Style Melbourne

February International Polo 2009 at Werribee

My introduction to the world of Polo was during a sweltering Saturday (a record-breaker) that made me eternally thankful for the cooling hospitality of peach bellinis and the blessed shade of the Kookai Chukka Club. I heard much of the usual public crowd had intelligently stayed at home however the marquees were still buzzing with die-hard Polo aficionados. We turned into creatures akin to vampires, any experimental venturing into the sunshine left us sizzling and scuttling hastily back into the shade. Barring the heat, the event itself was gorgeous. The Chukka Club was decked out with black and white portraits of the game, masses of blue hydrangeas and co-coordinating silky cushions.

We did manage to avoid scalding during the traditional stomping in of the divots. A sense of humour was injected into proceedings with commentator John Patterson making up weather reports on the spot; “It’s currently a breezy and perfect 25 degrees at Werribee Park” or the other extreme, “It’s just hit 75 degrees with 300 kilometers winds here today”. With those kinds of temperatures the dj throwing in the calypso sounds of Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ actually sounded tropically appropriate if I may say such a blasphemous thing about the tune. Playing ‘The Heat is On’ was a bit of a cruel reminder however.

The organisers of the event had quite rightly moved the games earlier into the day and shortened each round (or “chukkas” – I learnt something!) so the horses and players didn’t suffer too much. Unfortunately that didn’t help my adopted team for the day as Kookai went down to the Abn Amro team by one goal. I think it was an unlucky day for Victorians all around since, as far as I could make out with my limited knowledge of the game, the Victorians also lost to the Commonwealth team in the the highlight match, the Stella Artois February International.

Still, the stylish guests enjoying the day in Chukka Club and surrounds were great for people watching. Kookai’s own Danielle Vagner looked gorgeously attired in flowing kaftan and headscarf. Floaty dresses were the order of the day for ladies as were natural wedge shoes, lace-y parasols, floppy-brimmed black hats and lots of colour. If they weren’t dressed in an actual polo uniform, the men seemed to take inspiration from Gucci Cruise and the riverina look – a lot of light striped shirts rolled up and cropped pants or cargo shorts were spotted.

I can’t wait until next year.

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Words – Sarah Willcocks

Photography – Ben Lamb

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