British Motoring Summer

Santiago Dream Cars, Event, Sports December 10, 2017

By Leila Russack

Goodwood Festival of Speed – Chichester

The girls are at it again, driving the miles into our F-types at speed along the A3 for the Goodwood Festival of Speed weekend in Chichester. Our just-in-case packing didn’t have quite enough chiffon, but no matter, we brought enough Champagne. I wore McLaren orange and my girlfriend wore her signature linen white. Both of us in reasonably sensible shoes, as we were warned, there is a lot of walking, and I was promised a chance for the Hill Climb.

Hay bales and burning rubber is the perfume of the British motoring season, and in this beautiful English Summer, it is welcomed and divine. My friend sneezes, “Where are those ear plugs?” We swap tissues and squishy latex and take a spot by the grid. The crowd watches Andrew Jordan tickle his right foot in a silver Eagle Speedster Low Drag GT, grabbing it into the first corner, smoke billowing into the trees. A Jaguar pouncing through the mist.

Add five or six decades of design and technology and we are at the Jaguar F-types which we know and love at the JLR pavilion. Geoff escorts us to the VIP section and gives us over to the ruthless Rosco. The former F1 driver swings me about the drift track, screaming and laughing, my hair flying everywhere. “We’ve got to learn how to do this!” Shredding tyres at a rate of 60 per day, we thank the designer for the holding bar on the passenger side console.

The Noble M600 on display at the Michelin stand had the sexiest roaring revs and the loudest crackle I’ve ever heard, we really needed the earplugs for the demonstration after all. “What I’d do to touch that peddle in there!” Noble are making one of the last manual transmissions in modern cars, which makes me love it more. Peter Dyson offers us a sit in the red metal wonder, and we dream a little dream. “Now this is a real car!” You can hear it a mile away and it really is the stand out of the modern cars at the festival.

That brings me to my main question-slash-gripe. How is it that McLaren don’t do a stick shift? They made a Lego 720S, but they retail automatics and I abhor paddle shifts. They get in the way of the steering wheel! My word, though, is the 1967 Can-Am a beauty on the Goodwood track? Bruce McLaren lost his life on the Goodwood track at Woodcote in 1970 testing the M8D. The 650S is modelled with the Can-Ams in mind. I just wish they’d put a stick shift in instead of those pesky paddles. Nevertheless, we adored the 570s and 720Ss on the hill-climb, and the new paint colours pretty much sealed the deal for my girlfriend.

Mercedes gave us a spark with the Turbo green GT machine. Andre d’Cruze, a charismatic stunt driver for films like adrenaline-filled Rush, tells us the reason he calls it, The Beast. “The AMG GTR certainly keeps you focussed past the flint wall. The gear changes are aggressive and the brakes pin you to the belts!” My friend congratulates Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi with his new plastic playtoy Pininfarina V8 creation, the 600 brake horsepower EF7. On our way to get another coffee from the McLaren marquee, we meet Rene Arnoux at Gerry Judahs iconic FOS central feature. Rene raced the canary yellow 1977 Renault RS01 and what a vision he is in his racing overalls, my favourite you know.

We retire to what we thought would be dining heaven and bump into Tiff Needel, who is already sawing through a loosely abbreviated steak. “More wine!” He insists, I concur, “How dare they serve this to a legend!” The Goodwood Hotel has a novice on the crepes stand outside, which is intermittently on fire in a safety-hazard way, and it takes a good half an hour to squash and serve anything to us. “No one here had an interview!” We opt for the Crown Inn in Chiddingfold for our subsequent square meals as there is nothing worse than bad steak and malnutrition. Tiff MCs at the Sponsors ball at Goodwood House, and he sincerely advises us to party-crash. “We’re too sophisticated to do that, Tiff!” But it does remind us to get our outfits and tickets organised for the GP Ball.

Grand Prix Ball – Hurlingham Club

We are both fitted in floor-length Herve Leger and sparkling Alice McCall at the Hurlingham Club on the red carpet studded with a bold BAC Mono, the new company who won one of the Hillclimb time trials at Goodwood, an electric-blue McLaren and midnight berry Weismann. We take care with every step in Valentinos as we are invited to the grounds for the Formula One display. Clayton Kingman of Twitter to Track infamy drives through. He peels off the racing onesie like James Bond in black-tie and lace-up driving shoes. “Don’t let me fall on your Hesketh!” I jibe at Clayton, holding my waist. “Heels are not meant
for the lawn.”

We find ourselves privy to the charms of two Scotsmen fit in kilts, recanting any lewd comments about their National Pride. They are sponsors of the event, and after a photo opportunity, they take us to meet their friend Pierre Gasly at the only glass doors that don’t have a pile of broken Champagne glasses, however, it’s precisely where we have the Diors knocked from our clutch by the host. A guest recognises our eye rolls and and shakes his head.

Tiff shushes the crowd with the guest mic, and comes forth for safety, “Are you two the only girls without an Instagram sponsor?” There is, my friend concurs, a remarkable lack of couture at this Ball. “Balls are hit and miss these days,” we overhear an aficionado. “We should have snuck in some real Champagne,” whispers another. Those half-bottles of Dauby would be perfect, we joke. We were outbid on the access-all-areas F1 International experience and the Beatles Swimming photograph. All proceeds of the auction went to the Wings for Life charity, which really reminded us that we shouldn’t be quibbling about the Prosecco, because some people in the world make no excuses to make the most of often dire situations. No one was discussing aerodynamics or brake horsepower by the end of the evening, we were dancing to The Gypsy Kings with the kilted set and other fun sponsors.

British Grand Prix – Silverstone

Our drive to Silverstone on Sunday at 7am pre-empted heavy traffic on the M40 and not enough parking, and with barely a BMW in sight, my friend said I was being a little Speedy Gonzales. I’m not the Latino of us, but I certainly enjoy the sixth gear in sports mode, who doesn’t? Especially on that amazing curve at High Wycombe. The first race of the day was the early starting Formula Two. We gathered with the team supporting Oliver Rowland at the Luffield stand. Unfortunately he was penalised three places for passing up into third place at the grid. “But how can you help yourself in a thing like that?!” His PR
manager laughs. “True!”

Over 20 identical Porche 911 GT3 Cup cars compete in the Round 5 2017 Porsche Super Cup. We see them race around Brooklands, Luffield and Woodcote from the British Racing Drivers Club. In good company with nice Champagne, we lunch on oysters and smoked salmon before heading back up to the terrace for the Formula One. “What a view!” The roar of the engines is so loud. My friend reads the quote across the track. “Sebastian Vettel You Naughty Boy!”

