The USPA National Copper Cup 12 Goal tournament is under way at Aiken Polo Club. This tournament, one of the most prestigious in the country, is Aiken Polo Club’s marquee event for the year, featuring hotly contested matches, skillful horsemanship, brilliant hitting and fast, well-trained horses. The tournament began on Thursday, September 17 and will run until October 4, when the finals will be presented on Aiken Polo Club’s historic Whitney Field. This year’s tournament is being played in memory of Will Tankard, a promising young professional player who lost his life in a tragic accident on the highway over the summer.
Thursday’s first match of the tournament pitted Aiken Saddlery against Kenny Ray Personal Fitness at Meadow Hill. Both teams, with slight alterations in their line-ups, contested the Copper Cup last year. Then, players from the Aiken Saddlery team gained the upper hand, making it all the way to the final field where they lost in a tight, 13-12 contest. This year, Kenny Ray Personal Fitness came out ahead in their first match with a convincing 14-10 victory.
The next match of the Copper Cup will be on Sunday, September 20 at 3pm on Whitney Field. This match will see Kenny Ray Personal Fitness facing off against Crestview Genetics, the winner of the 2014 Copper Cup. The Crestview team is especially strong. The team’s featured player is Matias Magrini, a super competitor currently playing off an 8-goal handicap. Matias will be joined by Alan Meeker (the president of Crestview Genetics and the owner of the team), Hugo Lloret (a 4-goal professional) and Santino Magrini, who is Matias’s 14-year-old son.
This is sure to be an exciting game and it will be especially interesting to watch the two Magrinis playing together. The last time Aiken Polo Club saw Matias was last fall when he was hoisting the historic Copper Cup after Crestview’s 2014 victory.
Although Santino substituted in a few games of last year’s Copper Cup, the last time he was officially on the roster at Aiken Polo club he was a small child with incredible skills playing junior polo back in 2009. Then, his feet barely reached below the saddle flaps as he galloped down the field, effortlessly carrying the ball on either side of his willing, handy pony. Today, he is tall, strong and experienced, coming to Aiken from the finals of the 20 goal East Coast Open in Greenwich, CT, where his team, White Birch, lost to Audi in overtime, 14-13 on August 30.
Sunday’s game at Whitney Field will be the opening match of the Aiken Polo Club fall 2015 season, and will feature a stick horse race and Pony Parade for children 5-12 at halftime to benefit Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA. The cost to register is $15 and can be paid for in advance at the Goodwill retail store, 1015 Pine Log Road, or The Willcox, 100 Colleton Ave. S.W.. For more information, call 803-649-7694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, Aiken Polo Club will be running its full social program under the beautiful Alan Lyle Corey III Pavilion, where there will be refreshments provided by Helms College Culinary School. General admission to the field is $5 per person with free parking in the adjacent sandlot. There are a few tailgating spots fieldside available for $25 (get there early). Non-members of Aiken Polo Club can join the party under the pavilion for $30 person. Love polo? You can still become a social member this year and come to the party every Sunday all fall for just $200.
However you want to watch the game, Aiken Polo Club will be the place to be this Sunday. Gates open at 2 pm. Children are welcome, as are leashed, well-behaved dogs!
For more information, visit the Aiken Polo Club website.