This year’s Prince Philip Cup (this was the 30th!) was filled with a lot of “firsts”: the first time it’s been played in the Rolex Stadium, first time in recent history there’s been a tie-breaker, first time regions represented, and first time there’s ever been a proposal!
This year’s teams were:
Defending champions, Tootsie Pops (Midsouth Region): Libby Butler & Stealth, Nora Goldfarb & Emma, Olivia Owen o& Poco, Maya Goldfarb & Nello, and Emma Boylan & Scout. The team remained unchanged from the 2013 Cup!
Challengers to the Tootsie Pops’ quest to repeat were:
Avengers (Eastern Pennsylvania): Jaycee Blyth & Gilligan, Elise Barberra & Smokey, Leah Northington & Manners Matter, Madison Cardamone & Rosie, and Kaja Newell & Sparky. It had been a while since we’ve seen Eastern Pennsylvania Region at the PPC, and this team represented their region well!
The “new kids” were:
Lemonheads (Sunshine Region): Megan All & Parker, Amy Hodik & Marquis, Lexie Ray & Mr. Snuggles, Jane Thomas & Scout, and Jean Thomas & Luna. Lemonheads’ coach, Pam Johnson, was a Pony Club alum as well as a former Prince Philip Cup participant!
Mustang Sallies (Midwest Region): Riese Wismer & Buddy, Meghan Raucher & Frito, Gracie Kitahara & George, Elizabeth Robinette & Rosie, and Dani Drbal & Arnie. The Mustang Sallies also had an important role to play after the Games were over!
Games played were the same sixteen as 2013 Championships with four additional games chosen by each team: Bending, Ball & Bucket, 2 Flag, Housewife’s Scurry, Ball & Racquet, Ball & Cone, Ring Race, Hi Lo, Pony Club, Windsor Castle, Carton, Litter, Sword, 3 Mug, Egg & Racquet, Needle & Thread, Old Sock, 3-Legged, Balloon and 5 Flag.
The Cup started off with a celebrity round in the Walnut Arena on a misty Friday afternoon. Celebrities included: Pony Club alum Doug Payne, his wife Jessica Hempf, former IE Games player Colleen Rutledge and perennial favorite Kelly Sult. These four brave hearts (two of which, Doug and Colleen, were riding in the CCI****) played with the teams in games of bending, ball & bucket, ball & cone and 2 flag. There was some very competitive riding going on the parts of the celebrities, and some true shenanigans, but a great time was had by all!
After the Celebrity round, the first day of play began and concluded with the Tootsie Pops in command, with the Mustang Sallies in second and the Avengers and Lemonheads just 1 and 2 points behind.
The second day was bright and sunny (a great day for the CCI**** cross country phase) with play commencing in the big Rolex Arena. The teams entered behind banners carried by brothers, sisters and friends. A crowd of approximately 300 had gathered in the stands to watch. Equipment manager Ken Timmerman and his team of PPC families and friends had set up the field the night before (which the help of the PPC riders themselves), and the new bases, created by former Pony Club member Mark Washburn, gleamed bright and shiny. Play was fast and furious with the Tootsie Pops maintaining their lead, and the Mustang Sallies, Avengers and Lemonheads fighting for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. After the final game, the Tootsie Pops had once again won the Cup, with the Lemonheads in second, 1 point ahead of the Mustang Sallies and Avengers. A tie-breaker of 2 flag was played, and the Avengers came out on top. It was one of the closest Prince Philip Cups in quite a while!
After play, the teams lined up to be congratulated by judges (and Pony Club alums) Sara Greiling and Cathie McLeod. Unbeknownst to Cathie, there was a surprise in store for her. The Mustang Sallies held aloft signs that said, “Prince Philip Cup 20 14”. While Cathie looked on, the signs flipped to read, “Will You Marry Me Cathie?” Mike Chiccine, Cathie’s boyfriend of 2 years (and one of Kenny’s assistants), dropped to one knee in the Rolex arena, ring in hand, and awaited an answer (Cathie said yes).
Once the excitement died down and the Pony Club members had put their ponies up, their presence was requested at the USPC Hospitality tent on the Cross Country course. Greeted by CEO Tom Adams and President Dan Murphy, the PPC riders posed for photos in between watching riders on the course.
On Sunday, prior to the show jumping phase of the CCI****, the teams were introduced to the Rolex crowd and the Tootsie Pops were presented the Cup by Tom and Dan. The team also received engraved leather halters from Hill Top Leather Shop, presented by Alyssa Broner (also a Pony Club member). Other prizes were: 1st place – Bit of Britain embroidered PPC saddle pads. 2nd place: Bit of Britain embroidered PPC saddle pads, nylon break-away halters from Perri’s Leather. 3rd place: Bit of Britain $25 gift card and a pair of JoJoSox. 4th place: Bit of Britain $25 gift card and a pair of JoJoSox. After the presentation, the teams, led by the Tootsie Pops, rode two victory gallops around the arena to the cheers of the crowd.
It was a great 30th Cup, with personable and talented teams and moments to remember. Who will be there next year? Wait and see!