Spy: Where to catch all the action for Urban Polo and the NZ Polo Open

Polo season is upon us, with rich-listers, A-listers and All Blacks among the fans stomping the divots in green fields both urban and rural.

Organisers will be hoping for fine weather for the end-of-summer events — the Lexus Urban Polo and the New Zealand Polo Open.

The mega-successful Urban Polo, a multi-city event created by Simon Wilson, is growing its game in Asia after successful tournaments in Singapore. Urban Polo kicks off in Christchurch this Saturday at Hagley Park, with All Blacks Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan and a large contingent of Crusaders set to take in the action.

This year all players are dressed by Hugo Boss.

Prefer your polo in the countryside? The NZ Open will be back with a vengeance at Clevedon on February 19 for what organisers hope will be their best event ever.

With sodden fields being dangerous, the players have been practicing on beaches over the past few weeks, as safety is paramount for the welfare of the prized ponies. Organisers tell Spy the last six months have seen a big buy-up of polo ponies by owners wanting the best horsepower on the field.

This is the first time in the history of the NZ Polo Open’s 46 years that two women will play in the tournament — although there has been a single female competitor in past events.

Nina Clarkin and Indi Bennetto are on opposing teams in the four-team draw. Bennetto is on the same team as Clarkin’s husband John Paul, and Clarkin is on the same team as Bennetto’s partner Nick Keyte.

Players of note who have flown in from overseas include Argentina’s Paco O’Dwyer — who has been practicing in the country for three weeks — and Australia’s Dirk Gould, who flew into Auckland this week.

And Top Gear fans may be surprised to see The Stig taking to the field to race a pony — this has been organised by Archibald & Shorter.

We hear a few international billionaires are flying in for the Open. The places to mingle with the A-listers will be the Heineken VIP Clubhouse and the Auckland Clubhouse Terrace, but there are also family-friendly picnic spots on the hill.

Fashionistas Amber Baker, Lulu Wilcox, Holly Estelle and Wilhelmina Shrimpton will be judging the fashions — and this year, Champagne is not the prize. Following the international trend of “rosé all day” at polo, jeroboams of Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé will be given as prizes to the successful players, and to the winners of the new Ladies’ Dash fashion event.

The other new trend of note this year is cocktails at the Kim Clifford Cocktail Lounge. The boutique Otago distillery will be serving this year’s drink de jour, the pink 1963 gin — and expect plenty of espresso martinis to keep guests lubricated as they take in the polo action and party into the night.

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