Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Townsend Cup

Back in March of 1923, a team of three American polo players in Manhattan played an international arena polo match against a team of three British players. The John R. Townsend International Cup was put on in conjunction with the national arena polo championships in the Squadron A Armory which once stood on Madison Avenue between 94th and 95th streets.

The British team arrived a month before the tournament started and spent the intervening weeks practicing the indoor game as it was played in America. The Americans were beating the British pretty badly in practice, until a few days before the tournament when the British were able to ride their own horses which had been brought over by ship. Then, they surprised everyone by beating an accomplished American team by a score of 10 to 4. But when it counted, the Americans came out on top, winning all three games by decisive margins (41/2-1, 11-2, 10-4.)

The British didn't return to contest the cup again until 2004, when again they lost, playing at the Empire Polo Club in California.  They lost once more in 2008, playing against a team that included John Gobin, an Aiken resident and 6-goal arena player.

The Townsend Cup returned to Empire this March 26. The American team consisted of two players with Aiken connections, John Gobin and Tommy Biddle (9 goals), who played along with Shane Rice, a 7-goal arena player who has been a part of the Aiken scene in recent years.

Once again, the American team was dominant, downing the British by a score of 15 to 9.

No comments: