"Great Expectations at Great Meadow," the sixth annual Polo Classic to benefit the National Sporting Library and Museum (NSLM), took place September 11, 2016 under scattered clouds and comfortable temperatures at Great Meadow in the Plains, Virginia. With elaborate tailgates ringing the field across from the elegant Pavilion - and a smattering of Ferraris on display a reasonably safe distance from the sidelines - there was plenty to entertain the Sport of Kings enthusiasts and the general public alike.
Players vie for the ball. Photo by Rick Stillings.
Two six-chukker matches entertained the crowd. The first contest featured Team British Forces Foundation versus Team USA competing for the Founders Cup. Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. tossed out the ceremonial first ball for this match. The second contest pitted Team Greenhill Winery &Vineyard against Team Beverly Equestrian for the Mars Cup. This match included a few special luminaries in the saddle: high goal international player, Nacho Figueras, and former "America's Most Wanted" host and anti-crime activist, John Walsh, returning to play for Team Greenhill Winery & Vineyard, as well as John Gobin, manager of the Great Meadow Polo Club. The first ball was tossed by Mrs. Jacqueline B. Mars, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of NSLM.
The recognizable Orange County Hounds and Huntsman Reg Spreadborough. Photo by Rick Stillings.
Well-dressed spectators of every age enjoyed the invitation to replace the divots between chukkers and admired the display of sleek steel horsepower at the far end of the field. Just before lunchtime, Orange County Hounds huntsman Reg Spreadborough paraded his distinctive red ring-necked pack, concluding with a stirring hand gallop while the horn encouraged hounds ahead.
St. Andrew's Society of Pipes & Drums added to the festive atmosphere with their bagpipes and percussion escorting the players onto the field. Along with renditions of "America the Beautiful" and the national anthem, a full minute of silence was observed in honor of those lost on September 11, 2001. The celebrated Mounted Army Color Guard from the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard, presented colors before the opening ball toss.
St. Andrew's Society of Pipes and Drums and the Old Guard. Photo by Rick Stillings.
Proceeds from the event enable NSLM's mission of "preserving, promoting, and sharing the literature, art, and culture of equestrian, angling, and field sports." The day was a success in this regard; all the tailgate reservations and Pavilion tickets were sold out ahead of time, and many General Admission attendees picnicked around the edges of the field. Continued support through this fundraiser allows NSLM, located in nearby Middleburg, Virginia, to offer more than 60 public programs annually, as well as mounting several significant exhibitions for more than 8,000 annual visitors.
For more information, please visit the National Sporting Library & Museum's website here.