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#92 - Equestrian

#92 – Equestrian

Equestrian
Price: Saddle sores/horsemeat scandals

If you are serious about being wealthy, one of life’s great pleasures is developing a sense of class that is far beyond that of the common man. This means enjoying activities like polo, croquet and collecting ascots. While nearly everyone has donned a cowboy hat and straddled a petting zoo pony or mounted a dude ranch work horse better named Gluestick than Silver, the truly wealthy do not consider these representative of a true equine aficionado. In fact, the rich consider anyone that wears blue jeans and a straw hat more likely to be proficient with a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow than a saddle and a bridle. Instead, one simply must own a proper collection of riding boots, flared riding pants and a helmet reminiscent of Marvin the Martian, if Marvin owned a Bentley.

While a trusted steed may elicit images of John Wayne, the Lone Ranger or Clint Eastwood, rich people know that only and elite few can exhibit the grace and elegance of an equestrian rider. The majesty of rider taming a well-papered beast and becoming one as they gracefully vault over obstacles in a race against time is akin to watching a an Italian mechanic tune a classic Ferrari…while it is moving. Equestrian may at first blush appear a frivolous pastime but one must move beyond the literal interpretation and realize it is in fact a metaphor for success as many wealthy patrons believe they have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps overcoming humble beginnings as trust fund children who did not see a penny until they turned 21 or until they narrowly graduated from an Ivy League college at a campus littered with buildings named after their forefathers.

As always, the challenge is not how to mock the frivolities of the wealthy but to embrace them as a means to gallop into the inner circle. Naturally, as with other stuff rich people love, there is a vocabulary to learn. Understanding that the obstacles are called verticals or fences and that the horse and rider are called jumpers is table stakes, so the ability to discuss the finer points of the sport becomes critical. I recommend intimating a knowledge of dressage or perhaps the cultural importance of the fox hunt as light-hearted means to inspire your host to wax poetic on their thoughts about warmblood and thoroughbred breeding or their leaning towards Badminton versus Burghley as the pinnacle of success. Some may suggest that sincerity and genuine interest are keys to winning friends and gaining influence. Others believe that rich people are much more inclined to appreciate a sycophant that feigns interest rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue. Perhaps it is why horses make such great team mates.

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#16 - French Chateaus

#16 - French Chateaus

Prestige Property Group
Price: $74,730,000

People own houses; rich people own castles, mansions, penthouses and chateaux. Unlike private islands which are intended to keep visitors at a distance, chateaus are intended to showcase superior upbringing and lavish taste. While you may not own a chateau, ingratiating yourself with the über-rich can be expedited by comparing your host to the monarchs that first erected these fairy-tale structures. Europe and particularly France have a healthy sprinkling of these beautiful edifices in some of the most breathtaking settings meaning you can always find an extravagant piece of history to discuss. Rich people have no shame when it comes to acquaintances doting on them and their material possessions.

Consider the magnificent example of a French chateau currently for sale in the department of Jura in eastern France. The property is advertised as a 10 minute helicopter flight from Geneva sitting on 200 acres of walled opulence. The, yes this number is correct, 75,000 square feet of living space features a 1,200 sq ft entrance hall with a “monumental gothic staircase”. The five floor main building houses 34 bedrooms, a Napoleonic drawing room, Louis XVI apartment, Louis XV bedrooms, billiard room, private library and a square tower; damsel in distress not included. Other property features are stables and equestrian infrastructure, a gardener’s house, 19th century workshops that have been converted to sleep 30, courtyard, farm, walled garden, English design lawns, 2 lakes, cascades, grotto and a statue of Diane Chasseresse resembling the statue found at Fontainebleau – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore not presently for sale.

Discussing these features will provide ample ammunition for small talk when discussing chateaus with your new found acquaintance. Their shared love of exclusive residences will make for delightful conversation. Keep in mind, referring to such opulent residences as “pleasant summer homes” is sure to win you respect and another appropriately aged scotch. Engage the right well-to-do land magnate and it may lead to an invitation to accompany them for a weekend tryst with unpasteurized cheese, champagne and fine port….c’est magnifique!

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#7 - Polo Tournament Patron

#7 - Polo Tournament Patron

Polo Tournament Patron
Price: $1,720,000

Stuff rich people love includes sports that the rest of the world does not pay attention to including aerobatics, shooting and polo. Most attractive to the wealthy is that the horse is central to the match and money can buy happiness and success. Imagine spending $1,000 on a basketball that guarantees you will jump higher and score more often. Polo has been a global pastime for more than a century with the Calcutta Polo Club breaking ground in 1862. Fortunately, finding common ground with the wealthy is as easy as a basic understanding of one of the fastest and surprisingly physical sports in the world.

To speak the language of polo you need to understand the basics of Polo. Each team on the field consists of 4 players and their horses. The object is to strike the ball through the posts at the opponent’s end line, the most goals wins. One match is typically 8 chukkas, or periods, which last 7 minutes each. What truly distinguishes this as stuff that rich people love…polo players typically switch horses after each chukka – that’s 8 horses per rider per game!

Furthermore, just as jockeys saddle up the thoroughbreds, the wealthy do not ride their ponies in matches. A patron (pronounced pah-trone) will hire a team of pros to compete in high goal tournaments at a cost of as much as $150,000 per pro for a weekend and provide the horses at a cost of more than $35,000 per horse. Is there a better way to spend $1.7M over a weekend at the club?

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