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Polo Times, January/February 2011

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January/February 2011

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Publisher Editor Sub editor Assistant editor Advertising Marketing & PR Art editor Subscriptions Accounts

Margie Brett James Mullan John O’Sullivan Georgie May Tom House PJ Seccombe James Wildman Sarah Foster Philippa Hunt

Contributors Hernan Alvarez, Miranda Banks, Diana Brandt, Diana Butler, Linda Byrne, Andrew Dent, James de Mountford, Arthur Douglas-Nugent, Lorna Edgar, Mark Emerson, Alice Gipps, Theresa Hodges, John Horswell, Nicola Jagger, Alice Kent, Richard Le Poer, Sarah Martin, Clare Milford Haven, Jamie Peel, Tobias Pejkovic, Herbert Spencer, Carlie Trotter, Annika Urbat, Alex Webbe Cover photograph By Alice Gipps Designed by Printed by The Manson Group Subscription per annum UK £55 Europe & Ireland £65 Rest of the World £75 East End Farm, North Leigh Oxfordshire OX29 6PX Tel: 01993 886 885 Fax: 01993 882 660 email: © Polo Times Limited 2011 and Database Right 2011

Polo Times Limited holds the copyright & database right to the information it publishes in Polo Times and on the Polo Times website. No content may be reproduced or distributed without the consent of the Editor. ‘Polo Times’ is the trade mark of Polo Times Limited. ISSN 1461-4685

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6 11 12 14

All the latest news Obituary: Paul Castle Obituaries: Martin State and Cyril Roberts The big picture NEW


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Clare Milford Haven, in her own words Global view, with Herbert Spencer Arthur Douglas-Nugent, blowing the whistle Your views: letters


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Interview: JJ Díaz Alberdi NEW Training special: techniques for breaking in ponies PT’s photography competition: winners announced


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Argentine Open, Buenos Aires Cámara de Diputados, Argentina Argentine Pato Open, Buenos Aires Watersfield Trophy, Druids Lodge South African Open, Kurland Junior: Copa Potrillos and Theresa Hodges NEW Home and abroad: six pages of action


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Playing around: Longdole Arena Know your horse Know your game Keep your eye on How to spend it Property: Ginger Baker’s South African Travel: Five-page South Africa special Products: 15 bits suitable for polo


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Rumour mill: don’t be the last to know NEW Sidelines: six pages of colourful photos Passions: Charlotte Christodoulou NEW


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from the Editor So it’s 2011. How on earth did that happen? The millennium still only feels about five minutes ago, and aren’t we all supposed to be flying round on jet-powered hovering skateboards by now? Still, as time marches on, so does Polo Times. The magazine was born in 1996 and raised by Margaret Brett until two years ago, when the task of taking her forward was given to our now-former editor Yolanda Carslaw. This year, having been successfully taught the ways of the world, the job now falls on me to nurture her through those awkward late teenage years – developing her into a more mature and valuable member of society, able to contribute in terms of her values, opinions and, crucially, her sense of humour. You’ll notice a few changes straight away, in terms of style and additional content, which I hope you’ll enjoy. However, always remember this is your game, and YOUR magazine, made impartially and exclusively for our subscribers, independent of any national or international polo associations. We’re here for you, so tell us what you think, what you want, and which burning polo issues you want us to look at. We’ll do our best to keep you happy, I promise. In this issue, polo’s chief whip Herbert Spencer looks at the big meetings on the international agenda (see pages 8 and 18). However, closer to home, this month welcomes another big confab of great importance, as the HPA Development Committee meets on Tuesday 1 February, and the stewards meet a week later. The chief topic on the bill is the introduction of a new rule for 2012’s UK high-goal season that aims to make patrons pick more home-grown pros in 22-goal teams. One suggestion is a rule that will force patrons to pick at least one player who must have held an HPA handicap for a minimum of three years before his 18th birthday. The other, being championed by David Woodd, is that a team that chooses to include a pro of six goals or less, must do so using a home-grown player. The importance of this is now all the more relevant, given the murmurings that none of the England team have secured high-goal contracts for 2011. George Meyrick is, reportedly, the only British pro of four goals or above with a team. Can that be right? Woodd says the key is for the rule to be reasonable. If so, he believes there will be little resistance from patrons. Are these suggestions reasonable? Are there actually enough suitable UK high-goal pros for the first suggestion to be viable?

James Mullan Email me: 6

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National captains Adolfo Casabal (Argentina), Chris Hyde (England), Jamie Le Hardy (Scotland) and Roddy Matthews (South Africa) line up with London’s iconic Square Mile visible behind

Full house expected for indoor polo spectacular ORGANISERS FOR FEBRUARY’S Gaucho International Polo at the 02 Arena are predicting the hotlyanticipated event will be a sell-out. With only a matter of weeks remaining until Greenwich plays host to the world’s first indoor international polo test on Thursday 24 February – all 12,500 tickets are expected to go. The six-hour spectacle will include four matches, headlined by England’s clash with Argentina for the Churchill Cup. A retail village, ‘have a go’ polo area and live entertainment should create a carnival atmosphere. And the organisers are confident of a full-house, revealing: “Ticket sales have been very strong and we are nearly sold out on all hospitality packages.” The line-ups for the Churchill Cup clash, which brings proceedings to a close, have already been finalised. But the identities of the players for the much-awaited celebrity showdown remain firmly under wraps. A press conference has been announced for 10 February to reveal the names of the stars taking part, but until then they will remain a mystery. The Churchill Cup will see Chris Hyde (9) lead a 20-goal team against six-goaler Adolfo Casabal’s Argentina. Tim Bown (6) and Max Charlton

(5) make up the rest of the England team, while Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras (6) and Oscar Mancini (4) complete the visitors’ line-up. Chairman of the HPA Arena Committee, Michael Amoore, is expecting a close match. He said: “I spent a number of weeks discussing the squads with my relevant counterparts and am pleased to have selected an England squad that will rival a strong Argentine team. “Like many others in the polo community I cannot wait to see how the O2 Arena transforms into the host venue for the world’s first internationals in an indoor polo arena.” The Churchill Cup starts at 8pm, concluding a packed day of action. Gates to the polo village and hospitality areas open at 3pm before the Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge at 5pm. This will be followed by the first international test of the evening, which sees Scotland take on South Africa at 6.15pm. The celebrity match is set for 7.30 as a warm-up for the Churchill Cup. To book tickets to the event call 08442485022 or see For hospitality enquiries contact Lulie Murray on 02088587711 or lulie.

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Decision time for the HPA after audit results come in HPA CHIEF EXECUTIVE David Woodd has warned of the need to act decisively to protect the image and commercial value of the sport in the light of last year’s commercial audit. Woodd declared the £15,000 study – which saw Grand Plan Consultancy and Brand Support auditors undertake a full-scale assessment of the governing body’s commercial assets – as “extremely worthwhile”. Now he believes the HPA’s reaction to the findings will be pivotal to safeguarding the longterm financial strength of the English game. “We need to resolve to come down hard on those that intrude on our merchandising without agreeing the details with us first,” said Woodd. “The study proves that we have legitimate grounds to charge a licensing fee for those that want to

“We need to implement a licensing programme for HPA property and merchandise” – David Woodd be affiliated with us. Who we work alongside, for things such as events, products, services and clothing, requires careful consideration and involves a good deal of work. We risk not only the image and commercial strength of England Polo and the Hurlingham brand if we get these decisions wrong, but those of the whole game. This is what we need to protect.”

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At February’s stewards meeting the HPA must decide what their business strategy is going forward. Setting a clear licensing programme and putting in place the required legal protection for its branding affiliations, intellectual property and assets appear to be a priority. These needs have grown in response to the rise of commercial events such as Polo In The Park, the Gaucho Polo at the O2 and the British Beach Polo Championships, which many see as simply taking money out of the sport. But Woodd feels these events could offer a financial opportunity. These private ventures benefit greatly from official HPA approval, and he believes this is something the organisation should charge for. The late Charles Stisted, who was chief executive officer at Guards Polo Club, expressed concerns that these new ventures also threatened the corporate sponsorship of marquee HPA events, such as the Cartier International. But Woodd does not share these worries. He said: “While it’s true that our revenue from the Cartier was down 20 per cent in 2010, that is broadly in line with the drop across all major sporting events. “It isn’t necessarily spectators taking their money elsewhere, to events such as Polo In The Park. In fact, the large demand for lessons in the London area, at clubs such as Ham and Ascot Park, could be seen as a direct and very pleasing result of that event, which was HPA affiliated in 2010.”

