Palm Beach Polo Plays its Part

by Editorial
W. Averrell Harriman's grandsom, Averell H. Fisk, accepts the Hall of Fame awardd in his grandfather's memory.

W. Averrell Harriman's grandsom, Averell H. Fisk, accepts the Hall of Fame awardd in his grandfather's memory.

Susan Hensley and Bill Fannon at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach.

Susan Hensley and Bill Fannon at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach.

Cottontail and Little Lou Dee

The equine enclave of Wellington (fondly referred to as “Welly World”) is located about 40 minutes west of uber-shopping destination Worth Avenue, located in bright, beautiful, and bountiful Palm Beach. Naturally, then, it was at Welly World that two polo ponies – Cottontail and Little Lou Dee – were honored at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame Awards Gala, attended by more than 300 people from all parts of the world.

The late Harry Payne Whitney’s favorite mount was the late, great Cottontail, who was noted for her “unfaltering courage.” The pair competed in international matches against England in 1909, 1911, and 1913 (A piece of polo trivia – female polo ponies are preferred – 99.9 percent of all polo ponies, in fact – as they are considered to have greater courage, intellect and stamina than their male counterparts. No female editorial comment necessary). Whitney’s grandson, Leverett S. Miller of Palm Beach, was on hand to accept the award. Little Lou Dee, the other pony recognized as one of the “Horses to Remember,” was bred and played by Hall of Famer Tommy Wayman. The gallant, black mare was remembered “for her agility, speed and great heart.”

Averell H. Fisk, also of Palm Beach and a polo enthusiast, accepted the Hall of Fame Award in memory of his grandfather, W. Averell Harriman. This late sportsman and statesman, who had a farm in Middleburg with all types of horses, was honored for his skills on the polo field during the 1920s “Golden Age” of the sport and for his “great contribution toward the breeding of polo ponies.”

The polo celebration was co-chaired by Patricia and Julian Hipwood, the legendary British polo player. There were endless flutes of champagne and six hors d’oeuvres stations (representing the six chukkers present in the game itself), including a “World Tour of Polo,” which offered an Argentinian table, Australian “Shrimp on the Barbie,” French foie-gras, Italian bruschetta, Spanish jamon Serrano and queso Manchego, and a clever take on Americana – lobster macaroni and cheese. All of this was followed by dinner and dancing in the main tent.

Other polo patrons in Florida for the season were: Garrick Steele, Jay Fetner, and Kevin Dougherty. Susan Hensley and Bill Fannon have been following the polo season south for several years and frequently attend the Sunday matches at the fashionable International Polo Club Palm Beach. Polo aficionado Stephen Seager of Chetwood Park in The Plains also stopped in for this whirlwind weekend.

Winter Equestrian Festival

Elizabeth Wolf was spotted at a reception for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, held at a private home in Palm Beach. She spent her first full winter in Florida while recuperating from a broken leg (yes, it was a horse-related injury). Elizabeth fell in love with the lifestyle and spent the warm days watching several of her dressage horses go through their intricate moves. Her husband, Bill Wolf, flew down from Middleburg for several weekends. The odds are good that they will be making this excursion into an annual event.

At every turn, more folks from Middleburg pop up. At the Winter Equestrian Festival Horse Shows, Charley Matheson signed copies of his new book (Friend Julie Martin was also in town). Mimi Abel-Smith was riding her show hunters and Nellie Ann Foosaner commuted back and forth from Foxcroft with her father, Bob Foosaner.

According to the United States Equestrian Federation, Joe Fargis proved, once again, “that in equestrian sports, experience can compete alongside youth.” The 59-year-old team and individual gold medalist from the 1984 Olympic Games now claims Middleburg as home base. Joe was jumping high in the Grand Prix events; perhaps he has his eye on a spot on the U.S. team, which soon heads to this year’s summer Games in Hong Kong.

Allen Richards, who has a farm over near Delaplane, was busy riding and training. His neighbor, Troye Plaskitt, introduced her new line of Italian footwear at one of the show’s boutiques. Troye has opened a new shop in Middleburg called Nobel Nielsen Shoes…expect all the full fashion details next month.

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