Tag Archives: Chris Collins

International and Local Polo Players Kick Off 2014 Season with Opening Day at the San Diego Polo Club

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Opening Day at the San Diego Polo Club reached a record breaking 3,200 attendees on Sunday, June 1, 2014. Polo fans and San Diego socialites flocked to Rancho Santa Fe for two thrilling polo matches, a fashion show, live DJ and plenty of people watching.

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Land Rover of San Diego brought in a fleet of gorgeous 2014 Range Rover Evoques and Range Rover Sports, which was the main focal point during the fashion show & presenting ceremonies.

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The well-dressed attendees enjoyed mingling in the Polo Pavilion presented by Riviera Magazine, watching the match from the VIP tent, toasting champagne glasses in the garden section and bumping into friends in the general admission area.

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We had a few craft cocktails on draft, including a strawberry rhubarb Woodford Reserve julep and Herradura Tequila Flor de Paloma, two of our favorites. Guests also enjoyed an assortment of spirits, local craft beer, hand selected wines, and of course, champagne!

chef-dawn-parks-wild-thyme-company-opening-day-polo Our Sunday Polo Kitchen is presented by The Wild Thyme Company, offered plates to share (their cheese plate is delicious) or more traditional sandwiches, salads (another favorite is the beet caprese salad) and daily specials.

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Their food is both classic and trendsetting while maintaining the highest standards of culinary excellence with an emphasis on seasonal options. The full menu can be seen online here.

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Land Rover of San Diego’s Sales Guide, Matt Deep threw in the ceremonial first ball to kick off the 7-goal polo match. Team Rancho Santa Fe battled it out against team Del Mar.

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Mia Bray (subbing for Colton Bancroft), Kimo Huddleston (subbing for Ashton Wolf), Graham Bray and Mike Manno made up team Rancho Santa Fe (6-goal team). New to SDPC, Emma Stachowitz, Jennifer Alexy, and John Eicher joined resident player Diego Cossio to make up team Del Mar (7-goal team). Because team Rancho Santa Fe is 1-goal lower than team Del Mar, a point is put on the board in favor or the lesser team.

Things started off slowly in the first half with two points for each team. Both Kimo Huddleston and Mia Bray scored for Rancho Santa Fe. John Eicher and Diego Cossio scored for Del Mar. Mia Bray and Graham Bray both scored  in the second half, pushing their team into the lead. Jennifer Alexy scored one in the 4th chukker and Diego Cossio scored two more in the 5th and 6th chukkers. Although each team scored the same amount of points, Team Rancho Santa Fe was crowned victorious due to the lesser handicap.

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During intermission, Raina Leon Style & Design presented the 2014 Opening Day Fashion show, featuring local boutique, Van de Vort. Sunglasses were provided by another locally owned brand, RAEN. Men’s fashion was sponsored by J.Hillborn.

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After the fashion show, the feature match began with the parade of teams led by Matt and Patrick of Land Rover San Diego. Nationally acclaimed and Grammy Nominated Songtress, Sacha Boutros sang our National Anthem.

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Sacha impressed the crowd with her amazing vocals.

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Riviera Magazine’s partners threw in the first ball to kick off the 3pm match.

The 3pm match was between sponsors Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila. Ellen Greenhill, David Samaniego, Christopher Collins Jr, and SDPC president, Chris Collins made up team Woodford Reserve. Ramon Richard, Roberto Estudillo, Diego Velarde and Topo Mendez made up team Herradura Tequila.

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The first chukker started off hot with 3 goals on the board for Woodford Reserve, scored by David Samaniego (2) and Christopher Collins Jr (1). Both Ramon Richard and Diego Velarde scored for team Herradura. Christopher Collins Jr. kept up the momentum by scoring an additional two in the second chukker. Topo Mendez scored 1 for his team. By the 3rd chukker, the score was 6 to 4 in favor of Woodford Reserve.

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During half time, guests were encouraged to step onto the grass for the traditional champagne divot stomp presented by Korbel California Champagne.

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Flutes of Korbel Brut Champagne and Korbel Rose Champagne were served from the backs of four beautiful Land Rover Evoques by our Van de Vort models.

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Team Herradura Tequila increased their defensive strategy and didn’t allow team Woodford Reserve to score any in the 4th chukker, while Diego Velarde put one through the goal posts. In fact, their defense was so effective, team Woodford Reserve was not able to score for the remainder of the game. Team Herradura Tequila kept posession of the ball. Ramon Richard scored another goal and Diego Velarde scored two more for his team. Diego Velarde had the most goals on the afternoon: 5. Team Herradura Tequila beat Woodford Reserve 8 to 6.