News in brief w HAM MEMBER Hugo Davis has discovered a video showing clips from various matches between 1934-1953, including the Westchester Trophy (England vs USA) and Coronation Cup (England vs Argentina). See them on the Polo Times website by typing “polo clips” into the search bar. w DAVID MORLEY will be holding a Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) demonstration at Lynt Polo Club on 9 April. Please contact the club if you are interested in attending. w SNOW PRODUCTION at a cost of US$2m has been underway at Metropolitan Polo Club, China, in preparation for the Metropolitan International Snow Polo Challenge.

England, France, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and China will be playing in the 14-goal tournament on 15-20 February. WANT TO look at a back issue of Polo Times? Or has someone pinched your current issue? If you’re a subscriber, wherever you are in the world, you can read all our online editions by logging on at If you’ve lost your password, email

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Aiming high < SIMPSON: she gave < BbirthECKY to a baby girl, Ava Florence Southwell, on Christmas Day. See page 84 for more details BORWICK: he < MandALCOLM his wife Alix welcomed Ines Carolina Borwick into the world on 25 October in Argentina. PONIES: the charity < RTheETIRED Polo Pony Retirement Trust, has set up a new website. Visit EB DAWNAY: the arena seven< Sgoaler proposed to Louisa Crofton on New Year’s eve. See page 84.

Swinging low = XAGGERATED REPORTS: a = Eformer “polo player” at Cheshire, Giles Cross, was recently jailed in a high-profile child sex offence case. In fact, however, Cross was only ever a social member, and has never had an HPA handicap. OHN GOODMAN: the high-goal = Jpatron has been in court in the US for a civil trial this January. He’s accused in the fatal hit and run of a student last February. A trial date hasn’t been set for the criminal case. POLO: entries in the 12= AgoalRENA section of the HPA National Club Championships are down from 12 to two this year.

Federation gives green light to fullest schedule in years THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Federation of International Polo (FIP) has approved one of the federation’s fullest schedules of events ever for 2011, writes Herbert Spencer. Heading the list of official FIP events confirmed by the assembly in Buenos Aires in December and the subsequent Council of Administration is the ninth 14-goal World Championship for the Polo World Cup. Argentina will host the final stage at the new Estancia Grande Polo Club in San Luis on the pampas, 500 miles from Buenos Aires, from 10 to 23 October. There will be 10 teams in the final stage: Argentina as hosts, Chile as reigning champions, and two teams from each of the federation’s four geographic zones, decided by playoffs. The FIP continued to answer delegates’ calls for more tournaments at lower handicap levels for countries unable to field 14-goal teams. Portugal, Italy and Hungary put in bids to host the federation’s second Trophy of the Nations this year, a European tournament at 0-4 goal level. The assembly also approved five Ambassadors Cup tournaments for 2011, in Mexico (February), Australia (September), India (September), Argentina (October) and Chile (November). These low-goal events, in which FIP Ambassadors and officials team up with local host players who provide the ponies, contribute significantly to the federation’s budget.

There will be four FIP youth tournaments for under-14s this year, in Argentina (February), Chile (March), Germany (April), and Ecuador (June). These are being supported by development funds from the International Olympic Committee. Argentina will host the FIP’s first umpires and referees clinic in April or May and a players clinic will be held in Egypt in December. The General Assembly approved a 20102011 budget with US$435,465 income and US$302,143 expense. A new headquarters office

Reorganisation of the FIP must wait until the next General Assembly, in October has been opened in Buenos Aires, headed by 27-year-old Argentine Felipe del Sel, a two-goal amateur who previously worked for Deloitte. There was, however, no movement in the federation’s long-awaited “reorganisation” [see Global view, page 18]. FIP President Eduardo Huergo of Argentina told delegates that the Council of Administration and Executive Committee would be working on revisions of the federation’s by-laws during 2011, but any changes can only be made by a two-thirds vote of delegates at the next General Assembly in Buenos Aires on 24 October.



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Argentine 10-goalers at a 10-year low THE CHANGES ANNOUNCED at the end of the Argentine high-goal season mean there will be just six 10-goalers taking part in the 2011 campaign. This is the fewest for 10 years, since half a dozen played in the 2001 Argentine Open. In the USA, seven players still play off a maximum 10-goal handicap: Mariano Aguerre, Eduardo Lucas Monteverde has Novillo Astrada, Adolfo dropped from 10 to nine Cambiaso, Facundo Pieres, Pablo MacDonough, Juan Martin Nero and Gonzalito Pieres. Only Adolfo Cambiaso, Pablo MacDonough, Juan Martin Nero, Facundo Pieres and Gonzalito Pieres will play off a 10-goal handicap in all three main high-

goal seasons in 2011, in the US, UK and Argentina. The other player still on 10 in Argentina is Marcos Heguy. Most notably going down in Argentina are Bartolomé “Lolo” Castagnola, Lucas Monteverde, Mariano Aguerre and Miguel Novillo Astrada, who now see their handicaps drop to nine. It is not all bad news, however, as some had their Argentine handicaps raised. Ellerstina new boy Nico Pieres climbed from seven to eight, as did his cousin Pablo Pieres and Guards’ regular Tomas Garcia del Rio. South African duo Nachi du Plessis and Christopher Mackenzie both went up (from six to seven and from three to four respectively). There were no changes to any English professionals’ handicaps, though there should be a notable mention for Rutland’s Henry Browne, who rose from zero to two.

Intense course brings grooms up to scratch FOR THE THIRD year in a row, the Argentine Polo Pony Breeders Association (AACCP) has run a course to provide formal instruction to young men and women who wish to work as professional polo grooms, writes Tobias Pejkovic. The initiative aims to give them further tools and credentials in addition to the practical knowledge they have already acquired through experience. The six-day residential course, for 15-25 students, takes place every August and costs £360 each. Held at a military base with equestrian facilities, the students have hands-on contact with the horses and learn from experts in each field: vets, agronomists, breeders, “domadores” (those who break-in horses) farriers, experienced grooms and polo players. In 2010 the students visited Facundo Pieres’s stables at Ellerstina and Mariano Aguerre at Centauros Polo Club to learn how to manage a high-goal string. The course covers many areas, including lessons in equine behaviour, stable management, feeding and veterinary basics. It is hoped this kind of scheme will help to bring polo alongside other equestrian sports with their codes of conduct for the welfare and safety of horses.

Polo Times loves... …the limited edition Royal Ballet Aspirations fountain pen, released by the master craftsmen at the Onoto Pen Company. The pens have a sterling silver base and are interspersed with raised hearts, making them a perfect Valentine’s gift. Every pen is hand-crafted in Onoto’s Sussex workshop using the intricate guilloché engraving technique. The Royal Ballet range is available in three colours – blue, ivory and mauve – and only 75 of each have been made. To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Ballet, Onoto have also released ten 18-carat gold pens in each colour. The sterling silver pens will set you back £1,187 plus VAT, while the extremely rare gold variety cost £8,723 plus VAT. Onoto are running a special offer in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, with 20 per cent off all pens at

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News News in brief w GUILLERMO “MEMO” GRACIDA returned to play high-goal this US season. The 54-year-old former 10-goaler has only played sporadically since 2007 and is playing for Gonzalo Avendano’s Patagones side in the 20-goal season at International Polo Club Palm Beach. The team featured in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup, which concluded as Polo Times went to press. Currently, the 20-goal Ylvisaker Cup is underway and the 26-goal season begins on 12 February. w T  HE DATES FOR the 2011 British Beach Polo Championships have been revealed. The event will take place on 8-9 July at Sandbanks in Dorset. Six teams will compete for the title, which is currently retained by Moore Capital. There will be a twogame international match between England and a visiting side, with their opponents still to be announced.

Latest from the HPA HPA chief executive David Wood rounds up the news from UK polo’s headquarters Standing Committees Chairmen of the Standing Committees for 2011 are as follows: Chairman’s Committee - NJA Colquhoun-Denvers Commercial Committee - R Britten-Long Handicap Committee - R Vere Nicoll Development Committee - S Tomlinson Umpire and Rules Committee - Lord Phillimore International Committee - JM Tinsley Finance and Grants Committee - J Haigh MBE Disciplinary Committee - Brig JA Wright CBE Polo Welfare Committee - D Morley Arena Polo Committee - MBJ Amoore

w THE NIGERIAN POLO Federation (NPF) has elected Francis Ogboro, former manager of Lagos Polo Club, as its president. He was nominated by seven out of 10 affiliated NPF clubs at the NPF General Election.

