U.S. Polo Team Ready to Guard Coveted Title Against England
in the USPA Townsend Challenge Cup
Inaugural International Collegiate Challenge Set to Take Place in Conjunction with Historic Event
The USPA Townsend International Challenge Cup is coming to Indio, California’s Empire Polo Club on January 12 as the U.S. team defends its title against England in a highly anticipated arena polo match at 6 p.m. PST. Handicapped at 23-goals, the historic event represents the highest level of polo currently played on the West Coast and will feature some of the best players in the world. Prior to the main event matchup, which will mark the second high-goal arena event in Empire Polo Club history, top college players from the U.S. and England will take the field to compete in the first ever International Collegiate Challenge match at 5 p.m. PST.
The two countries’ national governing bodies, The U.S. Polo Association (USPA) and Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), will bring their respective teams to compete in the historic event. Leading the U.S. professional squad is Tommy Biddle, the highest rated arena polo player in the world with a perfect 10-goal handicap. The England team is captained by 9-goal rated handicap star Chris Hyde, one of the top polo players in Europe.
Tommy Biddle (10)
Rob Yackley (6)
Billy Sheldon (7) Coach
Jesse Bray (4) Alternate
Ed Armstrong – Team Manager and USPA Representative
Chris Hyde (9)
Oliver Hipwood (7)
Max Charlton (7)
Sebastian Dawnay (8) Coach/alternate
Michael Amoore – Team Manager and HPA Representative
Competing in the inaugural intercollegiate matchup will be some of the best collegiate players in the U.S. and England. The American team was selected by a diverse group consisting of USPA representatives in each U.S. region, the national host tournament committee and top Intercollegiate/Interscholastic umpires. The roster includes Nik Feldman of Cornell, Kylie Sheehan of UVA, Ford MacCarty of Colorado State and Patrick Uretz of Westmont. The team will be coached by Cornell alum, Stan Feldman.
“We’re pleased to welcome England back and kick off the 2013 polo season with this very special event here in the U.S.,” said Peter Rizzo, CEO of the USPA. “Arena polo is a fast and action-packed sport, so it will be an exciting event and very entertaining for the fans. The USPA Townsend Cup has such a rich history in international arena competition, so we’re extremely excited to expand it this year with the addition of an intercollegiate match to start things off.”
The USPA Townsend Challenge Cup was first played in Manhattan in 1923 and featured two teams, one from England and one from the U.S. It was this historic match that spurred the growth and development of arena polo in America. The Townsend Challenge Cup wasn’t played again until 2004, but was then played again in 2008 and 2011. The Townsend Cup is named in honor of John R. Townsend, a New York City social figure who was an active advocate for arena polo in the early years of its development.
Unlike outdoor polo, which is played on a larger grass field with two teams of four, arena polo is played by two teams of three players in an arena with a soil footing that is approximately 300 feet long by 150 feet wide, with walls all around. The four chukkers, or periods of play, will take place lasting seven and a half minutes.
Empire Polo Club’s arena offers bleacher seating for spectators and fans to catch all the action. Admission is free and open to the public for the event. Food and beverage concessions will also be available for purchase on site during the games.
Empire Polo Club is located at 81-800 Ave. 51, Indio, Calif., 92201. From the I-10, take the Monroe St. exit and head south on Monroe St. The entrance to the club is on Monroe St. at Ave. 51.