Dec 13, 2022 5:42 PM
Walton was a third-generation player on both sides of his family. His father, Rob Walton, was an 8-goal professional player and was heavily involved in Thoroughbred racing during his career. His maternal grandfather, Delmer Carroll, was an 8-goal player outdoors and 9 goals in the arena.
It was natural for Del to get involved with horses and take up the sport of polo. He began playing when he was just 9 years old and continued on to become a talented 3-goal (4 in the arena) professional player. His career was highlighted by wins in the USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open Polo Championship. Those victories came while he was playing with White Birch polo team. Some of his other notable wins include the Monty Waterbury, the Regional Classic-Western, the Bronze Trophy, the National Copper Cup, the Delegate’s Cup and the Regional President’s Cup.
Growing up around horses and competing alongside top players with extensive breeding programs Del followed in his grandfather’s footsteps delving into the world of breeding. In a 2018 interview, he said, “My passion comes from my grandfather. He loved to breed horses, polo ponies and racehorses, so I think it is just instilled in me. It is something I really like to do.” Delmer Carroll’s colt, Bee Bee Bee, won the 1972 Preakness Stakes, he won four training titles and was one of the top trainers at Arlington Park in Chicago during his career.
Walton began his own breeding program about 10 years ago, starting out small. He eventually purchased a 65-acre farm, Walton Farm Polo, 40 minutes outside of Aiken, South Carolina, in Blackville. He had about 80 horses, with eight to 12 new foals each year.
He and his wife Tessa Callaghan Lord managed the breeding operation that included a half dozen broodmares and stallions with polo-related blood. One of Walton’s stallions was Joel Baker’s Morningstar, the sire of the famous Chocolate. He also had progeny from his maternal grandfather’s famous stallion, Magazin, who won the 1972 Willis Hartman Award for Best Playing Pony in the U.S. Open Polo Championship and was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 2004 as a Horse to Remember.
Once on the ground, Del worked with each young horse, diligently training them for polo.
Beyond horses, Del cared deeply for his family and for those in the polo community. Kelly Forrestal, Tessa’s cousin, shared in an online post, “Del was a husband, father and a pillar in the polo and horse community. To really know Del was to love Del. His passion for his work, his family and his soulmate, Tessa, was undeniable.”
Friends and family also flocked to social media to share memories of Del and speak to his character. Sarah Thompson posted, “Del Walton was always willing to help the younger generation with their polo, encouraging patrons to play with the up-and-coming players, coaching on the field and helping with horses.”
Aiken Polo Club echoed a similar sentiment on Facebook, writing, “Along with being a talented polo professional, Del was a devoted father, a lover of animals and [a] person of great energy and passion who lived his life to the fullest. His loss leaves an immense void in the polo community and in the lives of those who knew and loved him.”
Walton leaves behind his wife Tessa; sons David, Callaghan and Harrison; mother Robin Carroll Bostwick; father Rob Walton; sister Laura Bostwick; stepfather Rick Bostwick; mother-in-law Betty Callaghan; Paternal grandfather Robert Walton; uncles Bil Walton and F.D. Walton; aunts Betsy Walton, Susan Walton and Mary Alizon Walton; and cousins Madeleine, Will, Sophie and Ali.
A fund has been set up for Del’s wife and sons through Polo Players Support Group, where donations will assist in the day-to-day care of the Walton’s family, farm and horses. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at polosupport.com. Please email Dave Offen at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that your donation will be earmarked for Del’s family.
A celebration of life is planned for Tuesday, May 2, in Aiken, South Carolina. The Walton family deeply appreciates the amount of love and support they have received, and thanks everyone for respecting their privacy during this difficult time.
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