Handicap Committee The HPA Handicap Committee is as follows (date due to retire in brackets): R Vere Nicoll (chairman); AME Barlow (2012); R Graham (2013); J Beim (2013); AC Hine (2011); N Clarkin (2011); O Hughes (2012); OJ Ellis (2012); AJ Kent (2013); The Hon T Phillimore (2012); O Tuthill (2013) Horse passports Under EU legislation all equines must hold a DEFRA-approved passport. Owners can have their passports over-stamped by the HPA to entitle them to our third party insurance cover. Apply to the HPA office to identify or register recently bred, purchased or imported ponies. The charges for HPA passport endorsement are as follows: Standard Charge (first class mail) – £15 (plus VAT); Three-day turn around (registered delivery) – £25 (plus VAT); Over-stamp of passport issued by DEFRA – £5 (including VAT)

w PALM BEACH POLO and Country Club owner Glenn Straub was cleared of criminal charges filed against him in December. He was accused of illegally dumping fill on protected wetlands.

O2 International Test Matches HPA members can buy tickets to the international arena tests at the O2 Arena on Thursday, 24 February at the discounted price of £32. Contact for more information.

w STUDENTS FROM UNIVERSITY of Plymouth Polo Club are looking for sponsorship. The students play at Vaux Park and are looking for a business to provide £4,000.
If you can help, please contact 07761 055217. w EMPIRE POLO CLUB in California is re-introducing polo after 10 years, creating some competition for its neighbouring El Dorado Polo Club. The re-established club hopes to attract new members from across the US and the rest of the world.

Subscriptions for 2011 Club affiliation Club affiliation fees for 2011 will be: Grade One – £5,000; Grade Two – £3,000; Grade Three – £2,000; Grade Four – £1,000; Grade Five – £500; Grade Six – £300. For further information visit http://www.hpa-polo. Players – Outdoor Full Associate Member – UK Resident: £115, Overseas Resident (OR): £205; Temporary Associate – UK: £60, OR: £95; Junior Associate – UK: £45, OR: £75; Non-playing Associate – UK: £90, OR: £120 Players – Arena Adult – Existing member: £65, New member: £115; University – Existing: Nil, New: £45; Under 18 on 1 January – Existing: Nil, New: £45; Under 13 on 1 January – Existing: Nil, New: £20 Overseas Test Matches Three England representative teams will play in Asia during the month of February. India Satnam Dhillon will lead a 14-goal team to play against India in Delhi on Sunday, 6 February. He will be joined by Max Charlton (4), Eden Omerod (3) and James Carr (0). Thailand England will take on a 14-goal South East Asia team at Harald Link’s Thai Polo Club in Pattaya on Sunday, 13 February. The team, captained by Ollie Hipwood (6), will include Ollie Cudmore (3), Max Routledge (4) and James Carr (0). China Ollie Hipwood, Ollie Cudmore and Max Routledge then fly to China to represent England in the inaugural International Snow Polo Tournament at the Metropolitan Polo Club near Tianjin between 14 and 21 February.

Player left in coma after falling from his horse in Argentina NACHO BALLESTEROS, a four-goaler and polo manager at Hertfordshire Polo Club, has been in a coma since falling from his horse in a tournament in Argentina on 11 December. Nacho was playing in a 12-goal event with his brother Matias at El Trebol Polo Club when, after 10

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hitting a difficult neck shot, his horse fell. He hit his head and was immediately left unconscious. “He was taken straight to a local clinic before moving to a bigger hospital in Pilar,” said Lacey Green’s Jairo Rojas, where Nacho has also been based. “He had two operations there

and was transferred to a rehabilitation and therapy centre. He no longer needs to be on a respirator and has started to show response to movement, which is encouraging. He is now [mid-January] being moved to the Fleni Institute, a rehabilitation centre.” All his friends and everyone at Polo Times send their best wishes to him and his wife, Gisella.

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Paul Castle 1956-2010

John Horswell remembers a generous friend and polo legend with an energetic, infectious, enthusiastic and fun-loving personality


aul Stanley Castle was born in Birmingham on 14 March 1956, second child of Ronnie and Mavis, younger brother to Gillian and, in due course, elder brother to Jonathan. He is survived by all of them and by one child from each of his first and third marriages, Danielle and William, and his only grandchild Emily. Paul had his first polo lesson at the old Checkendon club in the early 1990s. He was instantly hooked and, being the sort of character he was, had to have it all immediately. He had the kit, the ponies, a professional, a poloplaying fourth wife, Renée, and somewhere to keep them all. Thus was born the polo legend known quite simply as “Castle”. If I detail the myriad of amusing anecdotes that abound his career, I would have a best-seller. But time and space constraints dictate otherwise. Paul loved playing polo and the more often the better. His Metropolitan team was a regular and successful fixture on the medium-goal scene for many years and he once won the subsidiary of the Queen’s Cup at Guards. It was my privilege to travel with him on this journey. It was always noisy, eventful and, most of the time, great fun. The highs and lows followed each other in quick succession but were always met with the same equanimity. He embraced life and all of his pastimes with the same gusto. Whether it was polo, hunting, shooting, golf, boating or just going for a walk on his land near Henley, in today’s football parlance – he gave it 110 per cent.

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Paul Castle, a “truly unforgettable” man

In his polo career he always supported young English talent and many professionals owe Paul a debt of gratitude. He also loved his ponies and dogs and was meticulous about properly exercising them. Paul was a man of extremes, as has been born out by his sudden and untimely demise. He was that “all or nothing” character. If you knew him, whether you loved or hated him, he engendered strong emotions in you. Anyone not put off by his loudness and brashness, who took time to get to know him, was usually converted. I have thought long and hard about why this was. There were many things about him you could (and I certainly did at times) find annoying. But my answer is that he had energy, enthusiasm and a good heart. He engulfed you and you either ran a mile or gave in. I gave in and find myself mourning a true and generous friend. A man who, if it was in his power to help you, would. And, if it was not, would pour a drink, sympathise, cheer you up and re-enthuse you. Paul you will be remembered for a long time by friends and foes alike. Truly unforgettable. w See also letters, on page 23

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Martin State 1940-2010 Georgie May pays tribute to Martin State, a familiar face with the Pony Club and at Woolmers Park Polo Club, who inspired many young people to take up the sport


artin’s father, Albert, a dentist based in London, introduced him to polo at Woolmers Park in 1970. Before taking up polo in 1971, Martin regularly rode at his father’s riding centre, the Arkley Riding Stables in North London, and was one of the founding members of the Knights of Arkley jousting team. During the 1970s and 80s he played at Woolmers Park with George Knowles, who said: “In those days they played four days a week, often 14 chukkas. Randa Balding was the polo manager and we played with the Lucas’s children, John, a six-goaler, and Claire.” Claire (now Tomlinson)’s parents owned the club at the time. Martin was also based at Silver Leyes Polo Club during that time, coaching and taking care of administration. When the club moved to a new base in Colchester, Martin set up his own training establishment in Steeple Bumpstead in Essex.

