It’s polo season in Middle Tennessee, and that means the ponies are headed back to the Park at Harlinsdale Farm. Franklin Polo Academy will kick off their inaugural year with a twilight arena polo event on Friday, June 3, featuring top professional and amateur players in an international match.

Teams representing the USA and South Africa will square off through six 7.5-minute chukkers, or periods. Presented by AshBlue and Crain’s Nashville, the event will serve as a fundraiser for Friends of Franklin Parks, and tickets will be available at the door for $10. The match starts at 6pm, gates open at 5pm.

“We have some world-class players who live in Middle Tennessee and others who will be in town for this event, so the competition will be strong,” said James Armstrong, director of the Franklin Polo Academy and a player once ranked among the best in America. “Watching this match at twilight with great food and drink in this beautiful setting will be a lot of fun, and we’re encouraging the public to join us. Proceeds from the match will go back to support the Arena and Friends of Franklin Parks.”

Armstrong says one or two of the top South African players and several leading American athletes will be participating in the regulation match. Arena polo is played on a 300’ x 150’ surface, with three players on a side. Horses and players are rotated in throughout the adrenaline-filled chukkers. Many compare arena polo to hockey on horses.

Guests at the twilight polo match can grab a seat on the terraced berm and enjoy food and drink from the concessions stand. Before the opening ball drops, South African recording artist Nikki Williams will perform her country’s national anthem, and local singer Christopher Sprankle will sing The Star Spangled Banner to honor America. VIP Cabanas are also available through Franklin Polo Academy. For more information, contact Armstrong at info@franklinpolo.com or by phone at 615-800-2268.

And for those who want to try their hands at arena polo, the United States Polo Association and Franklin Polo Academy are holding three two-hour beginner clinics in the days prior to the match. On May 26, May 28 and May 31, introductory clinics will cover topics including riding for polo, hitting the ball, rules of the game and basic horsemanship. The clinics are open to anyone age 10 and up, and horses will be provided. Go to www.franklinpolo.com to learn more or sign up.

“Our objective with Franklin Polo Academy is to engage the community in the sport of kings, and offer people of all ages an opportunity to experience it as a player or spectator,” Armstrong said. “Most everyone is a beginner, and we welcome anyone with an interest to join us for the clinics and of course for the matches that will be happening all summer long, starting with the June 3rd event.”

For more on the Tractor Supply Co. Arena at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm, please visit www.tractorsupplycoarena.com.

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