Polo Hall Of Fame’s Class Of 2023 Inductees Announced

Honoree Jeff Hall. Photo by David Lominska

The Board of Directors of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2023 — the next inductees into the Polo Hall of Fame: Jeff Hall, Aidan Roark, Al Haagen III, Tom Hughes, and legendary horses Hale Bopp and None So Pretty.

The 34th annual Hall of Fame Awards Dinner & Induction Ceremony is one of the premier events of the high-goal polo season and is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, at the Museum of Polo, located at 9011 Lake Worth Road.

Jeff Hall is one of the most accomplished U.S. players in recent history, having won virtually every major U.S. tournament and reaching an 8-goal handicap. He is a 10-time winner and record-holder for most wins of the USPA Silver Cup, his first in 1997 and his 10th in 2022. He won the 2003 U.S. Open with C-Spear, and his pony Harrah won the Best Playing Pony award. He reached the U.S. Open final in 2006 and 2002, both with Orchard Hill. Hall also won the 2020 USPA Gold Cup with La Indiana and has raised the trophy for the 20-goal Ylvisaker Cup four times and the Pacific Coast Open twice, as well as numerous other high-goal tournaments. Hall represented the U.S. as a member of the 2009 and 2018 Westchester Cup teams and the 1998 14-Goal World Championship. Also, Hall is one of the few American players to have participated in the Argentine Open.

Posthumous Hall of Fame honoree Aidan Roark had a celebrated career both in the United States and internationally during the Golden Age of Polo prior to World War II. The Irish-born Roark was a solid fixture in California, mainly at the Riviera Polo Club in Los Angeles, establishing himself as a mainstay on the American polo scene. He was considered to be a true pioneer for polo on the West Coast for decades. Representing his adopted home, Roark was a key part of the winning team from the “upstart” West in the fabled 1933 East-West series, and again in 1934. He then represented Great Britain in the prestigious 1939 Westchester Cup at Meadow Brook. In 1949, Roark was chosen to represent the U.S. in the International Match against Argentina. A veteran of the most important tournaments and venues across America, Roark retired from polo in 1954. He passed away in 1984.

Al Haagen III is honored with the Iglehart Award for outstanding contributions to the sport. Haagen focused his efforts on growing polo on the West Coast in Indio, California, both on and off the field. He started the Empire Polo Club in 1987 and built the 11-field club into a juggernaut that hosted the first 40-goal event in the U.S, the first U.S. Women’s Open, the Townsend Cup and the Arena Open tournament. The busy club featured at least 15 teams playing every winter, along with a polo school and Sunday polo with robust attendance. Haagen, who started playing polo in 1983, was patron of the Empire polo team for 30 years.

The posthumous Iglehart honor is awarded to Tom Hughes, whose long and illustrious career lasted some 55 years. Hughes was an early proponent of professional umpires and diligently worked to improve the quality of umpiring. Hughes worked tirelessly with the USPA, club officials and committees to move toward the creation of the professional polo umpire system currently in place. Hughes umpired many high-goal matches in the United States and England and also managed several clubs.

As a successful player who held a 4-goal handicap outdoors, Hughes won numerous tournaments, including the inaugural USPA Gold Cup in 1974 with Milwaukee, the Silver Cup in 1974, as well as its predecessor the Twenty Goal four times in a five-year span, along with the 1970 America Cup and the Butler National Handicap in 1973 and 1975. Hughes passed away in 2016.

The Horses to Remember honoree of the early pre-Hartman era is None So Pretty, an Argentine-bred, chestnut mare owned and played by Hall of Famer and former 7-goaler Stephen “Laddie” Sanford. None So Pretty was brought to the U.S. from Argentina by Lewis Lacey and purchased by Sanford in 1925 for $10,500, a record price for the era. Sanford went on to win the U.S. Open in 1926, 1929 and 1930 with None So Pretty.

The phenomenal black thoroughbred mare Hale Bopp, owned and played by Hall of Famer Adam Snow, will be recognized as the honoree of the post-Hartman era. Hale Bopp possessed amazing physical talents of speed and turning ability that were only topped by her assertiveness and heart. The relatively small (15 hands) Hale Bopp started playing high-goal polo in 1998 as a six-year-old and had an 11-year career of playing in all the major high-goal tournaments, including the U.S. Open and the 40-Goal Outback Challenge matches without missing a game.

The Awards Gala & Induction Ceremony will take place at the Museum of Polo on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. All are invited to attend. Reservations are $250 each (tax deductible portion $125). The Hall of Fame Awards Dinner is the most important annual fundraising event for the museum, a not-for-profit organization. Call Brenda Lynn at the Museum of Polo at (561) 969-3210 or (561) 969-7015, or e-mail polomuseum@att.net to make your reservations.