Autumn 2016

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TOMMY HITCHCOCK A passion for planes, as well as polo


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Reverso Tribute Calendar watch Eduardo Novillo Astrada, polo Champion, Winner of the Argentine Triple Crown.



08 Ponylines The latest news from the world of polo, including the Chief Executive’s column


Oh, brother The Novillo Astrada quartet reunites to take on the mighty 2016 Triple Crown

life of action 38 A Why polo legend Tommy Hitchcock was world-class – in sport and in war


Secrets of success How, in their debut season in the UK, La Indiana took England by storm.


hrill of the pace T Proof that a good polo pony can have a successful second career as a fox hunter

44 Unbridled success The many ways Tom MacGuinness has made his mark on the equine world


ule in favour R Peter Wright on the changes in the way the English high-goal game is umpired

unday best 28 S How a clever marketeer raised not only IPC Palm Beach’s profile but its profits


Dawn of a new era Incoming owner Mark Bellissimo’s big plans for the all-new IPC Palm Beach

aba Kyari 32 B The Nigeria Polo Federation secretary shares his vision for the sport in Africa

49 Action Reports on the Queen’s Cup, Gold Cup, Coronation Cup, Atlantic Cup, Pacific Coast Open, East Coast Open, Côte d’Azur Cup, Sotogrande Season, European Championship, Maifeld Cup


tars in the East S Maureen Brennan on the lessons learnt at her first East Coast Open




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laying with panache P The spur for the launch of a label that’s evocative of polo’s sartorial golden era

HURLINGHAM MAGAZINE Publisher Roderick Vere Nicoll Executive Editor Peter Howarth Editor Arabella Dickie Assistant Editor Jemima Wilson Contributing Photographer Tony Ramirez Editor-At-Large Alex Webbe Art Editor Julia Allen Chief Copy Editor Eirwen Oxley Green Deputy Chief Copy Editor Gill Wing Copy Editors Kristin Braginetz, Katie Wyartt

in good time All Ham Polo Club, one of the oldest equestrian establishments in Greater London, celebrates its 90th birthday


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Cover: Tommy Hitchcock, at Meadowbrook, in 1930. Photographed by Edward Steichen/Condé Nast/ Getty Images

TOMMY HITCHCOCK His true passion was not polo but fighter planes

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, no responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions. All the information contained in this publication is correct at the time of going to press. The Hurlingham Polo Association magazine (ISSN 1750-0486) is published by Hurlingham Media. The magazine is designed and produced on behalf of Hurlingham Media by Show Media Ltd. It is published on behalf of the Hurlingham Polo Association by Hurlingham Media. The products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by or connected with the publisher or the Hurlingham Polo Association. The editorial opinions expressed in this publication are those of individual authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or the Hurlingham Polo Association. Hurlingham magazine welcomes feedback from readers:

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When most players hear the name Tommy Hitchcock, they think of his legendary polo career – he dominated the sport in the 1920s and 30s. So it came as a surprise to me, on reading Lynne Olson’s Citizens of London, to discover his true passion was not polo but flying fighter planes. In this issue, we include an extract from that fascinating book detailing Hitchcock’s World War II service, which had a profound influence on the outcome of the war. Moving forward to the present day, in Talk, Ruki Baillieu writes about the formula that put La Indiana in the final of the Queen’s and Gold Cups. Those two tournaments were a turning point in polo worldwide and Peter Wright describes what a small group of umpires did to make the game wide open and much more

entertaining to watch. Also in Talk, the new owner of the International Polo Club, Mark Bellissimo, divulges his plans for 2017. In Action, we concentrate on the major tournaments in Britain, on the Continent and in the United States. Continuing to dominate, Adolfo Cambiaso won the Queen’s and Facundo Pieres the Gold Cup. One of the best games this season was the Coronation Cup, in which the Commonwealth narrowly defeated England in extra time. The East Coast Open saw White Birch come from 7 goals down to win in extra time, similarly, against Audi. The polo world now turns its sights to Argentina. On you’ll find the latest news and action from there as well as other places where the game of kings is played.

Clementina Monterubello is an Italian polo aficionado and amateur player. She has spent the past eight years between Washington DC, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Milan and London, playing in each. Currently studying fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York, she has launched a 1950s-inspired menswear polo brand with a classic theme.



Baba Kyari is secretary of the Nigeria Polo Federation. A second-generation player, he reached his peak at 3 goals, but now plays off a handicap of 2, like his father, who was also 2 goals, before he retired from the game because of injury. Kyari has five children, and his sons, who have all played polo since they were in their teens, are 0 goals.

Lynne Olson is an ex-political journalist and the author of bestsellers Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour and Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, as well as Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England.

Alex Webbe has been a regular on the polo scene for over 50 years. A player since his teens, he is best known as a journalist, writing tournament coverage, introductory articles about the sport and profiles of some of the game’s best. He is the polo columnist for Palm Beach Daily News and contributes to two dozen global print and digital publications.



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y BEACH POLO WORLD CUP Fourteen polo teams returned to Miami Beach for the ninth annual Beach Polo World Cup. The action began on 25 April with a kick-off party at The Raleigh Hotel, introducing the eight women’s teams that would do battle the following day in the Maserati South Beach Women’s Polo Cup. The Heys USA team took the top honours while the Bulgari team finished first in the lower bracket. A press party introducing the six men’s entries was held that evening. Two days of play took place in the flooded and by 11am it was decided to cancel the finals. A Monday match was arranged 11am it was decided to cancel the finals. A Monday match was arranged between Yellow Cab andault. Despite the disappointment of the finals being rained off, players and patrons alike made to return 201hen rains came. The sand arena was flooded and by 11am it was decided to cancel the finals. A Monday match was arr 160 words. Alex Webbe

y BEACH POLO WORLD CUP Fourteen polo teams returned to Miami Beach for the ninth annual Beach Polo World Cup. The action began on 25 April with a Apichet (Tal, above right) and Aiyawatt (Top) are the sons kick-off party at The Raleigh Hotel, of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the founder of the Thailand introducing the eight women’s teams that Polo Association. In the UK, the brothers play with Facundo would do battle the following day in the and Gonzalito Pieres. Top won the Queen’s Cup in 2015,Maserati South Beach Women’s Polo Cup. but lost in this year’s semi-finals. He also triumphed in last The Heys USA team took the top honours year’s Gold Cup, but lost out this time round to Tal. while the Bulgari team finished first in the Both siblings are involved in the family businesses: lower bracket. A press party introducing the Top was recently promoted to CEO of the King Power six men’s entries was held that evening. Two duty-free chain in Thailand, where Tal is head of human days of play took place in the 12-goal resources, overseeing 8,000 staff. Srivaddhanaprabhacompetition. By virtue of net goals, the Snr is the owner of Leicester City Foxes, who won the Maserati team were eliminated and the Yellow 2015/16 Premier League in May, despite the bookmakers Cab v The Raleigh finals were set when the setting odds of 5000–1. rains came. The sand arena was flooded and Earlier this year, the brothers won the Asia Cup at Monday match was arranged between Yellow Bangkok’s VR Polo Club, owned by their father, and in Cab and The Raleigh, but player logistics did July, the family’s Berkshire club, Billingbear Park Polo, defen’s entries was held that arena was hosted the league games of the FIP’s 90th Ambassador’s flooded and by 11am it was decid while the Cup, in which all three men competed. In August, Tal tookBulgari team finished first in the ed to cancel a team to Gstaad and Vichai competed in St Tropez. the finals. A Monday match was arr evening. Two days of play took place 12-goal 175 words. Alex Webbe





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{ RMPA OPEN FINAL Defending champions Thai Polo were on thrilling form in the Royal Salute Cup final of the RMPA Open at Royal Selangor, but were certainly made to work by Royal Pahang. Llorente got Royal Pahang off to a great start, scoring the first goal to add to their 1½ on handicap. Raul Laplacette (above, far right) replied, but the first chukka ended 2½–1. In the second, Thai Polo scored five goals – three by Laplacette, one by Carlos Pando (far left) and a 30-yarder by Dato’ Harald Link (second from right) – while Tengku Shazril scored one for Royal Pahang. Thai Polo were leading 6–3½ when Royal Pahang fought back with three goals. At the end of the third chukka, they led 6½–6. At the horse-change break, Laplacette magicked a comeback with a goal, Pando created havoc in front and Quzier Ambak (second from left) took Thai Polo into the lead 8–7½. Laplacette then scored a final goal to give Thai Polo an incredible 9–7½. Shazril was named MVP and Champagne, a nine-year-old chestnut Argentine mare, played by Laplacette, scooped BPP. Peter Abisheganaden

{ CASA DE CAMPO Equestrian enthusiasts can experience the thrill of world-class polo at the 7,000acre Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in the Dominican Republic. Its polo facilities — which include three playing and one practice field — are among the best in the Caribbean, and the luxury establishment is proud to have the largest string of polo ponies under a single brand in the world. Beginners and experts alike can take advantage of equipment and personalised training, as well as pony hire for stick-and-ball tournaments, and matches are played from early November to the end of April for those content to cheer from the sidelines. Away from the polo fields, guests can take advantage of Pete Dye-designed golf courses (above), a marina, spa and tennis courts.


Congratulations to Dubai and King Power Foxes for their respective victories in the Queen’s and Gold Cups, and also to La Indiana, the finalists and underdogs in both. They really stretched their opponents on both occasions. Next up was the HPA’s International Day at Guards. The Commonwealth opposition for the Coronation Cup was made up of players from four continents and the game one of the best for years. The teams were evenly matched, but Fred Mannix and co hit the ball more cleanly and accurately. Having won the Golden Jubilee trophy at the Beaufort, an Ireland team was unable to repeat its success in a match played after the Coronation Cup and was runner-up for the Diamond Jubilee trophy. In August, another team set off for the FIP European Championships in Berlin and won all their games under the captaincy of HPA chairman Stephen Hutchinson. It was a triumph and ensured the HPA was represented, as it had not been able to send a team away during the English season. Women players also appeared on the global stage, with a game set up by Tamara Fox between English and Argentine players at Cirencester. The heavens opened as they rode on, but they still played a good, fast game. The latter were supported by Adolfo Cambiaso – it was he who had come with enough ponies to mount the team. A group of four umpires oversaw pretty much all the 22-goal in 2016. They achieved better consistency and blew the whistle less and less for plays that involved no danger. The alignment of the rules between the USPA, AAP and HPA has certainly provided an impetus to improve the umpiring and hopefully this will continue and can be repeated at the lower levels. Wherever you may be – playing in the sun, on the snow or in the arena, or taking a break from polo until next April – I wish you all the best and look forward to welcoming you back here in 2017.

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y FIP AMBASSADOR’S CUP The FIP celebrated its 90th Ambassador’s Cup in July. It was held at Ham Polo Club, which is celebrating its own 90th year in 2016 (see p66). The HPC is the home club of FIP president Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers (below, back row, centre), its chairman for the past 22 years. The tournament was a lot of hard work, but a great success, owing to the support of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who allowed the first two rounds to be played at his high-goal grounds at Billingbear. He also played in the first match, for Thailand, alongside his sons Top and Tal. Thanks must also go to The Ritz Club, which sponsored the opening cocktail party and two tables at the HPA’s dinner at Guards. All visitors enjoyed playing in the home of the modern game as well as having the opportunity to stay on and watch the annual HPA International on the Saturday, when England played the Commonwealth for the coveted Coronation Cup. Marion Cairns




Edward Horswell, of the Sladmore/Twelve Oaks polo team, is the director of the Sladmore Gallery in London. I started playing polo in 1968. My first pony was a grey gelding called Goblin, who was once likened to a Maltese cat. For me, the perfect game is estancia polo played with my daughters and close friends, either at Twelve Oaks, or El Remanso in Argentina. Back when I was playing six days a week, it was all about winning, but today, it has to be fun as well. A memorable moment was winning the 1982 Archie David Cup at Guards. Despite many failed attempts since then, this year, I decided to have one last try and entered a team with three friends. To our surprise, we won! Coming 34 years after that first victory, it was very special. I still remember the last seconds of the 1983 Harrison Cup final at Cowdray Park like it was yesterday. Half a goal down, it looked like it was all over for us. Suddenly, my brother John intercepted their hit-out and backed the ball, leaving me to effect a simple tap-in as the final bell went. In 1975, I met 10-goaler Bob Skene while working in Argentina for Eddy Moore. He remarked that, while a prisoner of war in the Far East, the only thing that had kept him sane each night was replaying, shot by shot, all his important polo games. I don’t have his clarity of recall, but I have many great memories from the past 40 years. [Former Cream drummer and poloranch owner] Ginger Baker said polo was more addictive than heroin. It’s certainly a hard habit to shake. The combination of speed, control and passion is intoxicating.


y LUCIEN BARRIÈRE DEAUVILLE CUP Located 10 minutes’ walk from the beaches of Normandy, the Deauville International Polo Club has welcomed top players from around the world for decades. The Lucien Barrière Deauville Cup comprises four tournaments – the Gold Cup, Bronze Cup, Ladies Polo and Beach Polo – and attracts more than 10,000 spectators every year. Boundless energy, generosity and competitiveness contributed to the success of its 2016 event, which saw the Talandracas team storm to victory against La Esperanza and claim the coveted Gold Cup. It was a particularly momentous game for Edouard Carmignac (far right) and his son Hugues (second left, pictured with, from left, Santiago Gaztambide and Guillermo Caset), with the Carmignac duo winning their fifth title, thanks to Hugues’s winning goal, which took the final score to 9–7½.

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The second World Nomad Games took place in Kyrgystan in September. The mission of the event is to promote the revival and preservation of the historical heritage of the world’s nomadic peoples. In 2016, no fewer than 40 countries competed in sports that included bone-throwing, and hunting with eagles and dogs. The most popular and competive event was kok-boru – an early and violent form of polo in which two teams battle for control of a decapitated goat.

