Aiken Polo – Pete Bostwick Cup Final
On my quest to discover polo in different spots of the world, I have made my way to one very special and historic place for American polo, Aiken in South Carolina.
Aiken is home to many famous high goalers (check out this blogpost if you are new to polo), such as Adam Snow (former 10 goals), Tommy Hitchcock (former 10 goals), Tommy Biddle (former 8 goals) and Julio Arellano (8 goals), it is where Alan Meeker, a renowned name in the horse cloning business, has his farm Crestview and where the oldest polo field in the United States is still in play, the historic Whitney Field at Aiken polo club (matches have been played here since 1882). 1
It is clear to anyone that Aiken is a horse-loving town, with a massive equestrian area right in the heart of it, the Historic Horse District, where the roads are still dirt and horses have the right of way (the speed limit is 10 mph and cars are obliged to pull over to let horses pass). Another tribute to the equestrian passion so ingrained in Aiken are the over 30 horse statues found all over the city.
“New Bridge Polo & Country Club is a newer addition to the Aiken polo scene, founded in 2000 by Russ McCall. New Bridge is an 861-acre private, gated community just 15 minutes from downtown Aiken, South Carolina. Although polo is the focus of New Bridge, all equestrian disciplines are welcome. Residents enjoy a private, secure lifestyle with the true flavor of country living.” 2
On Sunday, May 20th, I had the pleasure of witnessing the best polo currently played in the Aiken Spring season. A fast-paced 12-goal match between SD Farms and Banks Mill/Carolina Eastern.
SD Farms: Tristan Hurley (-1), Kegan Walsh (2) Juan Martin Obregon (5) and Peco Polledo (6)
Banks Mill/Carolina Eastern: Hope Arellano (0), Chilo Cordova (2), Julio Arellano (8), Lucas Arellano (2)
A big storm was looming, but just enough to add excitement to the game, player and ponies were pumped to get out o the field. Earlier in the tournament, these two teams had met in an explosive and very tight match, with Banks Mill/Carolina Eastern winning with one goal, so SD Farms were wanting to redeem themselves.
Hope Arellano converted the first penalty of the game opening up the scoreboard, with Tristan Hurley following quickly with a goal of his own. The great teamwork of SD Farms kept them in the lead throughout the game, with a 5-2 score at halftime. The iron wall that was Kegan Walsh would not let the team in white get near their goal resulting in an impressive 8-2 lead by the end of the 4th chukker.
The Arellano+Cordova foursome retaliated in the 5th and 6th chukker, converting penalties and scoring field goals, but the boys in grey responded with more goals and sealed the deal at 10-6.
Tristan Hurley was rewarded MVP for playing above his -1 handicap and scoring three goals.
Julio Arellano’s mare Goosebumps received the Best Playing Pony award.
The Spring season in Aiken continues for another few weeks until the summer heat and humidity kicks in and horses and players move further North. The Fall season will start at the beginning of September with more 12-goal action. Check out all the tournaments and fixtures on the USPA website.