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Beach Blanket Polo?

Date:    Sunday, February 14, 2010

Newport, RI…. Nearly 1000 spectators lined the snow-dusted dunes of Middletown’s Second Beach on Saturday & Sunday afternoons, to take in Beach Polo, the newest attraction featured in the 22nd annual Newport Winter Festival.  The lively event was free & open to the public, and Mother Nature gave it her blessing.

 

Beach Polo featured two competing teams each afternoon playing in 4-chukker matches for about an hour & a half worth of fresh, ionized air and rosy cheeks.   People of all ages enjoyed the spectacle of horsemanship and breath-taking views of one of New England’s finest beaches.   A professional color commentator and DJ gave the play by play, explaining the progress of each match, and entertained the audience with music between periods.  Saturday’s result was: Newport defeated Boston’s ‘Myopia’ 3-1.  Sunday’s result was a 6-6 tie between North Island and South Island teams (Aquidneck Island).   

The event was a low-impact, eco-friendly exhibition played on the inter-tidal area of the beach at low tide, in keeping with the Parks and Recreation Department guidelines for horses & off-season use of the beach.  Horses are accustomed to sand footing in their natural habitats all over the world, including the desert southwest.  The thoroughbred polo ponies are highly fit and exercised year-round in arena polo, played on similar footing materials.

“Newport Polo aimed to highlight the unique assets of Newport County by combining a popular spectator event and the year-round natural beauty of the sea shore.” states Dan Keating, president of Newport Polo.  “We were pleased to see a good showing by our loyal fans, as well as those who had never seen polo before, in conjunction with the Newport Winter Festival.” 

Hosted by Newport Polo, also known for the Newport International Polo Series in the summertime, Beach Polo was the newest event in the Newport Winter Festival, which runs through Feb. 21 featuring over 150 events as "New England's largest winter extravaganza."  Alive with sparkle and excitement, the Winter Festival offers a unique winter experience combining food, music, and entertainment, with fun for all ages.

“Polo in the summer is one of Newport’s hottest attractions.  It was exciting to see the event in the winter too.” adds Kathryn Farrington of the Newport/Bristol County Visitors & Convention Bureau.  “Polo appeals to an audience of all ages, and - like the beach- polo is great outdoor fun for the whole family!”      

Video footage has been published at Projo.com (follow the link and click on the icon in lower left corner to enlarged for full-screen display) and beautiful photographic images can be found on the website of polo photographer Rod Harris, as well as Doug Learned who has shared his images.  For more images, please visit our Gallery.

“We are grateful to the local media for their coverage of this unique event, including the Newport Daily News, Newport This Week, Sakonnet Times, the Providence Journal, Newport Seen, the local TV network affiliates, the organizers of Newport Winter Festival and the NCVB,” adds Keating, “and most importantly, Beach Polo would not have been possible without the support of the Town of Middletown.”