The Ellerstina Gold Cup will not be played this year. In an effort to engage international patrons, the AAP is to hold a 20-goal Gold Cup tournament during the Argentine Open. The preliminary games will be played at the Association’s grounds in Pilar, which has seen the addition of four new fields, and the final at Palermo. Six teams of the eight required have already expressed an interest in taking part. Participants will be allocated preferential tickets, parking and viewing facilities at Palermo for The Open. Entries close on 1 November. For more information, contact

The 52nd Jockey Club Open was held from 14 to 24 September and generated some noteworthy news on several counts. Firstly, a woman, Lía Salvo (2), played with Adolfo Cambiaso (10), Pablo Mac Donough (10) and Juan Martín Nero (10) for El Paso Polo Ranch-La Dolfina for the first time. Secondly, Eduardo and Miguel Novillo Astrada played in a new formation with their youngest sibling, Alejandro. Salvo and her teammates beat the Novillo Astradas’ La Aguada Las Monjitas, 16-12. Finally, 18-year-old Juan Cruz Merlos began playing with his father, Juan Ignacio Merlos.

y THE PERFECT HORSE Heroism is an unpredictable thing. In a crisis, it is impossible to know who will come to the rescue. That was certainly the case at the end of World War II, when an unlikely team of Nazis and Americans risked their lives to save Vienna’s Spanish Riding School’s Lipizzaners. To prevent them falling prey to the starving Russian troops descending on Austria, a band of Nazi horse lovers joined with US troops to deliver them into Allied hands. In The Perfect Horse (Ballantine, £22), Elizabeth Letts tells the story afresh, incorporating new insights. The Lipizzaners might have been lost were it not for polo. General George S Patton, who supported the mission, was a sportsman who believed ‘playing polo was the closest a soldier could come to experiencing combat during peacetime’. Colonel Hank Reed, responsible for seeing it to completion, was also a highly accomplished player. For anyone interested in history, horses and heroism, this is a book not to be missed. Wendy Williams

y TWO LIVES: A SOCIAL & FINANCIAL MEMOIR When I was chairman of Cirencester Park Polo Club, I was expected to warm up the lunch guests on big charity-match days with a speech of welcome. I always began thus: ‘Polo is a game that, if you have to work in order to afford to play it, you hardly have time to play it.’ In my book Two Lives, A Social & Financial Memoir (Austin Macauley, £9.99), the polo references are thus sandwiched between accounts of my life in the City, for that’s how I paid for those four-legged, voracious consumers of hard-earned cash. When I started playing, polo was governed at club and HPA level largely by retired army officers. As the big money arrived, I watched it become a business. While I loved to play, the social side left me cold, as did the decline in standards of behaviour. If I’ve been too critical, I don’t regret it. The game lives on, like my happy memories of playing it at England’s most beautiful venue: Cirencester Park. Stanislas Yassukovich

x PIAGET POLO S In 1979, Piaget created the iconic Polo watch – a solid-gold timepiece that accounted for a third of its sales. It continued to be a brand stalwart, and this year marked the launch of the new and improved Polo S. Housing an automatic precision movement behind its sapphire case back, it has a cushion-shaped dial within a round 42mm case. In August, Ralph Richardson (left) and Tommy Beresford from the Piaget Young England team staged a head-turning practice on Regent Street ahead of the Polo S’s launch at the nearby Watches of Switzerland store. Guests could take part in a virtual-reality match and enter a competition to win a polo lesson with England pro Malcolm Borwick. Piaget has selected eight international brand ambassadors for the Polo S: as well as Borwick, they include the Canadian actor and producer Ryan Reynolds, and the Swiss bestselling novelist Joël Dicker.

The 123rd Argentine Open will be played in two leagues of four teams. Each team will play each other and the winners of each league will go direct to the semi-finals. The second-best line-up will play the team in third place in the opposite bracket as quarter-finalists. This will add two dates of play and ensure all games have impetus. Under the new system, the best six teams will qualify for the 2017 Triple Crown and the bottom two will go into the qualifiers. It’s thought that, after success in the English season, Argentine umpires will blow fewer fouls and allow games to flow (see p24).



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SADDLE UP WITH NAME: KIAN HALL NATIONALITY: BRITISH HANDICAP: 2-GOAL How did you start playing polo? I started stick-and-balling with two Argentine pros when I was 11. For three years, I groomed for lessons and they taught me everything about horses and polo. I first played farm chukkas, followed by low-goal at Sussex clubs Burningfold, Knepp and Hurtwood. I learnt so much and had to work very hard for it.

Light Nights is a nine-year-old thoroughbred by Acclamation (UK) out of Grecian Grail (Ireland). She was trained by Mick Easterby in Yorkshire and I bought her to our Sussex farm when she was four years old. I’ve been riding her properly for just three years, but I could tell she’d be a great polo pony from the first time I sat on her. She was very easy to make and has always had great speed and agility – owing to that, and her strength, she’s very effective in high-goal polo. I played her in this year’s Gold Cup, and for five minutes during the fourth chukka of the Coronation Cup, and she performed so well, she was awarded Best Playing Pony. That was hugely rewarding both for me and the team who help me throughout the season. Jack Richardson

Who in polo do you most respect? It’s a privilege to be on the pitch with players such as Pablo Mac Donough, Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres, Lucas Monteverde, Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martín Nero. I’m also in awe of the grooms, who devote their lives to polo, but without the glory and experience of playing. I feel very lucky to be part of the polo community. In how many tournaments have you played this year? Five, including the Gold Cup, and I was on the winning team of the Queen’s Cup and the Holden White 8-goal at Cowdray. Which was the most memorable game? The Queen’s Cup final was amazing. It was so much fun to play in front of Cambiaso and Nero.



{ IBIZA POLO CLUB With the opening of the Ibiza Polo Club in 2011, the community of fans and players is growing in the Balearics. Owner Gabriel Iglesias had brought beach polo to the island back in 2010 and it was so successful, it was repeated for two years and then became a regular fixture – and the club’s star August tournament. Adolfo Cambiaso has taken part twice and many other high-handicap players have also participated. This summer, the club had a busy tournament calendar, hosting the third edition of the Mixta Cup and the first of the Father & Son Cup, both in July. In September, it hosted two weekends of the Viva Mexico Fest 2016, during which cultural, artistic and gastronomic events are held alongside sporting tournaments. Thanks to Ibiza’s mild winter weather, it is possible to play polo on the island all year around. The club will soon be promoting its Christmas and New Year tournaments, when it plans to surprise guests with a variety of entertainment, from music to fashion and, of course, no shortage of Argentine roasts!


And what do you love about it? There’s never a dull moment in a polo match – it’s very strategic and you need to be completely focused. When I’m playing, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather be doing.

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Ruki Baillieu on how La Indiana went from underdogs to superstars and reached the finals of both the Queen’s and Gold Cups

After experiencing a very successful 2016 with La Indiana, it’s great to be invited to reflect on the positives. We couldn’t have scripted a better first high-goal season. There are many factors that make a great team. I’ve learnt that strong morale is critical to success. The chemistry within La Indiana spread across our entire organisation, from grooms to players, vets to managers. This made it a happy work environment for all involved. The leadership of Michael Bickford (above, right) was crucial in developing this magnetism. He communicated effectively, was always encouraging and set high standards of discipline in our game. I’d been working with Michael for several years to build La Indiana and one of my earliest suggestions was to buy some quality young horses, primarily for himself. During this period, I travelled extensively across the world to source the best animals I could find within our budget. By 2016, we had accumulated enough seasoned stock to have Michael seriously mounted and to

supplement each player in the team with at least one horse. To ensure each player brought their best-available mounts, I travelled to the US and Argentina to select the horses that were to fly to England. I pushed hard for the guys to bring ‘complete’ horses — that is, ones that play well anywhere. After all, the conditions in the UK can vary enormously and you are competing there against the biggest organisations in the world. This was Michael’s first full season in the English high-goal. He asked me to put together a team that would be competitive and fun and that would utilise him. We had budget constraints, so had to make sure we invited players who were well handicapped but affordable. We fashioned a salary structure that would incentivise them and also paid a lot of attention to finding players with the right chemistry. Nic Roldan (above, second from right) and Agustin ‘Tincho’ Merlos (above, left) played together in the previous season in Florida. Nic pushes forward, making holes for Tincho, while putting pressure on the opposition

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no 3s. Having a balanced team allows Tincho the time he enjoys to play at his best. Julián ‘Negro’ de Lusarreta (above, second from left) started the season playing back and then evolved into a vital offensive tool for the team, as became evident in the Queen’s Cup finals. His ability to be optimistic and read the counterattacks resulted in many goals. He’s a real talent and has everything it takes to be a serious high-goal player in the future. It was Juan Ignacio ‘Pite’ Merlos, our coach, who created our strategy and put together our game plans. Everyone bought into it, and it all came together on the field. We rented the Little Todham barn, which is such a great place to house a team. You can play chukkas there, and the clubhouse is perfect for team meetings and barbecues. Having that facility was a vital part of our success because it created a happy environment where everyone could be together. As polo players know, what happens off the field is just as important, too.


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The 2016 high-goal season in England might well be a turning point for polo worldwide. The consensus from players, patrons and the paying public has been that the Queen’s Cup, and especially the Gold Cup, displayed some of the best and most open polo anyone could remember seeing in the UK in recent memory. In the winter of 2015/16, the HPA made the decision to reduce the number of high-goal umpires for the season. Having had a group of between eight and 12 officials over the past decade or so, it declared that, in 2016,


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there would be just four: Jason Dixon, Julian Appleby, Tim Bown and me. Inspired or foolish? Only time would tell. The hope was that, with a smaller group, greater consistency could be achieved and teams could feel confident the best umpires were available to them. Appleby was back in the UK, having missed the 2015 season due to work commitments for the USPA and returned after wintering in Argentina and Palm Beach. And so, in early May, the season began. The signs were positive, even at this early stage,

that a good summer was in store. We were gelling as a unit and, despite the weather, the teams were playing open, competitive polo. The four of us quickly formed a tight group. We all had considerable prior umpiring experience and were good friends, but it soon became clear we shared something else: the same outlook on how we wanted to call games – that is, cut out the chat and allow them to be played with the minimum of whistles. Armed with the new rules for yellow cards and the ‘sin bin’, our ability to stop much of


This summer’s changes to the way the English high-goal game is played proved popular with officials and players alike, reports HPA umpire Peter Wright

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the on-field talking soon became very apparent. The players were getting to grips with it as well, and the fact there was only one player sent to the aforementioned sin bin in the Queen’s Cup is a testament to how quickly they adjusted. It wasn’t until the Gold Cup that it became apparent just how much things had changed. A great many column inches have been written in the past month or so about how the umpires allowed the games to flow. While I agree, I also believe a huge amount of credit must go to the players themselves. For many years, we have all bemoaned the slow play and negative polo, while relishing the individual skills of the most skilled participants. But now we were beginning to see real team polo, with all four members crucially important to the success of each organisation. By cutting out many of the minor fouls and not aiding teams who were playing in a negative style, we encouraged a faster, more expansive game. As a group, we had not been given specific instructions to open up the game; it simply came about organically. Because there were fewer of us, the hoped-for greater consistency, both from us as umpires and from the teams

Opposite Julian Appleby, left, and Jason Dickson with La Indiana manager Louise Thomas at the final Above Peter Wright

themselves, was indeed possible. No longer were players slowing up as they got closer to the goal, trying to draw the opposition into a foul. Nor were they chasing the back legs of the defender in front, because the negative players were increasingly not being given the benefit of the doubt. As such, many fewer open-goal penalties were awarded, and for the first time in a long time, open-field goals were outscoring 30s and 40s. And games flowed, with an average match lasting between 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes instead of 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours. The UK high-goal season has proved there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the rules of polo – rather, that it’s their interpretation that’s the most important factor. The challenge now will be to translate what has been achieved in umpiring in England to the playing of polo worldwide. With the unification of the rules never closer than now, perhaps this is the time to instigate a global umpiring association akin to that all other major sports around the world have had for decades. It’s the next logical step, and one I believe could propel the game forward for the greater enjoyment of all concerned.

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03/10/2016 16/05/2012 15:27 10:46

DAWN OF A NEW ERA In an exclusive interview with Darlene Ricker, new owner Mark Bellissimo divulges his plans for the reimagined International Polo Club Palm Beach


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03/10/2016 15:27


Clockwise from opposite An aerial view of the current no 1 field at IPC; new owner Mark Bellissimo; April’s US Open final, at IPC, in which Orchard Hill defeated Dubai

When players and fans stream into Wellington in January for the 2017 high-goal season, it will look and feel like old times – however, behind the scenes, major changes will be afoot. At the end of the season, the venerable International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) will be transformed into a multi-use equestrian-sports centre that will incorporate but not be focused entirely on polo. IPC was sold in April to Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP). During the polo season, WEP produces two major competitions – the Winter Equestrian Festival, for hunters and jumpers, and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival – on its two other sites in the city. Those venues having now exceeded capacity, WEP purchased IPC. To quell concerns about the future of high-goal polo at IPC, Mark Bellissimo, CEO and managing partner of WEP, has unequivocally stated that polo is there to stay. Proof of the veracity of his promise is the fact that WEP has formed an entity known as WEP Polo and the United States Polo Association (USPA) has a contract to hold high-goal tournaments at IPC for two further years. As the IPC sale completed after the end of the high-goal season, Bellissimo said he would like to meet with patrons and players in 2017 to work collaboratively on a plan that will grow participation, spectators and sponsorship. Indeed, he and his team have spent the summer exploring sponsor opportunities. At present, IPC has eight polo fields. Sunday feature matches and tournament finals will still

be held on the no 1 field, in front of the existing stadium. The no 2 field, which is currently used on Sundays for public parking, will be the site of the new stadium, together with the no 3 field. It will be situated between the sports complex and outback field, which, like field nos 4 and 5, will be retained for polo. The final two regulationsized fields, on an adjacent portion of IPC known as Isla Carroll, will also be retained for polo, said Bellissimo. That will leave a total of five such fields – not enough to accommodate the entire winter high-goal season. However, he intends to rent a few ancillary fields and make use of a partnership property located on South Road, near La Lechuza Caracas’s field and Orchard Hill Polo Farm, that can accommodate the construction of three more. Bellissimo said no changes are planned for Isla Carroll, which is used for games when changes are imposed due to ground conditions

Wellington Equestrian Partners’ CEO, Mark Bellissimo, has unequivocally stated that polo is there to stay or conflicting schedules. The extensive stable complex, complete with a manager’s office and a long row of grooms’ apartments, is normally leased to a team for the entire high-goal season. British team Enigma Polo have leased it for 20-goal tournaments for the past two years, but don’t plan to return in 2017. Another barn complex on the outback field has long been leased to Orchard Hill for the high-goal season and will be again next year. The Isla Carroll fields, situated across the main driveway from the stadium and the other fields, provides an important means of traffic control. Several smaller driveways wind through it, permitting an alternative means to feed cars from the city streets to IPC’s onsite parking. That has proved crucial on Sundays, which routinely see heavy spectator traffic. Both the USPA and Bellissimo have stated independently that they plan to maintain a ‘long-term relationship’. Whether that means it will continue after their current contract expires in 2018, however, is anyone’s guess.

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03/10/2016 15:27


INSIDE THE TENT Maureen Brennan reflects on the joy of taking part in her first East Coast Open

Taking my team, Goose Creek, to compete in the USPA East Coast Open for the first time this season was a big step. We wanted to get ready for the 2017 Florida season, and this seemed like a good way to start. I had high-goal experience playing as a sub in the 2010 US Open Polo Championship for Pony Express and in filling in for Orchard Hill, Crab Orchard, Equuleus, Faraway and others in the Wellington high-goal season. I get great opportunities in Florida, but this was going to be different. As the date got closer and closer, it started to sink in: this is the East Coast Open – a really important tournament. I came to the Open this season at the invitation of the Del Rio family. The Del Rios asked me to play because Louis Bacon couldn’t participate in the entire Greenwich season this year. I had already played with Mariano Gonzalez, Tomas Garcia del Rio and Marcos


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Garcia del Rio in the past, so I thought, why not – this could be a fun team. When I put a team together, I always look for teammates who try the whole game. I surround myself with people of integrity, people I respect and know I can rely on, both on and off the field. The chemistry between us and the blend of personalities were important factors in us making it to the semi-finals of the East Coast Open. Mariano is the most outgoing of the group. I’m overly serious, so he’s good for me. He’s the perfect combination of intensity with levity: serious at the right moments and light at the right moments. His perspective and outlook off the field is important because the season becomes intense for a period of time, and the team spends a lot of time together. He and I first played together in the 2006 Gold Cup in Aiken, South Carolina, and have done so ever since. We know each other really well.

