On Friday, February 17th the stars of polo gathered at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame to welcome the latest inductees to the Hall of Fame; 10 goal living legend Mariano Aguerre; polo great of the 50s and 60s John “Jackie” Murphy, Museum of Polo visionary and founder Leverett S. Miller, wise old Texas horseman and mentor George Miller; and two gallant equine heroes of the sport – the courageous Army remount mare, Chicken; and Charles Smith’s multi-award winning mare Nebraska Sunset.
Guests arriving on the red carpet for the Grand Reception were greeted with flutes of bubbly from the Korbel Bubbles bar, an array of passed hors d’oeuvres and other “adult” beverages provided by Lipman Brothers LLC, Brown Forman, Bacardi USA, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Korbel, and new sponsor 14 Hands Winery. Everyone had a great time exploring the Museum and its new exhibits, getting re-acquainted with long lost friends and making new ones. One of the highlights of the new exhibits was “Polo Art in America, from the collection of Horace and Martha Laffaye” a montage of some of their vast collection of polo art that includes bronzes by Herbert Haseltine, works of Frederick B. Voss, Paul Brown and others. Sadly, Martha passed away last April and it was her wish that these works be shown at the Museum.
As the evening progressed everyone was invited into the pavilion to be seated for a sensational dinner sponsored by Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Grand Champions Polo Club and Dessert Sponsor Annabelle Gundlach and Postage Stamp Farm Foundation. The evening’s entertainment was sponsored by Wayne and Pamela Garrison. The Museum also gave to each attendee a very special gift, a book called Polo Art by Melinda Brewer and published by the Museum that is a composite of her photos and artwork celebrating the great ponies of our sport. A Coravin wine system was also given to each of the inductees or award recipients, to dinner sponsors and those who purchased an entire table for the dinner.
Dinner was followed by the Awards Ceremony during which four great men and two amazing horses were honored. Nominating Committee Chairman Horace Laffaye accepted the award for Chicken, followed by Charles Smith, up twice accepting for both his great pony Nebraska Sunsetand then again on behalf of the family of inductee George Miller; an eloquent and distinguished Leverett Miller was on hand to accept his award surrounded by his friends and family, a bevy of beautiful women that included his wife, three daughters and his aunt the inimitable Marylou Whitney and their husbands; the award for “Jackie” Murphy was accepted by his sons Jack and Brian whose poignant words brought many in the audience to tears; and to end the ceremony, Mariano Aguerre capped a brilliant night with a tremendous off-the-cuff speech that was heartfelt, gracious, and entertaining. Peppered with humor and humility he gave kudos to the many who helped him along the way and lovingly credited his family for their support. It was a very special evening of memorable speeches and touching moments that will be long remembered. Video of this year’s Gala as well as others dating back to 2007 will soon be viewable on the Museum’s website at www.polomuseum.com
The Hall of Fame Dinner is the largest fundraiser for the Museum each year and this year close to $75,000 was raised. We thank the polo community for its support and wish to again express our gratitude to all of the afore-mentioned sponsors and also to Alex Pacheco for his photographic support for the exhibits and the dinner, to Melinda Brewer for the portraits of the Horses to Remember, Frederic Roy for promoting the Museum and the dinner in the Morning Line, Krystal Zaskey Photography for additional photographic support for the evening and to all the great volunteers who help make this wonderful event possible.