- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Five hundred spectators in blazers, sundresses and hats braved 90-degree heat Saturday at the Smithsonian Young Benefactors’ first polo match on the Mall. Generously watered with champagne, wine and beer inside shaded tents, the paper fan-waving crowd was treated to 14 chukkers of rough-and-tumble pro-am play, with proceeds benefiting Smithsonian educational programs for underprivileged children.

Guests paid $125 and up for admission, with access to VIP tents, a “Golden Mallet” private lounge and after-party reserved for those in the $225-plus range. A few $5,000 and $10,000 benefactors (Cindy Jones, Osvaldo Lopez, J. Mark Goode) got special tables and the right to mingle with environmentalist filmmakerPhilippe Cousteau and John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” fame.

Joanna Block, the only female player and a former professional show jumper, was unseated by an apologetic J. Roby Penn IV. Up from Middleburg, Va., for the occasion, Mr. Penn led the First Chukker charitable group in six rounds of amateur play before two full matches. Doug Barnes, of The Plains, Va., provided most of the ponies.

In the Cup match, Charlie Muldoon, the highest-ranked player (six goals) and a key organizer, brought his half-amateur team (sponsored by Capitol File magazine) to a 2-2 tie with the team sponsored by the Mandarin Oriental hotel. The latter was led by Chester Trent “Chet” Lott Jr., a one-goal player whose father, Sen. Trent Lott, watched happily from the sidelines, unfazed by the sun.

The two teams shared the trophy (presented by Cristian Samper, acting secretary of the Smithsonian Institution) and received copious showers of Veuve Clicquot, which kept bursting forth until they soaked all the players and a few audience members who stood incautiously close.

Mr. Muldoon deemed the first-ever event a success. “I grew up playing here,” he said, indicating the Mall’s West Potomac Park polo field. “It’s great to be able to bring all these people into the tradition, to watch and play where people like General [George S.] Patton played.”

All were glad to retire to the cool confines of the Mandarin Oriental after-party, where icy cocktails and a hint of a breeze off the Potomac brought relief to players and observers alike. The ponies recovered elsewhere.

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