Martin State introduced many youngsters to the game

He then moved to Woolmers Park when it re-opened in 1990. “His real passion was teaching and he brought many people into polo,” Ron Mees from Hertfordshire Polo Club told

Polo Times. “He taught children from the Puckeridge and Enfield Chace branches of the Pony Club as well as students from Cambridge University. “He was always a strong supporter of the HPA coaching programme.” Although his health stopped him riding a couple of years ago, he still continued to teach and help out at several clubs, including St Albans and Hertfordshire. “He was extremely generous with his time and he had great enthusiasm,” Gill Lines, a friend of Martin’s, said. “He helped so many young people get into polo and will be sadly missed.” Martin died at home in Birch Green, adjacent to Woolmers Park, at the age of 70. He leaves behind two sons, one of whom, Dominic, is a two-goal player currently based in New Zealand. w See also letters, on page 23

Cyril Roberts RVM 1929-2010 Diana Butler remembers Guards Polo Club’s royal box steward, who devoted almost four decades of loyal service to the club and was a true gentleman throughout


yril Roberts died last December, just a few days short of his 81st birthday. However, many attending his funeral were surprised to learn his age as he was a familiar face at Smith’s Lawn until last summer before ill health curtailed his stewarding role. He relinquished these reins reluctantly, as he took immense pride in his duties as royal box steward. Cyril did not start with such a prestigious role. He joined Guards in 1971 and was put in charge of car parking. His quiet charm and effective people skills soon saw him promoted to stewarding the members’ stand and then the royal box. In 1996, he was promoted to chief steward. Cyril was always a stickler for the rules, and once this diligence almost landed him in 12

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Cyril Roberts RVM was a true gentleman throughout

hot water. On duty at the royal box, he was busy checking badges rather than looking at guests’ faces. He questioned one lady with no badge, to which she replied: “I don’t think I

need one.” It was, of course, the Queen. At the age of 74, Cyril retired as chief steward, but instead of putting his feet up, he moved back to his beloved royal box. Three years later, the Queen awarded him the Royal Victorian Medal as a personal gift. Cyril’s attention to detail and passion for the club will be much missed by the royal family, players, members, guests and staff. As one of our members wrote to me: “Cyril was a wonderful person, and spoke to all irrespective of rank; a true gentleman.” He leaves behind his three children Anthony, David and Mandy. Cyril’s wife Cath died last October following a short illness. The inaugural four-goal Roberts Trophy will take place in his memory at Guards this summer, from 3-12 June.

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The British winter Kelly Baddeley (-2) took this shot of Janet Martinez’s pony, Gatita, this Christmas. Janet, also a minus-two-goaler, has been playing her 14.2hh mare at Rugby and RLS for the past four years. Gatita, originally from Argentina, is enjoying a well-earned break out in the fields at Warwick International School of Riding, which the Martinez family own and run. “She’s too small for me really,” Janet’s one-goal son Karl told Polo Times. “But if I ever need something handy and fast then I sometimes steal her from the side of the lorry. When you play her, she feels like a cross between a pocket rocket and a Tonka Toy! I’ve never known a horse that can run around flat out, double chukka in a tough match, and still come off looking as though she has been out for a quiet stick and ball.”


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with Clare Milford Haven

Lack of challengers means inevitable results and a less exciting tournament


he final divot has barely been stomped into the immaculate ground that is the Number One field at Palermo and there is already heated chat and speculation about next year and the changes being made to the line ups. For those of us who were unfortunate enough to miss the epic final this year (and last year…) due to rain, it is fair to say that, generally, the games in the run up to the polo world’s ultimate highlight were also something of a damp squib. The problem is that the result is already inevitable at the beginning of the tournament. We know, as we are buying our tickets in advance at vast expense, that the final will consist of Ellerstina and La Dolfina as it has done for the past few years. That doesn’t stop us wanting to go and watch the games, but it does take the sting out of the anticipation. It’s a bit like Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon. In some ways, we long for an underdog to come through and surprise us all like the Czech wild card Tomas Berdych did last year. With the shake up of teams, spearheaded by Ellerstina’s dynamic duo Pablo MacDonough and Juan Martin Nero defecting to join Adolfo Cambiaso and Pelon Stirling, La Dolfina now becomes almost unbeatable. And, even though other teams are re-forming in response, the verdict is still out as to which one will provide the real edge to topple such awe-inspiring talent. Certainly Ellerstina will remain suitably strong with three powerful Pieres’ plus the fearless force of Nachi Heguy. The Lucas Monteverde/Lolo Castagnola combo with the 16

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“We long for a wild card to come through and surprise us. Some rising stars need to join forces to rattle the Cambiaso cage” Merlos brothers (Agustín and Sebastián) at the newly formed La Natividad-El Gurí is bound to leave other teams quaking in their boots. This is not to mention the reliably effective band of brothers Novillo in La Aguada. But all of these teams remain dragging two goals or more behind La Dolfina’s aggregate of 39. It seems the predictability of Palermo’s climax will no doubt remain with us for a few more years, unless some of the rising stars join forces and produce a formidable team with an ample

It is down to polo’s up-and-coming stars to break the dominance of La Dolfina and Ellerstina, who have become the sport’s very own Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal

mix of youth and raw talent to rattle the Cambiaso cage. Players like Hilario Ulloa (9), Tomas Garcia del Rio (8), Paulito Pieres (8), and Lucas James (8) are all on the ascent and could provide some ruthless competition in the not too distant future. However, that might involve some of the, ahem, ‘older’ players having to make the painful decision to hang up their Open boots in order to pave the way for their protégés.


FTER all the rumours and chit-chat about why the St Moritz World Polo Cup on Snow was not happening, it is good to see that it is going ahead after all, albeit in a slightly different format. With the four teams amounting

to 17 goals rather than the traditional 22, and representing the patron’s country of origin rather than the names of the title sponsors, there seems no reason why this popular event will not be as entertaining as ever. In fact, playing for their countries – France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland – will provide an added amount of patriotic support in the stands, which was previously much more of a corporate domain. I think it could prove to be a real ice-breaker. F w Action and re-action from the Argentine Open, page 34-39. w Read past versions of Clare’s column in our online archive by logging in at

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Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 17:32:58


Global view with Herbert Spencer

The FIP must use this year wisely and work towards a more professional future


hen Polo Times publisher Margie Brett first asked me to write a regular column for this magazine four years ago, she gave me carte blanche to comment as I saw fit on any aspect of polo around the world. Her only advice was: “Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is.” In my experience, polo people are often loath to speak their minds publicly or to engage in any meaningful debate. Is this because polo is traditionally seen as a gentleman’s game around which there should be no unseemly controversy that could damage friendships in what is, after all, a very small world? This reluctance to put one’s head above the parapet is especially notable when it comes to how the sport is governed, both nationally and internationally. Most national polo associations are run on established democratic principles, which should allow for open debate and then decisions taken by majority vote. “Polo-tics” should not be considered a dirty word. There is a tendency, however, to seek “consensus” rather than leaving it to the majority to reach decisions in governing the sport. This often leads to inordinate delays in dealing with critical matters of governance. Nothing illustrates this better than the delays in the long-awaited reorganisation of the Federation of International Polo (FIP). By all accounts there was a welcome spirit of camaraderie, “friendship” and consensus amongst delegates at the FIP’s General Assembly in December and they appear to have accomplished quite a bit in the session in Buenos Aires [see 18

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“How far did the delegates get in the ‘reorganisation’? The short answer is absolutely nowhere.” news, page eight]. But just how far did the delegates get in the “reorganisation” to bring the federation, after 27 years, up to a standard of professionalism seen in the international governing bodies of other sports? The short answer is absolutely nowhere. As far back as June 2008, I warned in this column of the need for fundamental changes in how the FIP operates as a global body representing polo worldwide. In July 2009 the leaders of the three major stakeholders in the federation, England, Argentina and the US, met and made demands for such changes. The then president Patrick Guerrand-Hermès refused to respond and in October

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil: the members of the game’s governing body remain reluctant to put their heads above the parapet and raise anything controversial

that year the Hurlingham Polo Association, Asociación Argentina de Polo and US Polo Association resigned from the FIP. The “big three”, representing more than half of the world’s polo players, returned only after the president resigned. Australia’s James Ashton became interim president, charged with leading a reorganisation, but he died a few months later. Finally, in April 2010, Eduardo Huergo of Argentina was elected president. In the seven months until the FIP’s General Assembly last December, various proposals were made behind the scenes to change the federation’s by-laws to put it on a more professional footing. In the assembly, however, such a reorganisation was put off yet again. It will now be another 10 months, until the next General Assembly in October, before the FIP’s delegates can be asked to put

the federation’s house in order. That will be more than two years since a reorganisation was first demanded by the federation’s major stakeholders. One can only hope that the more progressive leaders of the FIP will make good use of the next months and get down to serious work in considering changes to the by-laws. They must resist pressures from the “old guard” in the federation who are against change, arguing that the FIP has done wonderful things in the past. But we are talking here of the future. Polo is growing in stature as a sport and in many countries there is an increasingly professional approach to governance. The FIP must conform. F w Read past Global Views in our online archive by logging in at

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Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 18:41:57