Tomas is a bit more reserved than Mariano. He is extremely serious in the game. Marcos is super-quiet pre-game. We all lean toward being serious. As a result, our tent tends to be quiet, although there is a vibe of positive anticipation. Our loss to White Birch, which came early in the tournament, taught me the most. I hadn’t played tournament polo in two months, and it helped me get my game on. It made it clear to me that I’d have to play as hard and as well as I could every moment of the game and show no mercy. I applaud Greenwich Polo Club for making such a great effort to create interaction between the players and the spectators. It’s important to promote polo and expose non-horse people to the sport – someone might see a game for the first time and become interested. After the Sunday games at Greenwich, it was wonderful to see little girls line up to get a polo ball signed by their favourite player.


Maureen Brennan, right, hooks Sebastian Merlos

03/10/2016 15:29

T E A M O F B ROT H E R S – VA M O S !

C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S O N T H E 2 0 1 6 PAC I F I C C OA S T O P E N ! _


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28/09/2016 11:06


This page Eduardo Novillo Astrada Opposite Brothers, from left, Ignacio, Miguel, Eduardo and Alejandro

OH, BROTHER This season sees four Novillo Astrada siblings play together for the first time in five years. Carolina Beresford talks to the eldest, Eduardo, about their Triple Crown comeback


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03/10/2016 15:30



Eduardo Novillo Astrada might just be the embodiment of the ideal polo player. Not only has he won every major polo title around the world, but his surname epitomises the family values that make the sport so attractive. He is the perfect ambassador. Having finished a tough high-goal season in England with Apes Hill, Novillo Astrada and his team La Aguada Las Monjitas ICBC are now preparing for the most important championship in polo: the Argentine Triple Crown. The Novillo Astrada family is one of the most prestigious dynasties in polo history. Many of the titles claimed by Eduardo were won alongside his brothers. Their highest achievement came in 2003, when Javier, Ignacio, Miguel and Eduardo won the Argentine Triple Crown with their team La Aguada – one of the best polo organisations in the world – making them the first team of four brothers to win the title. In 2012, the family decided to split La Aguada into two. ‘We originally split because we were five brothers and Negro [Alejandro], who’s the youngest, was always left out,’ explains Eduardo. ‘Being the eldest, I decided to go with Negro and start a new team.’ With the help of Colombian polo enthusiast Camilo Bautista, Eduardo and Alejandro formed La Aguada Las Monjitas ICBC, while Javier, Miguel and Ignacio continued playing for La Aguada. In 2014, Javier passed away after a long battle with a terminal illness. The following year, Miguel, then a 10-goal player, decided to have a year out from playing, taking on the role of team coach instead. But this season, the Novillo Astrada brothers will once again unite and play the Argentine Triple Crown. ‘It’s something that was always going to happen,’ states Eduardo. ‘Before Javier died, he asked us to play together again as a team, but we thought it was better to wait for things to settle down and give ourselves some time to get organised.’ It’s been five years since four Novillo Astrada brothers have played together, and this year’s line-up will be particularly special. ‘I’ve played a lot with Negro over the past few years, but we four have never played a tournament together.’ The Argentine Triple Crown is the most competitive polo tournament in the world, with two teams, La Dolfina and Ellerstina, leading the way. Can La Aguada rival the greats once again?

‘Our goal is to have fun and play well,’ says Eduardo. ‘We’re not aiming to win the Open or any tournament; we just want to enjoy playing together. It’s going to be great because we’ll all be based in the same place. We can share horses between us and practices are going to be held at our family farm, so it’s a lot simpler. We’re all quite hot-headed and sometimes lose our tempers playing, but there are no hard feelings when the game is over. We haven’t quite figured out our positions, but we will probably start with Negro in attack, as no 1, Nacho [Ignacio] at the back, Miguel at no 3 and me at no 2. That was our set-up when we played with Javier.’ Beyond his skills on the field, Eduardo is known globally for his role as an ambassador

The Novillo Astrada family is one of the most prestigious dynasties in polo history

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for Jaeger-LeCoultre. ‘I’ve been working with them for 10 years now. It all began when I was invited to a party in Paris to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the famous Reverso watch. The company was not yet involved with polo and they called me to see how we could work together. They’d been working with Clare Milford Haven the year before. This year, we’re celebrating 85 years of the Reverso, so it’s very special.’ The brand has stormed into the world of polo, cultivating its relationship with the sport over the past few years. This season, it sponsored the Gold Cup, the most prestigious polo tournament in Europe, for a second time. ‘Jaeger-LeCoultre’s timepieces are very elegant and traditional, and it holds values that I respect and share,’ affirms Eduardo. ‘Everyone who works there is young and very united, because the spirit of the brand is all about teamwork, and that’s what I like most.’ The company has presented the 9-goal player with a personalised La Aguada Reverso – a model that retraces the highlights of his career to date. As the family team prepares to make its Triple Crown comeback, a new Reverso will surely be needed to mark the year four brothers reclaimed the world polo stage.


03/10/2016 15:30


THRILL OF THE PACE Rhys Moore explains how the experience of a good polo pony makes it ideally suited to fox hunting – even in the hands of an excited young rider

On a crisp pre-dawn morning in October 2007, in North Salem, New York, stood a perfectly proud polo pony in a field of hunters attired in black and scarlet, surrounded by hounds anxious to be cast. In the tack was an equally anxious, determined and very excited five-year-old girl. The pony had one of those deeply resigned expressions, as if wondering, ‘Where are the manicured fields, the mallets and the clean white balls, the warm weather?’ In the next moment, the horn sounded, the field moved out, the hounds were cast, and so began a wonderful fox-hunting relationship between a little girl and a remarkable polo pony. My daughter, Elizabeth ‘LuLu’ Moore, has loved horses ever since she was very little, and insisted on seeing our hunt, the Golden’s Bridge


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Hounds, off most Saturday mornings. Each week, she asserted she was ready to hunt, despite being only five (‘almost six’) and riding for little more than a year. Eventually, our most senior master, Gene Colley, invited her to join us in the field on a lead line. It was a huge honour. Master Bruce Colley, Gene’s son, selected a beautiful black mare named Marocha from his string of polo steeds for LuLu to ride. He knew the horse’s temperament well. Her steady gait, sure-footedness and calm confidence meant not even an excitable almost-six-year-old could shake her. LuLu and Marocha made the perfect pair – I’ve never seen a horse and rider fall in love and care for one another so quickly or strongly. Within two years, LuLu and Marocha became frequent hunting partners, learning the ways of

I’ve never seen a horse and rider fall in love and care for one another so quickly

the hounds and the prey, and understanding the protocol of the hunt field. Our hunt fixtures are a combination of rugged open territory, narrow and steep trails, rocky pastures and swampy bottom territory. For a polo pony, this is a far cry from soft, flat fields and 7½-minute chukkas, yet Marocha adapted well. She was so confident and

03/10/2016 15:30


Opposite and below LuLu, aided by polo pony Marocha, took to fox hunting from the tender age of five, encouraged by her father, Rhys

strong on her feet, I’ve never had cause to worry about the safety of my young rider. Each spring, Marocha returns to polo in the north. Each autumn, she goes home for another level of challenges designed by an ever-confident LuLu. As they enter their seventh hunting season, they show no less enthusiasm for the sport. It’s easy to understand why LuLu is so passionate about fox-hunting. She loves the thrill of the chase, the demands of the ride, the protocol and ceremony of the field, the traditions of dress, the history and honour of the hunt, and the respect we pay to the land and to the prey. Most of all, it’s her relationship with Marocha that motivates her. But what is it that makes a polo pony a better prospective fox-hunter than any other horse needing a second career? Well, polo ponies are naturally athletic and willing to learn. They are well adapted to riding alongside traffic and have grown up with the noise and commotion of the game, so are not distracted by the huntsman’s horn, a cracking whip or noisy hounds. They are accustomed to start-stops and sprinting runs, and respond smoothly to the strong bit-demands and unbalanced movements of their rider.


But perhaps the most important attribute of all is their capacity for affection. After years of aggressive play on the polo field, of rigorous training schedules and manhandling by grooms and players, these ponies react well to the affection and attention of young and relatively light riders. The soft brushing and sweet chatter must seem comforting to them. I watch Marocha run to the edge of the pasture to greet LuLu when she arrives. I see her take the brush to her coat without resistance, when I know the same action from me would be met with a nip. Gene and Bruce Colley are on to something special. With their initial intention of providing steady mounts to our youngest riders so they could join us in the field, they have inadvertently developed another life for retiring polo ponies. I would encourage both the fox-hunting and polo communities to take Bruce’s lead and develop closer ties to allow for a happy transition from one sport to another for these horses. Polo ponies can make great field hunters and wonderful companions. They develop bonds with our fox hunters and love the sport. They are easy to handle, respond to all types of riders, and are athletic, agile and affectionate. You couldn’t find a better partner to trust with your little girl.

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03/10/2016 15:30


SUNDAY BEST Marketeer Tamra FitzGerald explains how working with International Polo Club Palm Beach on a powerhouse campaign raised not only its profile but its revenues, too

When John Wash, the former president of the International Polo Club, called me in 2012 and asked if our company would be interested in handling the marketing for the IPC, I hesitated. Although I’d lived in Palm Beach County for 24 years, I was not familiar with the club. In fact, I’d never even seen a polo match. And neither had nine out of 10 people of my acquaintance. Polo? I’d heard of Ralph Lauren. And Nacho Figueras – wasn’t he the model for the Ralph Lauren Polo brand? Did he really play polo? The IPC viability was under threat, but it’s just this type of challenge that we like at Venue Marketing, so we agreed to create a strategic marketing programme that would fortify the club’s position as America’s premier polo facility.


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As we began to prepare for the club’s 10th anniversary in 2013, it became clear to us that people who follow polo absolutely love the sport. Readers of Hurlingham are those people. However, the majority of Americans are not. It was obvious to me that our goal had to be to introduce polo and, more importantly, its lifestyle, to the non-equestrian world. So, how did we go from having fewer than 1,000 people at a Sunday match to averaging over 5,000 spectators during the 2016 season? Well, we developed and executed an aggressive public-relations programme, crafted new messaging that ignited fresh enthusiasm for IPC’s tournament matches, and steadily cultivated new markets to engage people in the

excitement of the sport and the polo scene itself. In short, our campaign introduced Palm Beach County to the ‘game of kings’. We communicated the athleticism of both players and ponies, the rules, the game-day traditions, even the fashion. We targeted a non-polo audience, while still reaching polo enthusiasts through both paid and earned media. The IPC was absolutely everywhere: on TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, and at the airport – not to mention all over social-media platforms. We also aligned the IPC with Florida’s powerhouse tourism agencies and captured a slice of the audience share of the 95 million travellers who visit the region every year. Our efforts were recognised in 2013, when

03/10/2016 15:31


Opposite The divot stomp at the 2015 US Open This page, from top Tamra FitzGerald, second from left, with members of the Venue team; jubilant crowds fill the IPC stands


Our goal was to introduce polo and its lifestyle to the non-equestrian world

IPC was awarded Palm Beach County’s highest tourism honour, the Providencia Award, as a formidable economic generator. Together with IPC management, Venue was increasing IPC’s visibility almost as quickly as Adolfo Cambiaso could ride from one end of the field to the other. In just four seasons, we attracted well over 100 new members to the club. Year-on-year revenue realised steady increases. Participation levels and food-and-beverage revenue at the club hit an all-time high. IPC’s Sunday box-office revenue increased approximately 200 per cent in the same period. That’s an extraordinary percentage growth for any business. By 2014, we began selling out the Sunday brunch and polo experience at The Pavilion, which was open to the public. We also started selling out the public lawn seating at the stadium. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, new polo enthusiasts returned every weekend to participate in the matches and festivities. IPC Catering opened new public hospitality options, including the Lilly Pulitzer Patio, the Coco Polo Lounge, the Funky Buddha Beer Garden and the Veuve Clicquot Airstream Lounge. These venues sold out every Sunday – with guests who generally cared more about ‘the scene and being seen’ than watching polo! – and the after-parties continued until well after sunset. It was deeply gratifying to know our strategy not only stabilised the club – with a triple-digit revenue increase – but also resulted in an unprecedented growth in its membership and visibility beyond the polo world. I’m proud that, in partnership with the IPC management, we met the challenge of uncertainty head on, and that our efforts achieved record-breaking numbers. We have to thank our friends in the media for

their impressive dedication in reporting and featuring compelling stories and statistics on the matches, players, tournaments and the spectacle of the winter polo season to their readers around the world. The media has played a huge role in putting the IPC first and foremost as the epicentre of polo – the sport we have all grown to love. The future is bright for the IPC. We worked hard to accomplish our goals and stayed true to

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the original vision of establishing the club as a global leader in the polo industry. The new owners, Wellington Equestrian Partners, led by CEO Mark Bellissimo, have a remarkable legacy on which to build, and we hope they continue to forge an extraordinary future. I’ve now had the privilege of meeting Nacho Figueras many times. And, these days, if you ask people in Palm Beach if they’ve been to or heard of the IPC, nine out of 10 will say yes.


03/10/2016 15:31


y INTO THE WILD Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces has made a major success of its wilderness lodges in India’s national parks, offering world-class hospitality rooted in local heritage. The luxury hotel group, which has more than 100 hotels in 62 locations, recently opened a new lodge in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Set by the Rapti River, with the outer Himalayan Siwalik range as its backdrop, Meghauli Serai has 13 rooms and 16 river-view villas, each with its own private plunge pool. The resort offers canoeing adventures and tiger safaris, plus opportunities to track leopards and, less expectedly, rhinos, of which Chitwan has a thriving population.

x ART OF CRAFT The beautifully made garments of Lenai & Linai are produced in Klösterle, Austria, and sold in the exclusive mountain ski resort of Lech. Founder Sonia Zimmermann has created a fashion label that successfully encompasses both timelessness and modernity, with quirky and contemporary clothing and accessory collections that include handbags (right), wallets and laptop cases. Each design is handcrafted by seamstresses from traditional, natural materials such as felt, loden and wool.

y FIT FOR PURPOSE After studying at New York’s Parsons School of Design, fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore worked with Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan in the city before launching his own eponymous label in India, available in the UK for the first time this year. A member of the Jodhpur royal family, Rathore grew up around polo, so it’s little surprise his collections are strongly influenced by equestrian styles, with riding jackets and breeches among his specialities. With the support of his clientele, Rathore has launched the Raghavendra Rathore Foundation, which provides social support to India’s disadvantaged communities through infrastructure and education.


