Sweat and Royalty on Governors Island

If spit, flung along with a good dose of Champagne by Prince Harry of Windsor into the face of his opponent Nacho Figueras, defined last year’s Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island, Sunday afternoon’s event will be remembered for another bodily fluid.

“I’m sweating like a hog like everyone else here,” said Gayle King, editor at large of O, the Oprah magazine, as droplets of perspiration accumulated under her eyes. “But the beauty is we’re all in the same boat so you can’t look at someone and go, ‘God, what a mess!’ Because everybody looks that way.”

Prince Harry’s team, the Black Rock, was facing off against Mr. Figueras’ Black Watch. The charity match benefited Prince Harry’s organization Sentebale, which supports children in Lesotho. Last year Black Rock prevailed; this year Black Watch won in overtime, and Prince Harry fell off his horse.

While walking the press line before the match, Mr. Figueras, wearing a pinstriped jacket and white shirt unbuttoned to reveal a dose of chest hair, declared that he was ready for a rematch. “Always ready,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for it for one year.” Then he turned serious: “No, you know, the most important thing again today is to raise money for these kids—that’s who we are here for.”

The PR contingent giggled about rumors that Lady Gaga and Beyoncé and Jay-Z were in the VIP tent, but when the Transom entered the zone, the pop stars were nowhere to be seen. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was present, beside his girlfriend, Diana Taylor, and his equestrian daughter Georgina, and had relieved himself of his jacket and tie. Susan Sarandon walked the press line on crutches. Josh Lucas sat with Rob Thomas. And Julianna Margulies was dressed in a beige ensemble. There were no turf wars, unlike last year when Madonna and her entourage took over the VIP area.

The polo match was hard fought, so much so that the fourth chukker—that’s the polo term for quarters—ended in a tie. No one had considered what to do in case of a tie, so debate ensued on the question of whether to end the match or go into overtime. As play paused awkwardly, Mr. Figueras rode over on his horse to the VIP section to speak to Mark Cornell, the CEO of Moet Hennessy.

Asked if there was any sort of plan for a tie, Mr. Cornell said, “No, that was a last-minute decision.” And then, “Black Watch has won,” he said after Mr. Figueras’ team scored. “Black Watch has won.” The final score was 6 to 5.

A squadron of young women screamed Harry’s name during the awards ceremony, perhaps in the hope that the rumors that Harry is off-again with girlfriend Chelsy Davy are true. Mr. Figueras had his contingent of female fans, too, including one woman wearing a tight white dress who repeated “Nachito! Nachito!” over and over trying to get him to turn around so she could snap a picture.

Gilles Hennessy, executive vice president of Moet Hennessy, told the Transom before the match he has “no idea” why there is still this fascination with royalty. “I come from France,” he said. “We got rid of it in 1789, but it’s still very powerful in some countries.”

Mr. Figueras told the Transom before the match that one of his goals is to raise awareness about the sport, but some guests were still new to the game, like model Alek Wek. “Obviously, I grew up in southern Sudan,” she told Transom. “It’s not like I grew up with polo. I’m very new. I think it’s so much fun because I was so scared of being on the horse. I remember the first time I got on the horse, and that’s what I was telling me mate, that it’s brilliant because at first you’re like, ‘Hmm, Is it going to hurt?’ You know?… But when you get a hold of it, you’re like, it feels like so much freedom.”

Sweat and Royalty on Governors Island