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CHUKKAS AWAY!

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rab a Panama hat and a pitcher of Pimm’s and get set for some serious celebrity spotting as you soak up the gladiatorial thrills of Grand Slam Polo in Sotogrande. Most people own a polo shirt or six, without ever having been to a polo match. But Sotogrande International Tournament is an event no one should miss. Think white marquees, buckets of Grey Goose vodka, gourmet dining, live music, fun for the kids – it’s about the après polo as much as the sport. However the adrenalin highs supplied by four-horseman teams displaying apocalyptic skills and enough ponies to shoot the remake of Ben-Hur will soon have you hooked.

on this gladiatorial fixture infused with the heady scent of eau de polo (new-mown grass, hot horseflesh and manure). If that sounds like an excerpt from a Jilly Cooper novel, she partially researched her best-selling novel, Polo, in Sotogrande. And her purple prose is not so very far removed from the glamorous scene at Santa María Polo Club throughout the month of August. A chic white-tented entertainment village pops up between four polo fields at Los Pinos grounds, with designer shops, restaurants and cocktail bars where the mojitos flow into la madrugada. For over a month of long summer days and magical nights, this spectacular sideshow becomes the centre of the summer

‘movida’, with a nightlife that rivals Puerto Banús. This years 46th edition saw the 20 teams from all over the world compete for glittering Bronze, Silver and Gold Cups in 160 matches played out on manicured turf in late afternoon sunshine. One of only three Grand Slam tournaments outside Argentina, it attracts ‘high goal’ players who are the polo equivalent of Ronaldo and Messi - like Adolfo Cambiaso, best player in the world who clinched Gold Cup victory for the Dubai polo team last summer. He and his model wife María Vázquez are known as ‘Argentina’s answer to the Beckhams’.

A Who’s Who of royalty and Spanish high society descend on the poshest resort in Cádiz Province to feast

DIARY

DATE

The action usually takes place from July 22-August 27 at Santa Martia Polo Club’s Los Pinos grounds, near Torreguadiaro, usually from late afternoon. Parking’s plentiful and free. Entrance is free except on certain Bronze, Silver and Gold Cup Finals days.

Keep an eye out for announcements at www.santamariapoloclub.com

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PREMIER MAGAZINE

WORDS: BELINDA BECKETT

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