Match Made in Polo Heaven!

By June 28, 2011

In Carpinteria, they’re rolling out the green carpet – 300 yards long!  – for Prince William and his bride, Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. The royal couple has put the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on the list of stops for their upcoming North American tour. On July 9, the Prince will grab a mallet and hit the pitch for the Foundation Polo Challenge.

Santa Barbara Polo welcomes Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Proceeds from the match will be divided among charitable organizations including the newly-minted American Friends of the Foundation of Prince William & Prince Harry, which supports disadvantaged children, sustainable ecology, veterans and military families. A donation will also be made to the non-profit Polo Training Center Santa Barbara.

The Duchess herself has agreed to present the winning team its trophy, designed by Tiffany & Co. especially for the occasion. In addition to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the royals’ nine-day North American tour, June 30-July 10, will include Canadian stops in Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Calgary.

The Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis is designing the menus. A full day’s entertainment and repast costs about as much as a U2 ticket for Club seating and a picnic lunch, while VIP access is still less than a new saddle. Space is limited, but all are welcome to attend. Make arrangements through www.FoundationPoloChallenge.com.

Prince William is a lifelong polo player. (His father, the Prince of Wales, was last ranked at 4-goals).

An accomplished polo player, Prince William will play as part of Team Royal Salute. Also on the card: Team Audi and Team Santa Barbara. The week – which kicks off the SBP high-goal season – will see some of the world’s top-ranked polo players power chukking on the same green, jockeying for points in the Robert Skene Tournament. Among the swinging superstars: Argentina’s Adolfo Cambiaso and Gonzalito Pieres (10-goalers, ranked No. 1 and 2 in the world, respectively).

While it may seem circumstance brought the royal newlyweds down Santa Barbara way, the event was actually two years in the making, starting with a letter the club’s ambassador, Glen Holden, sent Prince Charles. Holden, an avid polo enthusiast (who served the State Department for real as Ambassador to Jamaica 1989-93) had crossed mallets with the prince over the years. He wrote inquiring whether the royal scions would honor the club with their presence as part of the centennial festivities. Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club is the third oldest continually running polo palace in the nation, after Long Island’s Meadowbrook Polo (1881) and the St. Louis Polo Club (1883).

Tiffany-built Foundation Cup polo trophy.

As for that beauteous trophy? (No, we don’t mean the Duchess!) Even if Team Royal wins, it won’t be traveling to England.  Tiffany has donated it to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for permanent display. But what a sweet moment to hoist it for posterity, and a photo on the clubhouse wall!

Attendees are advised to wear a (fabulous) hat to shield from the hot sun.

You can read more about Prince William at his official website – with its own tab for the Duchess of Cambridge – by clicking here.

The official website of the royal family is www.princeofwales.gov.uk/personalprofiles/

Those flying in can learn more about Santa Barbara and the city of Carpinteria here.

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