with the kids, coaching, keeping the game moving and filming it all with a Go-Pro camera mounted to his helmet. Dan McCarthy, a horse trainer who runs Farmer Road Polo, comes to the field to watch his son Daniel play. Josh Escapite is the son of a professional
usually B (-1) for at least their first year or two on the field. Most of them don’t generally play significantly above that rating for the majority of the game, but they do tend to have excellent hitting and riding as well as one-or-two-goal-worthy flashes of brilliance
player (Cuko Escapite) while his mother is an equine veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Thompson. Rick and Cathy Cram, who own Highfields Event Center and run Progressive Show Jumping, have two daughters who play, Liza and Celia. Their family is obviously into horses, but the two girls are the only Cram representatives who are wielding mallets. The kids in the junior program are still at a beginning stage and their exhibition chukkers at halftime on Aiken Polo Club’s Sunday field rarely break out of a slow canter. In a few years, however, these same kids are likely to be speed demons, playing fast and hard with the adults. Young people of 16 or 17 who have been playing since they were little more than toddlers have a big advantage over other players with relatively little experience. Although they are not as strong as the adults, they have a better sense of the game, a more natural way of riding, and they can often hit surprisingly long and accurate shots. Because of this, having a teenager on your team can be a real advantage. Their handicaps are still low,
that can really make a difference in the score. This is why they picked up a number of MVP awards at Aiken Polo Club in the spring. For example, Josh Daniels, 14, whose father Julian is a 6-goal professional, was the MVP of the USPA Dogwood Cup 4-goal. Tristan Hurley, 17, was named the MVP of the Sunday, May 24 game in the same tournament. Other teenagers have taken home the MVP title pretty frequently at APC, most notably Wesley Bryan, now 18 and a member of Team USPA, the United States Polo Association’s training program for aspiring professionals. Any student of the game recognizes that playing polo is a little like playing the violin. If you want to be good, it is best to start as young as possible. Where violin has the Suzuki Method, putting scaled down instruments in the hands of 4-year-olds, polo has foot mallets and junior programs. If the current crop of young players is any indication, Aiken’s fields will soon be seeing whole teams of virtuosos.
Aiken Polo Club 2015