Always fair weather at Greenwich Polo

Father’s Day dawned cloudy and rainy – hardly an auspicious condition for any outdoor activity, let alone the challenging sport of polo. But where you start is often not where you finish. Not only did it turn out to be the perfect late-spring day – sun-dappled and breeze-buffeting – but it punctuated a glorious afternoon at Greenwich Polo Club, in which nature, art and sport intersected with eating, shopping, renewing old acquaintances and making new ones.

WAG began at the club’s adjacent, sister organization, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, whose “Animal Farm” exhibit is a cheeky (in every sense of the word) contemporary take on the themes of eroticism, animals, the political animal and animation in a renovated fruit barn that is just an exceptional space.

Would sport live up to art? What a question. The Cavalleria Toscana team (Mike Davis, Toro Ruiz, Matias Magrini, Lucas Diaz Alberdi) took an early lead with some particularly aggressive play in a battle for the USPA Monty Waterbury Cup. For a while, it looked like Work to Ride (Joseph Manheim, Nick Manifold, Mariano Aguerre and Mariano Gonzalez) would have its work cut out for it. But the mark of a great team or individual player is the calm of the cobra waiting to pounce. Work to Ride began chipping away, anchored by Aguerre, recently inducted into the Museum of Polo’s Hall of Fame, and Manifold, who delivered some stunning backhand shots. The action was so intense that at one point it came close to the boards on the sidelines, which is why you’re reminded to stay behind the white lines.

Of course, not all the action in polo is on the field, which encompasses nine gridirons. There is the promenade of fans – women in lace dresses, picture hats and espadrilles and men channeling their inner Gatsby, accessorized by toddlers and dogs. And there are the vendors. We savored lobster rolls and New England clam chowder from Boothbay Lobster and sundaes and strawberry ice cream from Longford’s Ice Cream before taking ourselves off to The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-Hudson Valley’s tent. There we couldn’t resist a pair of gold-sequined espadrilles from Montepicaza, the new Greenwich sportswear store. It was a pleasure meeting sunny owner Ellen Christian-Reid after encountering her in Jena Butterfield’s fine story. It was at her booth that we ran into one of WAG’s dearest friends, the ever-gracious Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor of Harper’s Bazaar , who shared that she would be in Westchester County this fall to emcee once again a fashion show spotlighting Pediatric Cancer Foundation. (And, she said, you can be sure she would be talking about the trend to sparkling, silvery accessories like some of Montepicaza’s espadrilles.)

It was heartening to hear Graham talk about women entrepreneurs and women supporting other women’s efforts. It was just as heartening to meet Aguerre face-to-face after the match, in which Work to Ride came from behind to take the Monty Waterbury Cup, the third oldest official United States Polo Association trophy. (It’s named for James “Monty” Waterbury – a 10-goaler, the highest rank in polo, and a member of the legendary Wanderers, who took the first U.S. Polo Championship in 1904.)

Bracing us with his strong hands, Aguerre thanked WAG heartily for our coverage of his career. “You made me look good,” he said, laughing.

It was the cherry on our Sunday.

The quest for the USPA Silver Cup begins this Sunday, June 25 and concludes July 16. Then it’s the prestigious USPA East Coast Open Aug. 27-Sept. 10. For tickets and more, visit greenwichpoloclub.com. And for more on The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, look for WAG’s August “Exploring the Exhale” issue.

Georgette Gouveia

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