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Publisher of Riviera Magazine, Jessica Cline, joins winning team Herradura Tequila on the trophy deck to present trophies.

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Sponsor, Armando Flores of Charco Design & Build poses with team Herradura Tequila before giving away an authentic Woodford Reserve polo jersey to a lucky fan.

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2014-Opening-Day-San-Diego-Polo-Club-Men-womens-Fashion 2014-Opening-Day-San-Diego-Polo-Club-Women-FashionWith a San Diego’s beautiful people, it’s no wonder Opening Day at the San Diego Polo Club is such a fashionable affair.

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DJ Here kept the party going by spinning beats until dusk.

Although we celebrated Opening Day at the San Diego Polo Club on June 1, the fun doesn’t stop. Join us every Sunday until the end of September for action-packed polo and family-friendly fun! See the schedule for more details.

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A Polo Family Legacy

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Since the San Diego Polo Club opened its doors in 1986, our fields have welcomed four generations of polo players from the Allen & Collins families and needless to say, they have been an integral part of this club. The family legacy of polo started with Willis Allen, who along with his son-in-law Harry Collins, played an instrumental role in the formation of the San Diego Polo Club. Over the years, Willis Allen, his son-in-law Harry, his grandson Chris and his great-grandson Chris Jr. have all played polo on our fields.

A Horseman Like No Other
Allen was a talented horseman and he had a deep connection to polo. He was first introduced to the sport in the early 1920’s while visiting family in San Angelo, Texas. His uncle was a polo player and gave Willis his first lesson. After Willis returned home to Connecticut, his uncle sent him his first horse, which he named Concho.

By the age of 13, Willis started regularly playing in Connecticut and when he moved to California, he continued with the sport, playing arena polo at the Coronado Country Club. He carried polo with him through the many chapters of life and even played when he was stationed in New Caledonia during WWII. His family fondly shared stories of how even during those difficult years of war, he was able to put together a polo field and bring in horses to play. Allen was truly a man like no other and it was often said, “they broke the mold when they made Willis.” A true benefactor of the sport, he fostered the development and growth of polo on the west coast and always sought to cultivate the skills of aspiring players. He had an egalitarian view of the game and never thought of polo as a sport that should be exclusively reserved for the wealthy. Throughout his life, he encouraged everyone to play. For Allen, polo was never about title or status but instead about passion for the game and his connection to the horses.

In addition to the San Diego Polo Club, Willis was one of the original founding members of the Eldorado Polo Club in Indio, California. Willis also served as a USPA Governor from 1969-1974 and played on numerous national and international teams. Throughout his life, he raised award-winning polo ponies and many people credit his polo talent to his deep connection with the horses. He loved his animals and one of his greatest joys and passions was breeding ponies. For the majority of his polo career, he worked as his own groom and only hired one later in life, when he physically required the assistance. Until that point, he had always taken care of his ponies, believing that it was important to develop a deep connection to the animal. Willis’ passion and enthusiasm for polo was infectious and he continued playing until the age of 93, participating in his final polo match just two weeks before he passed. He died on June 13th, 2004 at his home in La Jolla, surrounded by family and friends.

Four Generations

 

The Willis Allen Cup

Each year, a special tournament is held in Willis Allen’s name, to recognize sportsmanship, horsemanship, and teamwork amongst young players within the San Diego Polo community. This summer, The Willis Allen Memorial Cup will take place on July 7th, 2013 and the proceeds will benefit the REINS Therapeutic Riding Program (www.reinsprogram.org). The REINS Therapeutic Riding Program is a non-profit organization, located in Fallbrook, California, and their mission is to provide physical and emotional therapy to a wide range of disabled children and adults through the use of carefully supervised horseback riding. They currently serve over 200 students each week, coming from all over southern California and ranging in age from 2 – 83. The students have a variety of disabilities including: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, seizure disorders, developmental delays and other mental and physical challenges. The benefits of this therapy are both mental and physical and include normalization of muscle tone, increased balance and coordination, developments of speech and language, and improvements in body awareness and self-esteem. Harry Collins participates in therapeutic riding and his family credits this program for the tremendous improvements he’s made since his 2003 polo accident. The Collins family is a huge supporter of the work that the REINS Therapeutic Riding Program is doing and they are thrilled to partner with them for the 2013 Willis Allen Memorial Cup.

Collins Family

Throughout his life, Willis Allen exhibited passion, energy, enthusiasm and most importantly, a generosity of spirit. It was an honor to sit down with the remaining three generations of his family and hear their first hand stories and memories of Willis and learn more about their family’s long and rich history with the sport of polo and the San Diego Polo Club.

