Anticipation for the re-match four years in the making reached fever-pitch on Saturday, September 18th when Mexico sent its top squad to face USA as the final international challenger in the 30th anniversary season of the Newport International Polo Series, presented by Turkish Airlines. Conditions were ideal as the sky cleared to brilliant sunshine over the pitch with mild temperature just right for the players to give their all. Eager fans were lined up before the gates had opened to take in the extended summer conditions.
Curious spectators made their way around the pitch to the player’s corner to see both sides readying for competition. Meanwhile, the Pro Shop was abuzz with new limited edition arrivals, including buttery-soft sweaters just in time for fast-approaching October. Further along in the Vendor Villagewere Cocoa & Co. portraits for a souvenir photo of family & friends enjoying the match, handmade jewelry by Seeside Designs, and gourmet picnic fare and styling services from Stoneacre.
In the blink of an eye, it was 4PM, and umpires Patrick Quigley and Chris Fragomeni were escorting the luchadores onto the field to grapple for the silver Revere Bowl inaugurated in 2013. The familiar cheeky voice of favored commentator, William Crisp, welcomed everyone to the second to last Polo Series match, before introducing the contenders. Wearing navy for USA, Polo Series Founder, Dan Keating, took the #1 position, with Sam Clemens at #2, Rory Torrey at #3, and Dave Bullis sporting #4. Mexico, in white, was represented by two-time Polo Series contender, Diego Aguilar at #1, with Daniel RodrÍguez at #2, Andrés Gonzales at #3, and Jamie Hanhausen at #4. Himno Nacional Mexicano was followed by the Star Spangled Banner, then mixologist extraordinaire (creator of Newport Polo’s specialty and VIP lounge cocktail menus), Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru, officiated the coin toss. Mexico won, picking its starting direction and the ball was bowled into play.
Mexico faced the added challenge of playing on borrowed horses without the opportunity to get to know them thanks to rained-out weekday practice. Still, the challenger made no bones about full-throttle play. Torrey took the advantage for USA to score while Mexico took a beat to get comfortable on the pitch. Then, all bets were off. Mexico stepped up defense, and by mid-chukker, Aguilar tied the score. Somehow, Torrey managed to sneak another USA goal just 9 seconds before the bell ended the first chukker. Both teams traded places on the ropes as they grappled for control in Chukker two. Finally, Keating fought his way to the Mexico goal, widening the USA lead. Hanhausen, hit back to keep Mexico within one point, 2-3. Mexico put USA in a hold in chukker three. Gonzales landed the first goal several minutes in, followed by Hanhausen hitting his mark twice in the final two minutes, for a 5-3 Mexico lead at the half.
All in attendance were sure to turn in their door prize entry forms at the Pro Shop for the chance at a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and the Turkish Airlines Grand Prize Drawing. Tequila was the spirit of choice at the Patio Bar where a themed match cocktail was served in honor of Mexico. Delicious bites from Newport Chowder Company, Stoneacre, and Hawaiian Jim’s Shave Ice were all on the agenda before the match was called back to play. Of course, the iconic half-time divot stomp was a must to repair the pitch for the next bout.
USA faced an uphill battle to make up the goal deficit. Keating started the ascent, but Gonzales countered for Mexico. Then, Mexico made a costly error on a USA drive in front of goal, serious enough to award a Penalty 1, automatic goal to USA. Still, Mexico held the lead in chukker four, 6-5. Clemens came out swinging for the home team in chukker 5, landing the tieing goal two minutes in. Torrey raised the stakes as USAovertook Mexico for the first time since chukker two. Undeterred, Gonzales made a daring drive to tie the match, 7-all. A penalty conversion by Torrey started the final chukker, met by a goal during regulation play from Gonzales. Clemens then took off on a streak that had Mexico on the mat, with two goals in quick succession, before landing a penalty conversion to cement the USA victory, 11-8.
Both teams circled the field for the celebratory fan salute before reuniting at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast and Trophy Presentationwhere USA was presented with the perpetual cup by team lodging hosts, Stacie Milles of Vanderbilt International Properties, and Newport Polo club member Peter Jenkins accompanied by his wife Mary Marwick. By popular vote of the audience, Gonzales was credited as MVP of the match. Commentator Crisp presided over three cheers for both teams before everyone adjourned to the Goslings Players Hour at the Patio Bar.
In accordance with RI State reopening guidelines, capacity limits have been lifted at the polo grounds, resuming historic seating options, while some conservative measures remain in place, including and carry in carry out trash after a successful strategy approved last year through the pandemic, when live audiences could still enjoy the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday as they have for 30 years to witness the timeless sport unfold on the manicured, emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series, in a classic exhibition of horsemanship and valor, with host, the Newport Polo Club, where the home team – Newport/USA – meets challengers each season from around the world and as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals in one of Newport’s unique traditions & renown attractions.
The Polo Series is scheduled to continue every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change without notice, as per RI State mandates and US travel bans which may impact travel and Adult Sports. Stay current with the 2021 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.
The Polo Grounds’ favorable proximity to the shores of the island’s Sakonnet east passage provides reliably cool coastal effects, moderating afternoon temperatures and providing a dependable breeze for the late afternoon polo matches all summer. Minutes from the bustling Newport waterfront, the International Polo Grounds are located on the acreage of Glen Farm, 250 Linden Lane (off of Rte. 138) in Portsmouth, RI. This bucolic setting is the last 100 acres of a pre-colonial settlement from the 1600’s that became the Town of Portsmouth’s original gentlemen’s farm, an 800-acre manorial estate established during a Gilded Age movement of retreat from the high life into pastoral country acres, to become the future home of polo in the next century. Its classical 19th century stone barns and its park-like grounds were rehabilitated by Polo Series founder, Dan Keating in the early 1990’s and continue to thrive as an equestrian & community recreational property, and home of the Polo Series.
The Newport International Polo Series is proud to roll out its 2021 sponsors including Brenton Hotel, Davitt Inc., TD Bank, Turkish Airlines, Modern Luxury Boston, Herb Chambers Exotics, Vanderbilt International Properties, Hotel Viking, Veuve Clicquot, Polo House Privé, Clarke Cooke House, Stella Artois, US Polo Association, Goslings, ROCKSTAR Limo, McGrath Clambakes and Catering, Classical 95.9 WCRI, and promotional partners including Newport Helicopter Tours, The Cocktail Guru, Hannoush Jewelers, Newport Jaguar Tours, International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Mansions, Newport Music Festival, Island Surf and Sport, Northeast Equestrian Life, Newport Sport Fishing Charters, and Audrain Automobile Museum.
“Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.
This is the 30th season of Newport International Polo Series, which has hosted teams from 35 nations including, Ireland, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina, France, Egypt, India, Australia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Canada, Chile, Jamaica, Nigeria, Portugal, New Zealand, Barbados, Scotland, South Africa, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Kenya, Brazil, China, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, Singapore, Monaco, Morocco, Peru, Poland, and Switzerland.
Keep Calm and Polo On. Newport Polo was the first and only live sporting event to win State approval and navigate safely through the pandemic last year. Since 600 b.c., polo, the world’s oldest ball game, has withstood the tests of time throughout its storied history. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport’s summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America’s first polo club in 1876. A charter member of the United States Polo Association the club today is still a trailblazing polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services, and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.