Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021
The 30th Newport International Polo Series commenced with a roaring start on June 6th, 2021 as USA went head-to-head with Switzerland. The match marked the Swiss team’s Newport debut, after garnering the most votes in the previous year’s Fan Poll.
As the competitors prepared to mount up, fans enjoyed fine charcuterie with Lawn Seating restored to full capacity, and adventured to the fieldside Pro Shop in the Vendor Village to secure a signed copy of Ronald Fleming’s newly released coffee table tome, The Adventures of a Narrative Gardener: Creating a Landscape of Memory. for a pictorial of a Bellevue Ave eden and Swiss team headquarters.The rumble of engines and enticing contours of high horse-power drew spectators to the Exotics village, where Bentley Boston displayed automotive luxury.
As the field populated with players, crowds cheered for Team USA with Sam Clemens at #1, Polo Series Founder Dan Keating at #2, Charlie Bullis at #3, and Captain Rory Torrey anchoring the hometeam at #4. Introducing the new challengers - the first international team since the 2019 season - representing Switzerland were Sacha Pictet at #1, Andrew Drummond at #2, Martin Luginbuhl at #3, and Tito Gaudenzi in the captain’s seat as #4.
The audience took to their feet as the Swiss flag was raised for the first time over the polo grounds, as notes of the Swiss National Anthem welcoming Boston's Swiss Consul Benjamin Bolman to the match. Following a triumphant rendition of the US National Anthem, Giovanni Tosti of Bentley Boston presided over the Coin Toss to determine the opening direction of play. The dulcet tones of everyone’s favorite polo commentator, William Crisp, marked the official start of the 30th season.
Team USA seemed to have home field advantage as half-way through the first chukker, with Torrey converting a penalty shot into the first point on the Jumbotron, followed by teammate Bullis' field goal to round out the chukker 2 - 0. The tone shifted in the second chukker, as the Swiss awakened from their state of neutrality after the sting of goals by Bullis and Clemens, with three Swiss points from Guadenzi and Luginbuhl, to close the gap to 4 - 3, with a final drive by Torrey for another goal for the Americans to finish off a more evenly matched second chukker with 3 goals per side, for a score of 5 – 3. Torrey's penalty goal towards the end of the third chukker, kept the pressure on, but the Swiss remained undeterred as Luginbuhl scored again from the field and Guadenzi turned a penalty shot on goal into a two-point run for the Swiss, until Torrey ended the streak with another steady penalty shot conversion to lead 8 – 5 at half time.
Fans fanned across the field at half-time for a divot stomp to repair the turf after the first play of the season left its mark, and made their way to the Patio Bar for the National drink, a Gosling’s Dark and Stormy, among other bespoke and local beverage selections. Many would indulge their sweet tooth with Hawaiian Jim’s Shaved Ice, Chelsea’s Creamery homemade ice cream, and Sweet B’s Donuts or emulate sophisticated Swiss snacking with Stonacre’s picnic selections among other savory options. European elegance filled the air over at the Exotic Village as well, with Bentley and Lamborghinis open for photo-ops. There was a palpable buzz in the air as the summer season safely commenced in normal capacity and optimism about the summer spread.
As fans returned to their picnics and parties, the teams rode onto the field in the next saga of the close match. In the fourth chukker, Drummond scored for the Swiss in their campaign to close the gap, bringing it to 8 – 6. Luginbuhl echoed his teammate’s efforts in the fifth chukker, but the US refused to allow two chukkers of Swiss goals go unanswered, as Bullis scored definitively for the Americans. Headed into the sixth and final chukker 9 – 7, both teams were unrelenting in their push towards victory. Team USA gave themselves a breather with another goal from Bullis, but Pictet quickly answered with a goal for the Swiss, hoping to close the lead before the final buzzer. Alas, the Americans’ early lead held strong through the duration of the match for a 10 – 8 victory.
The teams took their traditional salutatory lap around the perimeter, giving farewell salutes to the applause of grateful attendees, a tradition originating at the Newport International Polo Series in 2003, and now emulated at polo clubs around the world, which was then followed by the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast & Trophy Presentation where a new silver Liberty Bowl was inaugurated to serve as the perpetual cup between the US and Switzzerland, along with 30th Anniversary commemorative medals to the visiting team, presented on behalf of Bentley Boston byChristine Scott, Marketing Director of Herb Chambers Exotics, while the Best Playing Pony, Pumkin owned by P Friedman was honored, and man of the match cheers sided with Bullis for his impressive 7 goals.
The teams reconvened at the Patio Bar for the Goslings Players Hour and toast with fans, with complimentary Dark 'n Stormies, celebrating the 30th Anniversary season of the Newport International Polo Series, Presented by Turkish Airlines.
Resident portrait photographer Quison Lawhon captured family gatherings and picnics decked out in red and white decor & attire (published online at Cocoa & Co.) that were in contention for Best In Show honors from Stella Artois, awarding a special Stella Artois Market Umbrella to the group decked out in the most red & white, our anniversary colors! The winner was a lively tailgate party that created a patch of red poppies, in red attire, with Swiss themed props including a tobaggan and snow shoes!
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 reduced hours 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 witnessed 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, 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.
Cover Photo by Stephen Almeida View the Album
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.