HARRY & JUDY COLLINS

How would you describe Willis Allen as a person? As a player?
He was a wonderful father and father-in-law and overall just a really genuine and honest man. People loved him because he was a really kind and fun person to be around. He was Harry’s best friend and he taught Harry everything that he knows about horses and polo. Before Harry and I had met, he had hardly been around horses but my father introduced him. Eventually, they started breeding and raising ponies together. It was my father’s passion and he loved his horses so much. He had a connection to the animals and he loved to watch them grow. And he just loved polo! It was his life.

What is a special memory you have with the SD Polo Club?
While Harry was a regular player at the San Diego Polo Club, I never got seriously into the sport. I played with my father as a child but back then women weren’t competitively playing polo like they are today. I always rode horses though. Harry on the other hand, fell in love with the sport and he loved to play, especially at the San Diego Polo Club. Over the years, our family has had so many wonderful memories that it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Anytime Harry could play with Chris and Chris Jr. it was special for him.

Where would you like to see the sport head in the next 10 years?
That’s an interesting question and I’d probably have to reflect back on my father when answering. See, Dad was not big on huge tournaments, and he preferred the low-key nature of clubs like Lakeside. He also never had grooms, though I will say that when I was a kid, he would sometimes pay me 0.25 cents a weekend to walk his horses. He didn’t really believe in hiring pros either and he never thought polo should be a sport that was just for the wealthy. His view of polo was pretty simple. He loved the game, he loved and respected the animals and he valued teamwork, horsemanship and sportsmanship, and I think that’s the direction he’d want to see the sport move in.

CHRIS COLLINS

How would you describe Willis Allen as a person? As a player?
For Willis, polo was only about one thing – the horses. If you ever asked Willis about polo he would start by telling you about the horses. He bred ponies for almost 70 years, many from the same original bloodline. He also never hired a groom because he enjoyed doing everything with the horse. As a player, Willis was always the happiest guy on the field. He played every week and competed with some of the best players in the world. At the height of his game, he reached a 3 goal ranking. He was always running with the ball and one of his signature moves was dribbling the ball down the field between his horse’s front legs. Willis also really enjoyed teaching people the game, firmly believing that everyone should have the opportunity to play polo. He really wanted the sport to be accessible to everyone.

What is a special memory you have with the SD Polo Club?
Our family has so many wonderful memories with polo but one that stands out was the four-generation match we competed in. Playing with my grandfather, my father and my son is a very special memory for me. I also remember a time when Harry was injured and so Chris Jr. had to fill in for him. He was only 13 years old at the time but it was amazing to get to play together.

Where would you like to see the sport head in the next 10 years?
Lately, it seems like only the very wealthy play polo and Willis would never have thought that was right. He really believed that you needed a cross-section of people to play and that the sport should be accessible to everyone. I think we need to get back to that. The number of players is decreasing every year and so I think that we need to do something to bring more people into the sport. Polo needs to be revitalized and we really need to start encouraging younger kids to play. It’s important that we introduce them to polo at an early age and then foster their development and growth. It’s the only way our future generations of polo players are going to have a true competitive edge.

CHRIS COLLINS JR.

How would you describe Willis Allen as a person? As a player?
Strong!! I don’t know that many people who can play polo well into their 90’s. Willis was an inspirational man, not only to me, but to my entire family. His patience gave him a connection with the horses that most people will never have. As a polo player, I think everyone who had the pleasure of playing with or against him, knew that he could hit a tail shot 100% of the time. You would have never known he was ninety-two years old when he got on a horse and got into the line-up. You don’t meet very many legends in your life and my great grandfather was certainly one!

What is a special memory you have with the SD Polo Club?
Having the opportunity to play with my Dad, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, is de”nitely one of my best memories at the San Diego Polo Club. I was only 11 years old but I can still remember how nervous I was before the game. Another great memory is winning the Spreckels Cup for the “rst time in 2010 with my dad. Finally, even though I’m not sure how much of this I actually remember, one of my best memories was attending my “rst polo match just two days after I was born. I was in a stroller on the sidelines for the very “rst game at the San Diego Polo Club.

Where would you like to see the sport head in the next 10 years?
We need to keep the sport growing and continue to get more people involved, informed and in love with this amazing game. I want to see more people taking lessons and I strongly encourage everyone to do so. I think the USPA has done a great job with Team USPA in farming young American players and giving
them opportunities they would have never had 5 years ago. If we can keep improving young polo players we will improve the sport here in the U.S. and make us even more competitive on a global scale.

