Riding into WAG country once more

Three great equine events ride into WAG country late summer – two at the Greenwich Polo Club, the third, the American Gold Cup, at Old Salem Farm in North Salem.

The polo club – which was founded in 1981 by businessman and art collector Peter Brant – kicks things off Aug. 31 with the Virginia’s House of Hope Charity match from noon to 5 p.m. The second annual “Benefit of Hope” will feature an open bar, tastings, entertainment and the time-honored tradition of halftime divot stomping, all in support of the charity’s Tugboat Program, which provides qualified candidates from underprivileged backgrounds with a career start in the maritime industry. (After the three-week program, each student is certified to work as a tugboat deckhand, which could ultimately lead to becoming a captain with a six-figure salary. House of Hope guarantees that each graduate is hired.) Tickets are $350 VIPs, $250 individuals, $50 children ages 11-15. Children 10 and under are admitted free. For more, visit http://virginiashouse.weebly.com/.

Then on Sept. 7, it’s the annual 20-goal USPA Royal Salute Jubilee Cup, complete with a Scottish piper and a host of celebrities. Polo player Nick Manifold, who helps run the club, calls it “one of the best days I’ve ever seen.” WAG caught up with Manifold – who began playing at age 19 in his native Australia and has been with the club since 1992 – just as the season was about to get underway in June. For spectators, he says, the club is more than a place to see greats of the game like 9-goalers Mariano Aguerre and Hilario Ulloa, who helped the Alegria team take the U.S. Open title in April. (Ten goals is the highest level you can achieve in polo.) The club also provides an opportunity for you to relax in Greenwich’s verdant, undulating back country, a short drive from Manhattan.

“For a family to come out here and have a picnic, there are few more beautiful places in the world,” he says. The gates open at 1 p.m. and the match starts at 3 p.m. Admission is $40. For more, visit greenwichpoloclub.com.

The equestrian season comes to a thrilling conclusion Sept. 10-14 with the return of The American Gold Cup to 120-acre Old Salem Farm for the third year.

Last year Brianne Goutal, aboard Nice de Prissey, took top honors at the $200,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI*-W, a qualifier for the FEI World Cup that concludes this show jumping competition. Tracy Fenney, riding MTM Timon, and Beezie Madden, aboard Coral Reef Via Volo, finished second and third respectively amid a field of 36. Who will it be this year?

One thing is certain: Many of the faces outside the ring will be familiar for the event, which will award $436,000 in prize money. Suncast, a leading storage manufacturer, is back as a major sponsor. So is neighboring One Twenty One as the caterer. (See Wonderful Dining on page ? in this issue.) And NBCSN will again broadcast the Gold Cup, on Sept. 21 at 4 p.m., adding an extra half-hour of coverage.

Last year the event, organized by Stadium Jumping and Old Salem Farm, received the Most Improved Top 25 award from the North American Riders Group, moving up nine places to third.

Admission is free weekdays and $20; $15 for children ages 4 to 12 and senior citizens, on Saturday and Sunday. (Children age 3 and under are admitted free.) Gates open 8 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday and noon Sunday. For tickets and more information, visit theamericangoldcup.com.

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