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RUSSIAN POLO

russia WHERE POLO IS GROWING IN POPULARITY... Much polo progress has occured since the inauguration of Moscow Polo Club in 2003, founded by financiers Victor Huaco, and Gregory Berezkin... Yasemen Kaner-White

P

olo was embraced in St Petersburg by the Russian royalty and their cavalry in the early nineteenth century but from 1917 polo was prohibited due to the Russian revolution along with many other aristocratic activities. In fact, private ownership of a horse was not allowed during Soviet times. After the Soviet, in the 1930’s, the US Embassy introduced polo, they say, to get closer to the Russian Generals in order to get messages through to Stalin. The US funded the games but then it all stopped until history was made with the club opening and a demonstration game showcasing 10 of the world’s top professionals – including the England captain, mounted on 25 Argentinian ponies. The audience, not too dissimilar to today’s, was made up of prominent financiers – their associates and of course Russia’s new aristocracy. Although an initial massive monetary outlay for the financiers, Huaco and Berezkin must have believed re-introducing the game would gain much profit and interest, particularly as Russians tend

Fifth Chukker Magazine | Vol 2 Issue 7

to associate the sport with western elitists, something they admire and would want to embrace. Not only could locals enjoy the pomp and pleasure polo brings but due to the inclusive nature of the sport, foreign attendees would feel at home too, and of course they do, helped with the likes of British Polo Day, a decade on, now hosting tournaments at the club. Whilst recently in Russia, I had the pleasure to meet with the current Moscow Polo Club owner – Alex Rodzianko who entered the sport by chance. Rodzianko and Hucao, then both traders in emerging markets, left the US bound for Russia, in the early 1990’s. When Rodzianko was the head of Deutsch Bank in 2003, Hucao called him out of the blue wanting sponsorship for his games. Already having joined his daughter in riding lessons – his interest in horsemanship had been sparked and the bank elsewhere previously sponsored polo, so he thought – why not? Hucao and Berezkin later went their separate ways, and as Hucao left, so the future of the polo club hung in the balance, until Berezkin said to Rodzianko,

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Fifth Chukker Volume 2 Issue 7 October 2014  

The magazine for The Fifth Chukker Polo Club in Lagos, Nigeria. An introduction and insight into the lives & luxuries of the polo world – th...

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