Polo Players Edition

AUG 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1005812

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Page 10 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 9 O ften overlooked and e xtremely underrated, the sport of arena polo has much to offer the casual polo spectator. Viewers are transported into the game, enjoying up-close and personal views of the action with proximity to both the human and equine athletes as they race past, turn on a dime, bump and maneuver. For over 20 years, long before the newly minted Gladiator Polo, Great Meadow Polo Club in The Plains, Virginia, has been effectively showcasing the exhilaration of the sport to thousands of spectators. Year after year, players of all levels pursue the glory of competition and victory in front of a packed and cheering crowd. A thriving spectatorship, which feeds into a fruitful polo school, proves that arena polo is not to be underestimated. Breaking the mold, Great Meadow Polo Club sets the precedent for arena clubs nationwide. Great Meadow Polo Club operates on the grounds of the Great Meadow events center and steeplechase course, permanent home of the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase classic. The 380-acre expanse of land, in the heart of Virginia horse country was founded, and later donated, by news executive and polo player Arthur W. "Nick" Arundel. Currently managed under the supervision of the Great Meadow Foundation, the non-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation of open space in the area for equestrian and community use. "What's so special about Great Meadow is that it is always going to be here," said club manager John Gobin. "It's not a private club, no one owns it, it's a foundation and it has a polo center built in. It's run by the foundation and I manage it as a community polo center. It's all different levels, it's open to everyone and it's not owned by anyone—all are welcome." This commitment to diversity and inclusivity is mirrored both on and off the polo field. The main a ttraction "Twilight Polo," which takes place Saturday nights under the lights, garners upwards of 2,000 visitors, with three guaranteed games beginning at 6 p.m. "General admission is $40 a carload. That gets one car in and you can pack it full of people," said assistant manager Whitney Ross. "General admission includes a grass berm, where guests can set up blankets, chairs and bring their own little coolers and picnics. The next level is a tailgate spot, then there are the ringside VIP boxes, plus, on two corners there are entertainment decks for big groups." Aside from an assortment of viewing options, each Saturday is themed and the crowd is encouraged to dress up and take part in the overall entertaining and lighthearted atmosphere. "We have Military Appreciation Night, which is our opening event and that's followed by fireworks. So everyone that is in the military gets in for free," said Gobin. "We continue to elevate the polo experience and grow our family-friendly environment," said Ross. For starters, any youngster who returns a ball that has flown out of the arena is rewarded with candy—an astute and worthwhile bribe all arena clubs should consider adopting. "We have a massive tug of war in the arena at halftime and the players from the 7 p.m. game will anchor each side," continued Ross. "Then the club mascot, Polo Bear, leads the kids on a two-lap Great Meadow Polo Club The Plains, Virginia Opening night is Military Appreciation Night so everyone in the military gets in free and a fireworks display follows the games. Jack McLean rides around the arena high-fiving fans after a Twilight Polo match. TONY GIBSON TONY GIBSON

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