AIKEN — The Ninth Annual Pacers and Polo competition was a fitting send-off to Aiken’s 2012 Triple Crown on Sunday.
After being delayed because of rain Saturday, the polo match was a mixture of fun and competition for the pro and amateur athletes at Powderhouse Field.
“It is always a good game,” said Hugh Worsham, a player on the Designer Builders team, which beat the Burger King team, 10-9. “It went great. It’s a lot of fun.”
Worsham has played in all nine Pacers and Polo games since their inception and enjoys polo as a hobby and sport.
He owns Foxdale Equine Veterinary Services north of Atlanta as his day job and a farm in Aiken.
Over the years, Worsham has played for both teams and said every year the game is intense, even though the players all know each other and have been both teammates and opponents in past matches.
“Polo players can’t help being competitive,” he said. “Once the ball goes in, all bets are off.”
Del Walton, a pro polo player who played for Burger King, agreed that the players were in it to win.
“It got a little competitive. But it was good fun.”
Walton comes from a family of polo players, including his father and grandfather. The mare he rode in the fifth chukker, named Carolina, won Best Playing Pony of the match. Although he has about 30 horses, Walton was particularly pleased with Carolina’s recognition because he bred, raised and trained her.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said.
In the stands, recently retired couple Debbie and Charlie Brown enjoyed the match so much they were thinking of getting involved.
Charlie Brown played polo for 30 years for the Meadowbrook Polo Club in Long Island, N.Y. Now that he and his wife have relocated to Aiken, they are talking about volunteering to work with some of the younger polo players.
“We are very excited to be at the first polo game of the season,” Debbie said. “We love the sport and plan to be out here every year.”
The game’s proceeds went to the USC Aiken Athletic Department.