Bright sun and a fresh spring breeze greeted me as I stepped off the bus and onto the grassy lawn of Errol Park Estate for a day of food, friends and polo. The St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament, presented by Graypaul Maserati Edinburgh, featured a series of matches ranging from the novice level and upwards in support of Help for Heroes, a charity benefitting United Kingdom veterans wounded in action. The expansive estate was the perfect setting for the tournament, providing ample space for food vendors such as Blackhorn, Alpine Dumplings and On The Roll, as well as easy access to covered seating areas. In spite of the abundant and varied choices for mid-polo snacks, one of the most well-planned aspects of the event was the bar; standard guests were given a free drink voucher and VIP guests were given five. The bar staff was always friendly and fast, a rare site at most St Andrean events.
The expression “getting a bang for one’s buck” could definitely not be more fitting. With Thistly Cross Cider and Daffy’s gin cocktails, coupled with beautiful weather, good vibes were flowing. Floating between the VIP lounge and the standard area, I found myself impressed with the amount of benefits both spots provided. One of the favourites was the Jo Malone counter where free hand and arm massages were offered to eager VIP patrons.
The polo matches themselves were very entertaining, even for those who had never attended a polo tournament before. With engaging commentators, guests were kept up to date throughout the game. Teams were named after each of the event sponsors, such as St Andrews Brewing Company, EFG Private Bank, Ogilvy Vodka, Fairmont St Andrews and Oliver Cope Architect. They were sectioned into three divisions: beginner, novice and the exhibition match. For those who were less riveted by the game non-polo related entertainment was beyond sufficient: during the brief intermission between matches, the St Andrean favourites, The Other Guys, performed a small set, singing the usual roster of fan favorites. In addition, a DJ provided some background beats throughout the day, lightening the mood and creating a party atmosphere.
All things considered, one of the most memorable parts of the day was probably the final match’s announcer’s struggle with an unleashed dog. At least three times, an older gentleman interrupted the commentary of the games to call for his dog, who became the star of the event in his own right, as Pippin, the dog, had scampered across the polo field a few times. Expectations are high for Pippin to make a return appearance in 2016.