By Diane Hensley
INDIO – Players, friends, families and spectators filed onto the fields at Empire Polo Club Nov. 13-14 to find out exactly what officials mean by their offering of the “ultimate polo playing experience.”
They were not disappointed.
Eighty three players, including eight junior polo players, cantered over the red boards and onto healthy fields for two days of complimentary, competitive polo in three brackets. Rancho Amistad’s Santos Arreola, Susie Anthony, Kate Ewart and Karin McCoy took the trophy in Bracket 3 on a 6-2 win over AJ’s team of Antonio Juarez, Rob Gallagher, Kit Neacy and Susan Cooley/Carol Hemker splitting. In Bracket 2, Casa Lago’s Domingo Questel, Alexander Barojas, Zander Deutsch and Jacob Deutsch defeated Team Maximus 7-5, of Jared Sheldon, Andy Arnold, Chip McKinney and Ray Rosario. In the four-goal Bracket 1, Parklane’s Bill Garlock, Ashton Wolf, Kendra Clark and Brad Ramsby rolled over Urban Dog’s Rob Yackley, Grainger Hines, Antonio Juarez and Kim Garsed 9-7.
Future polo players, including Estee and Jonas Deutsch and Arielle Haagen for the Crown Jewels, played in their own match under the tutelage of Billy Ramos as guest announcer Ebe Sievwright called the play by play. Between featured matches on Sunday, players and reporters battled it out in a round of golf cart polo and champagne flowed at the half-time divot stomps.
When the horns signaled the end of regulation play, players retreated to billowing white cabanas set up on the sidelines for some unregulated down time. They sipped cold drinks pulled from frosty ice chests provided courtesy of the club alongside friends and family seated inside. They ordered sandwiches and sodas from the Tack Room Tavern express cart patrolling the perimeter. Tailgaters and spectators strolled the grounds, taking in the spectacle as visiting media watched from private boxes fronting the grandstands. The fragrant scent of roses wafted on the breeze, mingling with mesquite barbecue and fresh cut grass.
Staff members ferried guests across the fields from the Polo Office near the Rose Garden field, stopping to answer questions about Sunday polo and playing lessons. “Where’s the bathroom?” one of them asked, not noticing the four sets of permanent restrooms painted emerald green and placed fieldside—they’d blended into the landscape so well.
Grooms attended to horses which stood at safety-minded shiny new tie rails. Though tired, the horses lifted their heads to feel the spray of water at wash racks outfitted with feet-friendly rubber mats and drainage that whooshed away standing water. The absence of mud and dust left clean hooves and dry Ariats as they walked back to neat rows of trailers parked in the large lot facing Monroe.
At night, guests poured into the Tack Room Tavern for brews and dinner, while players and guests enjoyed a hosted barbecue at the Haagen barns. The doors of the Date Shed flew open at 8 p.m. for the late night entertainment.
“I came to one or two of the summer events, but it was nothing like this,” said Miriam Braswell, of Lake Forest, and part-time Indian Wells resident.
“I expected to come out fully prepared for the dust, the flies and the smell you’d expect to find around horses. It just wasn’t here,” said one reporter. “It’s like something out of the movies.”
“There’s nothing more exciting than being here and part of this environment,” attending guest Rick Paicius told KESQ reporter Greg Lee. Even Lee himself, was impressed with the day’s spectacle. “I had a wonderful time and I certainly hope I can come back out real soon,” he said in a thank you note to Haagen III.
Player reception, too, was complimentary. “The fields are great, my horses are going well; it’s all good,” said three-goaler Yackley, of Urban Dog. “We’re having a ball,” said team sponsor Garsed.
EMPIRE POLO CLUB OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND
NOV. 13-14, 2010
SATURDAY, NOV. 13
Parklane 7, Roaring Fork 4
RR: Urban Dog 7, Los Banditos 3; Calif. Polo 6, Los Banditos 2; Calif. Polo 2, Urban Dog 2: Urban Dog won on total goals.
Team Maximus 9, Rogue 7
Atlant 10, Atkinson Farm 4
Sayulita 10, Poway Spartan 5
AJ’s Team 8, Poway Vixens 5
Rancho Amistad 9, Poway 6
SUNDAY, NOV. 14
BRACKET 1 CONSOLATION: California Polo, Winner
RR: Calif. Polo 5, Los Banditos 3; Roaring Fork 5, Los Banditos 3; Calif. Polo 5, Roaring Fork 2.
BRACKET 2 CONSOLATION: Rogue, Winner
Rogue 5, Wright Way L.A. 3
Wright Way L.A. 4, Atkinson Farm 3
Rogue 3, Atkinson Farm 2
BRACKET 3 CONSOLATION: Poway Spartans, Winner
Poway Spartans 6, Poway Vixens 0
Poway Vixens 3, Poway 1
Poway Spartans 1, Poway 1
FINALS: BRACKET 1
Parklane 9, Urban Dog 7
FINALS: BRACKET 2: Casa Lago, Winner
RR: Casa Lago 5, Atlant 3; Team Maximus 5, Atlant 3; Casa Lago 7, Team Maximus 5
FINALS: BRACKET 3: Rancho Amistad, Winner
RR: Rancho Amistad 5, Sayulita 3; Sayulita 6, AJ’s Team 2, Rancho Amistad 6, AJ’s Team 2.
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