On Friday, Feb. 17, the stars of polo gathered at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame to welcome the latest Hall of Fame inductees: 10-goal living legend Mariano Aguerre; polo great of the 1950s and 1960s John “Jackie” Murphy; Museum of Polo visionary and founder Leverett S. Miller; wise Texas horseman and mentor George Miller; and two gallant equine heroes of the sport — the courageous Army remount mare Chicken and Charles Smith’s multi-award-winning mare Nebraska Sunset.
Guests arriving on the red carpet for the reception were greeted with flutes of bubbly from the Korbel Bubbles bar, an array of passed hors d’oeuvres and other beverages provided by Lipman Brothers LLC, Brown Forman, Bacardi USA, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Korbel and new sponsor 14 Hands Winery. Everyone had a great time exploring the museum and its new exhibits, getting re-acquainted with long-lost friends and making new ones. One of the highlights of the new exhibits was “Polo Art in America” from the collection of Horace and Martha Laffaye, a montage of some of their vast collection of polo art that includes bronzes by Herbert Haseltine and works by Frederick B. Voss, Paul Brown and others. Sadly, Martha Laffaye passed away last April and it was her wish that these works be shown at the museum.
As the evening progressed, everyone was invited into the pavilion to be seated for a dinner sponsored by Marc and Melissa Ganzi and the Grand Champions Polo Club and dessert sponsor Annabelle Gundlach and the Postage Stamp Farm Foundation. The evening’s entertainment was sponsored by Wayne and Pamela Garrison.
The museum also gave each attendee a gift, the book Polo Art by Melinda Brewer. A Coravin wine system was also given to each of the inductees and award recipients, to dinner sponsors and those who purchased an entire table for the dinner.
Dinner was followed by the awards ceremony. Nominating Committee Chairman Horace Laffaye accepted the award for Chicken, followed by Charles Smith, up twice accepting for both his great pony Nebraska Sunset and then again on behalf of the family of inductee George Miller. Leverett Miller was on hand to accept his award surrounded by his friends and family. The award for “Jackie” Murphy was accepted by his sons, Jack and Brian, whose poignant words brought many in the audience to tears.
To end the ceremony, Mariano Aguerre capped the night with an entertaining, off-the-cuff speech peppered with humor and humility that gave kudos to the many people who helped him along the way, including his family for their support.
Video of this year’s gala, as well as others dating back to 2007, will soon be viewable on the museum’s web site at www.polomuseum.com.
The Hall of Fame Dinner is the largest fundraiser for the museum each year, raising close to $75,000 this year.
ABOVE: Lev Miller family: John Hendrickson, Marylou Whitney, Lev Miller, Linda Miller, Maria Flora Miller Smoller, Whitney Miller Douglas, Penelope Miller and Robert Douglas.