The Potomac Polo Club is trying to maintain a proletariat image in a sport known as the "Game of the Royals."
At yesterday's third annual International All-Star Polo Match at the Poolesville club, there were beer and sodas as well as champagne. And for every Docksider and alligator shirt, there seemed to be tennis shoes and flannel.
The game, however, belonged to the sport's elite, as eight of the world's top players gathered to help fund spinal cord research at the Washington Hospital Center. The 30-goal handicap event is the highest caliber of polo played outside of Palm Beach, Fla., and Argentina.
They came from as far away as Chile, representing five nations in North, South and Central America. The U.S. representative was Tommy Wayman, the country's top player, with a 10-goal handicap.
The game provided a graceful blend of international styles. Led by the fast, aggressive play of Mexico's Antonio Herrera, the Ambassadors All-Stars defeated the Washington All-Stars, 7-6.
The first half was slow, as both sides tried to get the feel of the soft turf. By the end of the third chukker, Washington held a 2-1 lead.
"We were a little tentative," said Washington's Joe Muldoon III, a member of the Potomac Polo Club. "The field was a little slick and most of the guys were playing on strange horses."
The pace quickened in the fourth chukker when Brazil's Jose Carlos Kauil scored 15 seconds after the faceoff to tie it at 2. Herrera then scored two goals to give his team a 4-2 lead, which it never relinquished.
Herrera led all scorers with five goals and Wayman scored four.