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Date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020
A sparkling summer day met players and fans, full of patriotic panache, as the Red States faced the Blue States in the quest to claim the Independence Cup on Saturday, July 4 in the Newport International Polo Series.
Bursts of red, white, and blue dotted the field in hopes of claiming the coveted prize in the Stella Artois Best Tailgate Contest. At centerfield, the Modern Luxury Polo Lounge was a striking addition, draped in new decor designed by TYGER | Event Design + Production, while fans enjoyed the novel Picnic Patches on the Lawn for the latest family ticket package from which to take in the polo action. Face coverings, social distancing, and reduced capacity were all in-play as the ball was thrown-in to start the 6-chukker horse race.
The Red States fielded Roger Souto in the #1 position, Luke Merrick at #2, TIm Day and Clark Curtis alternating in the #3, with superdelegate Dave Bullis captaining from the #4 position. Campaigning for the Blue States was Perry Markell at #1, with Minnie Keating at #2, Dan Keating chairing the convention at #3, and Sam Clemens closing the back door at #4. Mounted Officials were Patrick Quigley and Sam Shore. Color commentary was provided by William Crisp, arguably the most highly respected polo commentator in the universe.
Captains assembled at centerfield for the Official Coin Toss, presided by publisher Ryan Belmore of WhatsUpNewp, a local independent online news agency, resulting in the Red's choice for starting direction of play. The opening chukker suggested evenly matched opponants, as the rivals charged back and forth across the 10 acre polo green, successfully defending shots at goal, in a suspenseful score of 0-0 at the bell. Between 7 minute periods of play, horses and strategies were quickly changed, before resuming the contest, for a slight advantage that broke the stalemate with the Blue's field goal by M. Keating for a 1-0 lead over the Reds after 2 chukkers. Defense continued to prevail in the 3rd chukker, but D. Keating forced two opportunities to break stride and send long shots into goal, to end the first half with a 3-0 stronghold for Blue over Red.
The half-time intermission gave spectators the opportunity to have a stroll across the playing field and replace divots, a time-honored and beloved ritual that helps restore the field for the second half, with face coverings and 6' social distancing observed. American musical classics resounded around the polo grounds for the holiday celebration as the row of 34 international flags rippled overhead.
The 4th chukker started with another successful campaign by the Blue States, as Markell scored for a 4 point lead, until the momentum changed with Red's Bullis responding with a scoring drive that included a field goal and back to back penalty shot conversions to close the gap 4-3. The Blues rallied back in the 5th chukker, with Clemens scoring from the field, then converting 2 costly penalty shots against the Reds to pad the lead, while Souto kept the Reds alive with a goal, but D. Keating added another point for the Blues for an 8-4 lead. The Blue States continued to find opportunities in the final chukker of play, with a field goal by D. Keating followed by a pentalty conversion by Clemens, while Merrick gave the Reds its final point, to end the contest with a decisive victory for the Blue States 10-5.
During the match, the Stella Artois Best Tailgate Prize was presented by Ryan Belmore of WhatsUpNewp to a patriotic tailgate celebration on the sidelines. The match concluded with the Newport Fan Salute, as the teams rode around the field perimeter. waving the American flag, followed by the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Toast & Trophy Presentation presided by State Representative Terri Cortvriend, District 72 awarding the Independence Cup – a Paul Revere Liberty bowl and long-standing symbol of American Independence.
Under a State-approved plan of reduced capacity with socially-distanced tables in the Davitt Pavilion and fieldside Tailgates and Picnic Patches at the polo grounds, sold-out audiences have enjoyed the Newport International Polo Series polo matches every Saturday since Opening Day on June 6, where spectators for generations have witnessed the timeless sport unfold across an argyle-patterned emerald green at Glen Farm, home of the Polo Series for the past 28 seasons, in a classic exhibition of horsemanship and valor, with the Newport Polo Club as the home team - Newport/USA - hosting challengers each season from around the world and as well as teams representing major US cities and regional rivals. Dating back to 1876, the polo matches are one of destination Newport’s unique & most renowned traditions, a living legacy from the Gilded Age.
The Polo Series is scheduled to continue for the next 12 weeks, every Saturday through September. The schedule of teams is subject to change, as per RI State mandates in effect at the time, on international travel and Adult Sports. Stay current with the 2020 team lineup & stats, latest news, events, and more by e-scription to the Gameday Briefing (sign up) and weekly eMagazine (sign up). Both subscriptions are private and spam-free.
The Newport International Polo Series salutes its 2020 sponsors including Gallo|Thomas Insurance, Davitt, Boston Common, Hotel Viking, The Chanler, The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina, Vanderbilt International Properties, Veuve Clicquot, Clarke Cooke House, Stella Artois, ROCKSTAR Limo, Atria Senior Living, Goslings, McGrath Clambakes and Catering, and promotional partners including The Cocktail Guru, TYGER | Event Design + Production, Newport Jaguar Tours, Newport Helicopter Tours, America's Cup Charters, International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport Mansions, Island Surf and Sport, Newport Sport Fishing Charters, Providence River Boat Company, and Newport Harbor Guide. Special thanks to Schultz Marketing Partnerships, WCRI Classical Rhode Island. “Our sponsors have been with us since the beginning. Without their support, the Series would not be as extensive as it is,” explains Dan Keating, Polo Series founder.
Polo, Since 600 b.c.
Polo is, without doubt the oldest ball game in the world today. First recorded in the 6th century b.c. when the Turkomans beat the Persians in a diplomatic tournament, the alluring game caught on with equestrian royalty and cavalry, and took off with globalization, withstanding the tests of time. By the time Polo arrived on Newport’s shores during the Gilded Age, the sport was nearly 2500 years steeped in tradition, captivating newcomers like Newport's summer sporting set who embraced the new pastime, establishing America's first polo club in 1876. A charter member of the United States Polo Association, the club today is still a trailblazing model polo club, hosting the Newport International Polo Series public exhibition matches, supporting philanthropic causes, organizing tournaments, polo club member services and polo instruction year-round. Experience the king of games in its American landing at Newport Polo.