Time to Pony Up

Polo gallops into Southern Nevada

If there’s a void in your otherwise Gatsby-esque existence, fear not: Polo as it’s meant to be played is coming to Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Polo Classic, the first outdoor grass polo exhibition ever in the city, is booked for April 14-15 at the Star Nursery Field at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Some may recall that polo exhibitions were held for years at the South Point arena, most recently in 2012, but that space was much smaller than the 300-by-160-yard expanse of a regulation polo field. That’s like watching dirt track jalopies when you’re craving NASCAR.

“It’s much more exciting to watch an outdoor game,” said Randy Russell, owner of Polo America, the sports marketing firm putting on the event. “One thing first-timers never forget is the sound of the horses charging down the field.”

Four teams of four riders each and a cavalry unit worth of polo ponies will be on hand to introduce Las Vegas fans to the proper sport. The game unfolds in a series of 7 1/2-minute periods called chukkers, during which riders use mallets to try to knock a small ball through 8-yard-wide goals at either end of the field. The speed of the game is much faster than in the indoor arena, with horses topping 35 mph and well-struck shots traveling around 100 mph.

But even if thundering hooves and equine bumper cars leave you cold, the Polo Classic has some luxurious diversions, including VIP tailgating tents in what is being called Millionaire’s Row; a Polo Village featuring sponsor boutiques and displays where you can purchase anything from Tiffany jewelry and watches to a private jet; and a Grayse formal runway fashion show between the two polo games each day.
It doesn’t end there. Who could pass up the traditional Champagne halftime divot stomp, the hat contest or after-party matches of golf cart polo?

Those craving the full-on experience can expect to shell out a small chunk of their inheritance. The VIP tailgating tents, which seat eight, run $2,500 for both days. Of course it’s only money, and you also get two gourmet wicker picnic baskets filled with all sorts of goodies, which you will consume on a linen-draped round table set with china, silverware and wine glasses just yards from the action.

 

There’s even an opportunity to give it a go yourself. The California Polo Club will have horses and instructors on the field before and after the games for lessons at the bargain price of $225 per person.
Beware if you get hooked, though, and are not to the manor born. Russell advises that it costs “a little bit of financial means” — anywhere from $60,000 to $3 million a year — to get seriously involved in the sport.

For tickets or polo lessons call 760-668-6093, poloamerica.com.