We witnessed Lewis Hamilton’s fifth British Grand Prix win in the second last year of Silverstone hosting. Hamilton ticked the racing history checkbox with local legends like Jim Clarke and Alain Prost with his win. The energy bubbled from the track and into our Champagne flutes, we were excited as we were whipped up from the BRDC to the Paddock Podium for the Flying Scot Sir Jackie Stewart and his wife Helen’s presentation of the trophies for the ecstatic confetti-fledged UK win and the melodramatically sullen Finns placing second and third. Kimi Raikkonen tipped the magnum up, drinking straight from the bottle like a true Finn, and Valtteri Bottas fizzed it up, partying Hamilton-style shaking it at the media. However, the two Finns waited for the crowd-surfing Brit, who was back long after we ran through the pits, finding shelter from the rain in the Red Bull bar.

The Cartier Queen’s Cup Polo Final

Santiago Sports December 10, 2017

The Cartier Queen’s Cup, held on Sunday the 18th of June this year, was one of the biggest names in the sport of polo and was held in the Queen’s Ground at Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park in a bid to win the prestigious Cartier Queen’s Cup 2017.

The occasion is one of the most prestigious and renowned events of the British sporting calendar, hosted by Laurent Feniou, Managing Director Cartier Ltd. The event is watched alongside a strong crowd of polo aficionados and illustrious guests in their best dress. The summit of the day was the exhilarating play for the Queen’s Cup between Ben Soleimanis RH Polo and Michael Bickfords La Indiana.

RH Polo, featuring the Worlds Number One Player, Adolfo Cambiaso, who was looking for his 10th Queen’s Cup victory, started on a strong footing and were 6-3 ahead at half-time. Although it was Cambiaso’s team-mate, 21-year- old Tommy Beresford, later named the Cartier Most Valuable Player, who stood out in this game, playing with a maturity well beyond his years and handicap. La Indiana were equally competitive, but failed to convert some beautiful play into goals. That changed in the second half, with Agustin Merlos and Nic Roldan scoring five goals in as many minutes, giving La Indiana the lead for the first time. Cambiaso, however, who has been inspired in this years tournament playing for a new patron, kept his cool as the clock counted down and fired through the winning shot as the bell rang out to mark the end of the match. One of Cambiaso’s impressive string of ponies, Caraquenia, was later named Cartier Best Playing Pony.

“The Polo players passion and commitment are very akin to the values of Cartier. Our Maison is proud to celebrate this distinctive relationship with polo and the legacy built up over 30 years,” – Laurent Feniou, Managing Director of Cartier UK.

Cartier has a long-standing tradition of supporting polo for over 30 years and is delighted to continue its involvement in the prestigious high-goal Queen’s Cup tournament. To mirror the impressive talent on the field, Cartier invited guests from the worlds of stage, screen, sport, society, and literature into the Cartier enclosure, welcoming them to the elegant reception, serving Cartier champagne and a lunch created by Cellar Society. Guests of Note:



Miss Lara Stone, Miss Caroline Winberg, Miss Jessica Hart, Miss Lily Cole, Mr Mark Ronson, Skepta, Miss Candice Lake, Mr Nicholas Kirkwood, Mr Marcus Wareing, Lady Kitty Spencer, Miss Katie Keight, Lady Alice & Lady Violet, Miss Manners, Miss Genevieve Gaunt, Miss Tori Cook, Mr Hugo Heathcote, Ms Jilly Copper, Mr Malcolm Borwick, Mr Eduardo Novillo Astrada,
Mr Facundo Pieres.

The Cellar Society luncheon began with Goats Curd with Wiltshire Black Truffle, Zucchini Flower Beignets, Regents Park Truffle Honey followed by Roast Fillet of Hereford Beef, Chargrilled Summer Vegetables, Minted Peas & Anya Potatoes and finished on a sweet note with Hedgerow Berry Pavlova, Whipped Jersey Cream and Fresh Mint.

The enclosure was transformed into a quintessentially colorful English Garden with beautiful floral creations; with shades of soft lilac Sweet peas and Aliums, Blue Delphiniums and Clematis, Soft and hot pink Roses and over 1000 Peonies with a thread of pale green Thyme and Hydrangea throughout.

The afternoon came to a close with DJ Hugo Heathcote, accompanied by a unique performances by saxophonist Ben Barnett and percussionist Tom Carr, followed by internationally renowned DJ, Mark Ronson.

Polo in Dubai

Santiago Sports December 10, 2017

The competition, which started with 10 goal handicap, has picked up momentum and evolved into an 18 goal handicap competition in record time. This is down to the overwhelming desire of the participating teams, their owners who have backed the tournament for many years and of course to the great support of Al Habtoor Family. They have all contributed to helping make
Dubai a global polo destination.


Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series 2018

The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series, also known as the Dubai Open, is an 18 Goal Handicap competition. It entered its ninth year under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. It was first founded by Mohammed Al Habtoor in 2009 and since then it has grown in tandem with the city of Dubai.  It is one of the highest handicap competitions in the Middle East and the fourth largest tournament of its kind after Argentina, the US and the UK. It is the only tournament in the UAE to be recognized and certified by the World Polo Tour (WPT). The series is split into two tournaments that will start with the McLaren Cup from the 26th of January to the 9th of February and the Julius Baer Gold Cup from the 16th of February to the 9th of March 2018.

The tournaments are usually held at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, a new equestrian centre located in DubaiLand. The tournaments attract polo stars from around the world, VIPs, society figures as well as senior corporate executives from across the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC). The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series is gaining worldwide support and is picking up momentum.

McLaren Cup 2018, 18 goal handicap

The McLaren Cup is part of The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series and is an 18 Goal Handicap tournament that enter in its ninth year under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. The tournament is one of the highest tournaments in the UAE. We look forward to welcoming some of the world’s best Polo teams and the most respected names from the world of polo who have confirmed their participation for 2018.

You can expect thrilling up-close polo action as well as high-class entertainment with international DJ’s and a stylish after party for family and friends. McLaren Supercars will also be showcasing the coolest range of luxury cars. The McLaren Cup exudes a great atmosphere unlike any other polo event. The tournament is the premier regional polo competition of the year, and attracts VIPs, society figures, and senior corporate executives from across the GCC. 




Julius Baer Gold Cup 2018, 18 Goal handicap (Dubai Open)

Starting on the 16th of February and the most expected final to take place on the 9th of March is the Julius Baer Gold Cup which is part of The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series. The tournament is one of the highest ranked tournaments in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, ranking it among the best polo tournaments worldwide and played under the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). There will be 9 teams from around the world, some of the world’s most respected and professional names have confirmed their participation to compete in
the 2018 Tournament.

The Julius Baer Gold Cup is filled with passion, tradition and sporting elegance… a unique experience symbolized and reflected by the tournament and the people. Every year, this tournament gathers together the most glamorous people from the Dubai social scene and fans of the ‘sport of kings’ to a spectacular performance by the world’s best polo players. The final day of the Julius Baer Gold Cup is a celebration unlike any other, with top entertainment acts, VIP luncheons, The Gold Lounge party attracting celebrities and VIPs and special attendance by Royals.

