Spear’s equine correspondent, Eleanore Kelly attends British Polo Day’s 50th event, mixing it with big brands, big characters and big matches.
Shortly after announcing his switch to the Leave campaign, Field Marshall Lord Guthrie escaped the ensuing media furore and headed to Henley, to raise a glass of Nyetimber and watch high goal polo at British Polo Day’s 50th Event.
Swiss financier Urs Schwarzenbach and his wife Francesca played host to this year’s British event, in the heavenly setting of The River Field, also home to one of the world’s leading polo teams, the Black Bears.
Over the last six years, British Polo Day (BPD) has staged 50 high-end networking events across 16 destinations, including St Tropez, Singapore, Marrakesh and Mexico.
‘The very first event which was in Dubai was meant to be a one off. We held it for 200 people and 1000 turned up so we knew we were on to something. After that we started working with brands and partners but I never envisaged there would be a 50th event like this,’ BPD’s Co-Founder and Director, Tom Hudson, said of the events.
Since its launch, BPD has refined its focus: frivolity has transformed into a focus on networking and partnership –you really can raise your glass with some very exciting people at a BPD event.
‘We go for interesting or interested people. Everyone here has done something very interesting and by their very nature, tend to be interested in other people. They could be an artist, lawyer, social media influencer or a Lord. We go for people who we know are going to be fun and interesting to others,’ Hudson explains of the guests.
The company itself has also been working the networks and the organisation now partners with some of the worlds biggest luxury and business names – Harrods and RJI Capital (an international strategic and merchant-banking firm) included.
The 50th event was presented by Ron Wahid and RJI Capital, signifying Ed Olver’s determination to move the BPD brand towards high end global business and away from polo’s somewhat vacuous image of totty and divot stamping. Having said that, the event is still invite-only affair and a great, if relatively recent, addition to the social calendar for HNWs and UHNWs alike – but one that seems to be sticking around.
Now onto the day itself. The guest list was a fusion of the Spear’s 500 and Tatler’s Little Black Book with over 400 guests of all ages, hand-picked by the organising team. Notable guests included HRH Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke of Argyll, Eve Branson, Lord Timothy Bell, Louis Bacon and Marchioness of Milford Haven.
The theme of the day was British home grown talent with drinks served at the Chase Vodka, Williams Gin and Seedlip bars. Justerini and Brooks provided the wine for the sit down luncheon, including their own Pomerol and a very drinkable white burgundy (Macon-Ucizy, Gerald et Philbert Talmard). Seated guests enjoyed a delectable three-course feast, all sourced locally and prepared on site by Theo and Zoe Cooper: the brother and sister team behind Chateau Marmot.
After lunch, guests were up on their chairs for the traditional Quaich experience (with Royal Salute 21 year old whisky) led by His Grace The 13th Duke of Argyll, Torquhil Campbell and Peter Prentice, chairman of the Keeper of the Quaich.
This was followed by an animated auction, featuring some rather sensational lots: A pair of Amrapali emerald and diamond earrings, a week for two at Necker Island and a week at the highly acclaimed Nihiwatu resort on the island of Sumba. A total of £114,790 was amassed from the at this point spirited guests, lifting BPD’s grand total for charity donations to over $2 million. Not to be sniffed at.
Meanwhile, the youngsters dined al fresco. Picnicking on Cicely Violet’s colourful feast of marinated fillet of beef and Gingery chickpeas, washed down with cocktails from the Rosebery bus.
Guests were spoilt with the cream of polo action witnessing RJI Capital’s Britannia El Remanso beating the host team, the Bentley Black Bears, 6-4. Whilst the Jaeger-LeCoultre British Schools team beat the visiting US team, The London West Hollywood Will Rogers Polo Club by, 6 ½- 5.
Aside from meeting a host of fascinating individuals and enjoying great sport in a beautiful, English setting, the event also hosts a range of luxury brands on site at its British Luxury Emporium. Guests could chat to the founders of brands such as Beaufort and Blake, Taylor Morris and Fairfax and Favor. Having arrived at its 50th event, it seems that BPD has evolved its offering into something much bigger than just polo – although don’t worry, the polo’s still very good.