Around the Water Trough

Gladiator Polo is back at TIEC!

Contributed by Tryon International Equestrian Center . | . Photos by TIEC

Daryl and ‘Fernhill Picture This’

On August 3, Gladiator Polo™ returns to Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) for a thrilling rematch between Team Charlotte and Team Greenville.

The event will feature the world’s best arena polo players guaranteeing an action-packed event. As Gates Gridley, United States Certified Polo Instructor and Lead Instructor at the Polo School at IPC, says “we are thrilled to be back at TIEC for the 8th time, bringing polo to a region that isn’t typically known for the sport. Whether you are familiar with Polo or not, Gladiator Polo is easy to follow and just fun to watch.”

Returning to Team Greenville to defend last year’s title, Jared Sheldon is joined by Matt Cappola and Felipe Viana, combining for an experienced and competitive arena polo team. Sheldon, a Team USPA member, is a 2018 winner of the “Battle for the Carolinas” series at TIEC, as well as the US Arena Open. Team USPA member Cappola was a finalist in two of three GAUNTLET OF POLO™ Finals at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in the 2018-2019 season. The trio of Gladiators in black is completed by Team USPA member Viana, winner of the US Arena Open and National Intercollegiate Champion.

Team Charlotte is built to challenge its South Carolina opponent. Team USPA member Patrick Uretz, who holds the “Battle for the Carolinas” title from 2017 and was a two-time National Intercollegiate Champion, heads a formidable Team Charlotte alongside teammates in teal, Mike Azzaro and Trevor Niznik. Azzaro, Polo Hall of Famer, brings his experience as a former 10 goal player and eight-time winner of the US Open, while Niznik is a 2017 finalist of the President’s Cup and a 2018 finalist of the Texas Open.

Fans can expect an epic battle between the two teams as Team Greenville defends their title as “Battle for the Carolinas” champion against a motivated Team Charlotte following their loss in the 2018 championship match at TIEC in June.

Daryl and ‘Fernhill Picture This’

“These are some of the top polo players and ponies in the world. The horses hit speeds of 30 miles an hour, the players body check each other, they are ‘all in’ for over 2 hours. It’s called ‘hockey on horseback’ for a reason!” smiles Gates.

Gladiator Polo takes place in a 310 X 250-foot stadium as opposed to a typical polo field that measures 900 X 450 feet, so the crowd can truly experience the action on the field below!

Gladiator Polo™ was inspired by Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG) and Managing Partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP) and Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), who understood that the sport of polo was in desperate need of revitalization in order to attract and broaden its traditional audience base. Combining elements of both Field Polo and Arena Polo, the concept of Gladiator Polo™ took form in Wellington, FL, during the annual high goal season in South Florida. From there, the game expanded and has garnered both a national and international following. This is the third season that Gladiator Polo™ has been played at TIEC, where it has become a favorite venue for spectators and players alike.

Daryl and ‘BEC Valencia’

Both teams will collaborate the week prior to the Gladiator Polo™ match as instructors at the first-ever Ninja Polo™ Camp at TIEC proudly supported by the Polo Training Foundation. The camp offers an immersive and hands-on educational experience for kids aged 11-18 from August 1-4. Campers will learn from some of the world’s best professional high goal arena players for an experience that can’t be found anywhere else. The coaching staffing is headed by Gridley and the camp offers Beginner through Advanced instruction. No polo experience is required, though participants must be able to walk, trot and canter consistently. School horses are available, or campers can bring their own mount, and onsite lodging is available.

General Admission and parking for Gladiator Polo™ are free. There are free activities for the whole family beginning at 6pm, with kids’ activities, face painting and pony rides, entertainers and magicians, concessions stands and onsite restaurants available.

To learn more about Gladiator Polo™, visit