Written by Vanessa ShapiroPhotos by Topher Riley & courtesy of The Collins Family

Chukkers for Charity to benefit Prince Harry’s Sentebale

We had the pleasure of hosting Chukkers for Charity to benefit Sentebale on Sunday, June 24.  Sentebale was founded by Prince Harry and Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso to help the forgotten victims of poverty and of the HIV/Aids epidemic.  Sentebale means “forget me not” and aides orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.

“Lesotho is fighting for survival. Nearly one third of Lesotho’s people are infected with HIV/AIDS – the third highest rate in the world. There are an estimated 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children in a country of 1.8 million. Life expectancy has plummeted to 34 years.”

Although Prince Harry was not able to attend the event, the San Diego Polo Club looks forward to the innagural event and counts on his presence in San Diego in the years to come.  For an exclusive interview with SDPC’s Creative Director and Living Polo, follow the link here.

We started the event with a Cancha Pequena match with students from our Polo School.  Cancha Pequena is one of two new leagues at the San Diego Polo Club, which gives arena students a chance to progress on to grass polo.  We also introduced a 3-goal league this summer.

West Coast Aerospace’s family sponsor, Jake Brumby played the captain, flanked by Hawaiian pro, Kimo Huddleston in the defensive position number 4.  The two blondes, Kerstie Allen and Jocelyn Parker played offense.  The teamwork between players led them to victory over San Fernando/San Judas.

The feature match was a close one.  Family Sponsor, Colton Bancroft scored a high of 5 goals on the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough for the team to win.  In Chukker 2, Diego Cossio made a phenomenal defensive move when he backed the ball out of the goal mouth and took it to the other end of the field for a point his team.  Patron and the Club’s Sweetheart, Tracee Brunetti, score the most important goal of them all in the 6th chukker to win the match for La Pasion/Southwind.

After the match, Lena Evans of Sentebale announced the winner of the $17,000 diamond and emerald earrings donated by CJ Charles Jewelers of La Jolla.  Guests also bid on silent auction items throughout the day.  In total, we raised over $30,000 for Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale.

History of the Spreckels Cup

 The Spreckels Cup

John D. Spreckels, San Francisco financier, shipping magnate, and scion of the fabled Spreckels family, first discovered polo in the late 1800’s.  Shortly thereafter, he visited Coronado Island and was so completely captivated by the area, known at the time as the playground for the wealthy, that he immediately made plans to play polo on the island’s beautiful green lawns.  Spreckels built a polo facility on the island that quickly became known throughout the United States for the quality of its fields and climate, as well as the number and proficiency of its players and horses.

In the ensuing years, the Coronado Polo Club became known as the “Meadowbrook of the West”, after the famous club on Long Island New York.  Coronado was the site of many early prestigious polo tournaments, and its fields saw the first playing of the Pacific Coast Open, still considered one of California’s premier polo events.   Among those tournaments was the match that Spreckels inaugurated in 1909.  Calling it the Polo Challenge, he enlisted the aid of designers Brock and Feagus of Los Angeles, and commissioned a dramatic silver trophy almost two feet high.  Engraved on the trophy was the inscription, “Polo Challenge Trophy, presented by John D. Spreckels.”  The trophy was designed to be engraved with the names of the winners each year and was intended to be held by the winning team for one year.

The trophy was played for each year, with the exception of the years of World War I, and its engraved names read like a “Who’s Who” of California polo.  The last team to win the trophy before it was retired in 1921, was captained by Carleton F. Burke.  Burke, a dedicated horseman, was responsible for reintroducing thoroughbred racing in California in 1932, after a 23-year blackout.  He later became one of the founders of the California Horse Racing Board.  The Spreckels Cup remained among his most prized treasures.

 In an effort to document the history of polo in San Diego and in Southern California, Julie Mulvihill-Mayer launched a search for polo memorabilia in the archives of the Coronado Library.  Joseph E. Jessop, longtime San Diego resident and founder of Jessop’s Jewelers, had been employed at the Coronado Polo Club as a young boy and became a lifelong polo fan.  He recommended that the search continue at the Coronado Historical Society.   Following that lead brought Mulvihill-Mayer upon a veritable treasure trove of old polo trophies including the Spreckels Cup.  The trophies were brought back to San Diego, and Joseph E. Jessop and Jessops Jewelers President, Ken Laughlin, cooperated in masterminding their restoration.

When the season officially opened on June 10, 1988, the newly refurbished Spreckels Cup occupied a place of honor in the club’s trophy case.  Restored to its original appearance, and flanked by its companion pieces, the impressive silver cup cast an undeniable glow upon the matches and players.  The trophy’s presence provided a tangible link across the years and forged a bond between the players of today, John D. Spreckels, and the band of polo players that had such an influence on our sport and upon the San Diego Polo Club.

