I recently enjoyed a day in a beautiful wooded valley at the private Hidden Creek Polo Club. I haven’t watched a polo match since I was rather young and the event brought back memories of attending matches in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park with my parents. I became enamored with horses at a young age.
Oregon Polo Classic
The occasion was the Oregon Polo Classic, the inaugural event for Classic Wines Auction, a charity fund-raising group known for wine auctions and exclusive wine-related events in the Portland area. They wanted to try something new and, judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd, they certainly succeeded.
If you are in the area, or can plan a visit, consider a charity polo event. I can attest that these events are fabulous and it begins when you arrive. I parked and immediately was met by a golf cart shuttle to whisk me away to the entrance. White peaked tents were filled with merry-makers, glasses in hand, many wearing lavish, colorful hats. I was offered a tall, freshly made cocktail upon my arrival.
The event included many ways to have fun and donate to area charities. There was a Cigar Lounge with special spirits ($45 extra), a silent auction (signed Blazers basketball anyone?), and Veuve Clicquot VIP Tent. Buffet lunch was included with the price of the regular ticket as well as four drinks of your choice. Judging by the strength of the welcome drink, I was wise in forgoing the second, third and fourth! Buckets of iced sodas and water were plentiful. It was a warm day.
When I arrived, the first match had just begun. It was easy to find a seat and enjoy looking down on the field. But I wanted to be closer… to hear the sound of galloping hooves, the strike of the mallet and watch the action as the two four-person teams competed. Polo is thrilling. Imagine hitting a croquet-sized ball with a long mallet while riding a horse at speeds up to 30 m.p.h. while the other four-person team tries to keep you from making a goal!
I was also pleased to find out that polo is a co-ed sport with both sexes competing equally. Suzy Dix, from Spokane, exemplified the skill and aggressive play of a woman athlete on horseback. She is an amazing person known for her love of polo and involvement in nature and animal-related causes and charities. And, I found out through reading a business journal article, she didn’t even start playing polo until she was 47 because her father didn’t think women should play polo!
It didn’t take long for the six chukkers (7.5 minutes of play each) to end in a tie. And, the festivities were just beginning. People came down the long steps to the field to visit with the riders and have their pictures taken with the beautiful polo ponies.
This was a highlight during the Family Day on Saturday when special activities attracted kids to the event. What an opportunity to learn a new sport and get up close and personal with polo ponies.
The hats I had been admiring were going to be paraded in front of me and be judged. The enthusiastic fashionistas lined up and vied for the judges’ eyes. A local news anchor emceed the event. It was all in fun and all for charity.
Later in the afternoon, the field was in need of repair. Enter the Champagne Divot Stomp. Spectators grabbed a glass of Champagne and headed to the field to stomp out the divots and make the grass level again. This is a tradition.
Charity polo events like the Oregon Polo Classic are a great way to experience the elegance of yesteryear and watch an exciting equestrian sport. Polo is played in more than 60 countries and enjoyed by more than 50 million people each year.
We look forward to the Oregon Polo Classic again next year. This inaugural event was colorful, thrilling and a marvelous chance to spend the day in the countryside to support good causes.
Also coming up at Hidden Creek Polo Club will be the following events:
American Cancer Society Polo Classic – August 20th, 2016
The Portland Hope Ball will celebrate its ninth year in 2016 and it is going to be an exclusive experience you are sure to remember. Take in the action of a world-class polo match and stunning horses from a picturesque vantage point, followed by a live auction and gourmet dinner, all supporting the American Cancer Society. More Information.
Polo Noir – September 10th , 2016
A single day experience celebrating the sport of kings, live music, and Oregon wines. Polo Noir will include two live polo matches, two live music acts, world-class Willamette Valley wine selections, delicious complimentary appetizers from Pearl Catering, amazing Portland collaborations with Pendleton, Olympia Provisions, Stumptown, Smith Tea, Widmer and many more! More Information.
When You Go
Polo is a unique game rooted in history and tradition. Be sure and have a look at the dress code and rules of etiquette for an event before you attend. At the recent charity event, summer dressy was the attire. And for fun, colorful flamboyant hats were encouraged, especially for the hat competition. And, since polo is played on a large field, women were cautioned to leave the strappy stiletto sandals at home!
Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses come in handy because you’ll want to spend time watching the match and the best views are out in the open. Tents shade you while you socialize and enjoy drinks and food at the Hidden Creek charity events.
Polo will be played in all weather conditions except those which may endanger the horses. So dress to be comfortable too.
Watch for the 2017 Oregon Polo Classic
As is common in the travel industry, this writer was provided a complimentary ticket for the purposes of review. While this has not influenced this content, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.