Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2021
A bluebird sky and gentle breeze set the stage for the spirited Newport Pro-Am on Sept 11 as two teams of elite amateurs anchored by steadfast pros contested the 3rd to last match of the Newport International Polo Series 30th anniversary season, presented by Turkish Airlines. Enthusiastic onlookers were dressed to impress, with smiles all around to revel in the throws of an extended New England summer.
As the clock counted down to 4PM, Polo Series founder, Dan Keating, ascended to the announcer's perch, filling in for the British wit of commentator William Crisp away on vacation. Umpires Sam Shore and Chris Fragomeni marshaled the teams to centerfield where the home team was first to be introduced. In red for Newport, the unshakable Rory Torrey traded his usual quarterback position for the #1 offensive jersey, while fan-favorite Minnie Keating played #2. Sam Clemens would fill the captain's seat at #3 with the battle-tested Peter Freidman as the defensive #4. The challenger, in white for Arizona, had Scottsdale native Julia Kline in the #1 position. Dan Kinsella and Felipa Rojas, on loan from Newport, held the #2 position, while Jim Stanton was the playmaker at #3, and Argentine-pro Manuel Mazzochi completed the quartet at #4.
Keating called the audience to attention, taking a moment of silence to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 before the national anthem played out across the venue. Newlyweds, Rachel and Sean Connelly, were given the honor of officiating the coin toss, won by Arizona who selected its starting direct to get the match underway.
Both sides jockeyed for position through the first minute until the home team got the upper hand, thanks to a goal by Clemens for an auspicious Newport start. A tight contest ensued with neither side gaining the advantage again, until Mazzocchi brought it home for Arizona with a first chukker tie, 1-all. Intense volleys resumed in chukker two until a bold play by Newport drew the umpires' whistle, giving Mazzocchi a free hit to put Arizona in the lead. Then, an Arizona infraction gave Newport the window to tie again, fully used thanks to Torrey's accuracy. Chukker 3 saw Mazzocchi take off like he had been pushed over the side of the Big Ditch (that's the Grand Canyon for the non-Arizonans), scoring from the first throw-in. Newport deployed its sails to slow its opponent, but another Arizona windfall saw the team double its score to end the first half leading 4-2.
Onlookers took their turn on the pitch at half-time for the traditional divot stomp to smooth the field for the second half. The official cocktail of the Newport International Polo Series, Goslings Dark 'N Stormy, was a popular choice and in stark contrast to the beautiful day at the Patio Bar. New arrivals stocked at the Pro Shop were not on their hangars for long, while the stunning "PARADISUM" drew its own audience of bidders in the hotly contested auction ending September 30th. A stroll through the Vendor Village brought more delights into reach, with souvenir polo portraits by Cocoa & Co, handcrafted nautical and equestrian jewelry from Seeside Designs, insta-worthy picnic spreads by Stoneacre, with Elevate Judo & Jujitsu meeting the community ahead of its opening on Aquidneck Island. The fleet of Mobile Gourmets needed no other pull than the smell of confections on the air as Wally's Hot Dog Cart, Newport Chowder Company, Stoneacre, Hawaiian Jim's Shave Ice, and Chelsea's Creamery all served up their delights.
The anticipation of the fast-paced finale (and a little coaxing by the commentator) drew spectators back to their seats for the second half. Newport's squad formed up to right the ship after losing course in the third chukker as Torrey sailed through goal within 30 seconds of the throw-in. Mazzocchi scored again for Arizona, but was matched by Torrey, reeling the challenger in, which still held the advantage 5-4. Both sides struggled to one-up the opponent in the penultimate chukker. Finally, halfway through, Torrey hit his target to tie the match, but Mazzocchi didn't let it stand, maintaining the Arizona advantage, 6-5. An all-out horserace unleashed in the final chukker as dueling goals kept the audience in suspense. First, the hard-charging Mazzochi increased Arizona's lead 7-5. Torrey narrowed the gap with a goal for Newport. Mazzochi advanced Arizona once more, matched again by Torrey. Finally, Stanton drove home Arizona's lead to end the match 9-7.
Both teams reunited at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast and Trophy Presentation to share in the hardwon victories of the day. Polo World Champion John Wigdahl presented the perpetual cup to the winning Arizona team. Three cheers for the players ended the formalities as the players dispersed among eager fans of all ages for autographs and photos, before moving to the Patio Bar where the DJ was spinning classic hits to hold onto the last vestiges of summer.
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.