his blood. His father, Frederick H. von Stade, was a Thoroughbred racing enthusiast who had a summer home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. where he was the vice president of the Saratoga Association for the Improvement of the Breed of Horses. Skiddy took to polo at an early age, and by the time he entered Harvard in 1903, he was an accomplished player. He competed on the Harvard Polo team and then, after his graduation in 1907, continued to play around the country. His teams won the Open Championship in 1912, 1913, 1919 and 1920. He was 6 goals and his teammates included the 10-goalers Devereux Milburn, Louis Stoddard, Malcolm Stevenson and J. Watson Webb.

Freudy Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Polo Hall of Fame

Loving anything to do with horses, Skiddy also rode to hounds, was a member of the Pytchley Hunt in England, and as a young man was a regular “gentleman rider” in National Steeplechase and Hunt Association races. In June 1915, Skiddy was married to Kathryn Steele, after a polo family romance. Kathryn’s older sister Nancy was married to Devereux Milburn, and they were all friends on the polo field. The winter after the wedding, the young couple came to Aiken, where Skiddy played polo with Aiken Polo Club and they both enjoyed everything the Winter Colony had to offer. Within a few years, they had built their own winter cottage, Holiday House, on the edge of the Hitchcock Woods. Meanwhile they also started their

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family, which would eventually include five sons and three daughters. From that early beginning through the 1960s, Skiddy was involved with anything that had to do with horses in Aiken. He rode with the Aiken Hounds, was a contributor to the original Aiken Steeplechase Association, was an official at the Aiken Horse Show, and a regular on the polo field. In 1932, when Aiken Polo Club held its 50th anniversary celebration, he was the marshal of the parade that took over the city and the umpire of the 50th anniversary game. After he retired from active playing, he was an umpire in international matches as well as a selector for the U.S. national team. The von Stade children continued the family equestrian traditions. Charles von Stade, born in 1919, became one of the most promising polo players of his generation, attaining an 8-goal rating before he was killed near the end of World War II, when his Jeep ran over a landmine in Germany. Dolly von Stade (born in 1921) was a legendary horsewoman, who rode and showed hunters, played polo and was the MFH of the Aiken Hounds for over a quarter century. She married the polo player and steeplechase jockey Pete Bostwick, and their sons, Charlie and Ricky became polo players – today Charlie is the president of Aiken Polo Club. Another von Stade grandchild, Lellie Ward, is a wellknown eventing trainer who owns Paradise Farm in Aiken. Skiddy von Stade died in 1967 at the age of 82. His obituary in the New York Times called him “one of the nation’s most eminent horsemen.” An article about him in a New York Racing Association publication praised his accomplishments, but most especially his character. “Above all, Mr. von Stade’s integrity was legend. This was, perhaps, his great legacy. . . He was symbolic of everything good in the sport and his passing leaves an unfillable void.” According to family history, however, Skiddy’s life almost ended in 1912. That year, he and his great friend Ambrose Clark were enjoying the steeplechasing season in Ireland. The night before they were to sail back to the United States, they went out to celebrate winning a race, stayed out late drinking Champagne and overslept so badly that they missed the ship that was to take them back to New York. And it was a good thing too, since that ship was the Titanic, making her first and only voyage. Just three days later, on April 14, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, killing over 1,500 of its roughly 2,200 passengers and crew. Skiddy and Ambrose might well never have made it home. They did, of course. It was too much Champagne that had saved them.


Aiken Polo Club 2016

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Aiken Polo Club 2016  

Read the Aiken Polo Club magazine. Information about polo for the first time spectator and the seasoned player: An interview with Owen Rineh...

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