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United States Polo Association Announces First-Ever Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge

United States Polo Association Announces First-Ever Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge

Hosted at the Middleburg Polo Club Arena, the USA v. Guatemala test match will bring fast-paced & hard-hitting fanfare to Virginia

MIDDLEBURG, VA — The United States Polo Association (USPA) has announced that the first-ever Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at the Middleburg Polo Club Arena, where Team USA will take on Team Guatemala in USPA’s inaugural international test match.

The thrilling international sporting event will take the term “hockey on horseback” to the extreme as players use their mounts to move an opponent away from the ball as they use the arena walls to rebound and play different angles and passes to their teammates. It’s fast, it’s physical, and reaction times are quick. Teams are made up of three pairs of human and equine players, while games are played over four periods or “chukkas” lasting seven minutes each, including time in between to change mounts and a half-time to smooth the arena. Spectators will have a front-row view to it all as they’ll experience the sensation of horses galloping while the players communicate with their teammates in a seamless yet effective fashion.

A team of three has been selected to represent the red, white, and blue team. The collective includes Stephanie Colburn (Texas), Rehan Kumble (Massachusetts), and Garrett Bankhead (California). Each boasting an impressive career in the sport and all having a connection to intercollegiate/interscholastic polo, the group hopes to bring home the inaugural test match win for USA. Team Guatemala is made up of Luis “Beto” Aguilar, Christian Aycinena, and Mariana Beltranena.

“Arena Polo has gained massive popularity over the past years and the International Arena Challenge marks an exciting time not only for the sport itself but for fans of polo and equine enthusiasts alike,” said USPA Arena Committee Chairman Robin Sanchez. “We are thrilled that Guatemala has accepted the challenge to take on Team USA in the event’s inaugural year as this test match will give spectators in the Virginia and D.C. area the opportunity to experience the excitement of arena polo firsthand like never before. Spectators can expect an electric and all-out entertaining event that offers fast-paced, hard-hitting, and all-around fun for the whole family.”

“It’s such an honor to be selected to represent the USA in the inaugural Buddy Combs International Challenge. I hope to bring pride to my team, my country, and all the other talented women playing polo that will also hopefully be granted this same opportunity in future,” said Stephanie Colburn. “I’m very excited to be playing with such a fun, talented team for this event. Both Garrett and Rehan are smart, tactful players and horsemen, show great sportsmanship, and have charismatic energy.”

“Representing my country in the USA-Guatemala match is a privilege and an honor,” said Christian Aycinena, who is playing for Team Guatemala. “I haven’t been able to play much arena polo since my collegiate days at Texas A&M, and having the opportunity to showcase my dedication and national pride on an international stage is truly amazing.”

This event was made possible by Robin Sanchez, USPA arena committee chairman; Ed Armstrong, president-treasurer of the American International Polo Foundation; and John Gobin and Whitney Ross of the Middleburg Polo Club.

Tickets to the event are free. Gates open at 5 p.m. with games starting at 6 p.m. Middleburg Polo Club Arena is located at 37636 Charisma Ln. in Middleburg, VA. For more information, visit or follow @middleburgpoloclub on Instagram.

Posted on: September 20, 2023

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