Polo Players Edition

JUL 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/996749

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Page 10 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 9 W hen considering the n umerous clubs that form the United States Polo Association, many might not consider our neighbors to the north. While affiliate member clubs in Canada may not exert equal voting power as American clubs, they hold all the same benefits and privileges of an active member club. Not only are they able to host association events, register members and assign handicaps—but their commitment to the sport and support of its growth cannot be overlooked. In fact, their efforts should be doubly applauded, for, in spite of their inability to take part in major association decisions, their devotion and dedication to the sport is exemplary. Toronto Polo Club, located in Toronto, Ontario, is one such club that has thrived for nearly six decades and today, boasts one of the largest memberships in Canada. In contrast to many club histories and despite Canada's infamously cold winters, interestingly, the club was formally established in 1960 by the late Col. M.C. Sifton, instigated by his desire for a winter equestrian hobby. "Dad was in the show world," said Club Delegate Cliff Sifton, son of the club founder, "and he and two or three of his buddies that had hunters and jumpers were looking for something to do in the winter time and decided to take up polo. They tracked down [Stephen] 'Doc' Roberts, the famous coach from Cornell [University in Ithaca, New York], did a couple clinics down there and then Doc and dad became great friends thereafter." Today, the club has grown to include three unique facilities, over 70 playing members and polo almost 12 months out of the year. "We're proud of the fact that we have 75 active players ranging in age from 10 to 70 years old," said Sifton. Along with a solid indoor season, which runs from October until April, the club has naturally developed a successful outdoor grass season, which runs from May until September. Not only does the club offer the possibility of polo in every season, but the diversity of playing options are seemingly endless. "There are essentially three sets of facilities," said Sifton, "three different ownership groups, some crossover, and we need all three to m ake the club as dynamic as it is." Remarkably, this focus on cooperation has allowed the club access to an impressive seven outdoor fields, two outdoor arenas, one indoor arena and two polo schools—all within a 37-mile radius north of Toronto. "One of the things that I think is important is that we all work together. Really, there is no city big enough for two clubs, short of [Wellington,] Florida. We try very hard to get along and for 50 years we have succeeded," said Sifton. The Toronto Polo Club headquarters are located at Fox Den Farm in Gormley (North Richmond Hill), Ontario, home to both the Toronto Polo Club Interscholastic and Western University Intercollegiate teams, which practice at the club's only indoor arena, housed at the facilities. Coach Scott Weir, who was involved in the development of the Certified Polo Instructor program and now serves as a certifier, coaches both teams and manages the polo school. The indoor arena is complete with a temperature controlled viewing lounge that overlooks the action. "We encourage non-playing family members to come out and watch," says Sifton, who insists that spectators will stay nice and toasty while catching the competition three days a week during the colder winter months. During the summertime, practice is held bi- weekly on the two fields at this location, as well as the highlight of the summer season, the corporate charity event Polo for Heart. Recently celebrating its 38th year, the three-day polo event has raised more than $6 million for heart- and stroke-related charities. The event Toronto Polo Club Toronto, Ontario, Canada St. Andrews College's Dave Offen, Mike Sifton Jr., Cliff Sifton and David Calverley, with coaches Don Bolton and Mike Sifton Sr., after the team won the 1977 National Interscholastic Championship. Snow polo has been played at Bancroft Farm, owned and operated by Brian O'Leary.

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