Sir Winston Churchill Cup

The Sir Winston Churchill Cup is another tournament in celebration of Churchill’s passion for the sport. As most Churchill fans know, Sir Winston was an avid polo player while serving in India in the late 1890’s. He once famously said “a polo handicap is a passport to the world”. Sir Winston Churchill played spirited polo until he retired at age 52, but continued riding until the age of 76. 6 Teams will be participating in the Tournament and special guest: George John Godolphin Spencer Churchill, the Marquess of Blandford, will be in attendance.

The AHPRC League

The AHPRC is a series of 5 Leagues played throughout the season, with a 4-6 goal handicap at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club. It is a new addition to the polo sport in Dubai and is a week long 4-6 handicap tournament, held every month at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort Club and is one of the earliest tournaments lined up for the whole polo season in the region. Six teams have participated in the event namely: Habtoor Polo, Mahra Polo, Kuwait Polo, Brunei Polo, Zedan Polo and The Royals.

The Final of the first AHPRC League was played on the 10th of November 2017 between Habtoor Polo and Mahra Polo. The final game was very tight and both teams battled hard for the victory. Despite of a two-goal gap with only two minutes to go, Habtoor suffered till the very end to achieve the final victory. HRH Prince Abbas bin Ali bin Nayef was the Most Valuable Player of the final and Mare Quini from Patron Rashid Al Habtoor was the Best Playing Pony.

Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series 2017

Santiago Sports July 6, 2017

The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series, also known as the Dubai Open, is an 18 Goal Handicap competition and is now entering its eighth year under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai. The DPGC Series has wrapped up its latest season with resounding success, each year reaching new heights. Dubai is now thrilled to have this tournament known as the highest handicap in the UAE.


The Dubai Open was split into two tournaments and began with the much anticipated McLaren Cup, running from Saturday January 21st to Friday February 3rd 2017. The second tournament, the Julius Baer Gold Cup, took place on Friday, February 18th to Friday March 10th. The Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series was a glamorous event and the fourth-largest tournament of its kind after Argentina, the United States and the United Kingdom. First founded by Mohammed Al Habtoor in 2009, the tournament is the premier regional polo competition of the year attracting VIPs, society figures, celebrities and senior corporate executives from across the GCC. It has grown in tandem with the city of Dubai and since 2012 is the only tournament in the UAE to be recognized and certified by the World Polo Tour (WPT). The Gold Cup Series is played under the banner of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), with the tournament being played according to HPA rules and under strict international supervision.

Mohammed Al Habtoor, Founder of the tournament and patron of the Habtoor Polo team said, “This year there were seven teams playing in the McLaren Cup and ten teams for the Julius Baer Gold Cup, this serves as further evidence that the tournaments continue to grow. The Dubai Open has helped put the UAE on the world polo circuit. Each year the competition gets better and better attracting some of the best polo players from around the world.” The participating teams hosted some of the top-ranking World Polo Tour players, including Pablo Mac Donough, the 10-goal superstar and three-time ‘Triple Crown Champion with La Dolfina;’ Nicolas Pieres (raised to 10 goals after his superb performance in the Argentine Open); Lucas Montverde (9-goal handicap); Alfredo Cappella Barabucci (9-goal handicap) Guillermo Terrera (8-goal handicap), and Ezquiel Martinez Ferrario (8-goal handicap) and many others, who have come directly from the Argentine Open.

This year, seven polo teams participated in the McLaren Cup 2017 18-goal handicap and they were the following:

Mahra Polo – Patron: Rashid Al Habtoor; Bin Drai Polo Team – Patron: Saeed Bin Drai; Habtoor Polo Team – Patron: Mohammed Al Habtoor; UAE Polo Team – Patron: Her Highness Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Zedan Polo Team – Patron: Amr Zedan; Habtoor Wolves Polo Team – Patron: Habtoor Al Habtoor and Desert Palm Polo Team – Tariq Albwardy


UAE Polo Team wins the McLaren Cup

In support of the sporting spirit of the nation, Al Habtoor Motors – the official retailer of McLaren in the UAE – is proud to announce the Title Sponsorship for the Silver Cup of the prestigious Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series. On the 4th of February this year the UAE Polo team was announced as the new champion of the McLaren Cup. The McLaren Cup is the first trophy of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series and was held at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort. The UAE Polo were able to claim the third trophy in a row. HH Sheika Maitha team won the Gold Cup in 2016, the Presidents Cup this year at Ghantoot and now the McLaren Cup. The team, made up by Ali Al Merri, Jack Hyde, Matías Benoit and Guillermo Terrera, fought hard till the very end against Desert Palm to achieve this victory. In addition to the result, the top scorers of the match serve to prove how even the game was, with Matías Benoit and Guillermo Terrera from UAE and Martín Valent and Santiago Laborde in Desert Palm scoring 3 goals each, what a victory!

Terrera was the MVP of the match and Jessica, owned by Ghantoot Polo and played by Terrera in the 4th chukker, was the best playing pony. The top scorer of the McLaren Cup was Alejo Taranco (Desert Palm) with 23 goals and Ali Al Merri (UAE) the patrons top scorer with 4 goals. The match brought families and friends together in a celebratory fashion with polo players playing professionally and with great talent.

Al Badia, the prestigious Arabic venture, supported the event and brought us the latest news and views on the equestrian world. They serve as a tribute to the age old passion for the thoroughbred, an integral part of the rich Arabian culture. Government Support for the event is received by the Dubai Sports Council, which is the official government body responsible for the development of the sport sector in the Emirate of Dubai. Under the Chairmanship of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and its 14 Board Members; the Council supervises the work of nine local clubs in Dubai, six of which practice a variety of individual and or team sports, such as football, handball and archery; in addition to the chess club and a club devoted for those with special needs.

Since its inception in 2006, with the vision of creating a unique sporting community, the Council organizes various annual major Sports Championships and Conferences, in cooperation with multiple International/National sports bodies and Dubai Government Entities, such as the Dubai International Sports Conference, Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup and the FINA Diving World Series; in an attempt to enhance the culture, knowledge and expertise of professionalism in all aspects of the field; from the overall preparation and/or execution of
the event.

Dubai became the first Arab and Middle East city to host the Sport Accord International Convention in 2010, and stages the annual Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, the most prestigious Award of the Middle East Region. Though the Council works on various major international sports events, it does not overlook the importance of spreading the awareness of a healthier, more active lifestyle locally; and in order to achieve such objectives, physical activity programs and initiatives, such as the Dubai Pulse Physical Activity program, the Furjan District Championships and the Dubai Beach Soccer League, have all been designed to target the various communities within the Emirate.


The Polo Masters Cup

The Polo Masters Cup is a prestigious 14-goal handicap tournament played under the umbrella of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup series. The tournament was inaugurated in 2016 adding to the Medium and High Goal season in the UAE, giving players and patrons more opportunities to further their skills in competition, elevating the level of polo in the region.

After 5 talented and challenging teams competed against one another, over a week long period, the winner was finally announced. The Polo Masters Club, taking its final place on the 14th of February 2017, saw The Mahra Polo Team as the winners for the second year in a row.

