Aiken has always had a stellar reputation in polo circles for attracting and producing outstanding players and ponies. Some of the best players in the history of the game have graced Aiken’s fields, including the immortal Tommy Hitchcock (1900-1944), a 10 goal player who was often considered the best player the sport had ever seen, and Adolfo Cambiaso (1975 - ) an Argentine 10-goal superstar whose reputation has even eclipsed Tommy’s. In fact, of the 21 American born players who have been awarded a 10-goal rating by the United States Polo Association, seven (a full third!) have lived and played in Aiken.
This February, another of Aiken’s players will be inducted into the National Museum of Polo Hall of Fame in Lake Worth, Florida. Owen Rinehart, who attained a 10-goal handicap in 1991, is this year’s living inductee. He joins other Aiken-connected poloists on the roster, including Pete Bostwick, Thomas, Tommy and Louise Hitchcock, Alan Corey Jr. (father of the Alan Corey who plays today) Elbridge Gerry (who attended Aiken Prep School) Philip and Stewart Iglehart, Norty Knox, Devereux Milburn, Lewis Smith, Louis Stoddard and Harry Payne Whitney.
Owen Rinehart has a long list of polo accomplishments, including wins in the U.S. Open, the U.S. Handicap, the Gold Cup, the Monty Waterbury Cup, the America Cup, the Hall of Fame Cup, the World Cup and the East Coast Open. He also played for America in the Westchester Cup in 1992, the last year that the U.S. won the historic international match against England. This year, he serves as coach for the American team in the first year that the Westchester Cup will be contested on American soil since 1939.
Although Owen has a stellar reputation as a player, he may be best known for breeding, training and developing horses. His breeding operation is one of the most well-respected in the nation, and horses bred and trained at his Isinya Farm on Langdon Road have won numerous Best Playing Pony Awards in some of the top tournaments in the country. Additionally, he was named Best Mounted Player in both the 2005 Gold Cup (played at New Bridge Polo and Country Club) and in the 2007 U.S. Open in Palm Beach.
Owen will be inducted at the 20th Annual Hall of Fame Awards Gala at the museum on Friday, February 13. Other inductees include the Aiken “Ponies to Remember” Belle of All, owned and played by Louis Stoddard; and Rotallen, owned and played by Norty Knox. The evening begins with a Champagne reception and a silent auction to benefit the Hall of Fame. There will be a seated dinner, then the awards ceremony, then dancing. Tickets are $200 per person. (www.polomuseum.com or call 561.969.3210)