Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2021
A binary battle drew a sizeable and enthusiastic spectator audience whose spirits couldn't be dampened by the overcast day to watch the final match of the Newport International Polo Series 30th Anniversary season, Presented by Turkish Airlines. Newport Men made their fifth challenge against Newport Women for the Turkish Airlines Finals in a hometeam rivalry that has become an annual favorite played near the close of each season. It was all on the line for the Newport Women, defending their first victory over Newport Men, won in the last match of the 2020 season.
Spectators were feeling the shift to autumn as decor trended toward staple adornments from pumpkins to mums, foliage patterns, and even some Halloween whimsy. Wood-fired pizza, seafood chowder and lobster rolls, gourmet saugy dogs, and homemade ice cream all tempted match goers from their seats, while premium libations at the Davitt Pavilion Patio Bar rounded out the hospitality of the day. Players were happy to welcome the curious onlookers passing through the paddocks as they prepared to do battle.
Warmups began in the countdown to 4PM before umpires Dan Keating and Sam Clemens ushered the players to centerfield for introductions. In red for the Newport Men, Jed Pearsall held the #1 forward position, with Chis Fragomeni as the midfield #2 player, Sam Shore quarterbacking from the captain's #3, and Peter Friedman the defensive #4. Wearing suffragette white, the Newport Women roster included rising high-school stars Teghan Torrey at #1 and Catie Reed at #2, with Polo Series favorite Minnie Keating at #3, and reliable veteran Megan Schulz at #4. Color commentator William Crisp called everyone to attention for the national anthem, giving way to Bruce Spitzer of Newport Jaguar Tours to officiate the coin toss.
Equalized by horses and handicaps, polo is among the few team sports where men and women compete equally on the field. Both sides played heavy defense from the first throw-in, vigorously defending the goals. A zealous charge by Shore for the Newport Men finally broke the stalemate, with the only goal in the final two minutes of the first chukker. Chukker two brought more of the same with neither side gaining a clear advantage. Finally, Friedman added another point for Newport Men, matched moments later by Torrey to get Newport Women on the board. Friedman padded the Men's lead though, 3-1 at the end of chukker 2. Newport Women made a costly mistake at the start of chukker 3, handing a penalty conversion to Shore less than 30 seconds into the period. Newport Men returned the favor though, giving Keating the window to her team's second goal. Fragomeni padded the Men's lead with less than 15 seconds until the half, 5-2.
Half-time divot stomp proceeded apace, but the real rush was to the Pro Shop for the last chance to enter before the Turkish Airlines Grand Prize was awarded during the trophy presentation, and not to be missed new arrivals of top-shelf athleisure for fall. All followed by a last stroll through the curated boutiques in the Vendor Village, including souvenir portraits and handmade equestrian jewelry. Meanwhile, our Stella Artois Best in Show judge combed the field for the most festive party of the day to award the coveted jumbotron moment of fame and Stella Artois Picnic Umbrella. Both teams put the interval to productive use, strategizing on how to claim the silver prize.
Shore blitzed the start of chukker 4 for Newport Men to score out of the first throw-in. Newport Women rallied their defense, but couldn't connect with the goal. Then, Friedman started a volley for the Men, joined by Pearsall and Shore to open a wide gulf, 9-2. Reed sparked a glimmer of hope for the Women, to score in the final 30 seconds of the chukker. Another early goal won by Friedman for the Men painted a bleak picture for the Women's recovery. Then, Reed broke the Men's momentum, with a goal during regulation play. An infraction by the Men gave Keating a penalty hit, expertly converted, before Reed and Torrey tag-teamed two more goals in regulation play to close the deficit, 10-7. Newport Women were in within a shout, only needing three goals to send the match into overtime. But, chukker 6 was an uphill fight, and the Women struggled to gain ground. Finally, Friedman pushed it over the edge for a resounding victory by the Newport Men, 11-7.
Spectators ran to the field perimeter to give the players a hearty final sendoff in the last victory lap and fan salute of the season. The teams reconvened in the player's corner where the Veuve Clicquot Trophy Presentation float was waiting to chauffeur them back to centerfield for the prize giving. Representatives of Turkish Airlines and Shultz Marketing Partnerships ascended the stairs with congratulations for all but awarding the perpetual cup to the victorious Newport Men. Then, the moment of suspense arrived as the treasure trunk of all the entries for the Turkish Airlines Grand Prize was delivered to the stage. A thorough mixing and single draw awarded the round-trip business class airfare for 4 to any destination in the world to a gentleman from Narragansett, RI. Players posed for photos before stepping into the crowd for the much-anticipated autograph signing, followed by a cocktail hour at the patio bar to toast the 30th Anniversary.
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.