They defeated Habtoor Polo in the final match at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club. The winning team was made up of patron Rashid Al Habtoor, Daniel Gariador, Juan Ruíz Guiñazú and Jerónimo del Carril who played an excellent game. They won by 8 goals to 4, a successful title defense, while Bin Drai achieved the third position in the tournament after defeating Wolves by 9-6.

Mahra is a star player and played a great game from the very beginning, with a team strategy that worked almost to perfection to defeat a very tough Habtoor Polo team. In the third chukker, with a 6-goal gap, Mahra headed towards the title despite Habtoor in the last chukker. Jerónimo del Carril was announced as the most valuable player (MVP) of the final and Quini, owned by Mahra and played by Juan Ruíz Guiñazú in the fourth chukker, the Best Playing Pony. Del Carril and Ruíz Guiñazú were the top scorers of the match with 4 goals each, true goal scoring stars! On the final day for the Polo Masters Cup, Bin Drai Polo defeated Wolves Polo by 9 goals to 6 to achieve the third position in the tournament. Raúl Laplacette, with 6 goals, was announced as the top scorer of the game, well done to all!






Habtoor Polo wins the Dubai Cup 2017

From Sunday 2nd April till Friday 7th the Dubai Cup, the final tournament of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series 2017, was held at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort. Four teams, from 6 to 8 goals handicap, took part in this tournament. The final teams of the Dubai Cup 2017 were Habtoor Polo, Mahra Polo, Dr. A-Bangash and Wolves Polo.

It was the 7th of April which saw the last tournament of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series being played and it was Habtoor Polo who proudly took the title. They played a strong game with a successful defeat of Mahra by 8.5 goals to 8 in a very close and very thrilling final game. Patron Mohammed Al Habtoor´s team played well against a very tough opponent and achieved the last trophy of an amazing season of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series.

Both teams fought till the last seconds of the match for the victory but Habtoor Polo, with great teamwork and endless perseverance, achieved and deserved the final victory. Habtoor Al Habtoor (Habtoor Polo) was the MVP of the final and Bochinche, owned by Nicolás Pieres and played today by Santiago Gómez Romero in the first and fourth chukker, was the Best Playing Pony. In the first match of the day, Dr. A-Bangash achieved the Subsidiary Cup after defeating Wolves by 10 goals to 5.

As the final matches of the Dubai Cup, held for teams from 6 to 8 goals handicap, come to a close the victories are announced with great delight. The UAE Polo winning the McLaren Cup, Mahra lifting the Masters Cup, Zedan Polo as the Gold Cup champions, Bin Drai achieving the Challenge Cup and finally Habtoor Polo winning the Dubai Cup, all teams should be commended on their efforts and skills!


Maserati Polo Tour 2017 in collaboration with La Martina

The Maserati Polo Trophy Cup was another thrilling tournament to witness. The second leg of the Maserati 2017 global Polo Tour was held at the Desert Palm Polo Club from 11 – 17 March. The match was concluded with Team Abu Dhabi winning the Maserati Dubai Polo Trophy by an outstanding score of 7 to 4 over Team AES International. Six polo teams, featuring talented professional and amateur players from United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Argentina produced competitive yet entertaining polo.

Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy, UAE President of the Polo Association and Founder of Desert Palm Polo Club, was among the celebrities, VIPs and special guests that enjoyed this special finale. Umberto Cini, Managing Director of Maserati Middle East, Africa and Asia commented: “Congratulations to the players of Team Abu Dhabi. I would like to personally thank Ali Albwardy and Desert Palm, the teams and sponsors as well as all of our distinguished guests for being part of this exhilarating ‘horsepower’ filled day.”

Team Abu Dhabi with Captain Faris Al Yabhouni (UAE, Handicap 0), Kian Hall (UK, Handicap 2), Yousef Bin Desmal (UAE, Handicap 0) and Alfredo Capella (Argentina, Handicap 8) won the tournament in a thrilling finale against Team AES International with the end result of 7 to 4. Team Ghantoot won the Subsidiary Trophy. In addition to the ‘natural’ horsepower coming off the svelte thoroughbreds on the field, guests were also lucky enough to witness some of the very famous Maserati horsepower. The entire model range was elegantly on display, including the latest addition to the Maserati family, the Levante SUV, as well as the flagship Quattroporte, the executive sedan Ghibli and the sporty GranTurismo and GranCabrio models. Petrol heads were delighted by the display.

Enrico Roselli, CEO of La Martina Europe, said: “As for every leg of the tournament, we are thrilled to take part in a one of a kind sports event that celebrates our roots and enhances every time our partnership with Maserati.” The official polo shirt, worn by the Maserati Team on the field, is a product of the partnership between La Martina and Maserati.

The Dubai leg of the Maserati Polo Tour saw the official launch of the first of the four “Maserati Polo Tour Special Edition” polo shirts created by La Martina for Maserati as a tribute to each tournament. The “Maserati Dubai Polo Trophy Special Edition Polo Shirt” is made of pure cotton and features exclusive detail of the shiny metallic Dubai map on the back. Following St. Moritz and Dubai, the third instalment of the Maserati Polo Tour 2017 will take place in the United Kingdom in June. To keep up to date with all of the thrilling action from these global events, the 2017 tour can be followed at

British Polo Day celebrates the UK/UAE Year of Creative Collaboration

On Saturday the 18th of March the British Polo Day, presented by RJI Capital, took place. It was a day which has returned to Abu Dhabi in order to showcase and celebrate creative collaboration. British Polo Day honours the craft and heritage of polo and polo events which span the entire World. It has become an unparalleled platform for elite engagement and business in emerging and growing markets.

The crowd was glamorous, with some 200 guests and VIPs including HH Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, HE Philip Parham, the British Ambassador, the Earl of Tyrone and Bear Grylls whom all came together to celebrate the best of UAE and British traditions. The UK/UAE Year of Creative Collaboration was launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces along with HRH The Prince of Wales in October 2016. HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan gave a stirring speech stating the aims of increasing the visibility of the UK in the UAE and vice versa in order to give greater focus, depth and contemporary relevance to the long-standing relationship between these two powerful nations.

This unique cultural programme has been initiated to strengthen existing relationships and broker new ones between people, institutions and Business. The British Polo Day, in the UAE, provides a platform for the best of British and the UAE, all on display, with Harrods, Bentley, Royal Salute and Hackett supporting. Our new global partner, Chelsea Barracks, was announced who is creating an exceptional new neighborhood development incorporating 5 new garden squares in Belgravia and London. Other new partners included VistaJet and YPI Luxury Yachts, further cementing the British Polo Day community.

This much anticipated event took place, for the 7th year, at Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club, the private royal polo ground of HH Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The glamorous black-tie evening kicked off with a bicycle polo demonstration, a sport played in the Olympics over 100 years ago, with players from the regiments of Cavalry and Guards competing in Bentley and Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi Teams respectively for The Thesiger Trophy. Next Stuart Wrigley captained the Oxbridge team, sponsored by Chelsea Barracks, against the Abu Dhabi team, sponsored by Vista Jet, who were victorious.

