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

Rashid Al Habtoor DUBAI GOLD CUP

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

How did you become a rider?

All of us learned to ride in childhood. Personally,  I started playing polo after I finished college. That means I’ve now been playing Polo for almost twenty-four years.

How did you start to play polo? Did your parents play?

My parents were not players.  My inspiration came from Ali Al Bawardi. He owns supermarkets in Dubai and he also owns Desert Palm Polo Club. He has always been a very good close friend of our family.

One day, he saw me and told me: “Listen, you have to learn to play polo.” So that very afternoon I went out riding. From that time on, for the last 24 years, I’ve been living and breathing the world of polo.   

Your brother also plays polo, doesn’t he?

My brother; my two sons,  the two sons of my brothers all do. So in total that makes six of us in the family who play polo.

The name of your Polo team is Mahra. That’s also the name you’ve given your daughter. Is there any other meaning behind the name?

My daughter’s name in Arabic means baby horse. My brother also owns a team which he has named after our family name, Habtoor. So we have two teams.

How did you choose players for your team?

It depends on the tournament, because in polo you decided the composition of a team on the basis of the size of handicap.

Depending on where you are in the world, you go from either minus 2 to ten, or zero to 10. Now for example the president Cup, Silver Cup, Gold Cup in Dubai is 18 goals.

For my team I choose one 7 goal, 6 goal and 5 goal.

As a patron, my goal is zero.

My brother team has the combination 6,6,6.

Another team may field players whose combined scores are 10, 4,4. Another maybe 9, 4, 5 and so on. 

Basically that’s the way it works.

This year handicap level is 18 goals, which is pretty high. Does this mean that interest for this sport is growing in U.A.E.

In Dubai, January, February, March are the months when the biggest polo tournaments are held. The interest in Polo is becoming very important. Now we are bigger than Desert Palm and our handicap is going to be increased to 22.

The problem in Dubai is that we simply don’t have enough fields. We have only 5 fields and out of these 2 are private and therefore can’t be used for tournaments. 

In Ghantoot Abu Dhabi they have 8 fields all of which happen to be private. However, next year we are going to have 3 more fields, since we’re building new areas next to Dubai polo club and St. Regis Hotel.

Is your lifestyle affected by the fact that you play polo?

Of course, my lifestyle is affected by polo. We have a lot of friends from polo. Because of polo I know friends from Brunei to Buenos Aires, to London, to Paris to Benign, to Singapore to Malaise.

May it be called a luxury lifestyle?

It’s a costly lifestyle. For me polo is a passion. For example I don’t like yachts, but some people love yachts. So you spend money on yachts or you spend money on polo.

Do you like art?

Yes, I have a small collection and I’ve started looking for more Middle East Islamic Art, Arabic art, Iranian art, Turkish art. I’ll soon be going to London for Christies  Auction because of this interest of mine.

Will you come for polo to England this year? What are your plans?

No, there’s too much rain in England. I will play in Spain in Sottogrande. I have a house nearby, in Marbella, so I’m going to spend couple of months this summer there.

AEROMOBIL III It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. No, it’s a Flying Car…

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

    AeroMobil 3 car configuration front mask in hangar  

“Aeromobile 3 is not the end of a challenging project, it is the beginning of a whole new adventure which may change  how we look at personal transport in the future…We are set to reinvent the flying car without constraints and deliver excitement through unique technical solution and design…”

AeroMobil 3 airplane configuration front in hangar

Icarus, Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers. Throughout time man has struggled conquer the elements – to expand his control of his environment. For an earthbound hominid like man, flight has always been the ultimate challenge.

Finally, almost out of nowhere, an extraordinary machine, part H.G Wells, part Rupert Bear, is being previewed at motor shows around the world – the AeroMobile 3, a car that  flies!

The magnificent men with their flying machine are Juraj Vaculik, founder of the company, and Stefan Klein, Chief Technical Officer.  Modesty is not their style. Nor should it be. This extraordinary hybrid, produced by a company with staff of only twelve people located in Bratislava, is as beautiful as it is novel. It has been in development since its conception in 1989. The final prototype, building on the experience of three previous incarnations, took only ten months to get Certification by The Slovac Federation of Ultra-Light Flying. (Granted in 2010.)