Umpire’s corner with Arthur Douglas-Nugent, HPA deputy chief umpire

Time for players and umpires to turn over new leaf for the sake of the game


hat resolutions should the noble army of umpires have for 2011? The first must be to go on to the field with the intention of doing as good a job as possible for the teams. The second is to brush up on the rules, keep up with the game and concentrate throughout. In this way the overall standard of umpiring will be raised and the players will respond by accepting more readily the decisions made by the umpires. When reduced to basics, polo is not all that difficult a game to umpire. As in cricket, the line of the ball is critical but the deciding factor is the path of the horse, which although fast is a lot slower than the ball. Probably the most difficult aspect is the retention of the sight picture after the event, which is crucial to decision making. The best umpires have an uncanny knack of remembering the play well after it has passed into history, though a reminder from a DVD clip can be helpful. Player pressure There are numerous factors that make umpiring more difficult than it need be and they are nearly all down to the players. How often does a player change the direction

Umpires must be firm but fair when dealing with constantly abusive players

Umpires make far fewer mistakes than alleged and certainly fewer than players in which he is riding after he believes he has been fouled in order to accentuate it to further impress the umpires? Umpires make far fewer mistakes than alleged and certainly fewer than players. Many alleged errors are no such thing when seen in slow motion replay. The perception that an umpire has made mistakes is aided by the partiality of the players and often by those who are watching, who are seldom in a good position to make an informed judgement. Players who pressurise umpires make mistakes more likely and thus are doing themselves and

their team a disservice. Which brings me on to the often-debated subject of zero tolerance. In the last edition of Polo Times (November/December 2010, page four) it was stated that the HPA was ready to implement the Argentine rule on player behaviour for the 2011 season. This is not definite. Our position was always that after the end of the high-goal season in Argentina we would review it and make our judgement based on their experience. Although generally thought to be working well there is some backlash from the players who are not universally happy. Invisible conductor It must be remembered that the umpires are on the ground to keep the play safe and fair to both sides and, to do this successfully,

they must manage the players. We do not, however, want a situation in which the umpires are the two most important “players” on the ground – indeed in the best umpired games the officials remain all but invisible. It is for this reason that I am not an advocate of zero tolerance nor of draconian punishment for minor misdemeanours leading to the sending off of a player and thereby the ruination of a match as a sporting contest. It must too be remembered that if a player in the Argentine is sent off, he may be replaced by a substitute, whereas in England the team has to continue with just three-a-side. Umpires should penalise players who abuse or constantly pressurise them with technical penalties and a yellow card as discouragement, which in our experience it has proved to be. This year we are also likely to delete the right of the captain to ask for an explanation, as this has been abused in the past. It’s high time we ensured that the rules there are always observed. In any event, a directive will be issued which makes it clear that the abuse and working of umpires will not be tolerated. F

Play goes on until the whistle blows… This month’s puzzle You aim to ride off an opponent. What conditions must apply for it to be legitimate?


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Last month’s solution If a minus-one-goal player in a four-goal team playing in a four-goal tournament is late. Can the team start without him? The answer is no, as the team falls outside the tournament limits. They would have to recruit a minus-one or minus-two-goal player to start. The minus-one-goal player can replace his substitute at the beginning, but not the middle, of any chukka. When he does so the score will not be altered even if his substitute was a minus-two.

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Polo Times, January/February 2011


21/1/11 13:40:18


Your views

Letters or The Editor, Polo Times, East End Farm, North Leigh, Oxon OX29 6PX Please include your postal address or nearest town on all Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: Our girls were invited to form an all-female side by the HPA, and were asked to take care of most of the funding for themselves. So, on that basis, they formed the England team. They performed well and succeeded in coming third, out of 10 sides. Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that in future the HPA, with Simon Tomlinson at the helm of the Development Committee, will be able to fund a team of up-and-coming players to take part in these FIP tournaments. 22

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The horse race of a lifetime Sir, I would like to mention something I took part in last summer, which might be of interest to other Polo Times readers. This “something” was in fact the world-famous Mongol Derby, a 1000km horse race across the Mongolian Steppe, billed as “The Greatest Equine Adventure in the World”. I have to say, it was certainly quite an adventure. The race itself is based on Chinngis [sometimes called Genghis] Khan’s “postal system”, which was used in the days of the Mongol Empire to ensure that messages could reach the furthest parts of the empire in the shortest possible time. As the world’s first ever long-distance postal system, the set-up comprised a network of horse-stations – or “Urtuus” – and the Mongol Derby uses the same idea, with horse-stations approximately every 40km. However, getting from station to station isn’t quite as easy as it might sound on paper; the horses you’re riding are the native Mongolian horses, small but extremely tough, and accustomed to roaming free across the Steppe in a herd, meaning that there’s a fair amount of rearing, bucking and bolting involved. In addition to the riding challenge, the race also gave me an incredible insight into Mongolian culture. Most nights I slept at a horse station, where we were treated to the incredibly generous hospitality of the Mongolian nomadic people. As well as gaining some basic Mongolian vocabulary, I was also introduced to delights such as Airag (alcoholic fermented horse milk), Mongolian home-brew vodka and seemingly endless quantities of mutton with noodles. I would highly recommend the Mongol Derby to all keen riders. It was truly the experience of a lifetime and, if I had the opportunity to take part again this year, I would take it in a flash! Camilla Swift Windsor, Berkshire The writer of the Letter of the month wins a bottle of La Chamiza Argentine red wine

Gaucho, gaucho man Sir, Ellerstina’s win over La Dolfina in the Open may have marked the end of Argentina’s high-goal action for 2010, but another equally passionate event gets the country’s 2011 equestrian calendar off to a flying start. Salta, in the foothills of the Andes, is preparing to host the annual Yerra y la Baguala el Barrial Festival to celebrate the traditional role of the gaucho in Argentine society on Saturday 5 February. While tango is regarded as the essence of Buenos Aires, the gaucho – who is traditionally portrayed as being quiet, honourable, courageous and with exceptional horse handling skills – remains the symbol of

Photograph by César Ignacio Dighero

Girls not up to it? Sir, I am confused. I have just watched the FIP European 8-goal championships on Horse & Country TV, in which the UK was represented by four girls. At the risk of being ostracised, may I ask who selected this side? With all the exceptional young talent available in the UK desperate for a platform to prove themselves, is this really the best 8-goal side that the UK can muster? In my mind the authorities/ selection committees should have used this opportunity to showcase the otherwise excellent development carried out by the HPA and others. Who is it that is suffocating UK polo by not giving this development a chance? Wake up guys – our young English pros need to be supported during these times. Patrick M Michelle via email

Letter of the month

rural Argentina. The photo above was taken at last year’s colourful festival, and I believe it captures the gauchos perfectly. César Ignacio Dighero Buenos Aires, Argentina

An Argentine gaucho in traditional dress watches over his ponies. It is said that a gaucho without his horses is like a man without his legs or a bird without wings

19/1/11 17:36:30

Your views


Year 15 and time to go green Sir, happy anniversary – I can’t believe it has been 15 years for Polo Times already, but the magazine has come such a long way in that time. You should all be congratulated. However, as usual, not everything in the polo world is so rosy and one thing I feel I must bring to people’s attention is polo’s lack of care for the environment. While it’s apparently high on the government’s agenda, recycling doesn’t seem to be a priority for polo yards, clubs

or retailers. I regularly see skips filled with plastic bags of shavings, numerous discarded paper bags that used to carry feed and piles of unused haylage and muck. Suppliers of these things should lead the way, by offering to collect them, but it seems that companies don’t care. Unless there is a financial incentive, they don’t see “going green” making much business sense. This isn’t good enough. Atilio Degrossi via email

Hunting with Hamish “I rather hoped we’d seen the last of you, snowy!”

iconic Drakensberg escarpment. Hamish is wearing a Boer War outfit in the foreground, with Lance Watson and Garth Douglas Fraser giving chase behind. The photograph is taken by Bill Marshall. Caroline Bruce Oaklands, South Africa

Remembering Paul, Sir, as well as his obituary (see page 12), I would like to share one anecdote about the late Paul Castle that I believe successfully encapsulates his attitude towards his polo career. It was the infamous case of stick abuse on ground three at Guards. Suffice it to say, he did it. It was not malicious but more a reflex and, given his standard of mallet control throughout his

career, he was probably unlucky to make contact! However, he was nevertheless summoned before various committees and, being the high-profile character that he was, was handed what was at that time both a record ban and a record fine. A day or so later a cartoon appeared in the Evening Standard, drawn by the paper’s celebrated illustrator JAK (Raymond Jackson) no less,

commemorating the event in somewhat graphic detail. Paul, rather than being taken aback by the very public airing of his shame, quickly decided to embrace it. A silver-tongued emissary was dispatched to see the cartoonist, armed with enough cash to persuade him that the charitable causes he usually auctioned off his originals on behalf of would be better served if the process was

Photograph by Bill Marshall

Sir, I thought your readers might be interested to see this photograph of minus-two-goal player Hamish Bruce [son of the late Oaklands owner Jamie Bruce] hunting his polo pony Serengeti in the historic Rand Hunt last November. The hunt takes place below South Africa’s

Paying tribute to Martin Sir, I was deeply saddened at the end of last year to hear about the loss of another great polo legend, Martin State. Martin had been involved in polo for much of his life and was a much-liked and wellrespected coach at Woolmers Park Polo Club [more recently called Hertfordshire Polo Club]. He had such enthusiasm for the sport and I, like many of his students, was always appreciative of his kind and considerate teaching manner. I genuinely don’t think I would have persevered if it wasn’t for him.

