British Polo Day in Abu Dhabi
Working as a stewardess means that often personal life must be set aside for working schedules, I try to just make the most of my days off chasing polo tournaments, cups and events around the world. I don’t know if I should say this was fate or merely a coincidence, but for sure the stars aligned and made a wish of mine come true.
My luck took me to Abu Dhabi on March 21st for work and this was the day British Polo Day was hosting their Abu Dhabi event. So my work and personal life synced beautifully and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening on the grounds of the Ghantoot Polo and Racing Club in the company of the British Polo Day team and their 200 VIP guests.
British Polo Day is one of my favorite polo events, because of it’s unique set-up compared to other social polo events. The concept of BPD is to be a celebration of British luxury and heritage, with events around the world, from the outback in Australia to the beaches of Malibu. Partnering with over 30 British and international companies they manage to create a spectacular event, not just once but 10 times every year and in 10 different cities across the globe. The team behind BPD is made up of an amazing bunch of people, who I had the pleasure to work with for a little bit in their office in London. The amount of planning that goes in to every aspect of the events, every thing from guest-lists to champagne glasses are all done from the office in London, although the actual events will be several hundred or even thousands of miles away. And they hit the ground running, only a week before the event and set it all up making sure the invitation-only guests are entertained, wined and dined, which they in my opinion succeed in every time.
I have attended a few BPD’s in Dubai, one in London and this was my first time in Abu Dhabi and I was very impressed. I cannot wait for our paths to cross again somewhere in this beautiful and spontaneous world for another fun day of British polo, luxury and heritage.
This British Polo Day in Abu Dhabi might even top my list and be my favorite yet, here’s a break-down of the day at the Ghantoot Polo and racing Club.
Arriving at the beautiful settings of the Ghantoot Polo and Racing club I was full of excitement, I was met by a string of Land Rovers with the BPD logo on and the late afternoon sunlight made the fountain outside the club gleam a shimmery gold giving the entrance the magical feel I was feeling inside.
Once inside and crossing the lobby a red-carpet was rolled out welcoming guest on to the field where all the action would take place.
Sam Churchill the official photographer of British Polo Day snapped a picture of me just as I arrived.
I hurried around taking pictures of the details in the set-up and taking it all in, still feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fact that I was actually there.
The atmosphere was light and bubbly, as was the exquisite Taittinger champagne being served in abundance.
The first polo match of the day was the Camel Polo, where members of the British Army’s elite Cavalry and Guards battled it out on the field for the Hackett Camel Polo Trophy.
The match ended in a draw, so in my eyes both teams are winners.
Next up was the Brompton Bicycle Polo, which was very entertaining for spectators. The two teams comprised of the British Exiles against The Rest of the World had to firstly unfold and assemble their bikes, to then cycle back and forth scoring goals, I don’t believe I have ever seen that many fouls in a chukker of polo, but then again the rules are completely different and only when a pile was formed of players and bicycles did the umpire (Ben Vestey, Managing Director of BPD) blow the whistle on the play. The match ended in victory for The British Exiles Team.
Last but not least was the match of the day, Ghantoot against The British Exiles. Both teams were strong and speedy and The British Exiles took the lead in the first chukker, but in the end the Zavaleta brothers secured the trophy for Team Ghantoot Polo with a 9-6 1/2 score. I need to get a camera with a better zoom, but for now the very talented Sam Churchill was kind enough to send me a few shots of the polo match, for all of his photos check out the BPD Facebook page and their website.
British all-star George Meyrick was awarded the Royal Salute “Most Valuable Player” award and Ghantoot’s Abdullah bin Desmal received the Holland & Holland “shot of The Day” award, while the “Best Playing Pony” award by Jaeger-LeCoultre was given to Despreciada, ridden by Clemente Zavaleta.
Once the prize-ceremony was over we all made our way up to the terrace of the clubhouse overlooking the polo field, where round tables where expertly set and welcomed a three-course dinner, but only after the charity auction had taken place. From a handmade Brompton bicycle to a 4-night stay on Velaa Private Island in the Maldives and several other special items in between the auction raised an impressive 35,000GBP to aid the Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) and the Help for Heroes program.
The exciting auction came to an end with pleased buyers and hungry guests, which were quickly satisfied with a superb menu served from the Argentinian style restaurant Gaucho expertly paired with wines from Royal Warrant holders Justerini and Brooks.
As I sat in the taxi heading back to my hotel, reflecting on the series of events that had brought me to that exact moment I was genuinely content. I am happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in a event like British Polo Day and to meet the extraordinary people involved and I can only hope to continue meeting extraordinary people and to participate in even more British Polo Days in the future.