The highlight exhibition polo match of the evening – The British Polo Day Plate –saw the home team RJI Capital Ghantoot Polo Team play the visiting Royal Salute British Exiles, with both sides led onto the field of play by the first two Bentley Bentaygas in the UAE opening ceremony. The RJI Capital Ghantoot Polo Team rode to victory.

British Polo Day and Abu Dhabi’s official prize giving ceremony saw the winning teams collecting the bespoke-commissioned British Silverware and Polo Day trophies. Following the prize-giving ceremony, guests sat down to a delicious three-course dinner prepared by the InterContinental Abu Dhabi followed by a live charity auction raising a total of $20,000 for Women And Health Alliance International (WAHA) launched by Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al-Nahyan, the Sumba Foundation and Sentebale, a charity founded by Prince Harry of the United Kingdom, together with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, that helps the most vulnerable children in Lesotho and Botswana get the support they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

British Polo Day will continue to innovate and pioneer unique platforms for craft and polo associated brands. The celebrations were overall a huge success as was our following event, the British Polo Day Dubai held on Friday the 24th of March at the Al Habtoor Polo Club & Resort where the British teams were seen playing against Habtoor Polo and the Gulf Team.

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L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival

Santiago Event, Sports July 2, 2017

By James Trotter


Over the last decade, the historically significant and prestigious L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate has established itself as Africa’s most exclusive raceday, as well as one of the world’s most desirable racing events to attend. Every year thousands of Cape Town’s youngest, sexiest and most fashionable stream into Kenilworth Racecourse dressed in the sponsors colours of blue and white to revel under the Cape summer sun. In January this year the event chartered new ground when innovatively growing from a single day celebration into the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival – Africa’s first multi-day horseracing event, up there with the likes of Royal Ascot or Glorious Goodwood in the United Kingdom.

As the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate has risen in international popularity in recent years, so the number of racing fans, socialites and holiday makers from abroad – especially Europe – has steadily increased. L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate organizer, Katherine Gray, explains the reason for the launch of the new festival, “We see more and more internationals coming to the event every year, and the raceday has become a celebration of people from around the world. We wanted to look into ways of extending the length of the festival and provide our international guests with a multitude of fun activities to attend over the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate week.”

Cape Town in the summer – with its white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, iconic mountainous backdrop, Michelin-star restaurants and party-filled buzz in the air – is already one of the world’s most popular places to be in January. It is little wonder that the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, arguably the most memorable party in Cape Town’s social calendar, attracts an increasing number of European visitors each year, as many look to escape the cold of the Northern
Hemisphere winter.

The original event is traditionally run on the first or second Saturday of January, which sees the running of South Africa’s championship mile event, and the oldest race in the country, the G1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. Over ten thousand people are treated to wines and champagne from the vineyards of Anthonij Rupert Wines, while resplendent amongst the dreamlike white and blue themed setting created by L’Ormarins, with finishing touches from premier luxury brands and co-sponsors such as Cartier and BMW.

As a build up to this year’s racing festival, an inaugural social celebrity cricket match was held on the Wednesday at the Groot Drakenstein Games Club near Franschhoek – approximately an hour outside of Cape Town and neighbouring L’Ormarins Wine Estate. The venue is home to both Anthonij Rupert Wyne and Drakenstein Stud, one of the country’s leading and most picturesque thoroughbred stud farms. Out on the field were the likes of former international cricketers Jacques Kallis and Craig Kieswetter as well as European Tour golfer Richard Sterne. The spectators were not only treated to an afternoon buffet, an assortment of wines and beer, a beautiful summer’s day sitting beneath umbrellas, but also to a commentary from former English cricketer and famously voiced
Geoffrey Boycott.



On Thursday, the eve of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival, a number of the guests attending the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate were invited to the beautiful Mount Nelson Hotel for High Tea. Hosted by the Cape’s leading trainers – Snaith Racing – brothers Justin and Jonathon Snaith created an elegant setting where guests were encouraged to indulge in the complimentary wine and gin bar and relax into a festive mood while listening to the music of American based musician, Louise Carver. In anticipation for the racing to come, the trainers went through the racecard for the weekend, generously giving their tips on what to follow over the next two days
of racing.

The G1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate this year saw a repeat from the year before with reigning Horse of the Year, Legal Eagle, defending his crown in an imperious fashion. Saturday’s raceday also sees the hosting of the Best Dressed competitions. The highlight of which is the prize for the Best Dressed Lady, this year won by Camilla Beazley, whose award is an all-expenses paid trip to London for a week to attend the prestigious Glorious Goodwood racing festival during the British summer.

Although the Saturday ultimately builds towards a climactic closing party, dancing to the sounds of top DJ Euphonik, the Friday is labelled as ‘the LQP Garden Party’ and has more of a relaxed feel to it. An afternoon affair with a harvest table and L’Ormarin’s Brut. The main race of the day is the G2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes, which sees a number of the fastest female horses in South Africa taking each other on over the straight Kenilworth 1200m. The sun only sets in Cape Town after eight in January, so once the racing has concluded late in the afternoon, guests can sit and savor the rest of the day. Sipping on Methode Cap Classique under the giant oak trees, it is truly a blissful day spent watching the shadows grow longer on the green forests of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, gradually growing darker on the mountains above them.



Can we expect a Formula-1 Race to grace South Africa again?

Santiago Grand Prix, Sports July 2, 2017

By Michelle Hambly-Grobler


Our very proud and very illustrious motor racing history gives all petrol heads in our beautiful country of South Africa hope. Hope that one day we will see a proudly South African Grand Prix once more. Hope that either Cape Town, with its possible street circuit,

or Johannesburg, with its World Class Kyalami race track, may host this premier event. Hope that a generation of young and eager petrol heads in this country will one day be able to witness, yet again, an event that was part of the international circuit for so long. Hope, that by hosting world class events, we will continue to be a world class travel destination for many more tourists, bringing prosperity and investment for all citizens of South Africa.


Why bring Formula One Racing to South Africa you may ask? To understand why we would have to look to our past, our history. We have to chronologically track the men and women, over time, who have participated and grown the racing culture in South Africa. Instead of attempting a synopsis, which would not give these incredible talents enough kudos, I would rather like to extol a book written by Greg Mills titled, ‘Agriculture, Furniture and Marmalade: South African Motorsport Heroes.’ Mills’ book is a brilliant and masterful chronicle and ode to the history of Motor Sport Racing in South Africa. The book covers those Southern African stars who made it as drivers, engineers, mechanics, and promoters in international motorsport. From Woolf Barnato’s three victories in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic, to the era of Sarel van der Merwe. The title, you may be wondering, was inspired by a conversation between Jody Scheckter, our only Formula One World Champion to date, and Jackie Pretorius. On his departure for fame and fortune to England in 1971, Jody was advised by Jackie to learn some ‘big’ words to impress the Europeans. The three he insisted on giving were, ‘agriculture, furniture and marmalade,’ preferably to be used in conjunction with
one another.