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I very much looked forward to my Saturday lessons each week, which I still remember fondly: he would ride Hapsy, leading me round on Vodka, and to this day I still recall his persistent encouragement to “kick, not click”! Martin was a true gentleman with a real passion for polo, and he will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Leigh-Anne Moore Chiddingfold, Surrey

shortened on this occasion. The prize was then framed and hung in pride of place in his London office, though not before a couple of copies had been run off, similarly presented and then donated to both Guards and the Royal Berkshire where they hang in the clubhouses to this day. John Horswell Binfield, Berskhire

w See Martin’s full obituary, by Georgie May, on page 12

w See a full obituary on page 11 Polo Times, January/February 2011


20/1/11 17:51:45


Interview – JJ Díaz Alberdi



the middle man

Argentina’s top high-goal umpire, Juan José Díaz Alberdi, talks frankly about the ups and downs of the black-and-white lives of the men in the middle, gives the inside view on the new rules, and explains how Cambiaso, while brilliant, can be difficult to play with

James Mullan in Buenos Aires


olo is a family game, and there are plenty of players, especially in Argentina, that will tell you the game was never a conscious choice – it is in their blood. However, in my experience few have ever openly laid claim to their family’s specific umpiring heritage. Not until now that is. I meet JJ Díaz Alberdi outside a heaving café in the heart of Recoleta, where he sits us down breezily, pushes his shades back on top of his head, and orders a coke. It takes about three minutes before the first polo aficionado swings by, for no other reason apparently than to shake his hand and plant a kiss on each cheek. “Did you know him?!” I ask, jokingly. “A little”, he replies. Then, simply, “Polo”. The Díaz Alberdis have plenty of pedigree in the game. A former pro himself, his younger brother “Piki” won the Argentine Open in 1996, and was on John Manconi’s Pommery side with Juan


Bollini and Henry Brett when they won the Cowdray Park Gold Cup in 1999. JJ’s father, also called JJ Díaz Alberdi, is the second cousin of Juan Carlos Harriott, a player still celebrated by many as the best ever to play the game. JJ’s father would play polo at Tortugas in the summer, and the family spent the rest of the year at JJ’s grandfather’s farm in Magdala Polo Club, some 400 kilometres from Buenos Aires. His grandfather had moved to the area from Coronel Suarez, where, through the marriage of an Alberdi to Alberto Heguy, the family became linked with one of polo’s oldest dynasties. JJ’s grandmother had two 10-goal brothers, in the shape of Juan Carlos Alberdi and Enrique Alberdi, both of whom were prolific at the pinnacle of the game in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Piki also reached a 10-goal handicap at his peak, and the brothers’ uncle, JJ Alberdi (son of Juan Carlos), also came close, playing off nine before he made history by becoming Argentina’s first professional umpire in the early 1990s. Nephew JJ Díaz Alberdi, who began the fourth generation of polo players in the family, followed his lead and started umpiring professionally himself in 1997. Now, aged 57, he is one of the game’s foremost adjudicating

authorities, having twice umpired the Argentine Open final [in 2001 and 2003]. He was third man (or referee) at 2010’s showpiece decider, as the two powerhouses of the modern game fought it out for its biggest prize. Why did you start umpiring? My uncle JJ, who was in charge of the umpiring for the Argentine high-goal season at the time, needed other good players to help. I was seven-goals at the time and, though I preferred playing and the money for umpiring was not good, I found it offered a new perspective on the game and, gradually, things began to grow and improve – we were offered the chance to travel for umpiring jobs abroad and the pay began to become more respectable. I went to Ellerston in 1999 to umpire for Kerry Packer at some of their big tournaments and probably my biggest highlights from umpiring overseas were when I oversaw the British Gold Cup final in 2003, when John Paul and Nina Clarkin (then Vestey) won alongside Luke and Mark Tomlinson, and when Argentina beat England at the Coronation Cup in 2009. It wasn’t the game itself that made the Cartier experience memorable, but the fact that u

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19/1/11 17:38:09

JJ DĂ­az Alberdi, middle, acted as third man in the 2010 Argentine Open final, where he kept a watchful eye on the decisions of Estaban Ferrari and MatĂ­as Baibiene (left and right)

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Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 17:38:38


Interview – JJ Díaz Alberdi

Photographs by James Mullan and Tony Ramirez

u the crowd is so close to the ground, more so than at Palermo. Elsewhere, I’ve also umpired in Sotogrande, at Deauville and St Tropez in France, at various FIP events, at the snow polo in Cortina, and at several other one-off events all over the globe. These days, they tend to pay you alright and they always look after you well, in terms of flights and hotels and so on. From your neutral perspective in the middle, how do you think the game has changed in recent years? The emphasis now is on winning, rather than necessarily playing good polo. The game has improved in some respects, in that the horses are quicker and more powerful than ever, but the style of play is different. Possession is now all important so, rather than sending long passes to teammates, players now prefer to keep the ball close and tap their way around. With the incredible control of the horses that is possible now, many top players can do this quite comfortably. However, it’s not good to watch and it’s now increasingly difficult to umpire as well because, when a player takes the ball on himself, inevitably the line he creates is a short one and so its hard to judge who establishes the right of way. What can be done to legislate against these changes? Rather than complicating the game with new rules, that allow good players to play for the fouls and get easy penalty decisions, 26

in my view it should go the other way – the game needs to be simplified. If we did away with all of the non-dangerous fouls (for example those at slow speeds during

the reaction to decisions directed at the umpires. And the rule even extends to the umpires ourselves as well. We get in trouble if we talk to the players about penalties,

“Few of us really enjoy umpiring anymore to be honest, but we carry on out of a love of the game. We know we are necessary until others come through the ranks” – JJ Díaz Alberdi a melee or at throw-ins), we could restrict the number of silly penalties straight away. At present, the games are getting longer and longer. In an eight-chukka match at the Open, there can be as many as 40 fouls. There’s definitely not that many dangerous plays, so they could be cut down and the game made far more exciting. It can be very boring at times at the moment. And how successful has the new rule preventing players from querying umpires’ decisions been in your view this season? The idea is good but the zero-tolerance rule goes too far. The adrenalin, danger, aggression and passion that make polo such a thrilling game are also the same natural elements that mean players can never be expected to stay completely quiet. It has been introduced too suddenly. The directive from the association actually changed after the Tortugas, where I felt it had worked relatively smoothly. They got over-excited and suggested we clamp down on talking and shouting between the players, even teammates, as well as

other than to simply state what we have awarded. This means, however, that we can’t even warn a player that he is on thin ice, because that involves talking! We have to use a series of hand signals, to suggest they are pushing it, then we will award a technical penalty if it persists and, finally (after three or four technicals), a yellow card. Two yellow cards means a player misses his next game. What do the umpires feel about it then? We don’t want arguments with players but we also don’t want complete silence. However, it’s good to have the power to be able to shut some players up if you have to. Lolo Castagnola for example is always talking to the umpires, as is Luke Tomlinson, who never forgets a decision he thinks you got wrong – he remembers every penalty in absolute detail and takes you to task on all of them! You can never win as an umpire and, of course, the new rule can’t prevent players from talking to you or each other outside the confines of the ground after the final whistle goes.

