By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A VIP tent, a warm ocean breeze, ponies, and riders on the sand mark the return of the World Polo League Beach Polo to South Beach.

“My dad and I brought this here in 2005, last year it didn’t happen, but we are fortunate to be back with this sold-out event,” said founder and CEO Tito Gaudenzi. “We obviously took a lot of precautions. We are at half capacity, wearing masks, sanitation stations, but we’re back that’s most important.”

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The event takes place between 21st and 22nd Street on the beach. The 3-day weekend competition combines entertainment, luxury, and non-stop polo action.

“We have 5 international teams, over 100 horses, and players from over 7 nations,” he said.

The tournament will feature some of the world’s most renowned polo players including the man dubbed “The David Beckham of Polo,” Nacho Figueras. He has also been the face of Ralph Lauren’s Black Label since 2005. He says he and most of the team are all vaccinated and are ready to get back in the saddle, literally.

“It’s great to also to have fun again. I think we’ve been missing our fun for a while. It’s wonderful to be in this beautiful place in this great city, which is vibing and booming,” Figueras said.

The Argentinian-born father of four, who is playing on team Seminole Casino Coconut Creek on this opening day, says playing in the sand has its challenges but it’s all worth it.

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“It’s a lot more physical. The field is smaller, so the game is tighter, and we get to fight a lot and it’s entertaining to play in front of this fun crowd and this beautiful ocean,” he said.

Polo fans showed up in style. It’s a luxury sport bringing in a crowd that’s happy to be out and about once again.

“I think for me it’s a sense of appreciation for what we didn’t. Having been isolated for so long. So we are really enjoying being outdoors with our close friends and family and being able to show off what Miami is about,” said fan and player, Amy Deupi.

“Now, that I’m vaccinated and out again, I love being here. I love horses and it’s all so great,” said another fan named Morgan.

World Polo League Beach Polo is on through Sunday with a special charity event that’s a give back for special equestrians.

“This is my first live event I have covered for well over a year due to COVID-19. As large events startup with caution, it’s clear people are ready for some fun and action again and the Sport of Kings brings that and then some,” said CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.

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Lisa Petrillo