If you’re a lover of equestrian sports, then boy, oh, boy, has this been your week.
For me, it began last weekend with the “Spring Horse Shows” at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, which feature many of the best hunter-jumper competitors, including Georgina Bloomberg and two-time gold medalist McLain Ward of Brewster. It was a treat not only to see them in action but to walk around the grounds on a picturesque Mother’s Day, browsing through the stalls of Boutique Row’s equine-related goods and services and talking with horse folk like Dr. Kevin Brophy of Abba Vet Supply, one of the many sponsors. Brophy told me that as a young vet, he was called on to draw blood from a racehorse – Seattle Slew. And what was Slew like? “Not big but very handsome,” the doc said.
Sitting in the VIP tent with family, dining on tender pot roast, pasta, broccoli rabe, eggplant – and let’s not forget the ice cream in chocolate-covered waffle cups – well, it was a magical, memorable Mother’s Day.
The fun continues this weekend with the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix presented by The Kincade Group at 2:30 pm. May 19. But there are also pasta extravaganzas, ice-cream socials and ASPCA equine advocacy events, including one on Saturday with Prince Lorenzo Borghese of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” For more on the action, visit oldsalemfarm.net.
Old Salem isn’t the old place to meet a prince, it seems. On May 15, the Greenwich Polo Club played host to Prince Harry and his Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup. (Sentebale is the charity he founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to aid children there who suffer from HIV/AIDS and the effects of poverty.) Among the 400 invited guests were designers Jason Wu and Valentino, model Karolína Kurková and “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King. In this the age of the Twitterazi, some of the guests in garden/polo chic took photographs of the 200 members of the press who were on hand to record their arrival. Though the day was more English spring than American (think cool, rainy), the sentiments were warm. Kurková and King teased about the weather. Journalists tweeted pictures of portable toilets provided by a company named – ready? –A Royal Flush.
His Grace the 13th Duke of Argyll, Torquhil Ian Campbell, stopped to chat with me not only about Prince Harry’s charitable work but about his own connection to “Downton Abbey.” (His Inveraray Castle in Scotland was the site of the popular series’ most recent Christmas special.)
The duke takes house stardom in stride as it’s good publicity for Scotland – just as Prince Harry’s sporting life serves the causes close to his heart.
The day was one of insights as well as Dawn Jones, a member of Nacho Figueras’ St. Regis team, reinforced something that was apparent at Old Salem Farm’s spring shows – equestrian sports level the playing field for the sexes. It’s no wonder she took the MVP silver plate, the way she charged down the field and attacked the ball, even though her team lost 4-3 to Prince Harry’s Sentebale squad. But there were no hard feelings. Indeed, it was clear that there’s a good deal of bonhomie among polo players, particularly between Figueras and the prince, who could be seen walking the field together before the event and chatting afterward.
It was another day to remember. But there’s no time to bask in the glow. There’s a little something called the Preakness this Saturday and the question is: Can Orb move one step closer to becoming the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown?
We can’t wait to find out.
For more on Prince Harry, check out WAG’S May “Heating Up” and June “On the Road” issues.