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association generously loans the trophy to us annually.  We’d like to thank the CTBA’s Board for their role in securing this prestigious trophy for the continued use in this historical event.

Winners from 2010.  Chris Collins, Mariano Fassetta, Christopher Collins, Krista Bonaguidi

Willis Allen Memorial Cup Finals

What a day!  Not only did we have fantastic Polo in San Diego on Sunday afternoon, but we had a handful of wonderful sponsors.  Giving Back Magazine hosted their 3rd annual “Day of Polo” tournament and raised money to benefit the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera.

1pm Match: Trinity vs. Southwind/Adeptus- 8-goal polo

Trinity:
Rick Paicius 0
Patrick Uretz 1
Jared Sheldon 1
Mariano Gutierrez 5

Southwind/Adeptus:
Colleen Wilson 0
Mike Kerley 3
Pedro Orellano 4
Chris Collins 1

Starting off the day, we had Southwind/Adeptus vs. Trinity featured in the 1pm game.  Trinity was up by 3 at the end of the second chukker, but Pedro Orellano scored 3 in the 3rd chukker, bringing the score to 7 to 6, Trinity.

Chris Collins played great defense in the second half, keeping the ball out of the Southwind/Adeptus goal.  At the end of the 5th chukker, Trinity was up 9 to 8.  Mariano Gutierrez scored another for Trinity in the 6th chukker, bringing them up to 10.  Chris Collins scored and Pedro Orellano scored to tie up the game, 10 to 10.

Our very own founding member and patrona, Colleen Wilson, had a break away with just a couple seconds left and scored the winning goal for Southwind/Adeptus!

Meanwhile, guests bid on the silent auction items and drank Mai Tais in the CitiBank Lounge.

The San Diego Symphony played a live parade march to welcome in the two competing teams.

Next up, a representative from the San Diego Opera blew us away with the National Anthem.

3pm Feature Match and Willis Allen Memorial Cup Finals: Starmeadow vs. Tritech/San Judas

Tritech/San Judas:
Ramon Richard -1
Ashton Wolf 3
Gaston VonWernich 5
Chris Maloney 1

Starmeadow:
Jessica Bailey 1
Jesse Bray 3
Graham Bray 5
Joy Bancroft -1

After Alisha Wray’s fall a couple of weeks ago, Ramon Richard stepped up to the plate and took her place on Tritech/Princeps, now renamed, Tritech/San Judas.  Alisha is doing well and attending the matches, but taking time to heal.


Although this is only 8-goal polo, it sure feels like 12-goal.  Jesse Bray started off hot with 2 goals in the first chukker for Starmeadow.  Gaston VonWernich matched his two goals in the second chukker and added a few more in the second half of the match.  Also in the second chukker, Graham Bray had a beautiful back shot near the goal line that barely made it through the goal posts.

Ramon Richard of Tritech/San Judas had two very important goals in the 3rd and 5th chukkers, which were very instrumental in the win.

Jesse Bray continued to knock them in, tallying up 7 goals total.

We had a couple of falls, 2 from Ashton Wolf and 1 from Gaston VonWernich.  The crowd was spooked when Gaston and his horse, Fleur, fell.  Sure enough, the horse just got the wind knocked out of her and got right back up.  The horse is healthy and we are all very thankful Gaston and Fleur are doing okay.  Although Ashton’s ribs are a bit bruised, that didn’t stop him from playing his best.

In the 6th chukker, the match was 10 to 9, Tritech/San Judas on top.  Jesse Bray sailed the ball into the air during a penalty shot, but missed it by inches.  His second penalty shot was deflected by Ashton Wolf’s mallet.  In the 3rd penalty shot, Jesse missed it again, by centimeters!  Time ran out before Starmeadow had a chance to score, leaving the win to Trinity/ San Judas!

Gaston Von Wernich‘s horse, Fleur, won Best Playing Pony.

Runner’s up received gift bags from Giving Back Magazine and South Coast Plaza.  Jesse Bray won MVP.

Tritech/San Judas won the Willis Allen Memorial Cup.  After taking lessons in the arena and graduating to grass polo last year, Ramon Richard was thrilled to be a part of the winning team.  He celebrated with dousing his teammates in Veuve Cliquot Champagne.

Trophies were presented by Tiffany & Co. of Fashion Valley.

Danitza Villanueva of Giving Back Magazine, Ramon Richard and his wife Virgina Calero, Ashton Wolf, Gaston VonWernich, Chris Collins, grandson of Willis Allen, Chris Maloney, Peggy Stevenson of Tiffany & Co., Esteban Villanueva of Giving Back Magazine, and Gaston’s children.