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What happened to the polo matches that used to be held near Hampstead?

Chuck Carree
Farnell Shingleton

Farnell Shingleton at the entrance to his horse farm in Hampstead. (StarNews file photo)

The matches were put on by the now-defunct Wilmington Polo Club, which dissolved sometime within the past decade.

Matches were staged at two places — Shingleton Farms, 15 miles north of Wilmington — and Blake Farms in Scotts Hill.

According to Farnell Shingleton, the matches were not serious and were unconventional.

“It was just always a big party,” he said. “It just happened to be polo players on horses. People dressed up and it was all about the parties.”

Jonathan Batts, a former UNC-Wilmington baseball player and current baseball coach at Heide Trask, remembers the polo matches.

“I went to three polo matches right behind my house,” he said.

Batts starred in football and baseball at Topsail High School and is related to the Blake Farms family. His mother is a Blake and his uncle Chris Blake, with a dental practice in Wilmington, now owns Blake Farms.

He recalled some polo matches were held down the first street past Poplar Grove Plantation. He also confirmed the matches were casual and participants often were late.

“They would say they would be there at 2 p.m. and show up at 4 p.m.,” Batts said. “My family just provided the fields and the matches were informal.”

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