WELLINGTON — Stadium flags at Sunday’s USPA Gold Cup final at International Polo Club Palm Beach were flown at half-staff in honor of polo patriarch Bob Daniels, 74, who died early Saturday morning from injuries sustained during a game last week.
During a 12-goal game Wednesday at his Pony Express field in Wellington, Daniels’ horse stumbled and Daniels was thrown off, landing on his head. He was flown by Trauma Hawk to St. Mary’s Medical Center where he was placed on life support.
Bob Daniels, patriarch of Pony Express, died Saturday at St. Mary’s Medical Center after being thrown from his horse Wednesday at his Pony Express field in Wellington.
Before Sunday’s games, his five sons, including his three youngest, Justin, Benji and Landon, all top junior polo players taught by their father, rode out to midfield with a riderless horse led by his top pro and coach Tomas Goti in his honor. The sellout crowd held a moment of silence for one of the sport’s pioneers and most beloved players.
Carlitos Gracida, son of the legendary Carlos Gracida, who was also killed in a polo accident two years ago, wrote the young sons a poignant note.
“Losing your dad is so hard. I’ve felt what you boys feel, and it sucks, but just look at it as an opportunity to become a man at a young age…”
According to a release from the United States Polo Association, Daniels was a member since 1981, serving on the High Goal Committee from 2011 through 2014, as well as his present service on the USPA Umpires LLC Board since 2012.
“Everyone at the U.S. Polo Association and our entire polo community is deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Daniels, one of our sport’s most prominent and dedicated players and an avid supporter of our Association. Bob was a true advocate for polo and a staple in the game he loved. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones,” said USPA CEO Duncan Huyler in the statement.
Daniels was a staple in the polo community, the statement said. He spent 16 years (1996-2011) competing in the USPA’s U.S. Open Polo Championship with Pony Express, making it to the finals at Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in 1999, where his horse, Lupe, was also honored with the Willis L. Hartman Trophy for Best Playing Pony in the U.S. Open. He also competed 16 consecutive years (1983-98) in the East Coast Open, capturing the title at Myopia Hunt Club in 1988 with a 6-5 win over Excalibur, alongside his teammates Raul Roldan, Gonzalo Heguy and Segundo Ortiz.
Daniels was a resident of Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.
A memorial service and barbecue will be held at the Pony Express barn on Tuesday at 5 p.m.