Polo patron and player Bob Daniels dies after horse fall

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Bob Daniels
Bob Daniels

Long-time US polo player and patron Bob Daniels has died at the age of 74 after sustaining injuries in a polo accident last week.

Daniels was injured in the 12-goal game at his Pony Express field in Wellington, Florida, when his pony stumbled and he was thrown off, landing on his head. He was flown to St Mary’s Medical Center and was placed on life support, but died early on Saturday morning.

A member of the United States Polo Association since 1981, Daniels served on the High Goal Committee from 2011 through 2014, as well as the USPA Umpires, LLC Board from 2012 through the present.

Flags flew at half mast at Sunday’s USPA Gold Cup final at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach in his honor. There was a minute’s silence before the first game, after Daniels’ six sons rode out to midfield with a riderless horse led by Daniels’ coach and pro Tomas Goti.

United States Polo Association CEO Duncan Huyler said the polo community was deeply saddened by the death of Daniels. “(He was) one of our sport’s most prominent and dedicated players and an avid supporter of our association. Bob was a true advocate for polo and a staple in the game he loved. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

Daniels spent 16 consecutive years (1996-2011) competing in the USPA’s US Open Polo Championship with Pony Express, making it to the finals at Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in 1999, where his horse, Lupe was also honored with the Willis L. Hartman Trophy for Best Playing Pony in the US Open. He also competed 16 consecutive years (1983-1998) in the East Coast Open, capturing the title at Myopia Hunt Club in 1988 with a 6-5 win over Excalibur, alongside his teammates Raul Roldan, Gonzalo Heguy and Segundo Ortiz.

Additional accolades from his career include:

  • Three-time Chairman’s Cup Titles, each notably alongside his son Marc (1992, 1998, 2012).
  • In 1998, he won the C.V. Whitney with teammates Francisco Bensadon, Javier Novillo-Astrada and Miguel Novillo-Astrada at Palm Beach Polo & Country Club, 11-9 over Revlon.
  • In 2007, he won the Joe Barry Memorial with teammates Gonzalo Von Wernich, Tomas Goti and Nic Roldan at IPC, 15-9 over New Bridge.
  • In 2009, he won the Hall of Fame Cup with teammates Pelon Stirling, Matias Magrini, and Nic Roldan at IPC, 11-10 over Black Watch.
  • In 1996, Bob’s horse Silverada was ridden by Gonzalo Heguy for 3 chukkas in the Argentine Open and she was awarded the Copa Lady Susan Townley award for Best Playing Pony, being the first US Thoroughbred to win this prestigious award.

USPA Chairman Joe Meyer said that Daniels was “the epitome of a polo gentleman, a caring and loving father, and a long-time personal friend”.

“Bob was welcoming to patrons, players, and professionals alike. His farm, Pony Express, was a family farm where many afternoons were spent playing practice chukkers with everyone’s extended family, while also helping those around him to become better players, ranging from beginner all the way up to 10 goal players. His commitment to the sport was an example of how to build the game of polo. He nurtured Nic Roldan from an early age, giving him support as he grew,” Meyers said.

“Bob really enjoyed helping the young kids play and enjoy polo and was very supportive of the Junior Polo Program and the Polo Training Foundation. He will be greatly missed by the entire polo community. His love of polo will carry on through the many horses he has bred as well as his sons, who continue to play this great game.”

A memorial service followed by an asado (barbecue) will be held at the Pony Express barn in Wellington on Tuesday, March 29, at 6:30pm.

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