The highest-rated arena polo game on the West Coast is coming to the Del Mar Arena this month. The San Diego Polo Classic will pit the all-Hawaiian pro team Tommy Bahama against the homegrown, local Porsche San Diego Team on Sept. 28. The event has been held at the Hotel del Coronado for the past three years, but the hotel’s recent $200 million renovation led them to “take a break” and find another location.
Randy Russell, president of Polo America, said the classic is a great opportunity for people who have yet to check out the sport.
“It’s basically hockey on horseback,” Russell said, adding that the arena is much smaller than the polo players’ typical venue. “An outdoor field is the size of nine, 10 football fields. Over here in the arena, it’s just a single football field. So the action is constantly right in front of you.”
A lot of that action will be brought on by Porsche San Diego player Topo Mendez. Polo players are rated by goals; -2 being a beginner and 10 goals being the best. Mendez is a 4-goal player.
Mendez is joined by Alejandro Nordheimer (5 goals) and Skyler Dale (3 goals), bringing the handicap of the team to 13 goals. For Mendez, all that talent comes from a love of the sport and time. At 56, he’s been playing polo for 40 years.
“The great part about the classic is being able to see the professionals,” said Russell. “I’ve known Topo for, like, 30 years and what he can do out there is amazing. He no longer rides the horse; he becomes the horse.”
Mendez smiles and attributes this skill to his trusty steed; of which he has five.
“If you have a good horse, you can be everywhere,” he said. “They need to stop on a dime and take off like a Porsche.”
The gates for the San Diego Polo Classic will open at 6 p.m., with the first polo game starting at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m. During the event, there will also be a Fascinator Hat Contest for the most elegant and most humorous entries. Tickets cost $25 for general admission and $400-$800 for Millionaire’s Row boxes, which include a cocktail party to meet the players on Sept. 27, and a pre-game cocktail party on Sept. 28, from 6-7 p.m. The Millionaire’s Row tickets also include a dining option for an additional fee.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit poloamerica.com.