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Original Issue


Against a backdrop of tight-packed desert palms, America's 10-goal polo great, Bob Skene, rode out with some fellow Californians last week to take on a team of French polo buffs. Exuberantly pressing the opposition, as in his mallet-waving charge above, he led an Eldorado Polo Club team to victory over the visiting French Bagatelles at Palm Desert, Calif. The craggy-faced Skene, 45, whose rating equaled the 10-goal handicap of the whole French team, used a one-goal player and two unranked teammates to complete his squad.

It turned out that he needed the help. The Bagatelles held Skene to five goals in a tense, seesawing match that wasn't decided until the last seconds of the last chukker when Skene whacked home his fifth score for an Eldorado victory, 10-9. The closeness of the match pleased both the French, who were playing on borrowed horses, and the Americans, who were enjoying a three-week role as international polo hosts. Said Frenchman Claude Terrail, owner of the celebrated Paris restaurant Tour d'Argent (ratings: three stars in the Guide Michelin, one goal in polo): "It's the spirit that counts."