Jul 25, 2023 5:26 PM
Nestled in the idyllic landscapes of Long Island, New York, a short train ride away from the bustling streets of Manhattan, in Old Westbury, New York, lies MB Polo Club (aka Meadow Brook Polo Club)—a place where history, tradition, and the thrill of polo come together in a harmonious symphony. Established in 1881, it is one of the oldest polo clubs in the United States still in operation, a testament to its enduring commitment to the sport.
The journey of Meadow Brook Polo Club began in 1879, when a group of visionary individuals, including Thomas Hitchcock Sr., Oliver W. Bird, August Belmont and Benjamin Nicoll, introduced the game of polo to the infield of the Mineola Fair Grounds racetrack. Thanks to their efforts, Meadow Brook was officially founded in 1881, and the club's first polo field was established in 1884. This marked the beginning of a remarkable legacy that would shape the world of polo both in the United States and beyond.
Today, MB Polo Club spans across three distinctive venues in Old Westbury, Bethpage and Caumsett State Park. Two of the most significant venues, Hickox Field and Bethpage Polo Field, stand as continued proof of the club's illustrious history. These fields have witnessed countless historic matches, thrilling rivalries and displays of unmatched skill, cementing the club's place as a driving force in the world of international polo.
Hickox Field, named after John V. Hickox, one of the club's founding fathers, is a testament to Meadow Brook's dedication to nurturing and developing the noble sport. As a beacon of tradition in the sport, the field carries the legacy of the club's deep-rooted history. Bethpage Polo Field is renowned for its pristine condition and historic significance, serving as the battleground for many epic and classic matches.
Within this impressive collection of venues is the crown jewel - the K Estate at Groton Place. Spanning over 108 acres, this spectacular estate brings history and elegance together in perfect harmony. The Georgian-style mansion, covering more than 12,000 square feet, stands tall as the centerpiece, surrounded by sprawling lawns, an organic garden and several stables. Not only does it serve as a hub for polo enthusiasts, but its breathtaking landscapes and proximity to miles of riding trails make it a highly sought-after location for grand events, film and television productions, and outdoor activities.
From July to October, the club comes to life with exhilarating polo matches every week. All Saturday games are a perfect blend of sports spectacle and social extravaganza, where attendees can enjoy the matches and continue the festivities at the post-game parties. The summer season at MB Polo Club also includes USPA tournaments such as the Northeastern Circuit Women's Challenge. Tickets for events throughout the season are available for purchase, providing a premium experience for those seeking a memorable weekend outing.
MB Polo Club’s most distinguished competitors include Mariano Aguerre, a true polo legend and Jeff Hall, 2023 Polo Hall of Fame inductee and celebrated American polo players. Other skilled professionals to compete at the historic club include Raul “Gringo” Colombres, Lerin Zubiaurre, Kris Kampsen, Facundo Obregon, Marcos “Bicho” Garcia del Rio, Leon Schwencke, Gaston Lisioli, Jhony Redlich, Nick Manifold and Antonio Aguerre.
Led by Club Owner Chetan Krishna, CEO Dennis Dantes, CFO Josh Berg, Dracarys’ Pro Polo Director Brandon Phillips and Academy Manager Kylie Sheehan*, MB Polo Club, like many others, faced challenges during the pandemic, but thanks to the dedication of Krishna, the future of MB Polo Club looks promising.
The club's true essence lies in its commitment to promoting the sport of polo to a wider audience. Weekday matches are open for everyone to attend, with the club's welcoming atmosphere ensuring that both seasoned fans and curious newcomers can embrace the thrill of the game. By inviting people from all walks of life to experience the grandeur of polo first-hand, MB Polo Club continues to inspire the next generation of polo enthusiasts.
In the world of polo, where passion and tradition collide, there are individuals who carry the flame of this magnificent sport, igniting new dreams and preserving its rich heritage. Assuming stewardship of MB Polo Club, Krishna embarked on a mission of revitalization, determined to restore the club to its former glory after the dark shadows of the pandemic. Driven by an unwavering passion for the sport and a deep desire to preserve its history, Krishna took on the challenge of breathing new life into the cherished club.
