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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 28, 2006

Polo player bounces back from spill to excel on field

 •  Sports notices
 •  Local gymnasts win junior Olympic titles

By Oscar A. Hernandez
Special to The Advertiser

Devon Dailey, in red and competing for Team Bacardi O'ahu, goes up against Gonzalo Ossandon of Chile, competing for Mauna Kea Polo Club of the Big Island, during a polo match at the Mokule'ia Polo Field. Team Bacardi O'ahu won the match, 6-5.

OSCAR A. HERNANDEZ | Special to The Advertiser

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Devon Dailey is back on horses after being thrown when he was 5 and sustaining a ruptured liver and other injuries.

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The teams: On a full-sized grass field, each team has four players.

The ground: The sport is played on a field of approximately 300 yards in length, and 200 yards wide. At each end are goal posts eight yards apart.

Duration of play: A period, referred to as a "chukker," lasts seven minutes, with games consisting of four, six, or eight chukkers. The clock is stopped between the umpire's whistle to stop the play and the whistle to start play when a ball goes out of play, or if a foul is called. There are intervals of three minutes between chukkers and five minutes at halftime. Ends are changed when a team scores a goal.

Horses and equipment: According to Devon Dailey, any breed of horse (within reasonable size restrictions) can be used to play the game. In high-goal tournament play, the majority of horses are thoroughbreds.

"The natural speed of these horses makes them ideal for fast polo," Dailey said.

For slower-paced games, horses bred for quarter-mile running are the choice.

  • Saddles, mallets, helmets, calf-length boots, and knee guards are the norm for riders.

    The rules: Each team consists of four horse-mounted players using an elongated mallet to strike a hard white ball to advance or defend against the opposition. The object is to shoot the ball through the opposing team's goal posts for a goal. Ends are changed when a team scores a goal. The team with the most goals scored at the end of an agreed number of chukkers is the winner.

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    Hawai'i Polo Club

    2006 Season: Through Sept. 26

    Where: Mokule'ia Polo Field

    When: Sundays, gates open at 11 a.m. for tailgating. Games begin at 2 p.m.

    Admission: $7 per person for tailgate parking

    Information: 637-8401

    Honolulu Polo Club

    2006 Season: Through Oct. 22

    Where: Waimanalo Polo Grounds on Kalaniana'ole Highway, across Bellows Airfield entrance is across from McDonald's

    When: Gates open at 1 p.m. games start at 2:30 p.m.

    Admission: $3 for adults. Children under 12 admitted free, and those with military ID are admitted free

    Information: Contact club president Allen Hoe by e-mail at allenh@honolulupolo.com


    What: Tournament finals between Maui Polo Club and Hawai'i Polo Club

    Where: Mokule'ia Polo Field

    When: Gates open at 11 a.m. for tailgating. Match begins at 2 p.m.

    Admission: $7 per person for tailgate parking

    Information: 637-8401

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    Whether on the North Shore or in the country fields of Virginia, Devon Dailey of Mokule'ia feels at home on the polo field.

    Dailey, a Punahou School graduate, has been playing the "Game of Kings" since he was 12.

    Now, the 22-year old senior at the University of Virginia is on summer break and plays for his father, Michael, as a member of the Hawai'i Polo Club's Team Bacardi O'ahu.

    At the University of Virginia, polo is a club sport, though it does offer scholarships. Dailey, who is on scholarship, helped Virginia to a third-place finish in the 2005 national finals.

    Dailey almost did not take up the sport his father has played since childhood.

    "I was about 5, (when) my favorite horse ... heard hay cubes hitting the feed buckets across the (field), and bolted with me towards home. I couldn't stop him and I bounced of his back," Dailey said.

    As Dailey fell, the horse's hind hooves caught him on the head and abdomen, requiring hospitalization to treat a ruptured liver.

    "After this incident, my trust in horses was obliterated and I didn't ride for about seven years," he said.

    Dailey credits his father in helping him regain his riding confidence by getting him to play polo.

    "I was hooked and since then I have spent most of my time working with horses," Dailey said.

    The sport of polo requires excellent equestrian skills and exceptional hand-eye coordination, particularly when trying to hit a polo ball as one's horse is in full stride.

    "I prepare by riding every day ... I 'stick and ball' (practice hitting) by myself whenever I can, and I play in every practice and game we have (at the Hawai'i Polo Club)."

    Devon receives advice and tips from his coaches as well as video analysis at his college; and when home, he not only relies on his father, but also a family friend, Kimo Huddleston, whom Devon refers to as the "best player in the state."

    In addition to polo, Dailey keeps busy swimming, bodyboarding, running and playing basketball.

    "Basketball is a good compliment for the game of polo because there are a lot of parallels; taking the man, (finding) passing lanes, breakaways, etc.," the 6-foot-5 Dailey said.

    Polo has taken Dailey to international meets in Argentina, Chile, and Ireland. "Polo is truly a worldwide sport and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to play in these beautiful places," he said.