One of the hottest events on Auckland’s social calendar the Urban Polo is set to make an even bigger bang in 2020 after securing permission to run at Auckland Domain.
The Lexus Urban Polo returns to Auckland for the fourth time in March next year, with founder Simon Wilson promising the “fusion” of music, fashion, food and sport to be better than ever.
“To be right here, in the centre of Auckland, is incredibly exciting,” said Wilson.
“The Domain is the spiritual home of horses in the city. During the first world war thousands of horses were stabled here before going overseas. So it is amazing to bring them back in again.”
Wilson, the former executive director of the New Zealand Polo Open, launched the event in Auckland and Wellington in 2017, mixing a refined version of the traditional sport with top DJs, food and fashion in an urban party environment.
Since its successful debut they have expanded the platform, adding events in Christchurch, Hamilton, and heading overseas for the first time this year to Singapore.
Past events had attracted about 4000 attendants, but this year would likely be even bigger, Wilson said.
“We are expecting many more this year given it is such a central location, and so close to town.”
Along with a new Auckland venue this year is a new major sponsor, with Lexus taking over from Heineken.
Polo is traditionally played in the countryside, on fields 10 acres large.
Bringing the game into the city was aimed at getting the crowd closer to the action and more involved with the event, Wilson said.
“It is a bit like Twenty20 cricket, compared to the original.
“It is a shorter, more exciting version with the crowd right next to the action. People can even high-five the riders as they are playing.”
For many in the crowd it would be the first time seeing horses – referred to as ponies in polo – let alone being that close, Wilson said.
“For many it is quite an overwhelming experience.”
Wilson said it was great to see cities getting behind the event and allowing them to run it in such prime locations.
In Christchurch the event was held at Hagley Park in the centre of the city, while in Singapore it was held at Marina Bay, right on the waterfront.
“Auckland Council has been amazing in terms of allowing us to run it at Auckland Domain. Not many events get that privilege, so we are very grateful.”
The event in Singapore earlier this year had gone “incredibly well”, Wilson said, and there was more interest from other overseas cities.
“We’ve got people from all around the world wanting us to go there, but for now our focus is on New Zealand and Singapore. But watch this space because there will be more exciting places.”
The Lexus Urban Polo returns to Auckland on March 14, after the events in Singapore on February 22 and Christchurch on February 29.