Polo club settles in Molalla
Hooves pound on pristine turf as riders, a ball, and horses engage in a wondrous dance of strength, speed and skill.
The sport is polo, and with the arrival of the Rose City Polo Club in the Molalla area, a fun and wholly unique adventure awaits not only spectators, but participants. The Rose City Polo Club, located on McCown Road, is about to officially open its grounds. And the club membership can't wait to show off the new facility.
"It's a big move for the club and I'm super excited about it," said Christy Marsing Barber, club member and co-director of the club's upcoming signature tournament. "It's so much fun."
That path to fun comes to fruition July 24-25 when RCPC welcomes clubs from all over the Pacific Northwest to Molalla for the inaugural Deauville Cup. The road to this event has been five years in the making, according to Barber. And it needed determination and more than a little bit of help along the way.
Previously, Rose City Polo Club wandered around a bit, but the goal was always to establish a permanent home. Fortunately, Kathryn Richert-Boe and Laura Johnson-Graham, who own Oakwood Farms in Molalla, would provide the key element to making the dream come true — land.
"They are allowing us to use some of the land," Barber said. "It used to be an equine jumping facility, and they let us renovate it into a polo field. It has been a five-year battle with ground squirrels, seeding and re-seeding and getting water to irrigate it. It's been a lot of work."
But that work is about to pay off. Though the club members, about 25 strong now, got a chance to get on the big field a little at the end of last summer, Barber admitted they've been babying the main field in anticipation of the Deauville Cup. Instead, members have been playing on a smaller practice field nearby in 3-on-3 games.
The club has also benefitted from the professional on-hand, Brandon Alcott. He was originally a member of the Tacoma Polo Club but is now situated in the area. He is joined by his brother Seth and Jeff Heeder, who provide coaching and offer lessons — in groups or privately — to those interested in perhaps mounting up and giving it a chukker or two to see what polo is really all about.
Barber noted that the move to Molalla's location in the heart of the Willamette Valley has the potential to bring additional benefits in terms of membership and involvement. There was a club in Sherwood, but that is no more, so Rose City Polo Club could very well emerge as the pre-eminent polo club in the area.
But first, the Deauville Cup.
"We had an exhibition last Thursday and had a good turnout," Barber said. "I think this is a huge turning point for the club. We are looking to make this one of the go-to clubs in the Northwest. We've done a lot of work and it's going to be amazing."
And that work will be on display July 24-25 as the club welcomes horses and players of all abilities from throughout the region. Ages of players will range from 16 to 73, and everyone from beginners to experienced players will have their time on the turf.
Matches, known as chukkers, are seven and a half minutes in length with four chukkers per match. Matches are organized by team handicaps and ranked like players at 0 goal, 2 goal and slower-paced chukkers for beginning horses and riders known as the "Margarita League."
The Deauville Cup has a rich and deep history, dating back to 1919, and was purchased by Johnson-Graham while in France a while back. It will be a rotating trophy that will highlight the tournament each year. Action will begin about 10 a.m. each day, and the club is asking for a $5 donation entry fee. Proceeds benefit the Interscholastic and Youth Polo foundations in the area. Tailgating is encouraged and there will be a "pretty woman hat parade" and "champagne divot stomp" between matches with prizes awarded.
In short, it's going to be a fun and interesting two days. Barber hopes folks will stop by for a bit and see what Rose City Polo Club, and the game of polo, are all about.
To learn more about the club, or about lessons, check the Facebook page at Rose City Polo Club.
During World War I, Deauville and its hotels were converted into a huge convalescent area for wounded soldiers. The resort was to serve the identical purpose in the next war. Play resumed in 1919, when Baron Eduard de Rothschild and three British Army captains, Francis Penn-Curzon, Life Guards, Teignmouth Melvill, 17th Lancers, and Jack Harrison, Royal Horse Guards, took the Continental Championship.
The actual cup that will be played for at the Rose City Polo Club's tournament is the actual cup that Rothschild was awarded for winning the Championnet Continentale in Deauville after World War I in 1919.
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