Heron Luxury Charters Propelled Across the Finish Line by One-Goal Margin
Returning for the second consecutive year after a successful inaugural tournament, the East Coast Open Women’s Polo Championship presented by Dechra was once again held at Newport Polo Club in Newport, Rhode Island. In a close semifinal on Wednesday, June 26, against Stage Hill, Heron Luxury Charters came back in the fourth chukker to earn their place in the final 5-4. Also securing their spot in the fourth, Merican Girls outscored Maui Girl in the final minutes of play, winning by a narrow one-goal margin 4-3.
Due to heavy thunderstorms and flooding on Saturday, June 29, the final was cancelled and decided on net goals. Tied with Merican Girls on net goals after the semifinal games, Heron Luxury Charters ultimately secured the championship on one gross goal. Splitting the grand total of $3,200 in prize money between the two finalist teams, each took home a $1,600 check.
An advocate for the growth of women’s polo and a two-time East Coast Open Women’s champion, Dawn Jones spoke about the tournament. “Newport Polo Club is a great place to have a tournament of this size and importance and I think it will inspire a Women’s Pacific Coast Open in California and a Women’s Texas Open in Texas,” Jones said. “It will certainly be nice preparation for the players who want to compete in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship™ at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, next March.”
Heron Luxury Charters’ Erica Gandomcar-Sachs was named Most Valuable Player.
The Best Playing Pony blanket was awarded to Hope Arellano’s Peppermint Patty (Lord Lizard x Anzac), a 7-year-old mare played in the third chukker of the semifinal. An Insinya homebred, Peppermint Patty’s dam was bred from one of former 10-goaler Owen Rinehart’s best mares, Angie.
When Arellano found out she would be competing in the women’s tournament she made sure the mare would be fit to play. Originally purchased last spring by Julio Arellano, the mare was turned out shortly after, following her father’s traumatic brain injury. Although only having a chance to practice on her twice before the first game, Arellano immediately knew she was a great horse, “I instantly fell in love during those practices and it was very special to play one of Owen’s homebreds,” she said.
San Ysidro Horsepower Carries through for the Win
Vying for the East Coast Handicap Women’s Polo Championship, San Ysidro and Husaria Damska emerged from a field of four impressive teams to compete in the final on Sunday, June 30, at Myopia Polo Club in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. In a game characterized by excellent defense on both sides, San Ysidro fought to evade their opponents, scoring the only goal of the second half to secure the win 3-1.5.
“This year there were some key people who are huge supporters of women’s polo and I think that’s how we are going to bring our women’s tournaments to a higher standard and on par with mixed tournaments. When you have this many talented and passionate women involved in the same event it’s always going to benefit women’s polo.” – Tiamo Hudspeth
Although receiving a half goal on handicap, Husaria Damska’s lead would not hold for long as Tiamo Hudspeth* sunk a Penalty 3 conversion in the opening chukker. Husaria Damska landing on the scoreboard for the first time in the second, Jenna Davis’ field goal was matched by one from San Ysidro’s Izzy Parsons, ending the half 2-1.5 in favor of San Ysidro. Despite their best efforts, Husaria Damska was unable to hit their target in the second half, going scoreless for the remainder of the game. Striking for the second and final time in the third, Parsons doubled her opponents’ tally, winning the title 3-1.5.
Izzy Parsons, also a member of the inaugural winning team Heiades International in the 2018 East Coast Handicap Women’s Polo Championship, was named Most Valuable Player.
Best Playing Pony honors were awarded to Khaleesi, a 20-year-old mare owned by Stage Hill Polo and played by Alyson Poor in the fourth chukker. “We purchased her five years ago from a retired sponsor in Virginia. She’s an oldie but a goodie, and she is definitely the boss of the barn and our favorite on the field,” Poor said of the spunky mare.
Participating in the 2018 East Coast Open Women’s Polo Championship and in both the Open and Handicap this year, Hudspeth has witnessed how the level of these tournaments is benefitting women in polo. “I played with Camille and Summer Beinhorn, the family I work for and we have a small breeding and training operation,” Hudspeth commented. “All the horses that we played in this tournament were ones from our operation which we raised and trained. This was the sisters’ first USPA women’s tournament and I couldn’t be more proud of them and all of our horses that enabled us to win the final!”
*Tiamo Hudspeth is a member of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
Merican Girls did not allow the weather to dampen their spirits. Photo: Jacqueline Miller