Whitney Field in Aiken’s historic horse district served as Tommy Biddle Jr.’s gateway to the world.
Biddle Jr. is one of only four players in the history of polo to be rated with a handicap of 10 goals in the arena, and the athlete had an opportunity to play internationally this winter, and early spring, on three different continents.
The horseman accumulated a substantial amount of frequent-flyer miles, providing credibility to Sir Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “A polo handicap is a passport to the world.”
Biddle represented the United States in the Third Annual 2014 Fortune Heights Federation of International Snow Polo World Cup at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club in China, playing on a team featuring two other Aiken area residents Ulysses Escapite and Del Walton.
Although the U.S. team was eliminated in the quarter finals, Biddle enjoyed far greater success in his next experience, one that saw him captain the U.S. team to victory in the 2014 International Arena Polo Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Memorial Trophy in the arena at the All England Polo Club in Hickstead, England. Biddle scored six goals in the first 2½ minutes of the game en route to a Most Valuble Player performance.
It was the first time the U.S. had ever won the Bryan Morrison Memorial Trophy. Biddle’s teammates were Aiken’s Will Tankard and California’s Patrick Uretz, two players he had never played with before.
“I was very fortunate to be able to travel this winter,” said Biddle. “In England, we were able to go over and try horses at four different clubs. We were well mounted. I found three really good horses.”
It was in late March when the former South Aiken High School quarterback would travel to Chile to play in a 21-goal outdoor contest, this time with Aiken resident and Hall of Famer Adam Snow, Hector Galindo and Nick Snow.
“I had played some with Adam, Nick and Hector, but not with all three as a unit,” said Biddle. “We were given nice horses to ride, and the club in Chile was absolutely beautiful. It was a great experience.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.