Jamie Morrison is used to making an entrance.
As a child, his father, the late Bryan Morrison, was a record mogul who managed Pink Floyd and published Wham!, Elton John and the Bee Gees.
But the elder Morrison took a turn in his 30s: He retired and began playing polo after watching a match in East London. On the day of Wham!’s farewell show at Wembley Stadium in London, Morrison’s father was running late due to a polo match. He didn’t want to miss the gig so he made one request of singer George Michael.
“My father had a helicopter take us from the club to Wembley,” Morrison says via telephone from England. “He told George to hold off going on stage. ‘I’m going to get the helicopter to hover over Wembley.’ When he saw that, he had to wait 10 minutes before he went on stage. The helicopter landed in this police station field by Wembley and Wham! went on stage the last and final time.”
Jamie Morrison will make an appearance of a different sort on Saturday, November 2, when polo returns to the pitch at WestWorld in Scottsdale with the ninth annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship: Presented by Talking Stick Resort.
The diverse entertainment includes a half-time rugby match, the World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show presented by Phoenix Fashion Week, performances by the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, the Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show, a preview of the 2020 Barrett-Jackson’s World’s Greatest Car Collector Auction, as well as field-side experiences and DJ-infused party tents.
The Fried & Fizzy food truck returns with its signature fried chicken and champagne, a combination that exemplifies the casual yet classy vibe of The Polo Party. Those going for the luxury experience can indulge in one of three VIP tents, including the Barrett-Jackson Champagne & Jazz Lounge, which is serving up French fries and mimosas.
The Polo Party is known for upping the ante with new events each year. This year introduces one-of-a-kind musical performances, including oboe, acoustic guitar, a “hip-hopera” fusion, and songs from an intriguing new musical “Americano” coming to the Phoenix Theatre in January.
This year also offers additional days of polo festivities with a player reception for all ticket holders Thursday, October 31, and a player and sponsor VIP party for luxury ticket holders Friday, November 1. To continue your polo education after Saturday’s big event, register for Arizona Polo Club’s polo clinic Sunday, November 3.
The highlight of the weekend is the four matchups on the field:
- U.S. Air Force versus U.S. Marines
- Centtrip Wales Polo Team versus the Arizona Polo Club
- The Arizona Equine Rescue versus Southwest Wildlife, a charity match for a $10,000 prize.
The fourth matchup is defending champs Aspen Valley Polo Club, including world-famous player Nacho Figueras, versus The Royal County Berkshire Polo Club, whom Morrison will represent. His father founded the club, based on a sprawling 220-acre estate outside of Windsor. Bryan Morrison died in September 2008 at age 66 after a freak polo accident at the club in 2006. He spent two years in a coma.
“In Scottsdale, this is obviously a very American global event,” Morrison says. “I hope they learn something about the way we do it in our corner of England. I hope to spread the word about English polo and all polo. It’s more than just a brand.
“We’re going to have a little fun and put on a good show for everyone who’s going there.”
Morrison first climbed on the back of a horse at age 5, and gripped a mallet at 14, when he was “big enough to play.”
“It’s in the blood,” says Morrison, who was in Arizona once for a wedding in 1999. “I grew up with it. I was destined to do it. What a horse and a man can do together is pretty astounding. The polo world, the people you meet, the places you travel and visit—like Scottsdale—it’s a real lifestyle and all-encompassing. Plus, I’m an adrenaline junkie. Polo is right up my street.”
Since then, he has played with Princes William and Harry. Morrison is the chairman of the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, the official home of England polo.
His biggest influence—as a businessman and polo player—is his father. His memoir, “Have a Cigar!,” was released in September.
“My dad played down his success in most instances,” he says. “There was one point in the 1980s when he was the biggest independent music publisher in the world, with the likes of George Michael and Pink Floyd. I learned a lot about life and music and business from him growing up.
“I have lots of amazing memories for me and my sister. He wrote this memoir for me and my sister that had so much interest on the rumor mill from fans of George Michael or Pink Floyd people wanted to read the story. For us to get it out now, 10 years later, is a fantastic reaction. It’s a proud moment. The legacy lives on.”
Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships
WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.360.5845, thepoloparty.com, 10 a.m. Saturday, November 2, general admission tickets start at $30; free for children 17 and younger as well as veterans.