National Pride on the Line –
On Saturday, February 21st, 2009, the playing of the 2009 Westchester Cup will pit the United States against Great Britain as they vie for the oldest and most prestigious trophy in international polo competition. The formal challenge was sent last week from the office of the Chairman of the United States Polo Association to the Hurlingham Polo Association and the match details are being finalized. Organized by and for the benefit of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, the 2009 Westchester Cup will be hosted by International Polo Club Palm Beach and is being played to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the United States’ first win of this historic international tournament in 1909, a win which turned the tide of polo and paved the way for a series of triumphs. The United States Polo Association and the American International Polo Foundation have agreed to become sponsors for this event. This will mark the first time since 1939 that the British have traveled to the United States to play for the 122 year-old trophy and will feature some of the top polo players from Great Britain and the United States in two practice games, culminating in a single match played at the 30-goal level.
The announced line-up coming from England is Eduardo Novillo Astrada (9 goals), Luke Tomlinson (7), Mark Tomlinson (6) and James Beim (7). Representing America, Adam Snow (8 goals) has been asked to be the team captain heading a team including Mike Azzaro (9), Nicolas Roldan (8) and Jeff Blake (6) , alternate, Julio Arellano (8) with Owen Rinehart acting as the team coach. Polo player Melissa Ganzi has generously offered to provide horses to mount the British team. Julian Hipwood is helping with the pony selection process and will be looking for additional mounts for the English team. The excitement is building and polo players and fans on both sides of the Atlantic are getting primed for the revival of this contest which is expected to be a sellout.
The first International Polo Challenge Cup, known today as the Westchester Cup, was played in 1886, at the Westchester Polo Club in Newport, Rhode Island. The cup was won and for 23 years, defended by teams from Great Britain, a sign of their supremacy in polo. But in 1909, America’s team known as the “Big Four” changed that distinction. The United States sent Harry Payne Whitney, brothers Monty and Lawrence Waterbury, and Devereux Milburn to England along with a string of 28 of the finest ponies ever brought together. They took with them a burning desire to win, along with a new style of play, and brought the Cup home to the United States. The Big Four continued their winning ways in 1911 and 1913 when the Cup was played at Meadow Brook in the United States. Then in 1914 the British came back to Meadow Brook and mounted a successful “invasion” upsetting the then-dominant American team. Throughout the 20s and 30s, the United States challenged, won and defended the Cup led by the great Tommy Hitchcock, Jr., whose father had played in the first, and unsuccessful, challenge for the Cup in 1886.
National pride is now once again on the line for England and America and for both sides this will mark a historical occasion in the sport of polo. Whether you come to root for Team USA or Great Britain, don’t miss this opportunity to be field-side to witness a new chapter of polo history.
Tickets are on sale through the box office at International Polo Club Palm Beach (561) 204-5687 x 107. Box seats are $50.00 each, Reserved Lawn seating is $25.00, General Admission is $10.00 and Tailgate Spots are $100.00 per car. Seating is limited and is first come first served. For further details, please contact Brenda Lynn at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame at (561) 969-7015, or (561) 969-3210, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or via link at www.westchestercup.org. or www.polomuseum.com
The Museum is a 501(c) 3, not-for-profit organization and a portion of the admission proceeds is tax-deductible.