Polo Times, January/February 2011

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JJ Díaz Alberdi, below, says that the new rule that aims to prevent players arguing with the umpires is a good idea but that, in practice, it goes against the passionate nature of the game. This showreel, where Cambiaso and Castagnola can be seen having plenty to say, clearly demonstrates just how ineffectual it was in the final

Few of us really enjoy umpiring anymore to be honest, but we carry on out of a love of the game. We know we are necessary but the hope is that sooner rather than later a proper school of umpires can be established that brings good new people through the ranks. That’s something that fellow-umpire Daniel Boudou is particularly pushing for. At the moment there are very few people really sufficiently qualified to take on the A-grade fixtures [the high-goal games]. Does an umpire need to have had poloplaying experience to be any good? In my view, yes – they certainly need to have some. However, it probably isn’t essential that they have played high-goal. Julian Appleby, for example, only played as high as medium-goal, and I think that is probably sufficient. It’s been a thrilling season. What will you remember and how do you assess the top teams’ chances looking ahead to 2011’s high-goal? Well, the first thing is to say that I still think the high-goal will be closer than people expect for next season. Of course, La Dolfina will be very strong next year [see pages 34-39 for the details] but it will still be very interesting to see how the team gels together. Cambiaso has been very unusual this year and so nothing is guaranteed. I can’t help wondering if he and Juan Martin Nero won’t clash in some ways – they both like to bring the ball in

from the back and, if they are both trying to build attacks from a defensive-midfield position together, where will that leave Pablo MacDonough? Also, where does Pelon Stirling fit in with that shape? Pelon is a good example actually, as you can see from the 2010 high-goal that, when you play with Cambiaso, it changes your polo. The world number one is totally unique, and Pelon could rarely handle it. In my view he played much better when he played with the Heguys the year before. Cambiaso’s attitude in this year’s high-goal has been quite disruptive. He’s a great guy off the polo field but, when he’s playing, it doesn’t matter as an umpire or an opponent or even as a teammate if you are friends with him, he doesn’t care. He says and does as he pleases. Nevertheless, Ellerstina will definitely be the underdogs in 2011. If it was 50/50 in terms of who was going to win this year, I’d say that will change to about 65/35 next season. However, Ellerstina has the horses, and Nico Pieres has suddenly started looking good, so you never know. Nachi Heguy is also

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a good addition to the side as, while he’s been around for many years, he is still only in his mid-30s and is a great player. They will still be the two top sides, though La Aguada won’t be far behind. Is it easy for players and teams looking to find good horses to get competitive now? No, not anymore. Very few players are ever interested in selling their good ones because the top players always have a need for a top horse. Even if their mounts look extremely good, they will always be looking to improve their string in the UK or US. High-goalers need 10 top mounts in each place they play polo, and playing abroad is also where they earn the majority of their money. Demand now is far outweighing supply and so the prices are just going up and up. In Argentina now, I firmly believe you can’t expect to actually make any real money as a polo professional until you get to eight goals, unless you are part of a famous and wellconnected polo family. You need a job as one of the top pros in a UK highgoal team if you are going to make any money. F w Read more on the Open on pages 38 and 88, and on umpiring on page 20 Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 17:39:35



A natural

remedy to training troubles Various methods are used to break-in ponies across the globe, where new “natural horsemanship” techniques are increasingly seeping into polo training, as Alice Gipps discovers in Argentina. Meanwhile, in the UK Georgie May speaks to David Morley about the process he goes through to break in a yearling


atural horsemanship techniques are gradually infiltrating the polo world, writes Alice Gipps. The methods work with the equus language, where the horse feels safe, remains calm and wants to please the trainer as a leader, enabling the horse to learn to work with people in a partnership rather than as an adversary. There is a “firm but fair” attitude and the horse must respect but not fear the trainer. There are few individuals who have the knowledge truly to communicate with horses and understand how to get the best out of each. Initial training requires skill, split-second timing and lots of patience. However, ultimately, its advocates argue that training is quicker and the horse has a

Monte Blanco uses natural horsemanship methods

Traditional methods, where the horse is dominated, obtain faster but less predictable results as the horse is not listening greater chance of fully understanding what is expected of him, and more importantly, he is keen to do it well. A willing horse, just like a child keen to please, will achieve the goals set for them far easier with often better results. Traditional methods, where the horse is dominated, often obtain faster but less predictable results as the horse is not truly listening. This leads to mistakes learnt by rushed training, which take far longer to correct than a little patience to begin with. 28

Bridleless riding is an extreme example of the spectacular results which can be achieved by natural horsemanship training. “Parelli” or similar techniques enable a skilled trainer to stop from a gallop, spin at speed, change pace and direction all with the slightest of leg signals without any tack at all, a feat a large majority of polo ponies would struggle to achieve to a high standard with a saddle and bridle, let alone without either. Proof that a horse is willing to work with

the rider to such an unimaginable level shows that, by connecting on a different level and asking, not forcing, the horse to learn, trainers can achieve fantastic results. These methods are increasingly being proven in polo ponies, especially with the sensitive minds of some Thoroughbreds, whose highly strung personalities cannot cope with the traditional techniques. Maximo “Monte” Blanco, is a 32-yearold Argentine polo pony trainer who has discovered these alternative methods and is consequently changing the way he breaks and trains horses. His motivation to discover alternative breaking methods grew when he began getting more and more requests to break in Thoroughbreds with difficult temperaments. From an early age, Monte learnt a great deal from his grandfather who worked with the native Argentine Criollo ponies. For many years Blanco used the traditional methods as they were the only way of breaking in he had witnessed and understood. Today he has considerably changed his way of training young horses. Working for Hilario and Salvador Ulloa, he saw their father, Polito Ulloa, a famous Argentine polo pony trainer, use Natural Horsemanship techniques similar to renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts. Polito has trained many successful young horses, including Adolfo Cambiaso’s Dolfina Lapa and Dolfina Cuartetera, which was named best playing pony in the 2009 Argentine Open final.

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Photographs by Alice Gipps and Tony Ramirez

Above: Monte starts off training a young horse with some lungeing. Right: Monte gets a horse used to carrying weight before eventually riding it

Monte now starts all young horses with some ground work such as lungeing. He uses a headcollar as a guide under a snaffle bit bridle, rather than a Coscojero Pelham, no whip at all to begin with and only his legs to guide the horse. He allows the horse more time to think and figure out what is being asked of it, rewarding good behaviour with a pause or release of pressure on the reins or legs. The methods he uses work by operant conditioning, rewarding or punishing the horses behaviour. Pressure and release are the core concepts. The basic technique is to apply a pressure of some kind to the horse as a cue for an action and then release it as soon as the horse responds, either by doing what

was asked for, or by doing something that could be understood as a step towards the requested action. Timing is everything, as the horse learns not from the pressure itself, but rather from the release of that pressure. These techniques are based on

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the principle of reinforcement, rather than physical force, which is quite different from traditional domination methods and the essential key to natural horsemanship. Overall he allows six to seven months for each horse to be working correctly. u Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Monte rides one of his horses without a bridle during the training process. He believes this allows him to communicate with the horse on a different level


A simple example is teaching the horse to stop. Monte allows three months to have the horse stopping correctly from speed. The initial technique is to start at a walk and as soon as the horse has stopped when pressure is applied to the reins they are quickly – this is key – released as a reward. Whips and spurs are still very useful training aids and guides when they are not used in excess. However, Monte has gone to the extreme in this regard, from originally using the Argentine “revenque” (a short rawhide whip) to nothing at all while using the new techniques. Plans to build a round pen will be an invaluable groundwork training tool for his 30

organisation so he can use the “join-up” techniques which prove to work so well in gaining trust in the first stages of breaking a young horse. Initial ground training helps the horse understand simple cues from the voice and reins. Moving forward, turning, and stopping are required of the horse before a person sits on its back, lessening the risk of injury to the horse and rider. The very act of taming and training horses is not “natural” but understanding their natural instincts, how they process thoughts, speaking the same language and engaging with them, will continue to improve the success rates of producing great horses for polo.


avid Morley, who is based in West Sussex, has been breaking in and training horses for the past 40 years, writes Georgie May. Morley understands the importance of building a relationship between horse and rider. “Horses make better partners than servants,” he says. “You can’t break a horse’s spirit, tell it what to do, and then expect it to work with you!” Morley begins the breaking in process, or “development” as he prefers to call it, when the horse is two years old, backing them and riding them away. The process begins when they are foals.

