Above: Joao Paulo Gannon keeps his eye on the ball. – Photograph by Bob Lubash
On certain Sundays between June and September, the Greenwich Polo Club becomes to backcountry what the Avenue is to downtown: the center of the action. The club, which is celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary this year, attracts thousands of spectators on match weekends, including celebrities and dignitaries (Prince Harry selected the club to host the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup a few years ago). The tradition will continue this season as the Conyers Farm home team, White Birch, vies to win back the Perry Cup. “It should be a very exciting, high-goal season,” says Peter Brant, founder of the club and one of the top ranked amateur players in the world who continues to play actively for White Birch. “We have the East Coast Open, which is the biggest tournament in the eastern United States, and we’re expecting seven or eight teams from all over the country and players from all over the world.”
The club is expanding the reach by mentoring up-and-coming players and by making the matches even more accessible and enjoyable for fans. Though polo is an expensive sport due to the number of horses involved—each team has twenty-four to thirty horses per match—Greenwich Polo Club works to reduce the costs for young players. “Once they get interested in the game, we provide jobs for them as grooms. They get to play and they get handicap support and are put on different teams as their skills improve,” says Brant. “We give them horses and make it affordable for them to take lessons to try to get new entrants to the game.”
For fans, there are new ways to enjoy match days. Last year, the club added food and beverage options, including polo-inspired cocktails and new food trucks, so you can grab lunch from the truck or bring your own picnic. For a VIP experience, there are options for grandstand boxes and private cabanas. Unique to the club is its adjacency to the Brant Art Study Center with outdoor sculptures by Urs Fischer and Richard Serra on view from the fields. An upcoming exhibit about the presidential election, Occupy Greenwich by Jonathan Horowitz, can be viewed during Open Houses on the Sundays of the East Coast Open. With the combination of sport and art, the club is becoming a multicultural destination as well as a host to charity events such as the Polo for Children Benefit on Sunday, June 12, with proceeds going to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
“We encourage as many people to come as possible,” says Brant. “It’s a great day for kids and a great day to have a picnic. It’s just a wonderful thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.”
»Pre-polo lunches can range from sandwiches on a blanket to catered affairs for private cabanas or VIP lunches under the tent. A few options and tips.
»Food trucks this year include the popular Dough Girls, La Fenice Gelato, Caffe Bon, and Follow That Cupcake.
»Stop by the Greenwich Polo Bar for specialty craft cocktails. Last year, the Throw-In, a blend of vodka, elderflower, lemonade and blueberry, was most popular.
»If you’re buying lawn tickets and want to get a good spot on the grass to watch the match, plan to arrive promptly at 1 p.m. when the gates open. Matches begin at 3 p.m.
Sunday, June 5
USPA NATIONAL TOURNAMENTS
Monty Waterbury Cup Butler Handicap The East Coast Open
• $40 for lawn seating (price is per car)
• $300 for grandstand boxes (for four guests)
• $500 for cabanas (for eight guests)
• Season tickets beginning at $300 (for lawn seating)
• VIP tickets incuding catered lunches and cocktails under the tent, with tables available from $2,500 (available at certain matches only)