Horses, marquees, champagne and the chance to dress up and enjoy a day in the sun. This time it wasn't horse racing, but the other sport of kings- Polo. On Saturday it was Melbourne's turn to experience the Paspaley Polo in the City, Australia's only national polo series. Held at Albert Park, for once the weather gods were co-operating and put on a bright sunny day which was perfect for my first ever afternoon of polo. Arriving at Albert Park my friend Anthony Capon and I were greeted by neat rows of marquees and plenty of people ready to enjoy the day. The majority of the marquees were invitation only hosted by brands such as naming sponsor Paspaley, Land Rover, Waterford, Woodford Reserve and Verve Clicquot to name a few, along with smaller private marquees. I had been invited to purchase tickets to one of the VIP marquees, but as the cost was more than a weeks rent I instead chose to get tickets to the only public marquee hosted by Kirin. Pleasantly (and I will say surprisingly given what general admission areas usually look like at other events) the Kirin Polo Lounge was decked out beautifully with plenty of tables and chairs available. under large umbrellas. The food and beverage options available were really good and catered to a range of tastes and the whole feel of the set up was one of luxury. There was a pamper lounge hosted by Guinot offering complementary massages and beauty treatments as well as live music and the chance to take home a souvenir from the day with an artist writing names in Japanese script.I had little knowledge of the game of polo prior to attending, but as the first game got underway I was pleased to see it wasn't difficult to follow what was going on. Sure I didn't get the finer details of the sport, but the enthusiastic commentators kept everyone in the loop with the fast pace of the game by explaining what was happening. The ability to get so close to the action and see the players on the horses running up and down the field made being a spectator very exciting. There were two games played throughout the afternoon with the traditional divot stomp at half time during each game. This is where spectators take to the field and push the grass back into place where the horses and players have pulled it up.As part of the entertainment there was also a fashions on the field. Six men and six women were selected by spotters throughout the afternoon and chosen to gather for a final judging after the games had been played. Looking around at the fashions for the day I have to say the men totally out dressed the women. Not just in the fashions on the field, but as a whole in the crowd. While there were some stunning outfits many women seemed to be a little confused about what to wear, where the men seemed to have a clearer idea about what polo style is. The message about appropriate footwear had gotten through to the ladies with espadrilles, wedges and chunky wooden soled shoes the footwear of choice for the day. Men wore preppy blazers with rolled up chinos and neat bow ties to finish off their look. In the main event the Land Rover team (Melbourne) had a win over the Verve Clicquot team (Sydney) and as they celebrated their win sprayed the crowd with champagne and drank the remainder out of their newly acquired trophy.All up it was a lovely chilled out afternoon drinking and chatting in the sunshine, set against a backdrop of a fast paced and exciting sport. It was great to finally be able to experience a day out at the polo.
By Angela Menz