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{ CLICK BAIT With a focus on ergonomics, Swedish company Penclic sought to create an alternative to the computer mouse. Its mouse moves like a pen, and does so wirelessly. Upright in a docking system, the Penclic B3 allows a fluid cursor movement as the user holds the accessory and moves their wrist accordingly. There isn’t a lot that references a traditional mouse, aside from a small scrolling wheel and buttons. Its emphasis on finger and forearm movement has made it popular with designers, as it ensures a more precise and natural screen-based interaction. Sure to usurp long-standing computer accessories, it is as exciting as it is innovative.

03/10/2016 15:32


y GOURMET GATHERING This autumn, Huntsham Court country house in Devon hosts the inaugural F.E.A.S.T. Project (Finding Excellence Around a Shared Table), a gastronomic experience that gives food-loving guests the chance to hunt, forage and fish for their own dinner in the breathtaking Exe Valley countryside. The adventure begins with a briefing over breakfast before participants are assigned to teams and led out across the valley by a dedicated coach. Back at the 34-bedroom Victorian mansion, guests will be greeted with pre-dinner drinks while a private chef turns their catches of the day into a gourmet multi-course feast. Prices from £750pp;


y BEST FOOT FORWARD JP Crickets combines the versatility of a classic loafer with the comfort of a velvet slipper. Designed in Italy, the shoes are made with the highest quality suede and delicate calfskin leathers, with bespoke initials and logos set in place by artisans. Lines featuring embossed sporting club logos and university crests are among the most popular. Founder Susan Meyer says the idea came when her son and daughter were heading off to university. ‘This is a fun way to show spirit and support,’ she says.

{TOP FLIGHT In its heyday, the Spitfire was the epitome of aeronautical engineering. Now a rarity – with only 35 flying planes surviving – it is heralded as one of the most important examples of design ingenuity to come out of a turbulent part of British history. Goodwood’s prestigious Boultbee Flight Academy is the only flying school in the word where pilots can fulfill their dreams of piloting these rare aircrafts. Students must have a private pilot’s license before they can sign up for the introductory course, which includes learning to fly Chipmunk and Harvard aircrafts to fully prepare for the skills required during a Spitfire flight.

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xPICTURE PERFECT Electronics manufacturer Aiptek has revealed its most impressive projection accessory to date: at 132g, the MobileCinema i70 Pico Projector weighs less than an iPhone, yet packs an abundance of features into its sleek aluminium shell. Connected via wi-fi (or mini HDMI), it allows the user to mirror their tablet or smartphone screen onto a flat surface and expand it up to 80 inches. This pocket mobile cinema is sure to become a staple for movie nights, at home or away. £249.99;


03/10/2016 15:32


BABA KYARI It’s clear to the secretary of the Nigeria Polo Federation: if the game is to prosper in Africa, it needs to be repositioned as the sport of the people, rather than the game of kings ILLUSTRATION PHIL DISLEY

I recently met with Nicholas ColquhounDenvers, president of the Federation of International Polo (FIP). He was concerned about the level of the game being played in Africa and that most African polo-playing countries were not participating in FIP activities. I gave my opinion as to the reasons for this lack of participation, which is primarily the handicap level for the FIP World Cup and how it is impossible for those countries to raise teams to fit into the format. We agreed it was imperative to create a tournament format suited for 4–6 goals to enable the participation of these countries – and thus the idea of a Pan-Africa Polo Championship was born. The nuts and bolts are still being worked out, but this initiative represents a new beginning. I have long been concerned about the growth of polo in Africa, which is the continent most likely to be the next frontier for the game’s development. For our sport to be known worldwide, we need to tap into all potential hotspots, and Africa presents an old yet all-new arena. Polo first came to Africa by virtue of the British colonial army and was played in South Africa in the 1890s. Its popularity then spread to west Africa and other British colonies and, by the early 1900s, was well rooted in most British protectorates, including Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. I have worked in polo administration both at club and national levels in Nigeria and had the


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honour of interacting with some of the most interesting administrators both at home and abroad. My father was a player and had been the secretary of our polo association, and I was privileged to be quite close to the late General Hassan Usman Katsina, chairman of the Nigerian Polo Association and a member of the famous royal household who had propagated the game throughout northern Nigeria in the early days. These two men no doubt shaped my opinion about what I think polo should be and how it might get there. There is a need to elevate polo in Africa and I often ponder how this can best be achieved. A recent report on CNN stated that hired ‘assassins’ are taking polo to the next level in Nigeria – by which the journalist meant the Argentines. The news story indicated that the participation of Argentine professionals is upping the game in Nigeria because it presents a higher handicap of play. For me, this is to the detriment of the local playing community, especially those who aspire to be professionals but are denied the necessary exposure and playing time. The story also indicated that the horses used were imported, which means there is no active local horse-breeding programme – in stark contrast with the estimated 3,000 Argentine-bred horses that have been imported into Nigeria in the past 30 years. Some of our own actions, meanwhile, have tended to make polo a high-stakes and expensive

game, and this turns people off right from the beginning. We need to develop home-grown talent. This should include an active youthengagement and training scheme. There is also a need to lower the entry level for the sport by requiring a smaller financial outlay – and local breeding will surely help in this regard. Unfortunately, there are people who feel polo ought to be high stakes, and others who also steadfastly hold on to the premise that polo is the ‘game of kings and the king of games’. I obviously think otherwise. Right from its earliest roots, polo caught the fancy of royalty the world over. The grace of the horse coupled with the charm of the regal player on horseback was an instant attraction. Royalty and high society bedecked themselves in the vivid colours of pomp and pageantry to attract spectators and to make the sport aptly deserving of the aforementioned title. While I am not worried about polo being the game of kings, it is the second part of the epithet that concerns me. While, as a player, I appreciate why the gracefulness, commitment, skill and thrill of an exciting match can make polo the king of games, I see football, tennis, cricket and golf as having taken the lead in that regard. I believe this is due in part to their accessibility to both players and spectators. We must do away with the regal illusion and try harder! I have always marvelled at what has been achieved in the world of golf. I have wondered

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A sport only becomes popular in a society in which fans can identify with the players

what rabbit the magicians pulled out of the hat to reinvent the game and make such a drab sport such a money-spinner! We need to brandish our own rabbit – to better illustrate my take on this, put Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Serena Williams and Adolfo Cambiaso on a bus to Timbuktu and see who keeps getting asked, ‘Sorry, what’s your name again?’ South Africa seems to be doing something right through its grounds development, its encouragement of junior polo in schools and of arena polo, and its breeding programme. These developments put the country way ahead of the rest of the continent, which should eschew the notion that the sport has to be so exclusive and make it as open as possible, especially to youth.

On this note, I have thought about what the HPA has been doing with its Schools and Universities Polo Association (SUPA) and junior riders programme, and what South Africa is doing with its schools championships. Egypt has also been organising training camps for its youth, while Oho Sports Development Academy – chaired by Mallam Ahmed Dasuki and with South African former 7-goal player Gavin Chaplin as coach – has been at the forefront of exposing youngsters from Nigeria and Ghana to proper technique. Such programmes will help considerably and need to be supported. We need to create a conducive atmosphere for the development of new local talent. A sport only becomes popular in a society in which fans

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and spectators share similar backgrounds and can identify with the players. ‘Assassins’ come, play, get paid and go, whereas my next-door neighbour’s child will become an inspiration to so many. Whenever Nigerian polo is mentioned, one is asked about Dawule Baba, who is still the face of Nigerian polo, yet is no longer so, and has no one with the same talent alongside him. Indeed, it is disheartening that no new kid on the block has reached 4-goals in years and that there are several African countries in which the ‘high-goaler’ is only 2-goals. Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers fiercely believes that developing a low- to medium-goal championship for Africa, which is in Zone E of the FIP, would be a good way to generate interest in the game, especially as national pride and honour would be involved. Subsequent editions may then introduce age limits and restrictions to induce interest in youth development. While I eagerly await the next phase of this new initiative, I hope we will all put on our thinking caps and get a hold of that rabbit in the hat! The FIP has appointed Mallam Ahmed Dasuki as special advisor to its executive committee on Pan-African development. He has championed junior polo development in both Nigeria and Ghana and is based in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He plans to travel to the polo-playing countries in the region to encourage the idea of an FIP Pan-African Championship at 4–6-goal level.


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PLAYING WITH PANACHE A passion for the game of kings and a respect for its traditions prompted Clementina Monterubello to create a company that designs elegant activewear for equestrians


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It was during a seven-month stay in Argentina that I first encountered polo – and I’ve never looked back. The passion of my first teacher and his grooms in Pilar, the players’ mecca just outside Buenos Aires, made me fall head over heels in love with the game. I’d started riding at a young age – the basis for my confidence in the saddle – so my focus was on learning how to stick-and-ball, to push myself to attain greater speed and power, and to become strategic at one of the smartest sports I know. I’m at my happiest when on a horse, so I practised polo at every opportunity. This enthusiasm, and the curiosity that led me to explore Argentina and its deep polo roots, quickly opened my eyes to a wonderful new world. Having come from a more polished, rule-focused equestrian background, I was enchanted by how naturally the relationship between people and horses develops there. Horses play a tame, familiar part in daily

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routines, yet their natural wildness is also embraced, especially during the winter break, when they run free across the pastures. On my return to Washington DC, I started playing at the Virginia Polo Club with my then coach, Alejandro Perez, but I only reached a consistent standard once I moved to Cape Town and joined the spectacular Val de Vie Polo Club. Rarely have I missed an occasion to take part since then, visiting Chantilly Polo Club in France, La Mimosa and Milano Polo Club in Italy, the UK’s Berkshire Polo Club and Mexico’s Costa Careyes Club. As polo embedded itself more deeply in my life, and after a few dreamer conversations with friends, the idea was born of launching a brand, RBR Polo, that would be focused on the sport I love. Polo remains a niche interest, and while it isn’t as exclusive as it once was, and rightfully so, it seemed to me that a sport so dependent on the grace of horses ought to be elevated by a sense of style and sophistication. Driven by my admiration for Porfirio Rubirosa, a player


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Previous pages RBR’s Charlie wool polo shirt and Timothée trousers combine practicality and panache Opposite, from top Clementina Monterubello, with the RBR polo team – from left, Sebastian Angulo, Manuel Maximino, Mani Bono and Edouard Guerrand-Hermès – after winning the Pro Alvear tournament in Ibiza; the Charlie cotton polo shirt and Timothée trousers see action on the field This page, clockwise from top RBR’s R socks, Charlie wool polo shirt, Cibao gilet, LGR for RBR sunglasses, and Charlie cotton polo shirt


I have one eye on tradition and the other on the needs of the contemporary player

– and dashing playboy – who was famed from the 1930s until his death in 1965, I began to analyse his impeccable style and attitude in the saddle, which was embodied in the timeless elegance of the looks of the 1950s. Players today have largely lost sight of the apparel traditions inherent in polo. In my view, the use of technical products is no substitute for panache. The quality of most materials used in activewear is questionable – the trousers have no real shape, and logos and bright colours are so dominant, players look as if they are wearing football kit. I began to research new fabrics that, while highly technical, are mostly natural, which is more appropriate for a sport that is played in natural surroundings. I design with one eye on tradition and the other on the needs of the contemporary player. I toned down the colours and worked with a burgundy, rust and dusty-blue palette, keeping the lines masculine and clean for a great-looking, comfortable fit. We launched our website last year, along with a digital journal that tells our brand story and communicates information about our tournaments. By offering a glimpse behind the

scenes in polo, I want to stimulate a hunger for a better understanding of it and an appreciation of its traditions. I plan to develop the latter into a guide to polo on and off the field. Too often, especially outside Argentina, amateur players are introduced to the sport without having had an equestrian background and, as a result, when they enter the game, they can end up tarnishing its spirit. If a rider focuses only on wanting to play in certain tournaments, on winning, or on posing on a horse, he is a dangerous example to others and will undermine the deep roots of our sport. Knowing how a horse is broken in, how to read and train it, and how to choose the right saddle and garment is what makes a true polo player. Our bestseller, the Timothée trousers, emulate the ‘puffy’ riding style, but have a more comfortable and elastic fit. To complete the look, we’ve designed 1950s-inspired polo shirts in cotton and in wool. As surprising as it may seem, thanks to its natural thermoadaptation, wool is becoming a sought-after fabric for sportswear. The horizontal stripe sported by Porfi rio’s Cibao-La Pampa team is reflected in the

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collection, together with a new version of the polo shirt worn by the Argentine team when they won the US Cup in the 1950s. I’m looking forward to adopting a similar approach in my women’s range, which will be launched in the next couple of years. For now, though, I’m thoroughly enjoying wearing the one item from the men’s line that fits me: the socks! Whether worn while riding, skiing or hiking, they have the most amazing cooling effect, owing to the ceramic fibre that is used in their manufacture. Building my company on my own was a challenge and a huge learning curve, but ambition is the most exciting fuel for creativity. I’m not looking to conquer the polo world – just hoping to fi nd supporters who share a similar vision to mine and look forward to demonstrating that through the apparel they wear, their expertise on the field and their intention to be the best players and horsemen they can be in all aspects of the sport. I’m enchanted by the traditions of polo. I want its core values to survive and flourish in this fast-paced world of ours, in which such principles are in danger of being forgotten.


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Tommy Hitchcock’s pivotal role in two world wars outshines even his world-class achievements in polo, writes Melanie Vere Nicoll

To most observers of the polo world, Tommy Hitchcock represents an extraordinarily gifted player who epitomises a bygone age of unimaginable wealth, glamour and privilege. Born in 1900 in Aiken, South Carolina, he began his career at 12 and was top-ranked at 16. By the 1930s, he was at the height of his game, having achieved a 10-goal rating that, with the exception of one year, he would maintain until he retired from the sport, in 1939. For six of those years, Hitchcock was the only 10-goaler in America, famed on both sides of the Atlantic for his courage, skill and, some would say, recklessness. Indeed, a teammate once wryly commented that he was a 12-goaler in a sport that allows for a top rating of only 10 – an observation that will resonate with many of today’s players. Over the course of his career, he was credited with bringing the game to a much wider audience, resulting in tens of thousands of spectators flocking to Long Island to watch the US Open. In 1921, there were more than 45,000 for the first match of the Westchester Cup, in which he was playing – numbers many of today’s clubs can only dream of. Hitchcock’s friend F Scott Fitzgerald found him intriguing enough to base two characters on him: Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and Tommy Barban in Tender is the Night. While both were wealthy, mysterious men, Barban was also

an adventurer and a courageous soldier who inspired both admiration and fear in others. In her book Citizens of London, Lynne Olson writes movingly about the Americans, like Hitchcock, who stood and fought with Britain in the early years of World War II. In the excerpt that follow, she describes his involvement in both wars, and his true passion, which – interestingly for a 10-goal player – was not polo.

