During the hot summer months when the sun is foremost on everyone’s minds, there is one place celebrities, socialites, fashion mavens and supermodels go on Saturdays to beat the heat and revel in the sport of kings. That place is Two Trees Farm, the location of the Bridgehampton Polo Club, which hosts the Polo Challenge every Saturday for six consecutive weeks from now until its culmination in the Hamptons Cup matches on August 24th.
While thousands will come out to stomp the divots, sip champagne and watch four star-studded teams compete in two, separate, three-week tournament-style matches—starting with the USPA Monty Waterbury title—there is a conscious effort to transform the Hampton’s signature polo series, albeit off the field. While the fierce competition and high level of showmanship will be unchanging, the VIP area is looking to add a level of exclusivity that harkens back to older days on the East End. Shamin Abas, president of Shamin Abas Public Relations, has scaled back the large crowds in favor of an intimate, debutante outing with the game of polo taking the center stage once again.
“We wanted to put the focus firmly back on the sport of polo. It’s a return to what the sport is all about, good friends and family field side, watching an exciting match on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We’ve created an elegant, yet relaxed environment for our sponsors and guests,” says Abas.
“We aim to attract a crowd that is totally focused on the game, one that can appreciate polo players’ speed, agility and horsemanship while keeping those world-renowned athletes who enjoy coming to the Hamptons, going to the beach, having a nice social life and playing the sport that they love,” echos Peter Brant, co-founder of the Bridgehampton Polo Club and highly regarded polo player.
This year the invite-only guests dressed in summer attire aptly described as “Hampton’s chic” lounged among the private VIP cabanas; the women in colorful sundresses and the men in comfortable button-ups and slacks. Among the field-side seating, patrons held sponsor Escada black and white sun-brellas to stave off the hot weather. Patrons were also treated to a gourmet picnic catered with endless glasses of Bertaud Bélieu’s rosé and light, summery hors d’oeuvres from local Italian restaurant, Tutto Il Giorno.
Amidst beautiful weather, the 17th season was officially kicked off by teams White Birch Farm and La Lechuza Caracas. The event started with the opening coin toss by iconic supermodel Christie Brinkley, who appeared ageless and radiant dressed in a form-fitting tangerine dress and sun hat, followed by young phenom Dylan Jenet singing the national anthem. Those fortunate enough to be inside the sprawling comfort of the VIP tent were treated to Brant’s White Birch polo team battling patron Victor Vargas’ La Lechuza in a close, spirited match that saw the White Birch come out on top.
Those attending the relaxed sophistication of the VIP tent can expect to rub elbows with season long sponsors including Burgess Yachts, LaCroix Sparkling Water and the newly launched Gotham Jets. The opening day cocktail reception was enjoyed this year by notables, such as heiress Amanda Hearst, Kelly Klein, Campion and Tatiana Platt, model Natasha Bernard, Kelly Bensimon, Jill Zarin, and fashion designer Donna Karan.