The size of a limousine or a large sedan, the Aeromobile is capable of speeds up to 120 miles per hour. For lightness and strength, the most advanced composite materials have been used for the wings, wheels and body shell. The wings also have a variable angle of attack  enabling a shorter take off. Fuel is gasoline, not kerosine, so refuelling can be done at ordinary gas stations.

AeroMobil 3 airplane configuration team 2014

Vaculik, the founder of the company and the brains behind the original project, seems to  come trailing all the attributes of a latter day renaissance man. He first surfaced as one of the student leaders of the Velvet Revolution which eventually won Slovakia’s release from communism. His professional life began as a theatre director. From there he moved  to being a creative director for major global ad agencies. In 1996 he founded the agency Made By Vaculic, one of the leading agencies in the CEE region. Under his leadership the company has won more than 200 awards for creativity and campaign efficiency including EPICA, Festival, Cresta and EFFIE, among others.

AeroMobil 3 first flight over the horizon clouds

MONACO Sporting Highlights

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

Prestige, Glamour, Excitement…

Nothing quite encapsulates the extravagant culture of the Côte d’Azur more than the annual selection of events that takes place along its glittering coastline – from small-scale local and nationwide celebrations to international ceremonies, competitions and exhibitions.

The first signs of spring have begun to appear in the French Riviera and with it comes a non-stop programme of exciting sport events.



Tires coming off the rim of the 1954 Aston Martin DB3S

Mme Charlotte Casiraghi, M. Karl Lagerfeld, S.A.R. la Princesse Caroline de Hanovre, S.A.S. le Prince Albert II, Mme Paola Marzotto, M. Pierre Casiraghi et Mlle Béatrice Borromeo


Take the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. This spectacular event offers superlative tennis with the bonus of breath-taking views along the coast.

For a long time, Rafael Nadal, was the acknowledged king of tennis here. He won the title here eight times in a row.  Since 2013, however, the crown has evaded him passing instead to Stanislas Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic. Fans of the Spanish player were hoping he’d stage a comeback this year, but the trophy went again to the seemingly unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

This year’s event also saw the renaming of the central court to Court Rainier III Prince of Monaco. After the doubles match on April 6th, the twenty-two carabineers of the Prince’s troop entered the central court to the rhythm of drums to commemorate what was the tenth anniversary of his death.


Hemingway once declared “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games”.

53826197_ascari_33893bTires coming off the rim of the 1954 Aston Martin DB3Shp5_historic_gp

Historic Grand Prix.

The iconography of Monaco’s love affair with cars has been formed in part by the racing posters that each year adorn the streets of Monaco.

Held on the 9-11th May, the Historic Grand Prix is the best place in the world to see vintage racing cars relive their glory days by battling it out with one another. You even get to see pre-war racing cars take their turn. The race follows the same course as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, along roads that haven’t been altered since the 1929 .

Grand Prix F1.

Regardless of what kind of sport you look at, there is a particular dramaturgy involved when racers speed around Monaco: good guys and villains, tragedies and successes, outrageous moments.

A split second’s loss of concentration carries more consequences than anywhere else in the world. Patrick Tambay, winner of two Grand Prix, commented on Radio Monte Carlo that the Monaco Grand Prix was, “The highlight of the season,” while Lewis Hamilton states there is nowhere else you can experience anything like it.

What could be more elite than viewing the race from your own boat in the harbour. Privacy and exclusivity are guaranteed.   

And don’t forget, if you crave to see the sleek beauty of racing cars and supercars then don’t miss Top Marques. The champagne is already on ice to celebrate breathtaking, trail-blazing supercars.



Global Champions Tour

The best international riders and horses will descend on the Principality to face challenging technical courses in one of the smallest arenas on the tour.

