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Jul 16, 2012 10:30 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Image Overhaul For High-Goal Polo Tournament In Bridgehampton

Jul 16, 2012 10:30 AM

Fans of polo will have plenty to cheer about this summer at the Bridgehampton Polo Club at Two Trees Farm.

In what constitutes an image overhaul, the game will finally be taking center stage, according to tournament organizers, who say that starting this season, there will be less of a focus on the party atmosphere and social scene that has dominated the Saturday afternoon matches and more emphasis placed on the sport itself. The first match of the season is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. at Two Trees Farm. As of Tuesday morning, the teams who would play in that first match had not yet been determined.

There will still be a VIP tent to accommodate the tournament’s sponsors and guests this year, but it will be smaller and won’t be have the same nightclub atmosphere it has had in years past. Nick Manifold, one of the veteran players in the tournament who is also intricately involved with its management, said that Bridgehampton Polo Club owner Peter Brant—also a player in the tournament—wanted to shift the focus toward the game, which often gets lost in the shuffle.

“We’re just trying to tone it down to make it much more of an event for people to enjoy the polo and not just to come and drink,” Manifold said.

This will be welcome news for the fans of polo in the area, many of whom also attend the games that take place during the week. The Saturday matches typically draw the biggest crowds, but the teams have always played games mid-week and even on Sundays, and those matches are always open to the public as well. Because the VIP tent is not open on the other days of the week, the weekday games take on more of a laid back, family-oriented atmosphere, with people pulling up their cars and watching the match from beach chairs along the sidelines. Without the fanfare of the big tent, people pay more attention to the game—which is exactly what the organizers of the tournament want to see.

Manifold said he believes there is already a strong fan base for the sport, and that the tournament organizers want to cater more specifically to those people.

“There are a lot of people who really enjoy the sport and who love to look at the horses,” he said. “If you go on a Saturday, the whole one side of the field is packed with the people who want to enjoy the sport. We’re trying to get those people more involved and create more of a fanbase rather than an event under a tent with a polo game on the side.”

With the caliber of players that have always attended the 20-goal tournament (meaning that the handicaps of the four players on each team add up to no more than 20), there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be interested in the game. Some of the world’s best players spend their summers playing in the Hamptons, included several who are rated at 8 or 9 goals, in a sport where 10 is the maximum and only a handful of players in the world ever achieve that status. Six teams will play in the first half of the tournament for the Monty Waterbury Cup, and they will continue play in the second half of the tournament for the Hampton Cup.

Sponsor Chris Del Gatto (zero goals) returns to the tournament with his Circa team, which will include Guille Aguero (6 goals) Martin Pepa (5) and Magoo LaPrida (9). LaPrida is one of the best young players in the world and a veteran of the tournament.

Joe DiMenna (0) brings back his Equuleus team, which has played in the tournament for many years. He’ll have two seven-goalers in Mariano Obregon and Mariano Gonzalez, who will play along with Pelon Escapite (6). Harry Winston/KIG with sponsor Bash Kazi is new to the tournament this season. They will play under the name Harry Winston for the Monty Waterbury Cup and will be under the KIG team name for the Hampton Cup, but the players will remain the same. Hamptons favorite Nacho Figueras (6) will play for the Harry Winston/KIG squad along with Matias Magrini (8) and Kris Kampsen (6).

The Heathcote team is also back, with sponsor Steve Lefkowitz (0). He’ll play alongside Naco Taverna (6), Tommy Biddle (6) and Nick Manifold (5). Because their team handicap is only 17 goals, they will begin each match with a three-goal lead.

Sponsor Adam Lindemann (2) will lead the Montauk team, which features nine-goaler Santiago Chavanne, who is new to the tournament, as well as Tomas Garcia Del Rio (8), and Marco Alberdi (1).

And powerhouse White Birch is back as well with longtime teammates Peter Brant (2) and Mariano Aguerre (9). The duo have always been tough to beat because they’ve played together for years. They’ll be joined by Felipe Viana (3) and Freddy Mannix (6) this season.

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By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jul 16, 12 11:29 AM
It's "peacock" season in the hamptons Imagine what life would be like without polo ? How did we ever manage all these years ?
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jul 16, 12 12:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
By HarborDad (37), Sag Harbor on Jul 16, 12 1:05 PM
How about a nice little article about what all the fertilizers, herbicides and watering of the polo fields is doing to our groundwater.
By rv (38), watermill on Jul 16, 12 1:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
What does this mean for the Hamptons Players Club?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jul 16, 12 4:44 PM
looks like attendance will be way down- why go to a polo match and watch polo, without getting drunk and behaving like idiots.
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Jul 16, 12 10:03 PM
that pretty much applies to any sporting event nowadays
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Jul 17, 12 3:45 PM
No partying?!? I guess Jason Kidd won't be going
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Jul 17, 12 1:43 AM