Seeking a thrilling adventure that would resonate with both his own love for team sports and his daughters' passion for show jumping, Krishna discovered polo—a perfect amalgamation of athleticism, camaraderie and adrenaline. Krishna’s initiation into the sport led him to establish his own polo team, Dracarys, named after the commanding cry from the renowned television series Game of Thrones. Currently active in Florida and the Northeast, the team has plans to elevate their game in the coming year.
How did you develop a passion for polo, what motivated you to start your own polo club and team in the United States?
“During the pandemic I was playing a lot of golf and wanted something new and exciting that I could also have in common with both of my daughters' passion, which is show jumping. Since I do enjoy hitting a ball around, enjoy a team sport and love the rush of adrenaline, polo seemed to be the perfect combination.
As far as creating a team is concerned, since I was a beginner there really was no other way to play organized polo within six months of learning how to ride, unless I created my own team. Starting a club was not really part of the plan. I’m still not sure what I’m doing to be honest. It happened by pure accident, but I feel that if I don’t do it then it will die out. I’m only trying to be a torch bearer until someone else comes along to continue encouraging the sport in Meadow Brook.”
What makes MB Polo Club unique?
“The proximity to one of the biggest and most bustling metropolises in the world, New York City, is quite unique to our club. We are only 20 miles east of Manhattan and within 30-45 mins of two major airports in JFK and LaGuardia, with fairly easy access to three other airports. Tons of nightlife and other amazing activities within close proximity also add to the uniqueness and appeal of Meadow Brook. Our newly-formed polo academy is doing amazingly well, and we hope to produce new and enthusiastic players for the future of the club and the sport.”
What inspired the name Dracarys for your polo team and what does it symbolize?
“This is just funny. The name is derived from the television show Game of Thrones which we were watching during the time I started playing. The word Dracarys is the attack command given to the fire breathing dragons.”
Could you describe the experience of owning and managing a polo club?
“It has been a learning experience so far for sure! It was also quite an investment. We are trying not to make too many mistakes and also not to repeat some that we already made. We are trying to keep polo alive in our humble capacity in our neck of the woods, bring awareness in the community and promote spectatorship by organizing some competitive games, [while] creating some fun events for the public to come and enjoy.”
What are some of the challenges and rewards that come with it?
“There are several challenges. Some of them are convincing team owners to come try out the new club under our leadership and experience for themselves what amazing fields we have put time, effort and money into. [Also] to experience the amazing people we have and how nice everyone is to each other. To experiment the fun of playing polo at our club but also the other activities such as asados, theme parties, one-wheel roda polo, beach volleyball and so on. It really is a great time, guaranteed.
The other challenges are stabling, but we have that covered for approximately 150 horses and have the ability to get more for anyone interested in playing with us during the summer season. Soon we hope to find some sponsorships as well to not only support the club, but also help the corporate sponsors with their marketing as Meadow Brook continues to grow and build.”
Can you share some memorable moments of Dracarys polo team since its formation?
“There are too many to count here, but I will say that winning all three of the 12-goal tournaments we entered, in our first real season in Wellington [Florida], was quite the feat and very memorable for the entire team.”
Are there any upcoming events or tournaments that team Dracarys will be participating in?
"Yes! We are playing an 8-goal in the Hamptons [New York] and the team is Antonio Aguerre, Leon Schwencke, Brandon Phillips and myself. Also, a 16-goal at Greenwich Polo Club [Greenwich, Connecticut] with Leon Schwencke, Jeff Hall, Mariano Aguerre and myself. We are playing two more 16-goals later in the summer with Brandon Phillips, Jeff Hall and Facundo Obregon. Besides these we are playing 8- to 12- goal pro pool matches at Meadowbrook, and there will be some 12-goal tournaments as well.”
What are your expectations for these events?
“To be competitive (hopefully win a few) but more importantly for me, to continue to learn the game and improve as a player and as a team.”
How do you envision the future of polo in the United States, and what role do you hope MB Polo Club and the Dracarys team will play in its development?
“Polo is such an amazing sport. It pains me that more people aren’t aware of it and aren’t enjoying it as much as they should. I think it’s imperative that everyone in the world of polo does their absolute, very best to help promote the sport selflessly. We have to grow the sport and bring it to the masses to come watch, enjoy and hopefully play as well.”
*Kylie Sheehan is Team USPA alumna. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
All photos courtesy of ©Rebecca Foltz/Penmax Productions.
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More