The magical back-drop of Port d’Hercule and the Prince’s Palace in Monaco sets the stage for the three-day spectacle of world-class show jumping. The Royal Family pays particular attention to the event as Princess Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, is becoming one of the best young riders in the world.

Last year, the Monégasque royal was victorious in the Longines Pro-Am Cup with her team mate Edwina Tops-Alexander.



The Beauty and Power of Water

Hemingway’s admiration for motor racing is understandable; his neglect of yacht racing is less easy to comprehend. Events in Monaco set the record straight where yacht one-upmanship is pretty well the order of the day.

Recent additions include the Palermo-Montecarlo Race, the Winter Series in Five Acts and the first solar yachting event – namely the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup (10th – 12th July), is one of the highlights of the yachting calendar.

Given Monaco’s geographical situation and relationship to the sea, it’s not surprising that the Principality’ Annual Yacht Show is the world’s largest showcase for super yachts (yachts of over 30 metres) and mega yachts (100 metres).

All the above events are arranged under the auspices of Monaco’s yacht club which boasts 1300 members from sixty countries.


Mme Charlotte Casiraghi, M. Karl Lagerfeld, S.A.R. la Princesse Caroline de Hanovre, S.A.S. le Prince Albert II, Mme Paola Marzotto, M. Pierre Casiraghi et Mlle Béatrice Borromeoob_79e576_hagelredaa9r8784Le_bal_de_la_Rose_2015_Lily_Allen_1

Bal de la Rose

In the past few years, the Ball has succeeded in raising over 3 million euros for the children’s hospital in Monaco. 

Monaco has always cast a spell on both insiders and outsiders. At the Rose Ball, titled aristocrats from Europe and Asia, diplomats from far and wide, along with the grandees and upcoming stars from the world of film, design and art, arrive in their finery to whirl the night away.

The standards of attire are forever linked in the minds of celebrity watchers and revellers alike with Princess Grace’s quiet elegance. It is as though the elite of today are determined to maintain the standards she set for them. This can be seen year after year, as the revellers seek to bring to life whatever theme has been decreed. Last year it was Constructivism; this year it was Art Deco.

The decorators and the organisers worked overtime to turn Karl Lagerfeld’s sketches into material reality. They put together a series of tableaux made up of 9000 roses, 100 square metres of hand-painted trompe l’oeil and 20 sculpted pilaster columns. Retro photographs were also used to summon up the spirit of the past.

Even the men get in on the act. The most flamboyant dressers normally wear an accessory to match the evening’s theme, as did the French culture minister did one year with a pocket handkerchief in the colours of Jamaica, to honour the ‘Soul Music’ theme. Conviviality and festivity follow the formality of the dinner. This year the star performer was Lily Allen. She rose to the occasion by wearing a shocking pink velour coat which was topped by a collar stacked full of 3D rose appliqués. As she sung, royals including Charlotte Casiraghi, Beatrice Borromeo and Pierre Casiraghi took to the floor.

The tombola, too, was exceptional. In a town famed for its gambling,  every guest hoped Lady Luck might tap their shoulder. The prizes included a set of 12 champagne bottles, designer bags, a whole Chanel outfit,  jewellery and the offer of being put up for three at some of Monaco’s most famous hotels.

Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo(lobby)

The Louis XV dining room at the Hotel de Paris is aptly named. Indeed, the setting has an almost royal ambiance: soaring marble columns burnished with gold, a six meter high ceilings hung with glittering chandeliers, and satin drapes whose ornate flounces and brocade reflect light from the glittering scene.

This room is the centerpiece of what is probably the most famous hotel in the world. There is certainly something of Versailles itself about the whole building, with its ornate façade and grand salons. Like the famous palace of Louis XIV and XV, it has always been a place to which the rich and famous come to see and be seen. The list of illustrious guests at the hotel is long and impressive: Cary Grant, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, the Prince of Wales, Winston Churchill, Richard Burton, Sir Roger Moore and many others. It is therefore no surprise that the auction of all this famous hotel’s fixtures and fittings prior to a total recreation of the hotel’s interior would arouse considerable interest.

