At Goose Creek Benefit Cup
By ERIC SCHMOLDT
Star-Tribune staff writer
Monday, August 18, 2008 7:25 AM MDT
BIG HORN -- Tommy Biddle coughed up the home run derby.
Owen Rinehart aims for
control of the ball during the Goose
Creek Cup at the Flying H Polo Club
on Sunday in Big Horn. Photo by DAN
It didn't matter -- he'd already been the hero in the
Biddle, one of the biggest hitters in the world of
professional polo, came up well short against his high-ranking
professional peers in a long-drive challenge.
But moments earlier, he had closed out the second annual
Goose Creek Benefit Cup with a blast from 150 yards
that bounced through for his third goal and ensured
a 6-3 win for the Big Goose team.
"A lot of times, when you swing really hard, the
ball doesn't go that far," Biddle said. "I've
seen golfers who hit the ball 300 yards and they don't
look like they're swinging hard.
"The last two shots in the long-drive deal, I
tried to hit it way too hard and didn't get a hold of
It was about the only downfall of the day for Biddle
and everyone else involved in the exhibition at the
Flying H Polo Club
The game featured eight of the world's top players,
including Nacho Navillo Astrada, a nine-goal player.
Players are given handicaps ranging from -2 to 10,
with only the top handful of players in the world receiving
a 10 handicap.
Owen Rinehart, a former 10-goal player who's currently
at seven, played with Astrada on the Little Goose team.
The handicaps of each team totaled 28 goals, estimated
by many to be the highest rated game ever in Wyoming
and the best in the United States this summer.
"These players love to play at this level and
they're happy to do it," said Skey Johnston, founder
of the Flying H Polo Club. "I think everyone appreciates
that these are some of the best players in the world
and there's some skills here you don't always see."
For the second straight year, it seemed to work out
for everybody involved.
Pablo Dorignac of the
Big Goose team leans over to scoop the
ball in for a goal during the Goose
Creek Benefit Cup on Sunday. Photo by
DAN CEDEDA, Star-Tribune.
The game began last year as a way to promote the Flying
H Polo Club and to benefit the Downtown Sheridan Association's
Stream Restoration Project.
It drew more than 1,000 fans and raised $16,000 --
which, through grants, turned into nearly $200,000 --
in its first year.
Official numbers weren't immediately known, but Roger
Bent, executive director of the Downtown Sheridan Association,
estimated a similar turnout on Sunday.
"I think it was very close," Bent said. "The
attendance was good, the weather couldn't have been
better and the crowd enthusiasm was great.
"I think people are more enthused than ever."
The project at Kendrick Park in Sheridan is scheduled
to begin within the next month, perhaps by the time
the professional players leave the Cowboy State.
The premier players come to Sheridan to play at the
Flying H for just a month or two every year, and they'll
close out their stay with North American Polo League
tournaments the next two weekends.
And they'll surely take memories from Sunday's exhibition
"This is awesome," said Biddle, a seven-goal
player who was named the Goose Creek Cup's Most Valuable
Player. "Playing good polo with these guys is incredible.
"In the United States, to play this level of polo
that we did, we don't have it. There's no all-pro leagues.
It's a sponsor and three pros, usually. So when we play
in a tournament like this, it's great."
SUNDAY: The Big Goose team (Pablo Dorignac, Hector
Gallindo, Julio Arellano and Tommy Biddle) defeated
Little Goose (Tiger Kneece, Owen Rinehart, Nacho Novillo
Astrada and Santiago Trotz) 6-3 in the second annual
Goose Creek Benefit Cup at Flying H Polo Club in Big
BIDDLE'S BEST: Biddle, one of the longest hitters in
the world of polo, couldn't come through in a long-drive
challenge, but provided three goals, including one from
more than 150 yards, during an exhibition match thought
to be the highest rated in Wyoming history and the best
in the United States this summer.
HE SAID IT: "In the United States, to play this
level of polo that we did, we don't have it." --