Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships to be center of American polo universe

The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower will bring an air of affluence to WestWorld of Scottsdale Saturday, Oct. 24. (Submitted photo)

The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower will bring an air of affluence to WestWorld of Scottsdale Saturday, Oct. 24. (Submitted photo)

For a day in late October WestWorld of Scottsdale becomes the center of the American polo universe as it plays host to the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower — the nation’s largest event of its kind.

The event, which will be held Saturday Oct. 24, aims to bring the Sport of Kings to the masses while providing a social backdrop for equestrian enthusiasts to learn more about the storied competition. WestWorld of Scottsdale is at 16601 N. Pima Road.

The estimated attendance of the Scottsdale polo championships is north of 5,000, which event promoters say makes the event the largest of its kind within the United States. While the draw of the event continues to peek the interests of world-renowned players and attendees of the polo world, the Scottsdale event now in its fifth year is redefining the experience of a major polo event.

Amidst the crowd of Champagne flutes, fancy hats and beautiful people is an event suited for those looking to get a glimpse of the finer things of life. In addition to polo, this year’s lineup includes:

  • A fine art auction featuring masterpieces from around the world presented by the Larsen Art Gallery;
  • The “world’s longest fashion show” presented by Phoenix Fashion Week;
  • High Tea with the Phoenician resort;
  • The Canine Couture fashion show presented by the Applewood Pet Resort and Bark Avenue;
  • The event also features previews of the Arabian Horse Show and Barrett-Jackson car auction.

The premiere match of the day features a 3 p.m. tilt between the Coglau Wales Polo Team vs. the Aspen Valley Polo Club. Other matches include:

  • An 11 a.m. match between Polo Azteca vs. Club Polo Cabo presented by One & Only;
  • A 1 p.m. match between the San Diego Polo Club vs. the Arizona Polo Club;
  • A 5 p.m. clinic presented by the Arizona Polo Club.

Event founder and Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose says this year’s event speaks to the aspirational nature of the sport of polo.

Jason Rose

Jason Rose

“I have learned a lot along the way,” he said in a Sept. 18 phone interview of his now five years promoting the event. “Polo is a niche sport but is very aspirational. There are people who get into the sport for the love of horses and we wanted to give people that kind of experience.”

The experience has grown from an opportunity of the introduction for the sport to the general public to being widely regarded as the nation’s largest polo event — an aspiration Mr. Rose aims to achieve this year and years to come.

“Just today we signed up the leading nightlife venues in town to create another experience on the site. People can see a lot of different stuff,” he explained. “This is the defined as the world’s most interesting polo event and we’ll see if we live up to that charge.”

Premiere of Aspen Valley Polo Club

The Aspen Valley Polo Club will be making its Arizona debut at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships next month.

The Aspen Valley Polo Club, which is owned by Marc and Melissa Ganzi, hosts the annual Piaget World Snow Polo Championships held every December. In last year’s event, Piaget won 4-3 over U.S. Polo Association and Nic Roldan was named Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.

Mr. Roldan will be apart of the team taking on the Coglau Wales Polo Team next month at the Scottsdale polo championships.

“It is kind of fun that Nick is returning,” said Mrs. Ganzi in a Sept. 18 phone interview. “We are looking forward to beating the Wales team. I didn’t get to see the event last year, but I have heard some positive things about it.”

A view of Mr. Roldan in action playing for the Aspen Valley Polo Club. (Submitted photo)

A view of Mr. Roldan in action playing for the Aspen Valley Polo Club. (Submitted photo)

Mr. Roldan says he has been impressed by the attendance the event brings to the Valley of the Sun.

“I was astonished by the amount of people there — it’s a great event for the sport,” he pointed out. “Polo, we are a very small sport until we get it properly televised. Now this gives people a chance to watch polo around the world.”

Mr. Roldan, 32, named as one of the Top 50 Most Eligible Bachelors, started riding at age 2 and turned pro when he was 14. He was the youngest player to compete and win the prestigious U.S. Open at age 15. Roldan, rated at eight goals, has competed in every major tournament around the world and is one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors.

Mr. Roldan says the game is one with players for passion for equestrian sports.

“I love every aspect of it,” he said of his thoughts on why he plays the game. “First and foremost there is a passion for the horses — we all love it because we love the horses.”

Speed, precision and adrenaline also help the allure, Mr. Roldan says.

“The speed and the adrenaline, it keeps you on your toes,” he said. “I have played every sport possible and there is nothing like polo. It is just a great sport and to be able to play is wonderful. We follow the sun and we have a great time.”

A premier piece of art to auctioned off Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horse and Horsepower. (Submitted photo)

A premier piece of art to auctioned off Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Horses and Horsepower. (Submitted photo)

Art brings new view of polo pitch

A fine art auction taking place at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships is quickly becoming one of the hallmarks of the polo venue, event promoters say.

The 2015 Larsen Art Auction has more than 700 registered bidders from 46 states and 33 countries and takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with celebrity auctioneer Jason Brooks running the block within the Picasso Pavillion at the Scottsdale polo championships.

“The Larsen gallery, which has been a fine art gallery for over 20 years, has specialized on consignment for private collectors,” said Scott Larsen, owner of the Larsen Art Auction. “Last year was the first year up at WestWorld and was a great success. The auction is going to be bigger and contain more expansive lots then previously thought. This year, we have 250 lots or works of art.”

Mr. Larsen says works of art expected to be auctioned off could fetch anywhere between $1.1 million to $1.8 million with pieces including:

  • A landscape painting done by Maynard Dickson from 1944;
  • A Milton Avery painting dating back to 1959;
  • Two Pablo Picasso works on paper;
  • Three Leroy Neiman paintings.

Mr. Larsen says the polo championship and fine art auction work well together.

“We build a 4,000-square-foot gallery, we think adds to the polo event,” he said of the venue itself. “The goal I think would be to continue to develop quality consignments through popularity of the event — it is all about the art work.”

To learn more about the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships go to thepoloparty.com.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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