Jake Kneece Memorial Tournament
The second annual Jake Kneece Memorial tournament is underway now on Aiken Polo Club’s fields. Eight highly competitive teams have entered what is sure to be a hotly contested, two-week tournament. In the first three games, Hutchinson edged out Kentucky while Golds Dragoon’s dominated over The Aiken Horse, with Sig Polo/Aiken County Farm Supply slipping past Livin the Vision. Three more games will be played on Sunday, after which all the favorites for the April 29 finals will likely be identified.
This tournament is played in honor of Jake Kneece. Julian Pace Kneece IV was the son of Pace and Barbara Kneece. Pace, Barbara and their daughter Lindsay have donated the trophy as a way of giving back to the horse community and as a tribute to Jake’s generous and caring spirit. Jake died in November 2011 at the age of 27.
The Kneeces own and run Aiken County Farm Supply on Park Avenue in Aiken. Established in the 1960s by J.P. Kneece Jr., Pace’s father, ACFS started out with items for farmers and gardeners. When the equestrian world began to grow in Aiken, the store adapted to the times, selling an increasing array of horse feeds, hays and supplies. Today, it has a full assortment of horse health items as well as varieties of hay, many different brands of horse and other farm animal feed as well as a selection of vegetables for planting and other gardening items.
“Jake was a big part of the business,” says Pace. “Our intention, mine and Barbara’s, was for Jake and Lindsay to run the business after we retired. That changed. But we always try to give back to the community as much as we can, not just to polo but to the Aiken Steeplechase and the Hitchcock Woods Foundation. That is why we decided to have the tournament.”
Jake was an animal lover and a big supporter of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, and today there is a room dedicated to him in the facility. His family also established a tradition of doing random acts of kindness in his memory every year on the anniversary of his death, November 5.
“He was a great son,” says Pace. “I wish he would have been here with us for longer. But we will see him again someday.”