The Sport of Kings will make an illustrious return to WestWorld of Scottsdale for the sixth annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships Saturday, Nov. 5.
Along with several polo matches, this year’s spectacle will feature a plethora of new events to complement staples such as regal attire and vehicle showcases.
New attractions include: the first ever Women’s Sunset Polo Match; the Cultural Concert featuring an array of music from opera to hip hop and Oh My Dog! Boutique & Spa is hosting this year’s Canine Couture Show.
As far as polo, three new teams will take to the pitch, including the La Jolla Polo Team, the Palm Springs Polo Team and the Palm Beach Polo Team.
Additionally, the defending champions, Aspen Valley Polo Club, will be back to guard its crown in a features match against Palm Beach at 2:30 p.m.
Other matches include La Jolla facing off against Polo Azteca at 10:30 a.m. while Palm Springs will face Arizona Polo Club at 12:30 p.m.
With all the pageantry and revelry scheduled for this year’s championship, event founder Jason Rose said it’s hard not to be excited for the festivities.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from people over the years, it’s just been outstanding,” he said during an Oct. 20 phone interview. “It’s unique in the world of polo. It’s unique in Arizona and it’s the best possible time to come outdoors and it’s a pretty damn good time.”
The sport of queens
One takeaway Pamela Flanagan, member of Team Stick & Ball, hopes someone will learn from the Polo Championship’s first ever all-women’s match is that anyone, even girls, can play.
“I think it really shows that all women can do this,” Ms. Flanagan said in an Oct. 19 phone interview. “Not just really special, crazy, athletic, horse girls that have been riding since they were 2 years old. No. Anyone can do it. If you can ride a horse, you can play polo.”
Ms. Flanagan and five other women will do just that as they play in the sunset match at 4:30 p.m.
Alongside Ms. Flanagan will be Elizabeth Welborn and Chloe Carabasi and they will face local team Arizona Divinas Mujeres, comprised of Natalie Grancharov Camacho, Sheryl Sick and Roisin O’Brien.
Ms. Camacho, who has worked to help the sport grow in Arizona, said she couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming polo championship.
“This year, I actually get to play with some of my close girlfriends that play,” Ms. Camacho said in an Oct. 19 phone interview. “I think it’s going to be really fun. I think it’s going to showcase good, women polo.”
Both teams feature a mix of familiar and new teammates.
For example, Ms. Flanagan and Ms. Carabasi have a long history of playing polo that dates back to when both were in college at Southern Methodist University. During that time, Ms. Flanagan said the two were “inseparable.”
“I’m smiling now answering this. I can’t wait to see Chloe,” she said.
Ms. Welborn is the third member of that team, but Ms. Flanagan said she has never formally met Ms. Welborn but the two have been in contact and they are excited to play together.
Similarly, Ms. Camacho and Ms. Sick are familiar with each other, dating back to when both played together in Arizona. However, Ms. Camacho said she has never played with Ms. O’Brien.
Ms. Camacho said preparation for playing with someone she hasn’t played with before requires a lot of talking, specifically about horses.
“The horses are 80 percent of the game,” Ms. Camacho said. “Having good horses also gives you a good advantage in the game.”
With the sport of kings (and queens) set to light up the pitches of WestWorld, Ms. Flanagan said while the sport is fun to play, what sticks with her is the camarade among polo players.
“You become a part of a community, it’s like a sorority,” she said. “You meet people, you make friends. Not just all over the country, but all over the world. It’s really unique in that manner and I’m excited for all these girls to come together and promote that and exhibit that relationship.”
Symphony of hip hop
One new aspect to this year’s polo championship is the Cultural Concert, which will bring a unique blend of hip hop, opera and philharmonic music to help close out the event.
“We tried to be mad scientists with this event from day one,” Mr. Rose said. “Six years ago, the idea was to put DJs field side next to a polo match, that doesn’t happen a lot, in addition to some very elegant VIP tents. We’ve always aspired to try to be different. To try and not be a typical polo event.”
Alongside the Scottsdale Philharmonic and the Arizona Opera, this concert, which is slated to start at 4:30 p.m., will feature Arizona hip hop artist RoQy TyRaiD as well as GRAMMY performer DJ Maestro Hughes.
According to a press release, DJ Maestro Hughes combines the sounds of classical violin, soul, funk, rock, jazz and Hip-Hop to “create his own unique sound.” DJ Maestro Hughes performed with the Foo Fighters at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Mr. Rose said he has a two-pronged goal in mind with having the performer play at the championship.
“(It’s) another reason for people who have been to the event before to come out or to intrigue someone for the first time,” he said.
DJ Maestro Hughes already performed at the Polo Preview Party on Thursday, Sept. 22 and Mr. Rose said he was “exceptional.”
For more information about the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships or to purchase tickets, go to thepoloparty.com.
News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 623-445-2738