On a perfectly clear day in mid-September, supporters of Rochelle Center and Saddle Up! gathered together for the 25th annual Chukkers for Charity polo match held at Riverview Farm. After last year’s fundraiser was canceled due to the pandemic, co-chairs Nina Lindley and Matt Paco, who have overseen the event for the last three years, were excited to be back on the field again.
The two teams, representing Ironhorse Farms and Lo Key Ranch, met on the pitch and gave a good show to the cheering crowds on both sides of the long field. The patrons’ side was lined with cabanas reserved by companies and families, and each one was full of well-dressed polo fans and donors happy to be supporting the goals of the two nonprofits.
At halftime, everyone poured onto the field for the traditional divot stomp, helping smooth out the field again before the second half. While everyone was busy stomping, the Publix team drove out onto the field to hand out ice cream sandwiches, a welcome treat in the hot afternoon sun. The cast of the new musical Johnny & the Devil’s Box set up at midfield to perform a selection of songs accompanied by Belmont University’s 629 Dance Team. Finally, the event’s emcees announced the winners of the style contest, for which the best-dressed man, Jon Steinick, and the best-dressed woman, Becky Grimaldi, each won a bottle of O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey.
The ponies and riders strode out onto the pitch once again for the second half (the last three chukkers) of the match. Ironhorse Farms, represented by players Lexie Armstrong, Orrin Ingram, Wes Finlayson and Armando Huerta, came out on top to claim the trophy. And the award for best-playing pony went to Selma. The real winners, though, are the children and adults who are part of the programs at Rochelle Center and Saddle Up! that benefit from the beloved fundraiser.