Opposite Tommy Hitchcock at Meadowbrook in the 1930s This page During his time as head boy at St Paul’s School

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The supremely self-confident Hitchcock was aloof, reserved and fiercely competitive, with a slight whiff of danger about him. Unlike Harriman, Whitney and others in the upper-class society circles in which he moved, he was not a ‘clubbable’ man. He did not join private clubs or other organisations for their social advantages, nor did he allow many people to get close to him. In 1917, a few months before the US entered World War I, Hitchcock, then 17, left St Paul’s School early and joined the Lafayette Escadrille in France. With the help of former president Theodore Roosevelt – a family friend, who wrote a letter persuading French officials to permit the underage schoolboy to enlist – he became the youngest American to win a pilot’s commission during the conflict. As aggressive in the air as he was on the polo field, he shot down two German planes


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This page, from top Hitchcock during his service in the Lafayette Escadrille, 1918; with his father, Thomas Hitchcock Sr, at a polo match in the 1930s Opposite ‘The First Goal, Scored by Mr Hitchcock’: a depiction of the 1927 Westchester Cup by Paul Brown

(winning a Croix de Guerre) before being downed himself, inside German territory, on 6 March 1918. Badly wounded, he spent several months in a prisoner-of-war camp, where his two main thoughts, he later said, were of food and escape. That summer, while being taken by train to another camp, he stole a map from a sleeping guard and leapt from the train. Escaping detection, he hiked nearly 100 miles to neutral Switzerland. He was not yet 19. For Hitchcock, combat flying was the ultimate thrill. ‘Polo is exciting,’ he said, ‘but you can’t compare it to flying in wartime. That’s the best sport in the world.’ When the war ended, in November 1918, he went to Harvard, playing polo in his spare time. On the field, a friend noted, ‘He was a chase pilot – first, last, and always.’ Even at the height of his career, he never took the pride in his polo prowess that he did in flying and in his later accomplishments as an investment banker. On the morning of one key international match, he spent several hours before the contest calmly discussing the philosopher Nietzsche with a friend, who asked incredulously, ‘How can you sit there and talk about philosophy on a day like this?’ Hitchcock shrugged. ‘Why not?’ he replied. ‘It’s just a game.’ In the early 1930s, he became a partner in the investment-banking firm Lehman Brothers and brokered a number of key deals, including the purchase of one of the country’s leading shipping companies. Unlike many of his Wall Street associates, he was a fervent isolationist as Europe drew closer to war in the late 1930s. Having seen the carnage of the previous world war, he abhorred the thought of another, and believed America should stay as far away from the conflict as possible. But as soon as the United States entered the war, the 41-year-old Hitchcock volunteered his services as a fighter pilot to General Hap Arnold, chief of staff of the US Army Air Forces. Despite his fame and the fact he ‘knew more people than God’, the air force turned him down, telling him he could have practically any Washington desk job he wanted, but he was too old to fly again in combat. Angry and frustrated, Hitchcock turned to close friend and US ambassador Gil Winant, who was in Washington for consultations with Roosevelt. If he couldn’t fly, Winant said, why didn’t he come to London as assistant US military attaché, to act as liaison between the Eighth Air Force and the RAF’s Fighter Command? At least he would be in a place where there was real fighting, instead of mired in the bureaucratic combat of Washington. And if he could help persuade the two air forces to work together, he would be performing a real service. Hitchcock accepted the job. As an assistant military attaché, he was assigned to the American Embassy rather than


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Polo’s exciting, but you can’t compare it to wartime flying, the best sport in the world

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to the high-testosterone headquarters of the Eighth Air Force. His modus operandi was vastly different from that of the Eighth’s leaders: he thought it far more important to co-operate with – and perhaps learn from – the RAF rather than compete with it. Drawing on his own experience as a fighter pilot, Hitchcock concluded that the British were superior to the Americans in fighter combat tactics and training procedures, as well as in many aspects of the design and engineering of fighter planes themselves. ‘In those days, it would kill any idea if you said to Americans: ‘British operational experience has shown…’, Tex McCrary, a friend of Hitchcock’s, wrote late in the war. ‘Somehow, if a thing was British, two strikes were already chalked up against it in America. Tommy reversed the formula. If an idea had been tested and okayed in Britain’s battle lab, then Hitchcock called it right. He knew the toughest air-fighting in the world was over here. Anything that survived had to be good.’ Shortly after he arrived in Britain, he paid a visit to the RAF’s development facility at Duxford, a few miles outside Cambridge, to observe the performance tests of a promising

new fighter, produced in America solely for British use. The brainchild of a German emigré who once designed Messerschmitt fighters, the P-51 Mustang had been built by California’s North American Aviation Co for the RAF, which planned to use it as a low-level tactical fighter-bomber. Once the test flights began, the RAF knew it had something special. The Mustang, with its streamlined frame, was faster than the Spitfire, had a longer range and, at medium and low altitudes, was nimbler at diving. But the Mustang’s test pilot and others who saw the plane in action believed its performance could be enhanced if its underpowered US engine was replaced by the high-performance Merlin engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce, a British company. RAF officials agreed, and the Mustang was mated with the Merlin. Hitchcock was stunned at the results. Observing the Mustang hybrid in the air and poring over charts outlining its performance, he realised it was, in the words of historian Donald Miller, ‘the plane the Bomber Mafia had claimed was impossible to build – a fighter that could go as fast and as far as the bombers without losing its fighting characteristics’.

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In a memo to Air Force headquarters in Washington, Hitchcock urged that the plane be transformed into a high-altitude fighter, predicting that its cross-breeding with the Merlin ‘would produce the best fighter plane on the Western Front’. His superiors, however, were not impressed. In their eyes, the Mustang belonged to the British; that alone made it inferior, despite its US origins. As Hitchcock noted, ‘Sired by the English out of an American mother, the Mustang has had no parent to appreciate and push its good points.’ Faced with bureaucratic intransigence, Hitchcock refused to give up. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1942, he worked to drum up support for the Mustang hybrid, sending a flood of statistics to Washington demonstrating its sterling test performances and hosting lavish dinner parties at his elegant London flat to lobby RAF and Eighth Air Force higher-ups, as well as visiting dignitaries from the Roosevelt administration. He even took the Mustang up for a test spin himself, much to the chagrin of his nephew, Averell Clark, a USAAF fighter pilot who had flown with the RAF’s Eagle Squadron before the US’s entry into the war. Standing with his uncle on


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the Duxford airfield, Clark exclaimed: ‘Look, Uncle Tommy. You’d better not fly that thing. The test pilot is the only guy who’s been up in it.’ Hitchcock stared hard at his nephew. ‘Oh, the hell with that,’ he snapped, then strode to the Mustang, climbed in and took off. ‘He was right to do it,’ Clark said years later. After all, ‘it was mainly his idea’. In November 1942, Hitchcock flew to Washington to take the fight for the Mustang to General Arnold. ‘The word “channels”, like the word “no”, was an utterance he sometimes could not hear well,’ observed his biographer Nelson W Aldrich Jr. ‘He planned on going straight to the top.’ When, despite Hitchcock’s best lobbying efforts, Arnold expressed little interest in the Mustang, he turned to one of Arnold’s civilian bosses, undersecretary of war Robert Lovett. The two had been friends since the Great War, when Hitchcock had flown for France and Lovett had been a pilot in Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service and then in his own country’s Air Corps. The undersecretary did not need to be convinced of the quality of Rolls-Royce engines – the British planes he had flown during the war had been equipped with them – and after considerable investigation


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on his own, agreed with Hitchcock that the US Army Air Force must push forward with the adoption of the Mustang as a long-distance escort for bombers. There was little doubt, in the minds of many people involved in the Mustang effort, that, if it hadn’t been for Tommy Hitchcock, the Air Force would never have adopted the plane that ultimately became the best, most famed American fighter of the war. ‘He was largely responsible for the P-51B, for pushing that project until it got through,’ Lovett observed. ‘The only person who could have done this was someone who was both knowledgeable as a pilot and who had the qualities of leadership to take disparate people and get them moving in a common direction.’ Shortly after D-Day, Tex McCrary wrote that ‘the tenacity and sincerity and sheer butt-headedness of Hitchcock pushed the plane through the ranks of all its critics until it became the fighter it is today.’ But Hitchcock had no intention of resting on his laurels. After spearheading the struggle to accelerate P-51 production in the United States, he returned to London in the spring of 1943 with little enthusiasm for resuming his duties as assistant military attaché at the

embassy. ‘Life in London,’ he wrote to his wife, ‘is much too easy to make one think that one is actually engaged in waging a war.’ In his work on the Mustang, Hitchcock had been bitten once more by the combat bug: his ambition was to fly the plane for which he had pushed so hard. ‘Fighting in a Mustang,’ he told friends, ‘ought to be like playing polo, but with pistols.’ Shortly after his return, the 43-year-old Hitchcock took time off to attend the RAF’s central gunnery school, where, in the company of young Britons who were at least 20 years younger, he learnt how to fly and fight in a Spitfire. Most of his friends and acquaintances considered his ambition to fly a Mustang in combat, perhaps as the head of his own squadron, to be little more than a pipe dream. However, late in 1943, he was assigned to a base in Abilene, Texas, to assume command of the 408th Fighter Group, then in training for combat in Europe. No one knew how he did it, and the taciturn Hitchcock never explained. But it happened, and the assignment gave him more personal satisfaction than anything he had done since his days as a Lafayette Escadrille pilot in the Great War. ‘The amount of work that must be done is staggering,’ he wrote to his wife.

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‘In 90 days’ time, the group is supposed to be ready to fight for its life. I do not feel I know all the answers, but I have got what I wanted and it’s up to me to make the very best of it.’ Then almost as suddenly as it materialised, the dream fell apart. Hitchcock’s unit was disbanded in early February 1944 and he was made deputy chief of staff of the Ninth Tactical Air Command in England, whose fighters were to supply direct tactical support for ground forces in the coming invasion. Again, there was no official explanation for the decision. Once back in England, he swallowed his disappointment and flung himself into his new duties as head of the Ninth’s research and development efforts. He spent considerable time with its pilots, many of whom had just arrived from the United States. ‘Tommy Hitchcock had a tremendous dynamic and a magnetic influence on these young men, and it was not because of athletic prowess or reputation,’ said Lieutenant General Elwood

‘Pete’ Quesada, the 9th’s commander. ‘Most of the boys in our fighter groups didn’t know a thing about polo or give a damn about it. Their admiration for him was deeper – they quickly recognised his character, his depth of knowledge and the sympathy that comes with experience. He knew how to talk to them.’ Hitchcock took satisfaction in the sterling performance of the Mustang, which was fast becoming the fighter workhorse of the war. He was delighted when his nephew, who was now a group leader, reported to him that his men had shot down 160 enemy aircraft in their first month flying Mustangs, compared to a score of 120 kills in the previous 11 months. In early 1944, however, there was a growing worry about the Mustangs – several had crashed for no apparent reason. According to Quesada, they were ‘just diving into the ground. We couldn’t understand it, and Tommy couldn’t either.’ As head of research and development, Hitchcock was the man responsible for finding out what had gone wrong. He and his advisers believed a new fuel tank, which enabled the Mustang to fly to Berlin and beyond, was destabilising the plane when it dived in combat. Although he had test pilots in his command, Hitchcock insisted on testing out the hypothesis himself. On a bright April morning, he drove to the airfield near Salisbury and climbed into a test Mustang. Flying toward a bombing range, he put the plane into a dive from a height of 15,000ft. Suddenly, it hurtled down, faster and faster, until it smashed into the ground, sending a plume of oily black smoke into the sky. His body was found nearby. In a front-page story reporting his death, The New York Times wrote that the accident ‘brought to a close one of the most gallant men and one of the most spectacular careers in modern American life’. Gil Winant, who notified Hitchcock’s family of his death, wrote to his widow 11 days later. Just as he had done in polo, Hitchcock ‘spent every minute of his time in war trying to win’, the ambassador told her. The Mustang, Winant wrote, ‘is tangible evidence of Tommy’s contribution to victory. Without it, we would not be winning the air war over Germany today.’


Opposite The P-51B Mustang This page, from top Hitchcock during his time in the US Army Air Force; with the Greentree team

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour (Scribe UK, £10.99) by Lynne Olson

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UNBRIDLED SUCCESS When it comes to equine achievements, there are few to rival Tom MacGuinness, who shows no sign of slowing to a gentle canter any time soon, as Darlene Ricker discovers


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Opposite The Rambo Original turnout This page Tom MacGuinness on the polo field

Whether you’re watching a jumper class at the Dublin Horse Show, the Endurance World Championships in Slovakia or a polo match in Argentina, odds are you’ve seen, or will see, Tom MacGuinness in the irons. For decades, the multidisciplined 65-year-old rider has successfully competed at international levels in the most challenging equestrian sports, all the while revolutionising the equine-equipment industry. The founder and chief executive of Horseware is also an accomplished eventer, fox hunter and sport-horse breeder. MacGuinness has spent his life mastering one new skill after another, and he’s not about

to stop now. ‘I like to do a lot of things, not just one,’ he says. His curiosity has driven both his riding career and the success of his company, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015. Horseware has long been known for the flagship product with which it launched, that is, the Rambo Original turnout, which raised the bar for blankets and turnouts. MacGuinness was driven to invent the rug in the 1980s, when he was running his family’s riding school and found himself and his staff spending too much time adjusting and refastening blankets. ‘Horse blankets were terrible back then,’ he recalls. ‘They fell off, they weren’t warm or

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comfortable for the horse, and they looked awful. Turnouts were no better. If they weren’t waterproof, the horse got wet and cold from the rain or snow. If they were waterproof, they weren’t breathable, so the horse got wet from sweating. It was very unhygienic.’ MacGuinness took it upon himself to design a blanket that would stay on and keep the horse warm and dry. He redesigned the back seam, made the neck smaller, added darts, and invented a secure front-closure system. Then he learnt about hydrophilics – a technology that absorbs water molecules and evaporates moisture. He made a prototype and found the heat inside the blanket dried out the vapours. Next, he combined a polymer coating with a ballistic nylon fabric called high-tenacity nylon 6,6, which is used to make bulletproof vests. That resulted in the Rambo Original turnout, which took the market by storm and developed into other popular blanket and fly-sheets lines, such as Rhino and Amigo. To this day, MacGuinness still buys the fabric for his Rambo turnouts in Scotland. ‘I ended up with a blanket that didn’t move or tear and was completely waterproof, yet still breathable,’ he says. It was this wonder product that inspired Horseware’s slogan: ‘Making life easier for the horse and rider’. He considers that mission central to the company’s success. ‘If everyone is dancing to that same tune, it’s amazing how far you will go. You might go at different speeds and with different functions, but you’re all going in the same direction,’ he said. ‘I have a very spiritual view of business and how it works: always think about the customer and treat him or her properly. If you’re doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, and you keep that as the essential motivational driving force within your organisation, you will succeed.’ His philosophy has its roots in the years he served post-university as a Christian missionary in Bolivia, Uruguay and other South American


