The Harvard-Yale rivalry has produced many famous battles over the years. But this weekend, rather than fighting one another, polo players from the two schools came together to raise money for a good cause.
The Yale Collegiate Polo Club and Harvard Polo and Equestrian Association met Saturday in the inaugural Harvard-Yale Polo Cup at the Greenwich Polo Club. Guests were treated to a day of wining and dining and a polo match between Harvard and Yale alumni teams that featured world-renowned players.
Roughly 500 spectators, most of whom paid $150 per ticket, were treated to a special “Polo Express” train from Grand Central Terminal in New York to Greenwich, a reception and outdoor luncheon, an equestrian exhibition, the actual polo match, a cocktail hour, silent auction, and a performance by the Yale Spizzwinks. The proceeds from the event will be donated to charities such as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Foundation for Melanoma Research and to the Harvard and Yale polo programs.
“It almost couldn’t have gone better,” said Brett Johnson, the Harvard alumnus who helped organize the Cup. “We got just nothing but rave reviews — a beautiful day and a wonderful setting. It set the stage for what we hope will become a great fund-raising event every year.”
The polo team of Yale alumni handily defeated the Harvard squad, 14-9, in the afternoon’s main event. The Bulldog side boasted Adam Snow ’87, the top-ranked U.S. polo player, and Adam Lindemann LAW ’87, former winner of the Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Handicap.
The Yale players had a combined handicap of 13, while the Crimson’s handicap was six. The Cantabs, therefore, started out with a 7-0 advantage, but the Bulldogs proved to be too much to handle.
“The most impressive thing was the people who we had on our team,” said Catherine Pitt ’04, the president of the Yale Polo Club. “They were contacted individually and they were excited [to participate].”
Rhett Drugge, a Harvard alumnus, first came up with the idea for the charity cup. Drugge graduated from Harvard in 1981 and was captain of the Crimson polo team. Drugge wanted to design an event that would bolster support for Harvard polo. He enlisted the help of Johnson, who is president of Charity Network New York and saw the match as an opportunity to raise money for small charities.
Johnson then approached Pitt and the Yale Polo Club’s captain, Sarah Crews ’03.
“We thought it would be a wonderful idea,” Pitt said. “We have an event along the same lines, which is the Harriman Cup between Yale and the University of Virginia. But that’s [more] like a big rowdy tailgate party, whereas this was made to be a more elegant, classy event.”
The majority of spectators at Saturday’s event were Yale and Harvard alumni.
The Yale Clubs of New York, Greenwich and Westchester helped publicize the event, as did the charity network.
Despite the pricey tickets, Pitt said the event barely broke even this year. She added, however, that this was expected and that this year was viewed more as a starting-off point, rather than as a moneymaker.
“Given that this year [the profit] is going to be a fairly small amount, it will be for the team’s running expenses,” Pitt said.
Those expenses include a scheduled trip to England in the spring for the Atlantic Cup. Last spring, polo teams from Oxford and Cambridge made the trans-Atlantic trip to participate in the first ever Atlantic Cup.
The polo team is now hoping that the Harriman Cup, the Atlantic Cup and the Harvard-Yale Charity Polo Cup will all become mainstays of the Bulldogs’ schedule. And Johnson also wants the charity network and Harvard to remain involved in the planning of future events.
“This year was an investment year,” Johnson said. “We take a very long-range view of this. We expect this [alumni] game to be played 20 years from now.”