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Seattle Polo Party: Come Rain or Shine

SEATTLE, Wash. – Cameron Smith’s cell phone wouldn’t stop ringing. “What’s the weather doing? It is raining there?” Blame the weather forecast for Seattle on August 11: rain, rain, and more rain. “Bright and sunny – see you soon,” Smith, the tournament director, replied to every inquiry; but to his team of staff and volunteers he countered: “Don’t tell anyone it’s raining! It’s gonna clear up before the gates open.” The dark clouds rolling in over Enumclaw, Wash., home to the Seattle Polo & Equestrian Club (SPEC), weren’t so convincing. Minutes later the sky opened up and soaked the entire set up. We huddled in the Frederique Constant VIP Tent, a 30x30 tent with a bar, display cases of fine timepieces, and, most importantly, side panels that kept us mostly dry. Steven Goldfarb, who distributes Frederique Constant at AG Jewelers in the Seattle area, joked that his tent would be extremely popular if the rain, indeed, kept up. The Rolls-Royce representatives, whose cars were parked outside in the rain, watched the sky for indications of a potential shift in the weather pattern. The rain let up and the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from the Bellevue, Wash., dealership were wiped dry. The sides of the tents were rolled up and bottles went on ice. Vendors removed the tarps and blankets that had hastily been thrown over products before the deluge. From his home office overlooking the entire polo club, Smith continued last-minute preparations for the fourth annual Seattle Polo Party, as volunteers, staff, and sponsors re-folded drink menus and wiped wet VIP tables and chairs. On the freshly wiped tables, we carefully placed issues of August’s Polo Lifestyles magazines, featuring British Beach Polo on the cover. At registration, every guest also received a special edition of “Polo Lifestyles – Seattle Polo Party” upon arrival. In it, the ultimate guide to every aspect of the event, insight into the game of kings and the 16 players, and the sponsors who make it all possible. In the Bellevue Lifestyle VIP Tent, Hugo from Treveri Cellars popped open bottles of bubbles for guests arriving right on time. Publisher Caitlin Agnew and her well-dressed guests settled into lounge seating in anticipation of the opening match between Team ICON Aircraft and Team Aer Lingus as humidity replaced rain drops and attendees refreshed themselves with LIFE WTR and Bubly, provided by PepsiCo. On the sidelines, the eight players for the international match lounged in their custom Lululemon and APL warm-ups. Attendees, fans and media chatted up players and posed for photographs. Solidly in its fourth year, the Seattle Polo Party added an international match component to the afternoon’s lineup. By inviting Haiti Polo Team to face Team USA-Seattle in the main match of the day, Smith raised the status from local event to an international challenge. Haiti Polo Team captain Claude-Alix Bertrand brought in a truly international 10-goal team from Argentina, South Africa, Haiti and Nigeria for the match up. Doubled with serious jet-lag and mounted on unfamiliar ponies, Haiti Polo Team was a formidable opponent to Team USA-Seattle. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars sponsored Haiti Polo Team while Frederique Constant sponsored Team USA-Seattle. The four players dressed in Frederique Constant with the home-field advantage tipped the score 8-5 and claimed the premiere Seattle International Polo Challenge trophy. The day’s Most Valuable Player went to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ Johann du Preez of South Africa for Haiti Polo Team, who took home a pair of Leisure Society sunglasses as a souvenir of his time in Seattle. All players in the international match: Bertrand, du Preez, Francisco Pizarro, Akin Sotomi, Smith, Dan Juarez, Ryan Cronin-Prather and Lucas Reid received 100mL Jo Malone London fragrances as part of the trophy presentation. The rain that held off for most of the afternoon fell again from the now-dark skies and onto the remaining players, attendees, and staff. Shuttles lined up to take Washingtonians back to the city and those driving their own cars queued up to exit. Our group loaded up the Polo Lifestyles Yukon XL and headed back to the city to freshen up for what was yet-to-come. That evening, attendees and players met at the W Hotel Bellevue’s Living Room club and patio to let loose and enjoy every last minute of the event. The line at the door was no problem for Seattle Polo Party attendees who had been issued special access bracelets – just the thing needed to skip the line and head upstairs to the sleek and sexy party scene. With drinks flowing and music pumping, Drew Dambreville, who organized the social side of the event, hosted locals and out-of-towners alike. As Saturday ended and Sunday began, we forgot who came out to support whom as the number of selfies taken rivaled the number of whiskeys consumed.

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