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countries. He spent several years in Argentina in the 1970s, during the era of the military coup. Although he knew no Spanish when he arrived, he quickly picked up the language – and accent – because, as he explains, ‘If you didn’t speak Spanish, you didn’t eat.’ MacGuinness didn’t ride during those years, but got back in the irons when he was about 30 and took over a riding school in his native Ireland. He continued to improve his blankets and began offering them in three weights: light, medium and heavy. He designed additional models with unique elements, such as the patented V-front closure, high neck, detachable hood and leg arches. His most recent design is the Sportz-Vibe – a lightweight portable massage-therapy blanket for horses and dogs inspired by Horseware’s popular Ice-Vibe circulation-therapy wrap. In the past six months, orders have increased by 40 per cent for Ice-Vibe products, which use ice and vibration for preventative and therapeutic applications and are simple to use. Over the years, Horseware expanded into innovative tack. It makes the Rambo Micklem

bridle, which developed from the Micklem Multibridle invented by MacGuinness’s friend William Micklem. In 2016, it was ranked the top-selling bridle in the world. Micklem credits its widespread success to MacGuinness and Horseware, which was the only manufacturer to recognise its potential. Unlike its competitors, Horseware has manufacturing facilities itself and thus is able to control the quality of all its products from start to finish. An avid polo player, MacGuinness also owns another company, Triple Crown Custom, which makes polo products, including coolers for award ceremonies, as well as shirts and knee pads. Next year, he plans to introduce a ventilated helmet with features at the very top of the industry’s safety standards (BAS/105). ADVENTURES IN EVENTING In the 1990s, having been involved with the Pony Club, MacGuinness took up three-day eventing, specifically the ultra-challenging long format, which includes steeplechase as well as roads and tracks. He purchased, bred

I’m a world champion at what I do. I don’t need to be world champion at everything else

and trained champions that successfully competed up to 3-star level and, in 2014, was named Ireland’s leading event-horse breeder. In 1998, with three horses – a 1-, 2- and 3-star mount – at international levels, he had to take several years off after a cross-country accident. In the interim, they went on to make their mark. Horseware Fabio, an extremely talented but ‘green’ horse he had purchased as a five-year-old and competed himself for nearly three years, was placed 17th individually under Austin O’Connor in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Irish team rider Sam Watson competed Horseware Bushman in both the

This page The Rambo ionic fleece Opposite The Amigo padded head collar


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2010 World Equestrian Games and European Championships. Some of MacGuinness’s other top sport horses include Horseware Lukeswell and Horseware Stellor Rebound, which both represented Ireland in the Nations Cup Championships in April. Although he likes to win, MacGuinness maintains a balanced perspective about riding: ‘I’m a world champion at what I do. I don’t need to be world champion at everything else. I’m competitive but not compulsive.’ PICKING UP THE POLO MALLET MacGuinness came to polo the way many do. Several of his fellow eventers and foxhunters had tried polo and quickly became hooked. ‘They’d always be encouraging me to try polo, saying, “Come on, you’ll love it! You know you will,”’ he says. ‘The idea of hitting a ball from a horse just didn’t make sense to me at first, but as soon as I did it, I thought, “Well, what do you know? This is fun!”’ He started playing polo in 2009 and was immediately captivated by the complexity of the sport. ‘There was so much to learn – the horses, the rules, the team, the strategy – and such interesting people to meet. I liked everything about it from the start.’

The first tournament he had watched was the Argentine Open, in 2008. ‘To watch Cambiaso flying up the field with the ball as if he were holding a tennis racquet was simply amazing to me. I thought, “Wow, to do something like that on a horse at that kind of speed!”’ For the first year or two, he struggled with the speed. ‘There’s no other sport in which you go that fast, not even the Irish Derby. In polo, you’re going flat-out. It may be for only 100m, but it’s as fast as a horse can go. She’s on a loose rein while you’re swinging a stick and guys are bumping into you. C’mon – it’s crazy!’ He took up polo in earnest in 2010, renting ponies for the first two years. Then he started buying his own string and putting together a Horseware team. In the 2015 Florida season, he co-sponsored a 20-goal team at IPC Palm Beach with Tackeria and 5 Star Builders, and it won the Ylvisaker Cup subsidiary. Back at home in Ireland, MacGuinness plays with his son and son-in-law in a 0–6 goal league. He owns a team – which is naturally called Horseware – and is also a member of the Wicklow and Dublin’s All Ireland Polo Clubs. In July, his team took 19 horses and two trucks to France to play in 4- and 6-goal tournaments in Chantilly, which he describes with obvious enjoyment as ‘so much fun!’.

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THE THRILL OF ENDURANCE RACING MacGuinness’s most recent challenge was yet another thrill: endurance racing. He competed in the world championships at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy just two years after he took up the sport and, at the time of going to press, was about to take part in the Endurance World Championships in Slovakia. ‘I’d seen Endurance in Dubai and was amazed at the scale of it: 700 horses in a single stable!’ he exclaims. He bought two 3-star horses in 2012 with the dream of competing in Normandy and made it, but due to torrential rains, the course turned into a nightmare for the riders. It was only MacGuinness’s sixth race, but he surprised even himself by coming in second at the end of the first loop. However, as happened to a large number of competitors, his horse slipped and they were unable to finish the race. ‘We began at 6.30am, when it was just getting light, but when we got into the forest, it was pitch black,’ he recalls. ‘There were people perched in trees taking photographs with a flash and a helicopter was whirring above, with a big light shining down, like a scene from Apocalypse Now. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.’ Praise indeed from a man whose life has been one hell of a ride.


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© Matias Callejo








A flying Facundo Pieres on the ball, chased by Agustín ‘Tincho’ Merlos, left, and Julián ‘Negro’ de Lusarreta in the Gold Cup final

THE ACTION ueen’s Cup 50 Q Dubai held La Indiana at bay to triumph in the thrilling final seconds of play 52


old Cup G The new international rules made for 22 goals of fast-paced, non-stop action, pleasing players and spectators alike oronation Cup C Despite a valiant defence, England were no match for the mighty Commonwealth


tlantic Cup A Age-old honour was at stake when college dream teams Harvard and Yale met their peers Oxford and Cambridge


ôte d’Azur Cup C After suffering losses in the Queen’s and Gold Cups, La Indiana finally got to taste victory in St Tropez


Pacific Coast Open With six well-balanced sides, the only certain thing was anything could happen


otogrande Season S There were fewer high-goal teams this year, but the action was no less intense


East Coast Open White Birch’s Peter Brant experiences agony and euphoria in a win over Audi


IP European Championship F Berlin’s Maifeld stadium played host to two cup games during one weekend

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QUEEN’S CUP Just when things start to get predictable in the polo world, the unexpected happens. King Power Foxes dominated last season, claiming both the Queen’s and Gold Cups, so, when Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres returned for another year with the Thai team, they automatically became the favourites. This season, however, in a dramatic turn of events, King Power Foxes failed even to make the Queen’s Cup final. They were knocked out of the tournament by Michael Bickford’s La Indiana, after losing the semi-final in the last seconds of the game. La Indiana, in their Queen’s Cup debut, were giving the biggest organisations in polo a run for their money. However, just when it seemed Bickford (1), Nic Roldan (7), Agustín ‘Tincho’


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Merlos (8) and Julián ‘Negro’ de Lusarreta (6) might finally have their fairytale ending, Dubai sent them crashing back down to reality. After losing last year’s Queen’s Cup final to the Pieres brothers, Dubai returned to England with a fierce line-up. World number one Adolfo Cambiaso (10) recruited La Dolfina teammate Juan Martín Nero, who would play the season off nine goals. With two Triple Crown champions on board, Dubai won their sixth Queen’s Cup title after beating La Indiana in a dramatic final. Despite their all-star line-up, however, Dubai still struggled more than in previous years, most notably in their league game against Britannia El Remanso, which they managed to win only in overtime. They regrouped in the knockout rounds,

though, easily defeating RH (15-9) and smashing Zacara in the semis (16-12). They would go into the final as the only undefeated team. La Indiana presented a good, even line-up. After losing their first game to King Power Foxes, they dominated every opponent they came up against, beating La Bamba de Areco, RH and Sifani by three, three and nine goals respectively. Being a fairly new organisation, many did not expect the team to make it past the semi-final round; their 12-11 win against King Power was the biggest surprise of the season so far, and Dubai would face a worthy opponent in the final. The hype around La Indiana fizzled out just minutes after the first throw-in. Dubai scored four quick goals and left Bickford’s team looking


In a thrilling final, reports Carolina Beresford, Dubai staved off a resurgent La Indiana to win in the crucial last seconds of play

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Opposite Action in the fifth chukka of the final This page Nic Roldan, middle, hooks Juan Martín Nero, right

feeble as they went into the second chukka 4-0 down. By half time, Dubai had gained a 9-4 lead. Things were looking bleak for La Indiana. But no one would have predicted the series of events that took place in the final three chukkas. With nothing to lose, they came out fighting. Catching Dubai off guard, de Lusarreta scored three field goals, Merlos converted a penalty and, suddenly, they were back in the game, trailing by just a goal at the end of the fourth (8-9). Dubai fought back, though: Rashid Albwardy (2), much improved after playing the US season, was useful in attack, and Kian Hall (1) made things tricky for Roldan and Merlos. Dubai went into the sixth with a two-goal advantage, but a penalty from Merlos and an amazing neck-shot

We had a thousand chances to score. They should never even have drawn the game

goal from de Lusarreta tied the game 11–all with a minute remaining. The crowd was totally transfixed. Could La Indiana pull it off? A foul near their goal resulted in a throw-in, putting them in a vulnerable position. Unfortunately for La Indiana, it was Cambiaso who secured the

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ball and a small cut-shot was all he needed to score and claim his ninth Queen’s Cup title. Dubai’s horsepower and high-goal experience may have given them the edge they needed to win the final, but La Indiana’s near-victory rattled Dubai’s star players. ‘We should have won by four goals,’ said Cambiaso. ‘It was our fault they came back. We had a thousand chances to score. They should never even have drawn the game.’ Laurent Feniou, managing director of Cartier UK, led the prize-giving, awarding a timepiece to each member of the Dubai team. The luxury watch brand hosted the Queen’s Cup for a fifth consecutive year, and its signature lunches and stylish after-parties continue to give the tournament the requisite touch of glamour.


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Until King Power Foxes scampered off with their second consecutive Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup, the 2016 British Open was a grab bag of surprises. It was clear from the get-go that this was going to be a different season, whether you were on the back of a pony, watching from the sidelines or officiating. The matches were 22 goals of non-stop action, with few of those maddening punctuations that can slow things to a crawl. ‘The HPA was inundated with emails from those who’d watched live on the internet, saying how much the games had improved and what fun it had been to watch


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them played in an hour and 15 minutes instead of two hours,’ said umpire Julian Appleby. The speed came from the new international rules launched during the Florida high-goal season in January. England adopted them, as did Argentina, and they made their UK debut in May. ‘The plays different now, but it’s manageable. It’s been very positive and is working well,’ said Appleby. ‘Our priority was to get the players playing as they do in Argentina, with less whistle, and we wanted to encourage them to use the ball more freely and not manufacture fouls. We all had a great season and they loved it.’

Fervent expectations of a final showdown in the British Open between white-hot rivals King Power and Valiente were dashed when the league configuration prematurely pitted the behemoths against each other. King Power eked out a last-gasp win over Valiente in the semis, and La Indiana took Zacara by the same 11–10 margin. That relegated the final to a tussle between defending champions King Power Foxes and La Indiana, who came into the season as underdogs. If you’d taken the final digits on the scoreboard (9–5) at face value, you’d have thought it was a flat-out massacre. But La Indiana kept the


The new international rules made for fast-paced action that thrilled the players every bit as much as those watching around the world, reports Darlene Ricker

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Opposite Apichet ‘Tal’ Srivaddhanaprabha, left, hooks Michael Bickford This page, from left Merlos and Pieres play tennis with the ball; each winner received an engraved Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso timepiece

double-Pieres-powered team at bay for the first half, which ended 3–all. Had La Indiana not sputtered out in the last two chukkas, out-horsed, they might have pulled off an upset victory. It wouldn’t have been La Indiana’s first magic trick of the season. Michael Bickford’s team trotted into England in May with an entirely new line-up – and a question mark hanging over their heads. Even though they were packing the triple firepower of Nic Roldan, Agustín ‘Tincho’ Merlos and Julián ‘Negro’ de Lusarreta, few imagined La Indiana would become the only team to volley their way into the final of all three of the 22-goal tournaments: the Queen’s and Gold Cups and Jaeger-LeCoultre Trippetts Challenge. ‘We’re still on cloud nine,’ said Roldan in August. ‘Those great seasons don’t come along all that often.’ La Indiana rode into the British Open with the same strong line-up as Trippetts and Queen’s. Valiente had to regroup, but came toting Aldolfo Cambiaso. Under a deal struck a year ago between patrons Rashid Albwardy (Dubai) and

Bob Jornayvaz (Valiente), Cambiaso competed for Dubai in the US 26-goal season and Valiente in the British Open. Dubai was loaned their pick of 50 top horses from Valiente’s exquisite string. When Jornayvaz was sidelined with a broken foot just before the Open quarter-finals, Cambiaso spent several intense days experimenting with various incarnations of the line-up. The question was which combination of young players could best support him and Juan Martín Nero. The decision to pair 18-year-old Kian Hall with Jornayvaz’s son Rob, 25, was a major factor in Valiente’s 14–7 trouncing of Clarke & Green in the quarter-finals. Hall scored five goals and Jornayvaz one – almost half of Valiente’s goals. The other quarter-final matches ended with a three-goal spread: La Indiana/Talandracas 12–9; Zacara/HB Polo 9–6. HB Polo wielded a powerful weapon: 10-goaler David ‘Pelón’ Stirling. The team had been champing at the bit to recruit him when he was with El Remanso. ‘We had to wait for him, but this year we got him!’

We’re still on cloud nine. Those great seasons don’t come along all that often

said patron Sébastien Pailloncy, describing playing alongside Stirling ‘like playing with the king’. ‘Valiente may have the master,’ he said, referring to Cambiaso, ‘but we have the king!’ HB Polo moved from France to England a few years ago, and Pailloncy and his brother and fellow patron Ludo were representative of the strong French flavour of this year’s British Open. Three of the 13 teams –Talandracas, La Bamba de Areco and Murus Sanctus – came from France. Talandracas’s patron Edouard Carmignac returned with Polito Pieres and Guillermo ‘Sapo’ Caset, bringing Tommy Beresford on board, while 2009 British Open winner Jean François Decaux was back with La Bamba de Areco: Cristian ‘Magoo’ Laprida, Diego Cavanagh and Rodrigo Rueda. Murus Sanctus made their British Open debut this year, with French patrona Corinne Ricard making a strong impression with Alfredo Capella, Facundo Sola and Manuel Elizalde.

