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S I M P LY A B U DH A B I
W
e were lucky enough to attend the Cartier international Dubai Polo
Challenge Final in February, which was held at the Desert Palm retreat. Polo
is known as a sport of royalty, and has historically been bound up with
traditions of opulence and luxury. But even within this culture of extravagance, this year’s
event at Desert Palm Resort was really one to remember: a dramatic spectacle
accompanied by some truly sumptuous hospitality.
Four pro-am polo teams had been playing all week at Desert Palm in the 7th Cartier
International Dubai Polo Challenge. Earlier in the afternoon, the Julius Baer team had
defeated CNN 8-6 to win the Desert Palm Trophy, but the big event was yet to come:
the final, between Desert Palm and Cartier themselves.
Unstoppable attack
By convention, this particular match starts in a unique way, with a ball being thrown in
from the back seat of a Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet: it’s a reminder of the sense of
absolute luxury that runs through the whole event. After this impressive beginning, the
match proceeded at seemingly breakneck speed. It’s a real pleasure to watch the skill of
these players, and – unlike some footballers! – they always show impeccable manners.
The match was fun to watch throughout, but with Cartier leading 10-3 at the end of the
third chukka (a polo match is divided into four ‘chukkas’), it looked like they were going
to win it easily - and you could be forgiven for thinking there would be no real drama.
Nothing could have been more wrong: things really got exciting when the dynamic of
the game changed in the fourth and final chukka. Desert Palm scored an incredible six
goals, with Cartier managing none in return. Martin Valent, the captain of the Desert
Palm team, was ferocious in attack in this period. Scoring goal after goal, he seemed
unstoppable! It was a hugely impressive sight to watch. Appropriately enough though,
time was on the side of Cartier and the final bell rang before Desert Palm could level the
score. Cartier had narrowly defeated the current holders of the trophy by 10 goals to 9.
Generous prizes
This meant that for the first time the Cartier team were the proud winners of their own
event – which is held under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife
of HHSheikhMohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and PrimeMinister
of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. As the event’s patron, HRH Princess Haya, was unable
to attend the final day of polo, HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al
Maktoum presented the prizes, accompanied by Cartier guest CharlotteMarie Pomeline
Casiraghi who is the second child of Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Hereditary Princess
of Monaco, and the late Stefano Casiraghi, an Italian industrialist. She is fourth in line to
the throne of Monaco. Her maternal grandparents were the late Prince Rainier and the
late Princess Grace of Monaco. She is named after her maternal great-grandmother,
Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. Also present were both Bernard Fornas, Chief
Executive of Cartier and Louis Ferla, Managing Director of Cartier Dubai.
Adriano Agosti stepped forward to receive the trophy and then watched as his team-
Sporting Drama in
Sumptuous Surroundings
Cartier won this year’s International Dubai Polo Challenge, where the excitement
of the sport was matched by the splendour of the surroundings.