South Africa, one must remember, is already on the map internationally. It is a destination that truly delivers. We have the most glorious weather and a very eager and enthusiastic car ‘verskrik’ (crazy) culture. I myself, being an ex race car driver and car collector, form part of this environment and know that there are many of us eager to participate and facilitate in turning this dream into a reality. The Kyalami race track, located in Midrand, Gauteng has been used for Grand Prix and Formula One races in the past and was the host for the South African Grand Prix many times. We have done it before, why not again? Among some of the prestigious events hosted at the Kyalami track, was the 1975 South African Grand Prix, which saw our very own World Cup champion, Jody Scheckter, win the race. We saw British driver, Jim Clark, winning the race four times and Niki Lauder, from Austria, taking the South African title three times.

Tom Pryce Fatal accident
South African GP, Kyalami, 5 March 1977

Kyalami is firmly cemented in the hearts and minds of racing fans from around the globe. This became very clear to me when I had the privilege of meeting the American former racing driver, Danny Sullivan. We were at Laguna Seca and I was delighted to hear him speak so fondly of the great circuits of his career, including our very own Kyalami. He was so impressed with our beautiful country that he even contemplated relocating here when business interests arose. Clearly, Kyalami and its magic amongst racers and spectators, is still palpable. Our first race in Kyalami was on the 29th of December 1962 and was won by Graham Hill, before I was born, and continued till the last race of 1993. It was this race that saw the battle between Ayrton Senna, my total hero, Prost and Michael Schumacher, which finally resulted in a win for Prost. The track was then sold and bought by the South African automobiles association. Our sad history of apartheid and political atrocities firmly shelved us in the racing game. A sad reality is that, as the races became more and more exorbitant, we began to fall off the list and could no longer qualify to host a Grand Prix.

This is a depressing fact when it is clear, through my own observations and conversations, that the desire for the race to return to this wonderful track is much desired. From interviews with mechanics to street sweepers, Porsche collectors to budding race car drivers, it is very evident that South Africans are eagerly awaiting a Formula One return… We can host a street race in Cape Town and with our world class facility in the original and only Kyalami, we are just about ready. The Kyalami track has been extensively upgraded and, as we have mentioned, the facility boasts an enviable place in the hearts of racers from around the world. LSM Distributors, who own the track, are actively encouraging a host of motoring events and ensuring it is in tip top condition. They have revamped the track and have encouraged motorists to make use of it. Porsche use the track for high altitude testing as do a host of car manufactures. Andrew Golding, from LSM Distributors, was recently seen on the BBC talking about the track and our chances going forward.

An emerging country like South Africa, with its massive youthful population, have shown a huge interest and passion for cars, similar to Mexico. To transport oneself with a car, however, is still a privilege not all South Africans have access to. The Grand Prix, such as in Mexico, serves as a way to encourage and give hope to such communities. By offering races in emerging countries we can perhaps inspire the youth to work towards their passion. The Mexican Grand Prix is regarded, by many in the country, as the highlight of their calendar year. This race is particularly exciting for the race car drivers as well, because of the youth and their exuberant, unbridled passion and love for Formula One. Such energy is no longer as visible in the older more established centers around Europe. It seems, in order to make the sport more accessible and appealing to the American owners, it is important to look toward emerging countries and economies, allowing for the calendar to become more varied and more equitable. Aspiring young people, who are motivated by their dreams, will find much aspiration when they actually see the possibility of their dreams coming true, such as a Formula One race on their own home turf. We cannot begin to imagine, from our perspective of comfort and privilege, the true meaning of such dreams.



If we as a country want to play on the international forum and be seen as a first world destination, events like Formula One will bring attention and focus to our very real issues and allow for global recognition. Passion, such as for racing, focuses individuals and the collective on positive events and festivities and gives us a joint purpose which can go a long way. It is in such celebrations that barriers are broken down and the passion unites all. Our country will have the world’s attention and global media will be back on South Africa once more, bringing tourists but also eyes on our political atmosphere. It was Muso, my very talented gardener, who said “the trains ran on time and the busses were working when there was the Soccer World Cup in 2010!” Such world class events forces our country into action.

There is certainly a long road still to be traveled for this dream of Formula One racing returning to South Africa and it was Gareth Crossley, Marketing Director of the motoring specialist business Crossley & Webb in Cape Town, who had to gently remind me, “Michelle, baby steps.” The next step is perhaps looking at how to include the big players who will serve as the financial backers of this dream. The costs of hosting a Formula One, if we are being realistic, is going to require substantial funding from both government and private investment. We will need big headline sponsorship, government intervention and affordable entrance fees, which make it a big ask for a small country like South Africa. One can only dream and I believe with enough determination and passion such a dream will eventually become a reality.

Formula E

Santiago Sports July 1, 2017


By Contessa de Russe


Us girls decided on a whim to have a fast weekend in Monaco, packing bikinis for a little sunshine and light for a day on the grandstands for the Second ePrix. We landed in Nice, and wasted forty-five minutes of bends and tunnels to Monte-Carlo as passengers in the back seat of a C-Class sedan. We cringed at the miles of precious speed-limitless subterrain that lay at a safe pace with our driver. These roads, with their long straights and tough Mediterranean flections were built with speeding performance cars in mind. We note to ourselves that a California or Vantage is on the menu for our next trip south. We love fast cars with great handling. I wonder if we could rent anything good with manual transmission. My friend thinks we need a spider. We plunge into darkness with dashing strobes of fluorescence. “These tunnels are meant for fun over 130mph, darling!”

After check-in, we walked to Port Hercule among the scaffolding and rolls of steel mesh recreating the local street scape for the next few weeks into the Formula One at the end of May. We took a bite to eat at a bistro by the Quai l’Hirondelle and watched the mens 470 European Championship. The Germans were very cheeky rolling out on the dock, and in hindsight might have done better if they concentrated on the race rather than us girls! Each boat synchronised artfully in front of a monstrous cruise ship before setting out to sea, and in the overcast gloom they were happy sails in the breeze.

Monaco is a tiny country with ornate, typically French architecture and floral composure, mixed in with some pretty horrific concrete developments that we are certain were not approved by Princess Grace. We did our best to avoid the Grimaldi Forum strip and after getting changed, tip-toed up the stairs to Jardins du Casino. We find Café de Paris and recline with a Monaco menu staple club sandwich and sip verveine tea. The scene is terracotta-boxed white and red Geraniums, the mode of the patrons and demode of the tourists, and most most importantly the silver Mercedes McLaren, burgundy Bentley and lush Lambourginis parked and driving about the most filmed casino in the world.

