Newport International Polo Event – Portsmouth, RI
The setting has the unmistakable feel of money, but thankfully the cuff links and fine blazers are more than offset by simple outfits ranging from the more conservative slacks and sports coat to stylish summer dresses, khaki shorts and polo shirts.
The game itself is fairly easy to follow. There are four players to a team, on horseback, with the simple task of hitting the ball into the goal. The game has seven periods known as chukkas, and you have the usual offsides, fouls and out-of-bounds.
Some are not necessarily polo fans, but are drawn more by the fine weather, the party atmosphere, and the chance to be in the tony setting of an international polo match, much as some folks attend the opera to earn status points without having a shred of understanding of or interest in the opera itself.
It is a sport of intricate skills, fast-moving action, and the fine dance between man and one of the most powerful and intelligent domestic animals.
All around tailgating is usually in full swing, but this tailgating is of a refined nature. Picnic tables and colorful blankets line the field’s perimeter, with wine and beer flowing in fine glassware and fingers and forks busy with salads, burgers, shrimps and lobster tails.
Rivaling the picnic blankets are beautiful people with their cute dogs and babies.
It is a friendly competition, and sometimes if you are really lucky, you can witness an international parade.
Or you might catch a race not run by horses
And also witness a trophy used as a beer glass
And meet some of the players
The matches are exciting from the start. The riders display top class skills and the powerful horses combined moments of flat-out raw speed with sublime moments of response, turning on a dime at the riders command. The announcer is in fine fettle too. He is a transplanted Englishman whose distinctive accent and obvious wit transmits well-timed tales of the Newport Polo Club, and insightful game coverage.
See you this summer!