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It was the Canadian Fred Mannix Jr who lifted the mighty cup after the Commonwealth’s narrow 12–11 victory over England in the Royal Salute Coronation Cup. This is the second time a Commonwealth team have captured this trophy – they won in extra time back in 2002 – but this year’s event will stand out, as the winners were truly representative of the Commonwealth, including as they did a player from Pakistan, Hissam Ali Hyder, for the first time. The HPA knew England would have a tough game and so it fielded a much younger squad to counteract the Commonwealth powerhouse. ‘The Commonwealth were a strong team on paper and they gelled well as a team on the day,’ said England’s no 2 and Land Rover ambassador


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Max Charlton. ‘I go back a long way with Hissam and knew that he and his teammates were determined to put on a show. JP [Clarkin] and Chris [Mackenzie] had great games, too, and they were led from the front by Mr Mannix. I thought we did well to hold them so close, right up to the final chukka.’ In fact, the spectators, including HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Royal Salute’s Peter Moore and HPA chairman Stephen Hutchinson, were treated to a fast-paced game, with the scores level, 6–6, at half time. England’s match plan was to play a running game: ‘We really wanted to hit the ball up and play good, open polo, which we did,’ said Charlton. ‘At half time, our coach Russo [Eduardo Heguy]

told us to keep using the ball and to pass it as quickly as we could.’ Although Heguy’s advice appeared to pay off in the fourth, with goals from Coronation Cup newcomer Jack Richardson and England captain James Beim, the Commonwealth team were equally fired up. Goals from every member of the team ensured the visitors had a slight advantage going into the final chukka. Mannix began the final chukka by converting a penalty, but it was England who were in command. Both Beim and James Harper, also making his Coronation Cup debut, shot through a goal each to bring the home side back into contention. But time was against them, and with a score of 12–11, it was victory once again to the Commonwealth.


A strong England team put up a good fight, but were no match for the Commonwealth powerhouse in this fast-paced match, reports Diana Butler

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Opposite James Harper on the ball This page, from top Fred Mannix Jnr receives the cup from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Stephen Hutchinson; MVP Chris Mackenzie chased by Max Charlton

They may have lost, but England should be proud of their style of play

They may have lost, but England should be proud of their style of play. The Royal Salute Coronation Cup remains the showcase test match for the England Polo Team, and this was a masterclass of open polo. As Charlton reflected later, ‘It is a pleasure and a privilege to wear the England shirt and play for my country. We are following in the footsteps of great players, in front of the royal family, and have the opportunity to play against top-class players, like this Commonwealth team.’ Hutchinson echoed these sentiments. ‘Congratulations to the GT Bank Commonwealth team for their victory here today. Fred Mannix Jr and his fellow Commonwealth players provided us with an impressive display of teamwork and individual play and justly deserved to lift the very special Royal Salute Coronation Cup. Although it would have been nice to see an England victory in my first Royal Salute Coronation Cup as chairman of the HPA, a good game is the aim of the day, and the teams have certainly given us that. I would like to thank the captains and the players, as well as both coaches and all those behind the scenes, for their contribution to this important day for English polo. It is clear that Royal Salute has established a world-class


platform on which polo can be promoted to an increasingly discerning audience.’ The Best Playing Pony prize went to Jack Richardson’s 10-year-old bay mare, Night Lights, while the Garrard MVP prize went to 23-year-old South African Chris Mackenzie, who had been so impressive in defence for the Commonwealth. The HPA’s Ferguson Trophy for Best Young Player of the Year was presented to Tommy Beresford by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The crowds also witnessed The Duke receiving a special tribute: a Royal Salute 90th-Anniversary Limited Edition to honour the Queen’s birthday. In a change of format, a second game was played later that afternoon. This featured a Piaget Young England team in action against Ireland in a drama-filled match. Max Hutchinson, son of the HPA’s chairman, retired injured and his place was taken by the Irish international Sebastian Dawnay. But the addition of Dawnay could not stop England, led by Ollie Cudmore, from winning the Diamond Jubilee Trophy 4–3. Ireland’s captain Niall Donnelly received the Best Playing Pony prize for his mare Chelsea.

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In a packed long weekend of polo, Harvard and Yale Universities were invited to renew the challenge to their rivals across the Atlantic, Oxford and Cambridge. As much a celebration of student polo as a battle for supremacy, the resuscitated Atlantic Cup tournament once again showcased its huge appeal, both to the emergent talent participating as well as the large crowds that it attracted.

 The Atlantic Cup preliminaries kicked off on Friday 3 June at Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire, with a determined Cambridge side resolutely


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fending off strong play from an experienced Harvard team to win by just one goal. Meanwhile, a valiant Yale side led by Elias Vere Nicoll succumbed to defeat by firm favourites Oxford. The underdogs in terms of experience, the latter were certainly the winners in the style stakes. 

 Saturday 4 June heralded the La Martina Varsity Day, hosted in partnership with Guards Polo Club in front of a huge number of fans from both sides of the pond. The La Martina clothing brand, which has supported university polo for the past 20 years, generated the usual

celebratory atmosphere. As the company’s founder, Lando Simonetti, noted, ‘We’ve always been focused on promoting the integrity, sense of honour and sportsmanship that’s at the heart of the sport to young players and their peers.’ This passion was echoed post-match by Yale player Antonia Campbell: ‘We love playing here – it’s the biggest adrenaline rush you’ll ever experience in your life. You can see improvement in play from chukka to chukka and game to game – and if you’re lucky and it works out and you win, it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.’


When Harvard and Yale met Oxford and Cambridge to battle it out for collegiate honour, the atmosphere was guaranteed to be electric – both on and off the field

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Opposite Johann ColloredoMansfeld of Harvard in front of the pack This page, from top Oxford’s George Pearson at Varsity Day; Cambridge, left, faces Yale in the throw-in

The day started with an alumni match in which the Oxford Old Blues gained the upper hand over the Cambridge Old Blues, and was followed by a confident win by Harvard over their Ivy League rivals, Yale. Next up was the much-hyped Oxford vs Cambridge match. This fixture has been played annually since 1879 off the stick – that is, with no handicap deductions. Cambridge tried to the bitter end to stem the tide of goals from the much more experienced 3-goal team led by 2-goaler George Pearson, but the match ended with a record win to Oxford, which is undoubtedly one of the strongest student sides around today. Thanks to the generosity of La Martina and Guards Polo Club, in addition to some thrilling polo, supporters enjoyed live music, giveaways and all the fun of an English garden-partythemed afternoon. Sunday saw a reprise of the festive spirit, with the sun shining for the Atlantic Cup final. More than 600 spectators were in attendance as Cambridge, led by Theo Wethered, racked up a win over Yale, and Harvard, returning with

This was a true celebration of university polo: great rivalry, great fun and great support


their top player, Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld, secured a victory over the Oxford team. Three sides each having secured two wins, the rankings fell to goal difference, with Yale falling into 4th place and Cambridge 3rd, edged out by Harvard, who were in 2nd after their strong margin against Oxford, with Oxford taking home the Atlantic Cup. This was a true celebration of university polo: great rivalry, great fun and great support from on-the-day sponsors Tata Communications and Camford 1209, and partners La Martina and the Cambridge County and Guards Polo Clubs.

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August’s Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open (PCO) at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, in California, was a three-week guessing game. With six well-balanced teams, two of them new, the only certain thing was that anything could happen. That made for one of the most exciting high-goal tournaments of the US summer season. Restoration Hardware (RH) took home their first PCO trophy after 12 years of trying, defeating FMB Too! 13–9. The biggest wild card of the event was PCO newcomer FMB Too!, who stunned everyone by smoothly playing their way into the final. The team’s idiosyncratic name came about as the result of an inside joke between Danny and Henry Walker, two patrons of opposing teams who also happen to be brothers.


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Off the field, they are colleagues and executives at Farmers & Merchants Bank. Henry used to enjoy teasing Danny about his ‘FMB1’ licence plate, claiming he was going to get one that read ‘FMB Too!’ However, he got himself a polo team and gave that the name instead. Odds-on favourite FMB came into the tournament with an unblemished record, having just won the USPA’s Maserati Silver Cup and Nespresso America Cup at Santa Barbara. But that didn’t stop their opponents from nipping at their heels all the way through the PCO. Against strong opposition, FMB landed in the top spot in the semi-final pairings with a 3–0 record. Klentner Ranch and RH finished 2–1 and FMB Too! grabbed the last semi-final berth after beating Lucchese in the penalty shoot-out.

Young Chilean player Felipe Vercellino was the epitome of cool, scoring from the 40- and 60-yard lines for FMB Too! and taking both shots at a dead walk. The semi-finals showcased fluid, wide-open polo at its finest. ‘You could see the challenge on the field: the team that struggled early on in the tournament [RH] taking on the team that’d had a lot of success [FMB],’ said Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club manager Melanja Jones. ‘RH were very hungry.’ The young guns of RH gelled at just the right juncture in the semi-final to fight back from an 8–4 deficit against FMB, and blazed ahead on a 5-goal run to take the win. In the other semi-final, strong teamwork from all players, particularly the two patrons, Henry Walker and Francisco


Six stellar teams made for a tournament that kept everyone guessing, but Restoration Hardware proved the worthy victors, reports Darlene Ricker

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Opposite Half-time in the semi-finals of the Pacific Coast Open as a wildfire rages on the horizon

de Narváez, enabled FMB Too! to knock out a very tough Klentner Ranch team. Both RH and FMB Too! brought everything they had to the final, and goal-scoring was neck-and-neck though the first half. Going into the fourth, RH ‘scrambled their line-up’, said Walker. ‘They moved Santi von Wernich from the back to the front and Costi Caset to the middle.’ And that, he said, presented a major challenge. ‘Costi’s very slippery. If he gets the ball on one of his fast horses, he’s gone.’ RH blew the game open, scoring an unanswered five goals behind explosive runs from Caset and perfect penalty shooting by Jason Crowder. That chukka made all the difference. FMB Too!’s strategy going into the final was ‘to create an imbalance or mismatch’ in the RH line-up, explained Walker. ‘My job was to

eliminate Santi from the field – I was all over him for the entire game. Meanwhile, Paco [Francisco de Narváez’s son] and Pepe [Felipe Vercellino] worked on the others.’ Francisco de Narváez, who played with a fractured wrist and two broken ribs, ‘showed wisdom and depth of knowledge’ throughout the tournament, said Walker. RH team founder Ben Soleimani described

The four of us played for each other and that’s how we won: through selflessless

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the PCO as ‘a great tournament, but not an easy one to win’. He said it was much more competitive than he had thought it would be. ‘But our team just kept getting better and better, and then we clicked. The four of us played for each other and that’s how we won: through selflessless.’ Coming off the English season, RH took the West Coast by storm in what was Santa Barbara natives Caset and Crowder’s first year back in the United States, and the home-town victory carried deep meaning for them. Indeed, Caset called it the ‘biggest win of my life’ and said he had long dreamed of winning the PCO. To top it off, he went home with an armful of awards: he was named Most Valuable Player and his fourth-chukka horse, Chelo Poncho, was named Best Playing Pony.


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EAST COAST OPEN White Birch reclaimed the title from Audi in an anything-could-happen match that was a replay of the 2015 final, reports Alex Webbe

A total of eight teams signed up for the East Coast Open, ranging in handicap from 17- to 20-goals, with four of them considered to be serious contenders. White Birch (Santino Magrini, Hilario Ulloa, Mariano Aguerre and Peter Brant) were among the favourites, as were the defending Audi team (Marc Ganzi, Leo Mandelbaum, Nic Roldan and Sebastian Merlos). Airstream took the field without patron Peter Orthwein, with 16-year-old Agustin Bottaro taking his place. Guille Aguero, Matias Magrini and Kris Kampsen completed the


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line-up. Maureen Brennan’s Goose Creek (with Marcos Garcia del Rio, Tomas Garcia del Rio and Mariano Gonzalez) were the fourth serious threat in the field. The contenders comprised the Faraway team, captained by brothers Bo and Hutton Goodman, (with Inaki Laprida, Julian Daniels and Pelon Escapite); Annabelle Gundlach’s Postage Stamp Farm (with Brandon Phillips, Salva Ulloa and João Paulo Ganon); Luis Rinaldini’s Tupungato (with Santi Torres, Naco Taverna and Gaston Lisioli); and a 17-goal Beluga team led by Chris

Brant, son of Greenwich Polo Club founder Peter Brant (with Nick Manifold, Francisco Elizalde and Tommy Biddle). Neither Audi nor White Birch had difficulties in preliminary play, each amassing perfect 3–0 records – the much-anticipated rematch from last year’s extra-time thriller was on. Audi struck early in the final, with Merlos scoring on a pass from the opening throw-in. Roldan then scored back-to-back goals from the field, with a bewildered White Birch appearing stunned by their opponents’ aggressive lightning attack.

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Opposite Hilario Ulloa on the ball in the final This page Sixteen-year-old Santino Magrini, right, scoring the winning goal in extra time

Ulloa finally got White Birch on the scoreboard with a 60-yard penalty conversion, but Audi claimed an early 3–1 lead. Three more unanswered goals in the second chukka had Audi riding off the field at the end of the period with a commanding 6–1 advantage. The two teams traded goals in the third as White Birch struggled to steady themselves, and the first half ended with Audi five ahead, 9–4. White Birch made some half-time adjustments in an effort to get back into the game, and the changes began to work: 16-year-old Magrini was sent after Audi’s Mandelbaum in an effort to keep him from harassing Ulloa and Aguerre. It was thought if this duo were free to operate, they could slow down Roldan and put some White Birch goals on the scoreboard. Aguerre also felt they had to control the pace of the game – if Audi were allowed to continue to hit and run, White Birch would be stopped from staging a comeback. As the fourth chukka got underway, the strategy began to work. Three straight goals from White Birch were accompanied by shut-out defence. Audi continued to lead, but momentum had shifted and White Birch trailed by just two

goals, 9–7. Two fifth-chukka penalty goals by Ulloa were countered by a single goal from Merlos, and after five periods of play, Audi were struggling to hold on to a fragile 10–9 lead. Ulloa broke away from Merlos in the sixth to score his eighth goal of the afternoon, and levelled the score at 10–10. Merlos followed up on a penalty shot of his own (the fifth penalty of the match), racing down the field and giving the lead back to Audi, 11–10. Penalties continued to plague Audi, with Ulloa returning to the penalty line, where he converted a 40-yard shot to deadlock the score at 11–11. With 32 seconds on the clock, White Birch captain Peter Brant suffered an injury away from the play and was replaced by young player Justin Daniels. In a dramatic effort by Daniels, he broke loose with seconds on the clock in a dash down the field, but the final horn sounded with Daniels short of the Audi goal, resulting in a sudden-death overtime chukka. After a brief intermission allowing both teams to acquire fresh mounts, Audi and White Birch returned to the field. Following the throw-in, Roldan broke away with the ball and raced toward

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The much-anticipated rematch from last year’s extra-time thriller was on

the White Birch goal. A shot from the American 8-goaler went just wide, however, and the game continued. White Birch mounted an attack on the Audi goal and, with Roldan attempting to clear the ball across the goal mouth, Magrini connected on a well-executed backhander that sent the ball through the posts and gave the 12–11 win in extra time to White Birch. Ulloa led all scoring with nine goals, Magrini scored twice and Aguerre added another to secure the victory. Roldan’s six set the offensive pace for Audi, meanwhile, and earned him MVP honours. Merlos was credited with four goals and Ganzi scored once. Aguerre’s fifth-chukka pony, Machitos Bersuit, was named BPP.


