One of the most recognizable polo events in the World is now in the books for 2020. The reconfigured, Stella Artois Polo Classic: Presented by Kettle One wrapped up a day of festivities Saturday, November 7th with new victors, and rave reviews from attendees for the socially distanced setting at WestWorld of Scottsdale.
As part of the City of Scottsdale approved changes for 2020 and after receiving certification from HealthyVerify (a consortium that includes Arizona State University and Barrow’s Neurological Institute) the Stella Artois Polo Classic returned with a reduced capacity of 3,132, which sold out. The event featured an extensive social distancing plan, mandatory masks for guests, sanitation stations, temperature checks and unlike previous years an all open-air approach with tables, lattice fencing and umbrellas instead of tents to make guests as comfortable as possible in an environment that was still as fun as possible.
The day kicked off with Valley favorite Scottsdale Maserati’s Arizona Polo Club victorious over Mark Taylor Residential’s Denver Polo Club 6 to 5. Diego Florez scored 4 of the Arizona team’s goals and he like others said that even despite the changes for 2020, the event lived up to his usual expectations.
“As always the 2020 Stella Artois Polo Classic was very well put together to allow for social distancing, but still enabled great entertainment for spectators who love polo, horses, canines, fashion, and much more,” said Florez.
In the featured match of the day, EPR Polo went head to head with Celebrity Cruises in a match supporting Arizona Equine Rescue and Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. The higher goal match featured professional polo players John Gobin and Marcos Bignoli, alongside Team Captain Tareq Salahi. Each scored two goals apiece and resulted in victory 6 to 4 over EPR Polo. The match also donated $10,000 to the benefiting charities. EPR Polo Club opponent Allison Freeman and her last chukker horse won the Celebrity Cruises MVP and Best Playing Pony Award.
“Celebrity Cruises was thrilled to be part of The Stella Artois Scottsdale Polo Classic this year and even more thrilled that in our first year participating we won the Molina Cup in a hard-fought 6 to 4 victory. The Polo Classic offered something for everyone and is an outstanding event. We look forward to defending our title next year,” said Tareq Salahi, USA Team Captain.
In the final match of the day, alumni representing Safeway Albertson’s Work to Ride took on Sanderson Lincoln’s Women’s All-Stars in the final match of the day resulting in an 8 to 4 victory. Work to Ride’s Daymar Rosser scored 4 of the winning team’s goals, followed by Richard Prather at 3 goals and Shariah Harris scoring one.
“This is was our third time coming to Scottsdale for this incredible event and it just gets better every year,” said Shariah Harris, member and alumni of Work to Ride. “Even though there were COVID limitations for safety, this year’s event was still a great experience. We always love coming to play in Scottsdale because the players and people are always so welcoming and we are looking forward to coming back for another year.”
With no overhead tents or party tents, fans watched the exciting matches from a variety of seating options that included the Molina Fine Jewelers VIP Lounge, Barrett-Jackson’s VIP Outdoor Polo and Jazz Lounge, Lawn and Picnic Seating, elevated south seating that included RV spots and expanded Sideline Parking options.
Fans also enjoyed a variety of shows within the show including Phoenix Fashion Week’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show, as well as the Canine Couture presented by Lugari Pet Salon which gave 35 canines a chance to compete for prizes.
Arianna Dueñez with Brownie (Shihtzu) won Best in Show, Bernadette Parra with Lucky (Shihtzu) won Best Costume, Damaris Portillo with Molly (Pug Mix) won Fancy Fifi and Jason Gunawardena with Enzo (Yorkie) was awarded Bow Tie Stud. All winners received cash prizes, ribbons and gift baskets from Lugari Pet Salon.
2020 also brought new sponsors including Celebrity Cruises, which presented the charity match. All matches were played on the newly named Celebrity Cruises / Hotels at Sea Polo Field. Other new sponsors included Mark Taylor Residential, Bud Light Seltzer, and McLaren Scottsdale among others.
Fans also enjoyed half-time performances by the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, a preview of Barrett-Jackson’s 2021 Collector Car Auction and luxury car displays by McLaren Scottsdale, Scottsdale Maserati, Courtesy Volvo, Sanderson Lincoln, Earnhardt Genesis of North Scottsdale and dozens of others.
Attendees also enjoyed another new charity experience called “Million Dollar Mingle”. The concept was organized and led by former NFL Player AC Caswell and brought together celebrities, professional athletes, corporate executives, and socialites to support local charities. To conclude the day and night, R Entertainment produced a “drive-in” concert with local rock legend Roger Clyne.
The following charities were also able to raise money through the event for their programs and services; Phoenix Chapter of African American Scholar Athletes, Phoenix Children’s Museum, Hoof and Paw Rescue, and Vision Lake Consulting.
As currently planned, the event will return as The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships in November 2021.