Bash Kazi thinks he had control of the ball before his horse collided with another last week, although it’s a little hazy in his mind. He remembers flying through the air but not hitting the ground.
That’s when he blacked out, so the Washington businessman’s knowledge of the subsequent 20 seconds or so come from watching his dramatic polo match accident replayed on Brazilian TV: an international celebrity rushing to his side to administer basic first aid.
“Prince Harry was the first one off his horse, doing the right thing, turning me over to make sure I regained consciousness,” Kazi told us. The British royal “is a fabulous person,” he said, “and such a gentleman.”
The defense contractor, 41, has played polo for 25 years — strictly, he says, as an amateur. But it’s the kind of sport that puts even weekend hobbyists into some pretty high-flying company. He had organized a team featuring superstar pro Nachos Figueras (whose face is familiar to non-polo fans as a Ralph Lauren model) that played in several tournaments. Figueras then recruited him for last week’s exhibition match in Campinas, Brazil — a fundraiser for Sentebale, the South African charity of Prince Harry. Kazi, who splits his time between Georgetown and Southern California, was put on the team that would play against the prince, both teams structured with a mix of pros and amateurs, roughly equal in skill.
The glamour of polo, he explained, is watching these powerful horses charge up and down a lawn 10 times the size of a football field, at 35 to 40 miles an hour. “It’s like playing hockey while being mounted on a horse,” Kazi told us.
Risky? “It’s no more dangerous than rugby or football or ice hockey,” he said. Um, those are dangerous!
Kazi said his accident happened as three horses collided. If one player is driving the ball toward a goal, it’s legal for an opponent to bump him off course from a parallel trajectory; you’re not supposed to hit the guy at a sharp angle. But maintaining those trajectories can be tricky — especially on the damp turf they were playing on. As three players converged on the ball that afternoon, one was unable to stop his horse before it rammed into Kazi’s, throwing him to the ground.
“I remember waking up with these piercing blue eyes looking at me,” he says.
With a prince in the game, there was more fuss over Kazi’s injury than he would have liked. An ambulance came out, although Kazi was able to walk off the field on his own. He even came back later to finish the match.
“I think I had a minor concussion,” he said, “but I’ve since had a CT scan and everything is clear.” Kazi hopes to lure Harry back to this hemisphere for another charity match. “I look forward to squaring off with him in the U.S.”
Read earlier: Bash Kazi, D.C. socialite, hurt in polo match with Prince Harry, 3/12/12