La Condamine

A chauffeur for Jaguar kindly offered to drive us to the entrance of the track in La Condamine. After an evening of haphazard dining, we were hungry for an omelette. Not knowing a city means having to rely on instinct, so after a few cafes inspiring “No thank you” eye rolls to each other, we chanced upon a sunny spot that made possibly the best Caprese salad in the world. La Brasserie du Mystic. Between bites of Buffalo Mozzarella and adoring the sunshine, we threw at each other the pros and cons of coming to such a grand city relatively unprepared. The Pros are that we have an opportunity to discover the undiscovered. Like the beautiful boutiques behind the cafe on Rue Princesse Florestine. The Cons are that we are foreigners in a city full of famous and glamourous everythings, and we chose the only hotel with a beach party every night of the week. We know now already that you don’t come to Monaco without a super yacht.

My friend greets the equally charming Alejandro Agag, founder of the FIA Formula E Championship. We both deny our love for the grunt of petrol-cars for a brief moment on Darse Sud, to acknowledge Agag’s tenacity in bringing about the electric racing revolution. This event is a monumental exercise in promoting non-polluting and sustainable fuels internationally, though refuelling at present requires an active power grid somewhere in a coal-polluted centre of the universe. “Ban diesel,” I say. We shrug.

When we get to the pit lanes, the striking neon orange on bright white catches my eye at the Mahindra garages. I note the ACM Race Marshals are in orange jumpsuits. Now there is something very manly about a man in fluoro drill, we joke to each other. “It must be the way they can handle the heat… under this Mediterranean sun!”

The ePrix track extends around the marina of Port Hercule for 1.765km only. There are no hill-climbs on Avenue President JF Kennedy into Monte Carlo and no roaring, oops, buzzing through Tunnel Dorsal back into La Condamine like the Formula One track.

If you don’t have a super yacht moored in Port Hercule facing Quai Albert-I , or l’Automobile Club de Monaco membership, the best vantage point for the Formula E race is Stand A and Stand L. Both capture pivotal turns into a small curve and straight.

As well as exclusive pneumatics and aerodynamics, the Formula E engines are charged by battery. The race teams must choose an optimal time to swap the driver to the new battery vehicles. The batteries can also be charged remotely by #fanboost, requiring a social media login. This regretfully meant that when we tried to support our favourite drivers we are were blocked by the etiolated requirement for what we call ‘facade-book’. We wished them well with old-fashioned air punches and occasional shouts from
the grandstand.

There was very little drama on track, with all drivers quite particularly aware and respectful of the damage they could easily do these new and expensive machines. Twenty-three minutes into the rather mellow, relatively short 51-lap race, Nelson Piquet Junior of NextEV Nio wouldn’t let Jean-Eric Vergne of Techeetah pass on Turn 3. This ended with a lock of wheels and Piquet in the wall. Far from spectators, the non-explosive crash mounted a bit of unease for a few passing vehicles at the hairpin turn. It was quickly neutralised by the safety car, and conveniently allowed all drivers to change their cars. The hairpin at Turn 3 also had Felix Rosenqvist of Mahindra crashing over Oliver Turvey of NextEV Nio in a practice session before the Qualifying laps. The race was otherwise an hour of electric cars driving smoothly and soundlessly around
Port Hercule.

The ePrix coincides nicely with the city’s preparation of grandstands for the Formula 1, two weeks later at the end of May. If we plan to attend another ePrix, it would need to be with a real VIP experience or through the ACM. We dined at La Piazza on Rue du Portier, which was quite a lovely, homely contrast to the stifled snobbiness we received down the road. The staff were fun and charming, and their little coconut biscuits served with the best coffee in Monaco are made with love. So much love that we brought a box home.


Santiago Sports December 5, 2016

by Hiroshi Hamaguchi

Japanese pilot Hiroshi Hamaguchi is no ordinary motorsports driver. He has consistently astounded most racing pundits throughout his career by outperforming in a variety of racing series both at home and abroad.


Heads started to turn when he won the Porsche Carrera Cup championship gentlemen’s class in 2008 in Japan. It was his very first year of racing. He won six races out of the eleven, achieving pole position in all six.  Somehow calling him a “late starter” doesn’t quite convey the astounding fact that Hiroshi only started racing at the age
of 31.

Since 2008, Hiroshi has won races in Super GT in Japan, achieved the Malaysian Merdekker 12 Hour overall win, and has won races in the GT Asia series in 2014 and 2015 driving for McLaren. From this year, Hiroshi is looking to prove himself in Europe by competing in the inaugural season of the GT3 Le Mans Cup. It is the year that Michelin and the ACO launched the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, although little overall fanfare, the series has turned out to be a fantastic concept that produces thrilling races. The series includes some top level drivers and a few surprise names such as ex-Moto GP driver Marco Melandri.


Hiroshi is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to racing. His younger years were spent in other sports and he was actually a top level athlete in College in the US. He played NCAA basketball for Chapman University and was one of the first Japanese kids, directly from a Japanese high school, to play in the championship. It does not end with top level sports, Hiroshi is also the founder of Hamaguchi Asset Management (HAM) which consult on M&A, PE investment and the real estate asset management businesses in Japan. Hiroshi specialises in helping overseas investors who are interested in purchasing Japanese companies and real estate.

What many people do not know about Hiroshi is that he also happens to be a direct descendant of the founder of the Yamasa Corporation (Japan). Founded in 1645, Yamasa is a billion dollar company and one of the most established food related conglomerates in Japan. The company is still run by his family and was established way back during the time of the Shogun era of Japan. It was even appointed as the best grade soy sauce by the Shogunate for its quality.

His family is the stuff of legends in Japan with many mysteries untold. One such example, around the end of the 19th century, a popular legend sprung up about a man in a village who saw a huge tide coming in and burned his rice field to warn the villages of the coming tsunami. Such tales emphasise the importance of warning systems when earthquakes hit and are often re-told in textbooks or schools all over Japan. This particular legend is in fact based on an actual event in the life of Goryo Hamaguchi, Hiroshi’s great great grandfather. There was indeed an earthquake and Tsunami in the area where Goryo lived in 1854. Goryo was only 35 at the time and lived in town. By setting his rice fields on fire, he was able to warn the people in the area of the coming tsunami. But what he did after the earthquake was in many ways even more courageous than the warning fires. Goryo spent his own savings, 4665 ryo or gold coins, which was a huge sum at the time (a family of four could live comfortably on 10 ryo a year) to make the area around his village more secure and able to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

2616-15-152It was very surprising when Hiroshi decided to get involved in finance and race car driving, rather than enter the family business. Hiroshi has ensured that just as much determination and effort has gone into building Hamaguchi Asset Management as his racing career.  Today, HAM is a top private consulting firm providing its clients with a wide range of investment banking and consulting services regarding investment opportunities and strategic partnerships in the Japanese market.

So, whether you want to talk about Yen currency levels, the ramifications of negative interest rates or what is the ideal driving line at LeMans, Hiroshi is the man to seek out!


