Friday, January 18, 2013

Palm Beach Social Diary

The horses are flying! Wellington's 2013 Winter Equestrian Festival opened last week with events scheduled for every ring around the International Arena.
Wellington is jumping!
By Augustus Mayhew

“How much are these?” asked a woman. pointing to slacks hanging on a rack at one of the boutique tents scattered around the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) grounds.

“Eleven hundred,” responded the clerk.

“Do you think that’s a bit much?” said the woman, who walked away without them though looking as if she could easily afford them.

While you could settle for spending several hundred, when you might have as many as three or four changes a day, I noticed @ Gucci, white riding pants were $650; black riding blazer at $1,495; leather boots with Gucci crest tagged at $1,250, and the long sleeve sky blue popeline riding blouse was $515. And those great Charles Owen Wellington riding helmets are at $299 if the GPA Speed Air Evolution helmet at $589.95 is not in the budget. Then, there’s the horses, the trainers, the riders, the stable tenders, and the personal staff. So, it all adds up.  Although, there is probably no real budget for many equestrian enthusiasts. Clearly,  you don’t have to be the daughter of Bill Gates, Bruce Springsteen, or Michael Bloomberg to afford a stable lifestyle but you should have a good CPA willing to construct an elaborate tax shelter.
These fans wore pink to support the winning women's team at Nespresso Battle of the Sexes and got a photo with team captain Georgina Bloomberg.
From Sao Paulo, Doda and Athina Onassis de Miranda are in residence at the WEF with their sixteen horses, ponies, and entourage, having passed on this winter’s European circuit in favor of Wellington’s warmer clime. On Sunday, Doda de Miranda took second in the $30,000 Mar-a-Lago Club Grand Prix. I noticed this past week one of Athina de Miranda’s horses took  twelfth place, pocketing $85 in prize money.

With local internecine political snafus continuing to make as many headlines as the surrounding equestrian events, the Wellington Village Council has budgeted an additional $400,000 for legal services. You may recall, the Equestrian Village concept came to an abrupt halt as a result of the last election when the newly-elected mayor and two councilman opposed any further commercialization. 

Entrance to Deerage Farm on Pierson Road.
The new regime was aided in their effort to maintain the status quo by funds provided by Boston billionaire Jeremy Jacobs’  family. Deeridge Farm, the Jacobs family’s 300-acre estate, is located near the proposed global dressage festival grounds.  The family’s Delaware North Companies is said to be one of the largest privately-held companies in North America. Stay tuned, the battle is still ongoing among philanthropists over whose vision will determine Swellington’s future.

Before arriving at the Winter Equestrian Festival, I stopped in at the nearby Gulfstream Polo Club, where a 4-goal match was underway between the Catalina Hotel and Escue Green.  The area’s oldest polo club, founded in the 1920s by the Phipps family in Gulf Stream and moved west during the 1960s to its present location, the Gulfstream Polo Club is the perfect spot if you prefer being in a casual audience of ten rather than 5,000 of the much more sophisticated you find down the road at the International Polo Club.

Here are some snaps from Saturday afternoon’s showjumping and the chukker-stop at Gulfstream Polo.
Two-time Olympic gold medal winner McLain Ward was the one to chase in Saturday afternoon's competition.
Every major show jumper in the world has arrived in Wellington.
However thrilling the jumps, at the club's VIP tables nothing surpasses the gratification of texting on hand-held devices
Like most everywhere else, it doesn't take long for the text-tweet-surf crowd to become riveted to their Smartphones. Nothing is more captivating in today's world than virtual reality.
Gulfstream Polo Club
Lake Worth
The Catalina Hotel team maps strategy between chukkers.
The Escue polo team, part of the Quaraeshi family's international holdings
The Escue team's handlers and tenders at the ready with fresh mounts.
Mallet up, a Quaraeshi team player heads down field.
This close along the sideboards.
Catalina and Escue scramble to control the ball.
Back at the International Arena, a glimpse of the Wellington Look 2013.
Handcrafted in Ecuador, La Mundial offers an array of custom-made boots.
Hats & Helmets
Inside the Schooling Ring
Never too young to gain competitive experience.
Trainer and riding instructor Diego Muyshondt, left, was a national champion in his native El Salvador.
Rocking Sidney crosses the bar with Renata Vasconez holding the reins.
Rocking Sidney.
In the International Arena for the Jump-Off
Shane Sweetnam aboard Solerina settled for third place.
Alonzo Valdez Prado rides Quick de Potier to sixth place,
Of the eighteen entrants, nine horses made the final jump-off.
Laura Kraut landed in seventh place on Nouvelle.
McLain Ward clears the final obstacle.
McLain Ward. Castle Hill Farm in Brewster, New York is "where the magic happens," according to Ward @
A 75th Birthday Party celebrated at Michael R. McCarty's
Sam Whittaker (above, left) celebrated his 75th birthday at Michael R. McCarty's party room Rory's with about 100 friends arranged by his wife Angela (above, right). I first met Sam maybe 30 years ago. I had not seen him in more than a decade when he came to the Four Arts several years ago when I was a guest speaker and told me afterwards he was a fan of NYSD's Palm Beach real estate column.
This is what a 75th birthday cake looks like.
A well-wisher extends a Happy Birthday Sam!
Michael R. McCarty's, 50 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach. Previously when I was there for lunch, I noticed a brass nameplate on the table engraved with Paul Ilyinsky's name. The waiter said the owner was memorializing some of his customers. What a great idea — never too much history on Palm Beach.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

Mr. Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach, a selection of essays from NYSD and the Palm Beach Daily News, available @ Amazon and in Palm Beach at Classic Book Shop, Palm Beach Bookstore and Main Street News.