Prince Harry Playing Polo – Wins Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup 2016
Thunder and rain wasn’t going to stop the very anticipated Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup 2016 held at the beautiful grounds of the Valiente Polo Farm in Palm Beach. Prince Harry was in high spirits jokingly exclaiming an ironic ”Welcome to the sunshine state!” whilst seeming fairly unbothered by the rain, but then again he is used to playing polo in the rain back home in the UK.
We saw the familiar faces of polo players Kris Kampsen and Brandon Phillips, coming to support the event and cheer on their friends on the field. The famous lady polo player Sunny Hale attended with family friends along with a hundred or so other VIP guests. Elegantly dressed women ignored the rain, but wouldn’t want their Prada’s ruined, so bare-foot they went over the wet grass from their Range Rovers to the prominent and weather-safe grandstand, all for the greater good of charity (and polo).
Sentebale is an organization co-founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso to help children in Lesotho, Africa, living with HIV/AIDS. Sentebale means “forget me not” and aims to rewrite the future for the impoverished population of Lesotho, providing thousands of children affected by the virus with vital access to accommodation, care, education and psychosocial support.
The link between Lesotho and polo is that the Besotho horsemen are the only indigenous horse culture in Sub-Saharan Africa and the tough, brave Basotho pony has been a favourite with polo players for over 100 years.
Sentebale ambassador Nacho Figueras shares in an interview how this charity has become very close to his heart, because of Prince Harry’s commitment to Sentebale, which is inspiring to the world-famous polo player, and to the rest of us as well.
Nacho also shared that he and Prince Harry had been joking for days about who would win this time since they are both very competitive and gave it all on the field.
The polo match was a round-robin, where 3 “matches” of two 5-minute chukkers each were played. First up was team Valiente (Tommy Kato, Martin Cregg, Nic Roldan and Curtis Pilot) against team Royal Salute (Teodoro Calle, Marc Ganzi, Nacho Figueras and Joe DiMenna).
Nacho and Ganzi played well together and each scored 1 goal and became the victors of the first match.
In the second 2-chukker match Valiente braved the Sentebale ISPS Handa team consisting of Melissa Ganzi, Prince Harry, Malcolm Borwick and Bob Jornayvaz. Malcolm quickly put a goal on the scoreboard. Nic Roldan responded by showing off some skillful ball tapping down the field in front of Borwick and Prince Harry, to then finally put it swiftly between the goal posts. Melissa scored two goals in the second chukker and Bob converted a penalty putting another point on the scoreboard for team Sentebale, defeating team Valiente.
The third match saw the long-time rivals on the field, but friends on the sidelines, Prince Harry and Nacho Figueras, fighting for the coveted trophy. Nacho gave himself a lead start, but the second chukker was tough and Harry scored a nice goal followed by a goal from Jornayvaz and as the final whistle was blown, team Sentebale ISPS Handa were the well-deserved winners.
As a great big rain cloud came over us it was time for the prize-giving ceremony, where Best Playing Pony was awarded to one of Bob Jornayvaz’s ponies ridden by Prince Harry. All players received a Royal Salute Whisky and the winning team a trophy to applaud their efforts.
Once the ceremony was over I managed to have a quick word with Malcolm Borwick, Royal Salute ambassador and 6-goal polo player for the UK. Borwick shared that he has played polo with Prince Harry for 15 years, so he generally knows what Harry is about to do before he does it. He also applauded his teammate for his excellent horsemanship and was impressed by how quickly he maneuvered on the field although he has not ridden in 9 months.
It was an absolute privilege to watch Prince Harry play polo on US soil, but I was also very pleased to talk to the Prince of Polo, Nacho Figueras.
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MAKE A DONATION TO SENTEBALE:
By donating $20 you can pay for camper kit and toiletries for a child living with HIV, attending Sentebale’s five day residential camp at the newly built ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre.