The event, organized by Newport Polo, was held over the weekend at Sachuest Beach in Middletown and capped the 32nd annual Newport Winter Festival

MIDDLETOWN ― Danny O’Malley and wife Dee had a prime spot on Sachuest Beach, perched on a large sandy hill to watch the beach polo match. They were able to see over the crowd that stood around the perimeter of the dueling thoroughbreds.

Though it was sunny and warm ― with temperatures hovering in the high 40s, lacking the bitter cold of a typical winter day ― the breeze was strong.

“We came prepared,” Dee said with a smile, huddled under a blanket.

The couple traveled from Leominster, Massachusetts, to watch the match. Presented by the Newport International Polo Series, the afternoon match Sunday was a part of that day’s festivities to cap off the 32nd annual Newport Winter Festival.

Danny said he learned of the match online and thought it sounded like an enjoyable day trip, especially given the beautiful weather. Plus, “we’re dog people,” he said, noting the dense congregation of pups that had arrived at the beach to join their humans in the festivities.

Dozens of families crowded the beach. Heather Costa stood near the action and watched over her young children as they dug in the sand. “Beautiful day, got lucky,” said Costa, a resident of Dighton, Massachusetts.

Van McSoley works at Glen Farm Stables in Portsmouth. She snapped pictures of the equine athletes from the sidelines and said knew some of the horses trotting in the sand.

“It’s just cool to see,” she said. “To see them in action.”

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The woman narrating the match for spectators noted the horses, though thoroughbreds, are referred to as “polo ponies” in the sport.

Mary Potts of Middletown said she’d been strolling the beach ― an everyday ritual ― when she came across the polo match. “Gorgeous day,” she said, as she held her 17-month-old granddaughter Sophia.

Image result for The event, organized by Newport Polo, was held over the weekend at Sachuest Beach in Middletown and capped the 32nd annual Newport Winter Festival

“She loves all the puppies,” Potts said with a broad smile, referring to her young granddaughter. The young girl didn’t care so much for the horses, Potts said with a laugh.

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ldamon@newportri.com. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraDamonNDN

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