Santiago Sports December 2, 2016


by Diana de Souza Leão Jensen

Dubai is synonymous with progress, innovation and luxury and the new
Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club fits that description perfectly.

Like a mirage in the desert, but impressively real, this all-encompassing equestrian haven in the heart of Dubai Land boasts the best grass polo fields in the region, surrounding a 5-star 136 rooms St Regis Resort and villa community, which is due to open in January 2017.

The upmarket gated community includes 120 luxury rental villas ranging from 3 to 5 bedrooms in a stunning contemporary setting alongside a cluster of St. Regis-branded villas. Each villa has a unique view of exquisitely landscaped development devoted to all aspects of equestrian life. The impressive collection of opulent villas is designed with the horse lover in mind. Tastefully decorated throughout with natural hues, these elegantly designed homes are full of character and charm.

A world-class polo club with exceptional facilities in the Polo Academy and Riding School, offers equestrians in all disciplines the opportunity to learn to ride or further their skills. With 520 stables, 4 polo fields, exercise tracks, a trail ride track and 2 international standard arenas for show jumping and dressage, the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club is the largest equestrian facility in the UAE.

“Horses have been a big part of my life for many years, playing polo is one of my biggest passions,” says Mohammed Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club, “My vision for the Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is to create something unique for all equestrians, not just about polo. It is an equestrian haven, which incorporates multiple disciplines including polo, dressage and show jumping and traditional horseback riding.”


A Busy Polo Season

The local community will be able to enjoy a jam-packed calendar of international polo events including the highly-acclaimed Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series, an 18 Goal Handicap tournament, entering in its eighth year under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.  The tournament series are the highest ranked tournaments in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, ranking it also amongst the best polo tournaments worldwide and played under the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA). This coming Dubai Polo Gold Cup Series will be from 20thof January until 14th of April 2017.

Passion, tradition and sporting elegance… a unique lifestyle symbolized and reflected in the Julius Baer Gold Cup. Every year, this tournament gathers together royalty, celebrities, VIPs from the Dubai social scene and fans of the ‘sport of kings’ to a spectacular performance by the world’s best polo players competing for the Gold Cup trophy, an intense battle to the top, to be the best team in the Middle East and Asia.

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Polo: the sport of kings and the king of sports

Polo has been played for over 2000 years and is thus recognized as one of the oldest team sports in the world. The game is played on horseback with 2-4 players on each team depending on the type of polo turf (beach, arena, grass, snow), a chukker is a period of 7,5 minutes of play, the clock stops when a foul is committed. A foul is when a player makes an unsafe maneuver. Most of the rules in polo are for the safety of the horse and rider. Polo matches last between 4 to 8 chukkers depending on the level and type of polo and players must change their mount after
every chukker.

The polo season started in October and on November 4th the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club had the pleasure of welcoming the Monte Carlo Polo Team for a cup in their honor, named the Monte Carlo Polo Cup Dubai.


Reuniting through polo

Rashid Al Habtoor, co-founder of the Habtoor Polo Organization, and Rommy Gianni, patron of the Monte Carlo Polo Team, have known each other for many years and meet up in different countries for events and polo tournaments. They had played polo together before, but not against each other. This summer in Monaco the two agreed that the Monte Carlo Polo Team was due for a visit to the city of wonders, Dubai, for a polo cup at the new Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club.

“I love the way polo unites people from all over the world. During my travels I always meet interesting people and it is a pleasure to be able to welcome them in my home country and play the sport we love. I am excited to show Rommy the new Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club and the great facilities. I am so proud of my brother Mohammed (Al Habtoor) for carrying out his vision on this project under the Habtoor Group and creating a truly spectacular equestrian oasis”

The quartet travelled from Monaco to Dubai for a week of polo culminating in the final day on Friday the 4th of November under the beaming Arabian sun.

Spectators and supporters came from near and far to witness the polo match between the Habtoor Polo Team (Mohammed Al Habtoor 0, Rashid Al Habtoor 0, Justo Cuitino 3 and Alejandro Gowland 3) and Monte Carlo Polo Team (Rommy Gianni 1, Giles Greenwood 0, Andrea Moretti 0, Martin Espain 6).

Four chukkers of intense polo were played, with Rommy Gianni from the Monte Carlo Polo Team opening up the score board in the first chukker. Followed by a goal from Mohammed Al Habtoor to even out the score. The two teams followed each other throughout the game, with very good defense plays and some fast attacks. Rommy Gianni scored all the goals for his team.

In the final chukker the two teams were even at 3 goals each. As often happens in this exciting game, just as we thought they would go in to overtime, Alejandro Gowland swiftly took the ball and passed it on to his team mate and patron Rashid K Al Habtoor who hit an “under-the-neck” shot and scored with only seconds left on the clock.

Rommy Gianni enjoyed his day: “It was a tough match, the fields here are amazing, one of the best I have played on. I think the home team, Habtoor Polo, had an advantage of being acclimatized to the weather, it is a bit warm still for us guys from Europe. I look forward to the re-match, maybe we should play on snow and see who has an advantage then.” Gianni said with a grin on his face, since his team won the 2016 Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz. “I am grateful to our host Rashid and the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club for welcoming us here and taking very good care of us, we already look forward to coming back.”


Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

Snow, St. Moritz and horses are a tradition that started as early as 1907 when, organisers hit on the idea of staging a series of horse races which the called the White Turf. The jockeys called skijors rode behind their horses on skis. Then the inventive and adventurous community hit on another spectacular idea. Why not winter polo as well as horse racing?

The idea took off.  Since 1985 St. Moritz has staged an annual snow polo event. This makes 2015, the 30th anniversary year. And, by now, the locals and organizers have got things down to a fine art.  But it was not always so. 

Just as the world community had difficulty comprehending how football could be played in the soaring temperatures of a Qatari summer without players swooning in the heat, so people struggled with how to play polo in the winter. However, because of its uniqueness, St. Moritz is has become one of the best venues to watch polo live.

Solutions had to be found and over the year these solutions have gained in sophistication. Thirty years ago the Swiss used a little Bombardier machine to help turn the frozen lake into a suitable field. Whereas today, they confidently mix the right proportions of ice with layers of prepared snow to get prevent the field becoming an ice rink.

Safety is not just a necessity, but the basis of ensuring smooth play. To stop the horses slipping and crashing, modern snow polo horseshoes have a lip at the toe, coupled with cleats at the heel. The orange ball is also larger, lighter than the ball used in grass tournaments.

Snowstorms cannot however be stopped.  That, however, just adds to the event’s allure. In 1999, for example, the snowstorm and cold were so bad that the horses had to take shelter in the VIP tent.

The play this year was particularly exciting. Cartier dominated the game, gaining an impressive 5-1.5 lead by the start of the third chukker and finalizing their win against BMW by 10 goals 2.5.  Chris Hyde, one of the best snow polo players scored five out of the ten goals for Cartier. DSC_6106