By Liz Leamy
Last Sunday, Huntsman edged out Roller Rabbit, both of who are elite 16-goal handicap polo teams in the world-class division of the sport, with a resounding 9-6 victory, at the Greenwich Polo Club, to advance to the finals of the prestigious Shreve, Crump and Low Cup, which will be held Wednesday.
Huntsman, whose sponsor is the world-renowned, high-end fashion house and tailor, based on London’s Savile Row, played in superb fashion and charged ahead in points right from the first through the last (sixth) chukker, designating them as a formidable contender as they go up against Hawk Hill in Wednesday’s final faceoff.
According to Tomas Garcia del Rio, the renowned Argentinian seven-goaler and number-three (lead) player for Huntsman, the victory was both hard earned and much-appreciated.
“I’ve been thinking about this match all week, 24/7, and I think we played well,” said Garcia del Rio. “We were focused to get everything we could out there, and I tried to play the best I could.”
Clearly, Garcia del Rio, along with his fellow teammates, accomplished this task.
Right from the outset, Huntsman took the reins in this game, as Toro Ruiz, the dynamic Argentinian six-goaler and its number-two player (who is also said to be a rising star in the sport), worked in smooth tandem with Garcia del Rio and their fellow teammates, Dillon Bacon and Segundo Merlos, to generate a winning outcome. Ruiz was named Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the match.
“I was very excited to play out there today,” said Bacon, a British native whose playing style is known to be strong, solid and steady. “It was a good match.”
Meanwhile, Roller Rabbit, whose roster included Matias Magrini, the renowned Argentinian seven-goaler, Kris Kampsen, the powerful six-goaler from Wellington, Florida, and Nick Manifold, the Australian high-goal veteran, put up quite a bold fight against their competition.
“Huntsman was really good,” said Manifold, the number-two player for Roller Rabbit. “They were very organized, and they’ve got good horses.” (Manifold’s statement held true, as the charge ridden by Huntsman’s Segundo Merlos, Guri Vanina, was awarded the Best Playing Pony citation at the conclusion of the match.)
Certainly, both teams, along with their gorgeous horses, seemed to capture and hold the full attention of the crowd on this breathtaking Sunday afternoon, and the overall mood at the Greenwich Polo Club was memorable.
Totaling more than 2,000 individuals in all (a tally that was particularly impressive considering the match was held on Father’s Day), the crowd was friendly, beautifully dressed and involved in the match.
Moreover, their enthusiasm seemed to affect the feel and energy at the Greenwich Polo Club, something that did not seem to get lost on anyone, especially those visiting Conyers Farm for the first time.
“This is an extraordinarily elegant experience,” said Justin Shapiro, a Cape Cod resident who researches and works with underwater robots all around the world. “The players are incredibly strong and perform with such finesse, sportsmanship and camaraderie, and I love the power of the horses.”
According to Shapiro, who was attending the match with his brother, Aaron Shapiro, who resides with his family in the Greenwich area, the Greenwich Polo Club experience was unique in every sense of the word.
“This is a fantastical extravaganza,” said Justin Shapiro, who had recently returned from Iceland. “It is also one which you can’t find in many places around the world.”
Sponsors and vendors at the Greenwich Polo Club agreed.
“Being here gives us such a unique opportunity to showcase the Barbados,” said Eusi Skeete, Senior Business Development Officer for Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc., which had cabanas situated along the sidelines, as well as an array of umbrellas posted for spectators to sit under and shade themselves while watching the match. “This is a phenomenal partnership between Barbados [Tourism Marketing Inc.] and the Greenwich Polo Club. The quality of the polo is second to none, and the people are amazing. For us, it’s a win-win all the way.”
Clearly, like the Shapiro brothers and Skeete, everyone at the match seemed to appreciate and honor the beauty, elegance and ambiance of the Greenwich Polo Club, which, along with the world-class standard of the teams, players and horses, is the reason as to why this has become such a main warm-weather Sunday afternoon destination for so many all over the East Coast every year.
“I love Greenwich and the Greenwich Polo Club,” said Skeete. “I look forward to spending a lot of summers here.”
Well said, indeed.
Matches are held at the Greenwich Polo Club most Sunday afternoons throughout the summer. For more information, please go to greenwichpoloclub.com