The Rarified Game Of Polo—As Played In Greenwich And Sydney
Polo, the Sport of Kings, originated more than 2,000 years ago in Persia as a way for cavalry, usually the king’s guard, to enhance its training regimen.
The sport has never lost its royal ties, as seen today in Britain. Taking after their father and grandfather, William, the Prince of Wales, and Harry, the Duke of Sussex, regularly suit up in high boots, chukker jerseys and polo whites.
Argentina, the United States and Europe have the greatest number of polo clubs and players. Our first look at the singular sport highlighted polo in London and Santa Barbara, Calif. Greenwich, Conn., is another significant polo destination in the U.S., and Down Under, Sydney, Australia, has become a popular venue for the sport.
Greenwich Polo Club, within the luxury home development of Conyers Farm, is among the world’s elite polo venues that feature high-goal tournaments, which are played with higher handicaps. On Sundays in June through September, enthusiasts from New York City and Fairfield and Westchester counties pack the 80-acre grounds.
Mixologists from Justin Pasha’s Cup Bearer release the taps in the Pony Lounge as soon as the Bentleys drive up. And guests who secure spots in the Players’ Lounge VIP have the chance to chat up Mariano Aguerre, Hilario Ulloa, “Nacho” Figueras and other superstar players.
Upscale picnic baskets are offered by Marcia Selden, the club’s official caterer. The picnics pair well with the flutes of Champagne Taittinger Brut Réserve set out with silver candelabras on the west lawn.
“The club is beautiful from the moment you enter the gates,” says Rich Higgins, chief operating officer of Connecticut-based Higgins Group Private Brokerage “There’s a classical feel to the grounds.” The Higgins Group is an advertising partner of the Greenwich Polo Club.
After the national anthem is played, binoculars are raised to spot Aguerre’s champion horses bred at Los Machitos, his breeding and training facility in Argentina. The horses’ carefully calibrated bloodlines have produced what many call “the perfect polo pony.”
But Aguerre, among the world’s greatest polo players, will likely be upstaged by Argentinian Figueras, the most famous polo player in the world. Dubbed the “David Beckham of polo,” Figueras has long been the face of Ralph Lauren Black Label. Prince Harry, who has played at Greenwich, has been a fast friend since 2007; they both recently swung sticks at the Singapore Polo Club, competing in the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup.
Peter Brant — billionaire industrialist, art collector and skilled polo player ― launched the Greenwich Polo Club in 1981 with his now legendary White Birch Polo Team Hall of Famer Aguerre is a longtime team member. White Birch has won the most high-goal polo tournaments of any team for the last 25 years.
The East Coast Open has been a season standout at the Greenwich Polo Club since 2005. It’s “one of the most prestigious events of the U.S. summer season,” says Harlan Zeerip, Greenwich Polo Club’s director of marketing and events. Audi is the event’s title sponsor and official luxury vehicle brand.
A high-performance show-jumping event, the CSI Greenwich, is held at the club in early October after the polo season ends. Sponsored by Rolex, it’s described as “among the most prestigious equestrian events in the world.”
Polo in the Land Down Under is a tale of Australia’s wealthiest men: a fabled gambler, a modern-day Jay Gatsby (sans the character’s criminal dealings), and a Cartier Queen’s Cup winner who favored posing with Queen Elizabeth II.
First up: Peter Higgins Higgins’ estate, less than an hour outside Sydney, doubled as blue blood Tom Buchanan’s property in the 2013 film, “The Great Gatsby” The fictional Buchanan can be seen riding his polo pony on the grounds, which today, as Higgins’ Sydney Polo Club, is one of the world’s most spectacular properties.
Higgins, co-founder of Mortgage Choice, is selling the 285-acre estate In 1997 he relocated the venerable 1876 Sydney Polo Club to its grounds where he has bred prizewinning horses. He greatly improved the New South Wales property, transforming it into a premium equestrian destination that has made its mark: The club in 2017 hosted the XI FIP World Polo Championship, the international polo circuit’s premier event.
The working farm, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, is graced with a luxurious clubhouse and three cottages. A 27-acre lake and 14,000 trees and hedges provide a habitat for wildlife. The equestrian center includes top-notch stabling, two Olympic-sized indoor arenas, three polo fields, a covered grandstand and entertainment venues.
Genius stock picker David Paradice, patron of the New South Wales-based Scone Polo Club, finesses funds valued at $18 billion. He also plays polo, notably alongside polo legend Adolfo Cambiaso and son Poroto
His stellar wins include the prestigious USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship. The tournaments were Paradice’s first in the United States, marking a pair of surprising wins at the age of 62.
In 2019 Paradice captured the Cartier Queen’s Cup; his photo with Queen Elizabeth II was featured in a three-page Polo Times spread.
Media tycoon Kerry Packer, once Australia’s richest man and a notorious gambler, held his first polo game in 1987 on the grounds of Ellerston, his 424-acre estate in West Sussex, Australia. He soon formed the Ellerston White and Ellerston Black Polo teams. The following year, the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) played in Packer’s first invitational game when he visited during the Australian Bicentennial.
Packer, like Paradice, favored photos with Queen Elizabeth II: His teams captured the Cartier Queen’s Cup five times He died in 2005 and his estate, now run by family members, hosts the Ellerston Onassis Polo Club, named, in part, for Packer’s favorite horse.