POLO in Scottsdale? You bet!
I had the great pleasure of attending my first polo match yesterday at the second annual Scottsdale Polo Championships Horse and Horsepower. The event was held on the grassy arena at West World and was well attended. They were expecting 6,000 people, and judging by the crowds, they fulfilled their goal. The final count came in at over 9,000 attendees.
This event was more than just a polo match – it was one of the social events of the year for Scottsdale. The weather was perfect, the polo field was lush and green, and the surrounding white tents filled with spectators and sponsors dotted the area. To add a little more excitement, there were a large number of classic and rare automobiles that will be featured in the 2013 Barrett-Jackson Collection Car Auction. Other sponsors were the Bondurant Driving School and the owners of Hidden Meadow Ranch – a beautiful ranch setting in the White Mountains for that special summer or winter family get-away.
One of the highlights was walking around and checking out the tents and the spectators. Many women wore extraordinary hats that would typically be seen at the Kentucky Derby, and others wore unusual outfits, like a tutu? I even encountered one young lady who had brought her dog to the event. Several beautifully dressed equestrians visited from the adjacent arena to showcase the Arabian Horse Show.
I also observed a number of families with young children sitting on the lawn by the playing fields and enjoying picnic lunches. On one side of the playing field they had tailgate areas where spectators could set up their own tents and have a great viewing area for the matches.
The Polo Championship is just one event the Arizona Polo Club is using to advertise Polo as a sport in Arizona. They offer a variety of classes for children and adults, and I was told I didn’t even have to know how to ride a horse! The Arizona Polo Club was started in the Phoenix area in 1982 and offers a full schedule of events from now through April of 2013.
There were three matches for the day. The earlier matches were between the USA vs. Colombia, Harvard University vs. Work to Ride and the top event was the Bel Air Polo Club vs. The Hamptons.
The Bel Air Polo Club and The Hamptons match was clearly the top billing for the event and included many of the top players from all over the world. I think one of the highlights for a number of the attendees was the opportunity to see Nic Roldan play in the final match. In addition to being one of the top players in the world, he is also a top model. You can catch him in a number of publications.
But I must admit, the event I found most interesting was the match between Harvard University and the Work to Ride team.
Established in 1994, Work to Ride is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving underprivileged youth from inner-city Philadelphia. In 2011, Work to Ride captured the U.S. Polo Association’s National Interscholastic Championship.
Harvard University sent four of its players from the Harvard Polo Team. The Club was initially founded in 1882 and is the oldest intercollegiate polo club in the country.
In addition to being an exciting and fun event, the Scottsdale Polo Championships had a fundraising component. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Work to Ride program as well as to the nonprofit Neighborhood Outreach Access to Healthcare at Scottsdale Healthcare.
I am definitely looking forward to the third annual Scottsdale Polo Championships which will be held next October.