So, between 25th and 30th January  2015, 3400 lots containing 10,000 items went under the hammer. The money raised was €3.7 million, about three times the sum originally estimated. Given the number of items on sale and prestige and luxury of the hotel in question, it seems surprisingly little.

Two marble pedestals fetched the auctions highest price at €101,000, a pedestal table in the style of Louis XV sold at €51400, and an impressive Iranian silk carpet raised €41,600. However, most other items went for prices well below that. But there was at least one surprising sale: a photo of Winston Churchill beside his swimming pool at Chartwell – expected to fetch between €100 and €150 and finally bought for no less than €9100!

To put it bluntly, this furniture (much of it 19th century copies in the style of  Louis XV) matters less for its intrinsic worth, but rather because of the number of world famous bottoms that have sat on it.  Ever since its ceation in 1864 the Hotel de Paris has been one of the key places where  prime movers in European politics have met to balance national interests, apportion territorial acquisitions – or losses – and plot the future of Europe. In many ways it was from the gaming rooms, spas and chic hotels in Hamburg, Wiesbaden, Baden Baden and Monte Carlo that these European aristocrats ran the world.

But their concerns were different from their modern day equivalents. In most cases they already had money, and in many instances had had it for generations: unlike the ‘beau monde’ of today, wealth and its acquisition was not their primary concern. These men (and sometimes even their wives and mistresses) were people concerned above all with politics. And this was possible because their world was one of national boundaries and of governments operating within them – whether effectively or not..

So, as the sound of the auctioneer’s hammer fades away and the furnishings and fixtures of the world’s most iconic hotel disappears into private hands, we seem to be witnessing, in a small way, what Francis Fukeyama famously referred to as the ‘end of history’. The importance of these items is much less the monetary value they raised in the sale; much more the extraordinary events to which they have been attached over the last 150 years. This is a history that has gone forever. Gone also are the values that were attached to it.

As politics of the new global world increasingly slips out of the hands of those elected to control it, we enter a world where the individual is increasingly the uncrowned king. The opportunities in a world without borders, for those lucky enough or clever enough to profit from it, are exponential. Whether this situation will continue, and if it does, who the main beneficiaries will be, are the great, unanswered questions of our time.

One thing we can be sure about. The Hotel de Paris, in its magnificent Monegasque setting, will continue to welcome the ‘haute monde’ of the new era.


Bal de la Croix Rouge

Lotus eaters, sybarites and sun-seekers descend on Monaco in the summer in anticipation of plenty of wine,  sun and song. For them, the Bal de la Croix Rouge is a chance to be seen and preen with the added pleasure of knowing that this particular party is one of the highest fund-raising events in Europe.

For this the Red Cross has the star appeal of Princess Grace to thank.   During her lifetime she was the President of Monaco’s Red Cross. Now her children have assumed the role.

Here’s what one curator had to say about her impact on the Monaco social scene.

“It is the elegance of Technicolor Hollywood glamour; the elegance of a woman in love who freely chose to alter the course of her existence, of a princess of one of Europe’s oldest dynasties, of a devoted mother and monarch who dedicated herself efficiently and unsparingly to her family and people; it is the elegance of her smiling reserve that so fascinated the media, her immensely sensitive and poetic lifestyle that retained its share of mystery, and her beauty preserved by its perpetually youthful charm. It is the elegance of the era that was hers and for which we all feel nostalgic.”

The Bal de la Croix Rouge is part of this inheritance. It is rightly seen as one of the great charity galas of the year. A place to have fun, and to make spectacular donations at the same time. Like its sister ball, years of practice and precedent have resulted in an event which purrs with efficiency and glamour.

Every year the efforts of the florists and decorators transform the Salle des Etoiles into a wonderland of flowers. For example, in 2014 one of the first surprises that greeted the revellers was to find that mirrors had replaced the customary linen tablecloths. This gave rise to a sensation of an endless display of rose and geraniums reflected throughout the venue.

