Average Joes on Governors Island this Saturday got to breathe rarefied air when Prince Harry played in the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic. Very democratically, visiting spectators got to watch the match, a charity benefit, for free — though without the benefit of unending Champagne. Ensconced in a tent fabulously called the “royal enclosure” across the way, the rich and famous mingled with Harry and talked horses. Actress Kate Hudson told us about the first time she was thrown off her childhood horse, Bud, a playful Buckskin. “I was training him, and my brothers rode by on their dirt bikes — I have three brothers — and it was so loud, and Bud went crazy and ran around the arena with me on him, and then stopped short,” she said. She kept going. “So I got the wind knocked out of me. It’s really scary, actually.” Hudson added.
Matt Lauer has also had horses all of his life, and in fact, he used to play farm polo, which he describes as polo played in an arena, similar to a hockey rink. Lauer says he’s been thrown many times. “I had a horse that would spook at a squirrel, anything would spook this horse, so I’ve been over the head of a horse a lot,” he told us. He doesn’t ride much anymore. “I break easier now, and I’ve had my share of broken things lately.”
Madonna, who has fallen off horses herself, arrived midway through the match with sons Rocco and David and beau Jesus Luz. A section in the royal enclosure was cleared, and any VIPs who had stepped over to the bar were not allowed back into the VIP area until Madge and entourage (including photographer Steven Klein) had “settled in,” as an organizer put it. The entire event ground to a halt to wait for that to happen. Eventually, Rocco perched on a sofa while Madge stood by the fence with son David in her arms, showing him off to Marc Jacobs. Jesus Luz, who is kind of short for a model, chatted with fellow Brazilian Lorenzo Martone. Madonna and party slipped out early, missing the awards ceremony, when the polo players sprayed Champagne all over themselves, and Prince Harry spit a mouthful of the bubbly on his opponent, Nacho Figueras.
Harry had beaten Nacho’s team, the Black Watch. The prince was playing for his charity, Sentebale, which benefits needy children in Lesotho. “Prince Seeiso [of Lesotho] and I both lost our mothers when we were very young,” Harry said in a short speech before the match. “We set up Sentebale in their memory, and because my mother loved this city, it makes this occasion all the more poignant for me.”