Polo for the rich and lonely

BULVERDE — Rich people need love, too.

This was the idea behind the Polo Luxury Weekend, held at the Sagrado Vineyard over the long weekend.

(This wasn’t a long weekend. But when you’re super-wealthy, every weekend is a long weekend. Come to think of it, weekdays are a long weekend, too.)
The oppressive late-summer heat did nothing to the rarefied air, as Mexican and Texan aristocrats — sitting under a series of white tents, sipping wine and mimosas — watched other one-percenters play polo.

Many would stereotype these folks as the idle rich. Be that as it may, some of the idle rich are tougher than the marble floors under their custom-made French Heritage dining table. Polo, my friends, is not a sport for soft hands and weak minds.

Nearly everyone who plays it has suffered major bone breaks. When they are chilling at the yacht club, they do so sporting the sort of scars you might expect from a person who grew up fighting their way to an underperforming public school every morning.

“I got this and broke my wrist,” said Rob Hewitt, emcee of the polo matches, pointing at a healed incision that ran down his forearm, “when the horse I was riding died and rolled over on me.”


It’s hard to comprehend how tough this sport can be without seeing it in person. Horses were running full throttle, then bouncing off each other in close quarters. Players were swinging mallets, and it was all going down at a breakneck (pun intended) pace.

It takes money to play polo, but it also takes time and patience, since training and bonding with a polo horse takes six years. And it takes a string of those specially-trained horses — as in six to 10 of them — to play.

There are no beer kegs at the end of a polo match. Fans aren’t doing the wave. But polo has one of the best traditions in sports. At halftime, spectators are asked to walk the playing field, stomping divots back into place to make the field playable again.

Of course, walking around after horses have been on a field is a dicey proposition.

“Stay away from anything that’s got steam coming up from it,” Hewitt joked.

Manure humor aside, the event’s target audience was evident from the outset.

The winery boasted two entrances: A caliche driveway marked with an “Enter” sign and a parallel paved road marked with a “VIP” sign.

I took the VIP road, trying to fit in.

It didn’t work, even though I was given VIP access and wore a Polo shirt.

An inordinate number of partygoers were rocking white fedoras, which must be some polo thing. I didn’t know that. One woman sported a yachting hat. I wish I had thought of that.

Others were wearing white in some capacity, which is verboten after Labor Day for us, but clearly a-OK if you’re one of them.

Attendees feasted on sliced Ruth’s Chris steak that was marinated and put on skewers. There was also lasagne Napoletana al’ Forno, served with grilled vegetables and mushrooms. And some fancy street tacos.

I tasted most of it and considered sneaking some lasagne out for the office, but that would’ve been gauche.

An outsider dropped into this setting would expect a certain type of behavior from this crowd, but these folks couldn’t have been lovelier or more personable.

And that brings us back to the reasons for the party.

Because of turmoil in Mexico, thousands of the country’s elite have relocated to San Antonio, which you would know if you’ve spent any time at a North Side Starbucks.

They come in and build these beautiful homes, said Ursula Pari, KSAT anchor, event hostess and a bad-ass polo player in her own right, and they’re prisoners in there. They don’t know anyone and there’s nothing for them to do.

The three-day event, which began with a fashion show and golf tournament on the first two days, is an opportunity to get the Mexican expats out of their stately homes and introduce them to their wealthy American counterparts.

The event also was raising money for Boys & Girls Clubs in San Antonio and Monterrey. But another goal of the party, Pari said, is to recruit these new Texicans as benefactors for San Antonio charities.

No one likes playing the class warfare card more than this columnist, but this is America, damn it. Even if you’re a wealthy Mexican expat, you still have the right to spend money, have friends and watch other rich guys pound the crap out of each other on their horses. And if they can help our needy neighbors, great.


Twitter: @roybragg


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