Remembering Bridgehampton Polo

Bridgehampton Polo ended a season of perfect weather with the anything-but-perfect weather brought by Hurricane Irene. Polo fans had to head for their hurricane parties and shelters instead of Two Trees Farm in Bridgehampton as the final match was cancelled. Polo ponies munched hay in their vans heading down the same Long Island Expressway that everyone else was on heading for safety. A wild end to the season, but oh what memories fans, players, and—who knows—maybe the horses too, have of the Fifteenth Season!

While the rain and wind ravaged the East End over the weekend, fans might have wistfully recalled the meltingly hot day that opened the season. Then the gorgeous weather that is supposed to go with great outdoor entertainment appeared as if by magic as it did every Saturday until the last.

Maybe, come to think of it, it had been the work of professional magician Kevin Nicholas, a Long Island native who showed up on most of those memorable afternoons. Nicholas admitted that his talent of performing card tricks added a new twist to the V.I.P. area entertainment. Typically entertainment is furnished by actors and other celebrities making grand entrances surrounded by cameras and microphones. [expand]

“I know, card tricks at a polo match might seem a little strange,” Nicholas said, pulling cards out of all kinds of places, including sleeves, palms, and mouths.  “But why not?”

Hmmm, good question.

A more typical diversion for the cocktail-sipping crowd came on Week Four in the form of Kelly Rutherford, who plays Lily van der Woodsen, Blake Lively’s mom, on the television series “Gossip Girl.”  Rutherford, who looks much younger and daintier in person than she does on T.V.,  was accompanied by her children, aged 2 and 5, as it was Kids Day. She was low key in white pants and top, and gazed out at the polo field from her front-of-the-V.I.P. section as her nanny fed peanut butter sandwiches to the kiddies.

“Great weather,” she said as she emerged from the tent around half time, which might not be memorable except that it makes us all nostalgic, given the dramatic ending to the season that Mother Nature delivered. As she small talked with reporters, she came off as a much more approachable person than the uptight socialite mom she plays on the show.

Later that evening, the “Gossip Girl” star was spotted by tabloid gossip girls and guys dining with Peter Brandt, owner of White Birch polo club and co-founder of the Bridgehampton, Greenwich, and Saratoga polo clubs. As columnists speculated if he might possibly have been saying, “You know you love me,” no one knew for sure, and it was most likely just friendly, according to others.  They were certainly not the only polo people out around town after the match. Bridgehampton Polo was always one of the best “pre-game” places around this summer.

The last game was a washout, but it had been in many ways a season unparalleled for the elegance of the event. Crowd control efforts under the Blue Star Jets V.I.P. Tent paid off—you could actually see the field, enjoy the people watching, and not have drinks spilled on your spiffy polo outfit this year. A spokesman for co-sponsor, Circa, the fine jewelry purchasing giant, emphasized that they didn’t mean to make polo more “exclusive.” “But, yes, we were limiting crowds under the tent. In past years, they would have up to 1,000 attendees, this year it was kept to under 500.”

One of the biggest plusses, the spokesman said, was “We have more people who actually like to watch the matches. More polo people.”

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