It's not every day you see a horse on South Beach -- it's only about once a year.
The famed La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup is back, kicking off four days of beachy, equine fun Thursday, April 24.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the competition, originated by Reto Gaudenzi, so the party is set for an extra-special affair, in cooperation with South Florida's the Polo Life. And as luck would have it, last years' women's champions can't return to defend their crown, so the number-one spot is wide open to competition.
"This year's La Martina Miami Beach Polo World Cup is our most prestigious to-date," said Bruce Orosz, president and co-founder of The Polo Life, in a press release. "2014 is the culmination of an entire decade of bringing the nation's first ever professional Beach Polo tournament to South Florida. Thanks to the City of Miami Beach and everyone involved, we have made Miami Beach Polo World Cup one of the most popular annual events on region's social and sporting calendars."
But it's not just the local who get a hoot watching horses gallop up and down the sands between 20th and 22nd streets. Polo stars from all over the world come to take in the sun and surf.
"The competition has also become a highly sought after exhibition event by some of today's top Polo players from around the world," Orosz said. "We are also one step closer to announcing our international expansion of The Polo Life in to a far eastern territory, which we are very excited to reveal."
So, how does this all work?
The heats are held round-robin style, with eight competing teams of women and six teams of men. Each team has three members, and each game is divided into four periods called "chukkers." Players ride their horses and hit the ball with the side of their mallet (kind of like hockey but not at all), and each player gets a handicap relative to their skill-level. That last part isn't so relevant, as it's very difficult to attain.
Look, we're beach bums. We didn't grow up learning to play polo, but we certainly don't want to miss the chance to see these beautiful creatures and people stripping down to play some surreal game on the sands of our backyard, and they seem like they want everyone to come and enjoy.
"For us, Polo is a passion, a lifestyle choice and an historic sport with a unique culture," said president and CEO of La Martina America Adrian Simonetti in a press release. "We support every class and level of Polo around the world whether it be on grass, snow or sand and have made a strong commitment for producing the very best technical equipment and performance-driven gears for Polo players. This desire for excellence is what we call 'La Martina's Commitment,' and we are proud to continue our long-standing association with the Miami Beach Polo World Cup during its acclaimed ten year anniversary celebration and as the event's founding partner."
Stick around all weekend and enjoy the Auto Art Miami exhibit Sunday, April 27, featuring an installation curated by La Lou Vie of the world's "most significant automobiles." There's also an on-site retail village offering the height in luxury brands and complimentary food and beverage at the on-site VIP tent.
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Last year, about 10,000 people showed up, and since general admission is free, you've got no excuse. Mingle with the fancy people and see some horses. What have you got to lose?
There's a limited number of VIP tickets at tier-level pricing. Tickets are $100 for Thursday, $130 for Friday, and $150 for Saturday and Sunday. Children 12 to 20 (um, what?) get half-off adult pricing, and children under 12 are free. Three day VIP passes are available $375, or four days for $450. Visit miamipolo.com.