Protocol and ritual rule. Once everyone has arrived and had their photo taken at the top of the stairs, the tombola is drawn. The meal that follows must titillate a guest-list used to the many Michelin chefs who practice in Monaco.  Finally the real revelry begins. Dancing and a firework spectacular… This is always started by Prince Albert taking to the floor.

The opulence of the occasion, the jewels on display is only matched by the quality of the performers. The list of famous stars invited to strut on stage is like reading an almanac of fame. Julio Iglesias, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Josephine Baker, Elton John have all played at the gala. 

Last year was as glamour-fuelled as ever. The Zhang Zhang Band had everybody roaring with approval as they performed a wide repertoire of classic, jazz, swing, flamenco, bossa nova and tzigane.

The money raised last year was sent to help rebuild the Philippines and to support a variety of food programmes. The committee also approved a project aimed to improve the lives of miners on the Ivory Coast – the suggestion for which came from Dominque Ouattara, the wife of former Ivorian Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara.


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I use HOTEL METROPOLE as my “office” and “canteen”. 4, Av de la Madone 98 000 MONACO / Tel 00 377 93 15 15 15

I love the Michelin starred Robuchon restaurant. The  cuisine is exceptional.  Last time I bought my Chinese clients to YOSHI (The Japanese restaurant of Metropole Hôtel) as well. Try the black cod. Tel : 00 377 93 15 13 13.


I happen to be mad about shoes so I always glance at the window front of Louboutin.  1-3-5- Av De Grande Bretagne Les Floralies Monaco. Tel : 00 377 97 98 7812 or MERCEDEH  au Métropole 17, Avenue des Spélugues 00 377 93 50 57 70 . However if you want comfort and great value,  then I recommend Stuart Weizmann (Métropole 17 Av Des Spélugues 00 377 97 70 53) as well. Because Monaco is small, it’s easy to know every good shop. You can find dream dresses in PRETTY YOU, 5 Av Princesse Alice Monaco /Tel00377 97 70 48 08;  I always ask  my friend Evelyne from the boutique Celine Place du Casino / Tel 00 377 93 30 92 78 to help me make the right choice. I love the elegance of Valentino’s gowns 7, Av de Monte Carlo Tel / 00 377 93 25 12 63.


On the 28th of March, I attended the Bal de la Rose with my family and friends, as I have my table here every year. Karl Lagerfeld has done a great work for the decoration and the staging. Altogether, it was a wonderful evening: the only disappointment came from the fact that Charlene was not there. (Bal de la Rose SBM 00 377 98 06 63 41). I like also the Yacht show in Monaco as it is the most beautiful yacht show of the world: one can stand and dream of owning one of the super mega Yachts – even if for me it is an unrealizable ambition . (September 23/26 2015 Tel 00 377 93 10 41 70)



Jack Nicholson, said to me one day ” Julia you live in a Golden Alcatraz” and I replied “ Yes it’s true but with a lot of advantages! ”

Here are the restaurants that I particularly love to eat out at.

1. CIPRIANI s a wonderful venue for dinner. It also is a good place to have a brunch with family and friends on Sundays.

2. Maya Bay is excellent, it’s where you get brilliant Thai and Japanese food. I’d say the best in Monaco. The ambiance is also fantastic. The décor is chic, yet intimate. Good for lunch and worth a lovely place for a leisurely dinner.

3. Sass Cafe the food is understated but good. I think the vibe is fantastic. If you like music then there is always a DJ on hand and live music. It’s a brilliant way to boost endorphins and to recharge. Many of Monaco’s elite come here – although it’s also a place where tourists come. Expect the party to run on well into the morning.

4. NOBU at Fairmont and Joseph from Saint Tropez are relatively new to Monaco. They are both good. Each has a strong personality and excellent cuisine.

Down in the Port, I suggest you go to Joseph is in the Port. They have a lot of live acts and currently it’s considered to be one of  the best places to party the whole night away.

5. If you are a brunch person, then I recommend Monte Carlo Bay. They provide a huge buffet with an incredible range of desserts. It’s also brilliant for kids because of the all year round pool.