Opening Weekend at Empire Polo Club
Text By Diane Hensley
Photos by L. Bremner & Jim Bremner
EMPIRE POLO CLUB–Grand reopening weekend in the Empire delivered the ultimate playing experience just as billed Jan. 7-9. Hooves pounded at Twin Palms as Gypsy rode past Stormcat 13-6 in the eight-goal match on Saturday and Empire defeated their opponent at home in a two-day match on Field One. A long line of tailgating spectators snaked alongside the Medjhool field from Ave. 50, the low whirl of quiet engines powering down as doors flew open and picnics spilled out.
“Where’s the schedule for today?” a voice called out from an open window of a minivan. A friendly neighbor parked nearby answered “Right over there, every Sunday 12 and 2.”
Puffs of bright colors in felt and voile topped heads of the women folk Sunday, hopeful contenders for the Hat Day prize for “Most Creative” and “Most Traditional.” “Is it too much?” one woman asked her companion, pointing to a smart beige feathered short brim with a 20s flair.
It all began with Friday Night crowds filling the grandstands at the Polo Under the Lights when Shanghai’s Steve Armour/Dale Fargey, Abby Riggs, Joe Henderson and Cody Wooden defeated Empire ‘s Bolko Kissling, Alex Haagen IV, Ashton Wolf and Miguel Gutierrez 8-5.
Saturday night’s elegant Red Party at Medjhool Lake turned out an impressive list of some 350 invited guests who dined, danced and drank to live music in the tent late into the night. Palm tree trunks glowing red with soft uplights welcomed party goers onto the red carpet. Pulsing yellow stage lights bounced off shiny guitars and drums rocking alternative music and cover tunes. Complimentary drinks went to accessorized guests donning anything visibly crimson.
“This is so cool here! “Who’s playing in the band? The music’s great,” said one guest waiting for drinks.
On Sunday, spectators turned out in record numbers, pleasing staff members and security, who were fully prepared to accommodate their numbers.
“We want to come every Sunday,” said one newly converted polo fan and tailgater. “We’ve lived in the area a long time, but just never came out here. We’ll be here early next time to lock in our spot.”
Shanghai defeated Gypsy/Stormcat 11-7 in the 8-10 goal on Field 1, and Empire’s four-goal team fell 9 to 6 against Trinity. Earlier at Twin Palms, Barrossa topped Tritech/Tentology 7-4. Spectators walked from match to match, toured the grounds and mingled in the Village, picking up copies of Empire’s magazine and enjoying the food and beverage fare.
In a parallel world just across Ave. 51, thousands of Palms Springs Kennel Club competitors showed the best of their bow wows, drawing thousands of dogs and owners to the Forum Field. Not even a bark could be heard. The weekend seemed to have delivered the ultimate viewing experience, from all accounts. That’s how the fantasy of playing can become a reality—for some.
“You coordinated such a superb, lovely afternoon for everyone, it was one of the most beautiful functions I’ve ever attended, and I’ve traveled all over the world,” said local resident Camryn Lee.
“The only unfortunate aspect is that I’m now addicted to polo. I signed up for a lesson on Tuesday, at your club.”
For photos of all of the weekends events, click on these links below:
- Jan. 9th Opening Day Shanghai vs. Gypsy/StormCat
- Jan. 9th Opening Day Manila Polo vs Parklane
- Jan. 9th Opening Day Atlant vs Fresh and Easy
- Jan. 9th Opening Day Empire vs Cam Clark Ford
- Jan. 8th 2011 The RED Party
- Jan. 8th Gypsy-StormCat VS Tritech/Tentnology (Twin Palms)
- Jan. 8th Empire VS Parklane
- Jan. 7th 2011 Polo Under The Lights – Empire vs. Shanghai