Journey and Polo, Together at Last!

By: Carolyn Kriss

Polo mallets. These, plus the band Journey, will be at the America's Cup of Polo on May 12.

Looking for sublimely absurd combinations? Try a US-UK polo match in Virginia that will feature a performance by the classic-rock band Journey as well as a celebration of America’s first settlers. On May 12, the first annual Americas Cup of Polo will trot its way into Leesburg.

The America’s Cup of Polo
, like America itself, is nothing if not heterogeneous. Sponsors represent not only international luxury (Cartier, Ritz-Carlton, Land Rover, and Casa Noble Tequila) but also local color (the Virginia Wine, Travel, and Tourism Office; VirginiaWineTour.com; and Market Salamander, a Middleburg catering company started by BET cofounder and equestrian fan Sheila Johnson).

While the sponsors’ affiliation with the event makes a certain sense, the rationale behind the entertainment choices is a bit puzzling. Just what the band Journey has to do with polo is unclear, but it’s performing at the match. So are the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra; the Virginia-based bluegrass group No Speed Limit; British pop/folk duo the Webb Sisters; the Urban Nation H.I.P.-H.O.P. Choir, featuring youth from the Washington area; and ten-time Grammy Award winner Claude McKnight of the a cappella group Take 6.

The match brings together the United States and United Kingdom and pits them against each other—which is both awkward and appropriate since the event commemorates the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first British settlers in Virginia. And we all know where that went.

Read below for more on the polo match. 

It looks as though England may try to make up for lost time—and colonies. “I’Il have a big job ahead of me on the field,” says Charles Muldoon, the only professional polo player on the American team. Britain will field two pros, including the legendary Julian Hipwood, who, Muldoon says, makes most polo professionals shake in fear.

Despite the international rivalry and the sport’s danger—according to Muldoon, polo is the second most dangerous sport after race-car driving—no spectator need fear discomfort. By the date of the match, 11,000 dumptruckfuls of dirt will have been hauled to the Leesburg course and covered with grass to create an 18-foot viewing mound encircling the 11-acre polo field. As many as 5,000 spectators will nosh on food from Market Salamander (see the menu) and sip Casaritas—ultrapremium 100-percent agave Casa Noble tequila margaritas, which event planners hope will become the mint juleps of the Mid-Atlantic polo set.

Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th District, where the America’s Cup will be held, hopes the event will be an occasion for another celebration. Because they concluded their peace treaties when Virginia was still a part of Britain, six of the eight state-recognized American Indian tribes in Virginia lack recognition by the US government, meaning that tribe members aren’t eligible for many federal benefits. Moran hopes to pass legislation granting these tribes recognition in time for the America’s Cup.

Tickets ($75 or $150) can be bought online. Profits will be donated to Journey for a Cure, benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.