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CÔTE D’AZUR OPEN The 22-goal La Indiana team (Michael Bickford, Nic Roldan, Agustín ‘Tincho’ Merlos and Julian ‘Negro’ de Lusarreta) flirted with infamy this summer as they battled their way to the final of the Queen’s Cup and the Gold Cup in the British Open, only to fall short in the final matches. With a new team and a reorganised effort, Bickford hoped to improve on their earlier efforts in the 18-goal Côte d’Azur Open in St Tropez. An international trio was recruited by the American-born Bickford: Ruki Baillieu from Australia, Jaime Huidobro from Chile and Jamie Morrison from England. La Indiana got off to an ominous start, suffering an 11-7 opening loss to F Polo (Nicky Sen, Felipe Llorente, Sebastian


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Harriott and Polito Pieres), with Pieres leading the charge with eight goals. ‘It was our first game together,’ said 3-goaler Morrison. ‘I was playing injured, with a tennis elbow, Ruki hadn’t played much that summer and we were all trying to get our horses right.’ La Indiana bounced back in their next match, building up an early lead against Composite Works (Helen Goddard-Watts, Bautista Ortiz de Urbina, Pablo Jauretche and JM Garcia Laborde) before triumphing 9-6½. The win was gratifying, but the team still wasn’t in sync. A loss to 21st Luxury (Francisco Menéndez, Eduardo Menéndez, Gualtiero Giori and Silvestre Fanelli) saw their anaemic offence limited to just

three goals in the opening four chukkas, all on penalty conversions. At the end of preliminary play, four teams were tied with 1–2 records, but La Indiana won their way through a shoot-out to make it to the semi-finals, meeting the undefeated King Power (Miguel Mendoza, Matías Nigoul, Alfonso Pieres and Gonzalito Pieres). It had been a King Power team that crushed Bickford’s dream of winning the Queen’s Cup back in June, and now the two teams – albeit with altered line-ups – were facing off again. A change to La Indiana’s alignment sent Morrison to the no 2 position while Baillieu moved to no 3 and Huidobro settled in to the back spot. King Power 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres controlled


After a summer of frustration in the Queen’s and Gold Cups, a reorganised La Indiana surged ahead to seize the trophy in St Tropez

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Opposite The teams celebrate with their families This page Ruki Baillieu on the near side, with Valentin Novillo Astrada on his hip

the first half of play, scoring three times in the first chukka alone and running the team’s lead up to 5–1 at the end of the third period. ‘We were playing well, but we just weren’t scoring,’ Morrison explained. ‘We were getting shots on goal, but the ball wasn’t going through the posts. However, we knew that if we kept taking the shots, the goals would come.’ A regrouped La Indiana took the field in the fourth chukka, but it was Pieres who scored the opening goal and ran the lead up to five goals, which became 6–1 when Bickford and company got going. A goal by Morrison was followed by three from Baillieu, two of those on penalty conversions. After four chukkas, the King Power lead stood at a single goal, 6–5.

Fifth-chukka goals from both Mendoza and Pieres – the latter another penalty conversion – had King Power ahead by three goals when La Indiana rallied. Bickford scored first, followed by two goals from Morrison that tied the game at 8–8. Baillieu scored the winning goal, giving La Indiana some sense of satisfaction at having knocked King Power out of the Côte d’Azur Open with a 9–8 victory to earn a spot in the final. The Ferne Park team (Rodrigo Rueda, Joaquin Pittaluga, Valentin Novillo Astrada and Jonathan Rothermere) took up the other finalist position on the strength of a 2–1 preliminary record and a 9–7 win over F Polo in the semi-final. La Indiana took an early lead over Ferne Park, 2–1, but fell behind after the second chukka, 5–4.

Unanswered goals from Huidobro and Morrison gave La Indiana a 6–5 edge after the third. They went ahead 8–6 in the fourth chukka, but an injury sustained by Baillieu at the end saw Francisco Menéndez take his place. La Indiana was trailing 9–8 in the fifth, with time running down on the game clock. Huidobro tied the game at 9–9 with a penalty conversion and Menéndez scored the winner, 10–9, with just nine seconds to go. Huidobro was named Most Valuable Player and Bickford’s Lana (who was played by both Baillieu and Menéndez) was honoured as Best Playing Pony. After suffering losses in the finals of the Queen’s Cup and the British Open, La Indiana were at last able to triumphantly hoist the Côte d’Azur Open cup aloft in victory.

We weren’t scoring. But we knew that if we kept taking the shots, the goals would come

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In Sotogrande this August, there were notably fewer teams competing in the high-goal. Only five took part in the 2016 event – down from eight in the previous year and 12 in 2014. This decline can be attributed to several factors: fewer patrons, the pairing-up of top players to create superteams, and last year’s complaints to Santa Maria Polo Club about problems with the fixtures, refereeing and organisation of the tournaments. Following a successful adjustment to umpiring during the English season, clubs such as Santa Maria should perhaps follow the Hurlingham Polo Association’s initiative with high-goal umpiring (as explained by Peter Wright on page 24). There were more teams taking part this year in both the medium- and low-goal categories, however. Though the Spanish season is short, it is very intense, with 100-plus games played during four and a half weeks. Cancha III became the main ground for the high-goal finals because of its viewing capacity from both sides, which better accommodated the ever-increasing crowd.


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Brunei made history by winning the Silver Cups in both the high- and medium-goal categories, as well as the Gold Cup for the medium-goal. Their patron, Bahar Jefri, is no stranger to Sotogrande, having won the Spanish Triple Crown in 2008 with his then-team Amibah. He returned this year with excellent organisation and a high-goal team comprising two 10-goal players, David ‘Pelon’ Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough, and British rookie Josh Cork. The Casa de Campo Silver Cup final was against Iñigo Zobel’s Ayala, with Facundo and Nico Pieres and Jack Hyde. Despite putting up a strong fight, they were overcome by Brunei’s team strategy and a masterful goal by Mac Donough in the last chukka. Facundo Pieres won MVP and the BPP was awarded to Blancanieves, played by Stirling. HRH Princess Azemah won the Silver Cup medium-goal match with Brunei teammates Temy Willington, Facundo Fernandez Llorente and Rosendo Torreguitar. HRH Prince Jefri, returning to polo after many years, then took

over from Her Royal Highness and went on to win the Gold Cup against Golden Goose. The Dubai team – Alejo Taranco, Adolfo Cambiaso, Rashid Albwardy and Santiago Stirling (above, from left) – won the Bronze Cup against Lechuza Caracas after being knocked out of the Silver Cup in an unfortunate penalty shoot-out. This being their only loss during the season, Dubai were still the ultimate victors, taking the prestigious Cartier Gold Cup and defending their title from last year. The Gold Cup final was against Ayala, with Tom Brodie playing in place of Hyde. At the start of the fifth chukka, the scoreboard showed 6–6, but Dubai pushed ahead and convincingly blocked play by the Pieres brothers. Cambiaso suffered a bad fall in the last chukka and was taken off the field to be replaced by Juan Martín Nero for the final three minutes of the match. It was a great honour for Santa Maria Polo Club that the final was attended by HM King Juan Carlos (above centre) who presented the Gold Cup to patron Ali Abwardy (centre right).


Fewer high-goal teams equalled no less excitement at the 45th edition of the Spanish tournament, reports Camilla Sykes

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Spectators in Berlin experienced an unmissable double-header in the shape of the 8-goal FIP European Championship and the Maifeld Cup during one of the most memorable weekends of the season

Eight teams – Poland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Ireland and the hosts, Germany – entered the 2016 FIP European Championship in Berlin. After Ireland and France fought their way to the final, it was time to move the thrill of the game from the Preussische Polo & Country Club to the main stage at the Maifeld. The famous sports field is located right behind the city’s Olympic stadium and was used for polo and equestrian dressage in the 1936 Olympics. It is now open only once a year – fittingly, for polo. The action kicked off between Poland and Slovakia on the Saturday, and they were lucky enough to experience a brand-new Maifeld, renovated especially for the event. The game opened with a degree of uncertainty, as few knew what to expect from them or their horses. Eventually, great teamwork from Poland took them into the lead and they won 6½–4. The second match of the day was played between Italy and The Netherlands. The new-look Italian team consisted of previous team members Tuky Caivano and Pulli Grilling, with Ginevra d’Orazio – the only woman in the tournament – and Goffredo Cutinelli joining. This proved to be the right formula, as Italy won 6–4. Later, against the iconic backdrop of the Olympic Stadium, the Tom Tailor Cup of the Maifeld Cup was celebrated. Engel & Völkers (Christopher Winter, Thomas Winter, Oliver Winter and Tim Ward) played the subsidiary final against Eltec (Moritz Gaedeke, Niko Wollemberg, Marcos Riglos and Tatu Gomez Romero). It was an exciting match, during which Eltec took control throughout and won 7½–10. Both championships resumed during a rainy Sunday afternoon, and it was time for Germany to battle Austria for the bronze. The Germans put up a great fight, showing excellent discipline and solid teamwork. However, even though they started well and kept the lead until the fourth chukka, Austria – a tough opponent – kept them busy by fighting hard until the very end, when Martin Bleier scored three goals in a row and took the game into extra time. Caesar Crasemann then managed to score and end this nail-biting game in his team’s favour, 5–6. It was then time for the eagerly awaited finals of the prestigious FIP European Championship

From left Creighton Boyd, Stephen and Max Hutchinson, and Mickey Henderson

between France and Ireland. The air was tense and the crowd expectant. Louis Jarrige opened up the scoreboard, but Max Hutchinson wasn’t going to allow Les Bleus to lead for long. He scored shortly after, and in the second chukka – thanks to two goals by Mikey Henderson and one by Creighton Boyd – the game was decided and the four Irishmen and their fast, responsive horses emerged as champions, 7-4. BPP went to Hutchinson’s horse, The One Who Got Away.

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The weekend concluded with the final of the Maifeld Cup – an exciting match between the Tom Tailor team (Uwe Schröder, Daniel Crasemann, Gastón Maiquez and Cristobal Durrieu) and Allianz Kundler (Paul Netzsch, Juan José Storni, Lucas Labat and Andreas Bihrer). Though the game was interrupted by heavy rain, it continued shortly after and the team from Hamburg kept up its dominance, finally triumphing to take home the coveted cup.


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ALL IN GOOD TIME One of the oldest equestrian establishments in Greater London marks its 90th birthday this year. Marion Cairns reflects on Ham Polo Club’s slow-but-sure approach to success

Ham Polo Club, 1949

On the banks of the Thames, beside Richmond Park, sits Ham Polo Club (HPC) – one of the oldest in the UK. It’s justifiably proud of its history as the last of a dozen or so in the Greater London area that were satellites to the ‘big three’ – Ranelagh, Hurlingham and Roehampton – in the early days of the modern game. The club was founded in 1926 and had one full-size and two smaller grounds, the former next to Brown Gates House on Ham Common, the home of its fi rst chairman, Loftus Storey. The regular coach was Johnny Traill, the fi rst Argentine 10-goaler, who lived in Roehampton. When World War I broke out, most of the players served overseas and polo ceased for six years. Returning in 1946, Billy Walsh found that Captain Tom Brigg – a partner in saddle company Swaine Adeney Brigg and the owner of the stables where Walsh had worked – had died and the stables were on the market. Using


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his army gratuity, he bought them and began the revival of the HPC, playing by HPA rules. The fi rst post-war English tournament, the Roehampton Cup, was held in 1947 and the HPC team carried off the trophy. It’s still played annually at the club and is now an HPA Victor Ludorum tournament. Three years later, the HPC began playing matches on a field adjacent to Ham House, as well as at its Richmond Park ground. In 1954, George Stevens, tenant farmer at Ham House home farm, agreed to turn the orchard into a polo field. Some 16 years later, he also leased the current main ground to the club. Thanks to the efforts of Doug Brown and Sir David Brown, HPC members managed to buy the freehold of the land in 1970. In 1995, under chair Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers (later HPA chair), they bought more land, behind the clubhouse, naming it the Jubilee Ground in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

In 1982, Walsh became HPC president and was succeeded as polo manager by his daughter Peggy, then his grandsons, Tim and William. Over the past few decades, HPC became a fully owned members’ club attracting those who wish to enjoy polo at a competitive amateur level and the social life that goes with it, not too far from their London homes. It is proud to have raised more than £2m for charity in 20 years. Many high-goal patrons started at HPC and it has had the honour of hosting the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, and supporting their charities. This, in turn, brought to the club some of the world’s best sportsmen, such as Adolfo Cambiaso. It has fielded players from Africa, the US, South America, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Pakistan, India, Thailand and Mongolia, and warmly welcomes enthusiasts from across the globe to enjoy the season, which runs from May to September.

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Careful monitoring of risk lies at the core of our investment process. It is inseparable from the search for performance. But only a paradoxical eye can see into its fickle heart. Only through this essential contradiction, combined with an active management approach, can we harness the power of risk and deal with its threat. Which, it seems, not everyone can manage.

For more information, please contact our local team: CARMIGNAC GESTION LUXEMBOURG – UK Branch, No 29-30 Cornhill, London, EC3V 3NF Tel: (+44) 0207 360 6100 This document may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior authorisation from the management company.This material was prepared by Carmignac Gestion and/or Carmignac Gestion Luxembourg and is being distributed in the UK by Carmignac Gestion Luxembourg UK Branch (Registered in England and Wales with number FC031103, CSSF agreement of 10/06/2013). It does not constitute a subscription offer, nor does it constitute investment advice. The information contained in this document may be partial information, and may be modified without prior notice. CARMIGNAC GESTION 24, place Vendôme - 75001 Paris Tél : (+33) 01 42 86 53 35 Portfolio management company (AMF agreement n° GP 97-08 of 13/03/1997). Public limited company with share capital of € 15,000,000 - RCS Paris B 349 501 676 CARMIGNAC GESTION Luxembourg City Link - 7, rue de la Chapelle - L-1325 Luxembourg Tel : (+352) 46 70 60 1 Subsidiary of Carmignac Gestion. UCITS management company (CSSF agreement of 10/06/2013), Public limited company with a share capital of € 23,000,000 - R.C. Luxembourg B 67 549

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