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Above: David Morley (also pictured right and inset) and one of his grooms take a young horse for a ride around the farm after six to eight weeks of close training

They are regularly handled, getting used to having their feet picked up and led. In the spring of their second year, the traditional breaking in process begins. All the horses that Morley deals with are Thoroughbreds. His grandfather, Tom Masson, a master horseman and renowned trainer of problem racehorses, including winners for the Queen, was very influential in Morley’s understanding of the Thoroughbred. Most horses that Morley has developed have been bought from the bloodstock sales, studs or from other breeders. Two great successes have been Chesney, threetimes best playing pony in the Gold Cup, and Ava, a mare bought from stud as an unbroken three-year-old. She was played by Guillermo “Memo” Gracida, who described her as the “best pony in the world”, before being sold to Kerry Packer. Morley usually spends six to eight weeks starting a two-yearold to the point of riding it around the farm. They are mouthed, lunged and long reined, get used to a roller and then a saddle, bit and side reins. He uses a straight bar

breaking bit with keys to start off, moving to a snaffle when the horse is used to the tongue being under the bit. A snaffle can encourage a horse to put the tongue over the bit (see more on bits on page 78). Morley, like Monte Blanco, follows the same method used by the Argentine master breaker Polito Ulloa of getting a horse used to having a rider above them, by riding a horse next to them rather than on them to begin with. While riding next to them, the rider can

“You can’t break a horse’s spirit, tell it what to do, and then expect it to work with you!” - renowned trainer David Morley lean over, put some weight on them, move the stirrup iron around, pick up the reins and gently stroke them with a whip. This gets them used to movement on and around them. Once they are settled, the rider can start to direct the horse by picking up the reins and leading the horse left as one introduces neck reining, and pushing it right, swapping lead sides regularly.

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Even at this early stage Morley will often carry a foot mallet, getting the horse used to the movement around it. While the horse has a lot going on, it will not focus just on the mallet and becomes used to it without panicking. The same practice is adopted later on when introducing the ball. Morley often follows another rider who is stick and balling before hitting a ball off the horse for the first time, always doing something else to take up it’s attention and tapping the ball backwards so the horse

does not see the ball arrive in front of it and come to a stop. “It takes two years to make a polo pony and two minutes to destroy it,” says Morley. “Take your time and you’ll get there quicker.” He goes on to explain that you don’t want to scare a horse, as they won’t forget it. The more “blood” (closer to a Thoroughbred) a horse has, the easier they are to scare. If a horse shows exceptional talent but is nervous, Morley will give it more time if he believes it will make a top pony, this was the case with Ava. F Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 17:42:21


Photography competition

A selection of your entries for our 2010 amateur polo photography competition


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perfect – your photos

After a spectacular influx of entries, the winners and runners-up have been decided for the inaugural Polo Times amateur photography competition. As Georgie May reveals, the lucky winners announced here can look forward to receiving some fantastic prizes


he hotly contested Polo Times amateur polo photography competition drew to a close at the end of December and, with so many entrants, competition was tough. Envelopes, CDs, memory sticks and emails came in from all over the world in a bid to win one of the four categories: Best Action, Best Horses, Best Sidelines and Best Junior photographer (under 21). We also selected one outstanding winner across all categories, who collects a powerful ultra-zoom compact camera, the Olympus SP-800UZ (pictured right). A judging panel of Polo Times staff and professional photographers, including regular contributer Tony Ramirez, decided which photos deserved the prizes (you can see plenty of Tony’s pictures elsewhere in this issue). Pénélope Ferrand-Tomasi, from France, won Best Action and collected the Best Overall prize for her fantastic action shot taken at La Dolfina Polo Club, Argentina (see page 36). It shows two players clashing in front of the boards in a private match at the club. “I travelled with eight friends for a polo holiday in Argentina at the end of

November,” said Pénélope, who has been playing polo for a year. “We spent 10 days at Estancia Taqueada and travelled to La Dolfina to watch some matches. “I was standing at the sidelines and had to jump back as I took the photo. It was one of those moments where all the spectators held their breath as the ponies collided to a stop. I love how the ponies bottoms are sitting on the ground, it’s a pure action shot.” As well as the camera, Pénélope also receives a photography lesson with Vanessa Taylor, including tuition in editing and photoshopping. An A3 mounted print by Alice Gipps was awarded to the Best Horses winner, Andrew Cort, for his shot of Pelon Stirling’s horse. Helen Wigglesworth picked up the Best Sidelines prize, a case of Grand Cru Soutiran Champagne. Her photo of a “chica” at Santa Maria Polo Club

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in Sotogrande stood out in terms of the composition for our judging panel. For Best Junior, Charlotte Bushby receives an outdoor photography lesson with Tony Ramirez and one of Tony’s prints. Charlotte took a brilliant photo of the Autumn Tournament at Dundee and Perth Polo Club with Scone Palace in the background. Read on to see the winning u photographs for yourself. The top prize, an Olympus SP-800UZ

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Photography competition

Action winners 3rd


1st Pénélope Ferrand-Tomasi Horses grind to a halt in front of the boards during the Diamond Cup semifinal at La Dolfina Polo Club, Argentina, capturing the intensity of the game as the players fight to get to the ball first

Christopher Pollard Taken at Sussex Polo Club last July, Argentine pro and Sussex’s head groom Mario Ramirez is clearly at a disadvantage after the head of his mallet flies off mid-shot

Lesley Cade Peter Bruins takes an under-theneck shot in The Christening Cup at Nduruma Polo Club in Tanzania. Following the game he was named most valuable player

Sidelines winners 1st


Heather Wigglesworth This “chica” was photographed at the Sotogrande Gold Cup last year


2nd Sophie Bolesworth Taken at Vaux Park Polo Club last summer, Simon Frances’s Colorada and Tapita relax next to the lorry, with two labradors peering out of the cab

Alexander Shestakovskiy Henry Brett’s groom Javier Quintana exercises the ponies on the all-weather track at East End Farm, Polo Times’ HQ, in Oxfordshire, on a beautiful summer’s day

Polo Times, January/February 2011

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Horses winners



1st Andrew Cort David “Pelon” Stirling, playing for El Remanso, rides a fresh horse into the Diamond Cup final in Argentina in December. The photo captures both grace and movement

Katy Stankova Kalum Williams makes friends with Memo Raschia Grau’s Thoroughbred mare, Georgina, at Trimble Farm in Holyport, Berkshire

Mark Santrian These two ponies are enjoying a well-earned rest after playing the last chukkas of the season. They were played by Mark’s 11-year-old son, in his first season last summer

Junior (u21) winners 3rd


1st Charlotte Busby, 20 With Scone Palace in the background, players battle it out at Dundee and Perth

George Sunderland, 18 Argentine Franco Gay tries to keep his firery pony under control at Kirtlington Park Polo Club last September

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Kirsty Down, 20 Hector Worsley and his horse Iris walk onto the ground at Sussex last July

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Photography competition

Best overall

Pénélope Ferrand-Tomasi


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20/1/11 14:32:46


Argentine Open 2010

Bittersweet success for 40-goal foursome


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Facundo Pieres, who scored the decisive goal in the final chukka, celebrates with Ellerstina fans after his side’s victory over La Dolfina, the last such match before both teams make dramatic changes to their line-ups for 2011, which many are calling “the end of an era”

Ellerstina’s disbanding side completed a historic Argentine Triple Crown clean sweep at Palermo this December in one of the most memorable final showdowns of recent years

James Mullan in Buenos Aires

Ellerstina La Dolfina

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hristmas came early for Ellerstina on Sunday 12 December, when the team fulfilled their long-held dream of lifting the Argentine Open trophy to win the Triple Crown. However, for the spectators, the invigorating end of the game’s most exciting and incidentpacked season in years was delightful and deflating in equal measure, because – though the result was largely a popular one, and the game utterly fantastic – the knowledge that both these sides will change dramatically in 2011 meant this wasn’t just the end of the season but, in many senses, the end of an era. The added significance certainly wasn’t lost on the game’s two best teams, who duly produced an undulating, fast-paced and passionate showpiece in which just five of the 27 goals scored came directly from penalties. The contest was reminiscent of the end-to-end passing style of the allconquering Coronel Suárez side of the late 1970s and early 1980s, known only to all but those with the longest memories thanks to the video coverage of the celebrated 1983 final. To be there this time was a thrill that few will forget. However, things hadn’t started quite so brightly. The 2010 final began on the Saturday as planned, following the usual lengthy sun-drenched build-up of musical

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Argentine pomp and pageantry, but the umpires were forced to abandon the game itself in the first chukka and reschedule its completion for Sunday when a torrential rain storm ripped through Buenos Aires with very little warning. The suddenly appalling conditions left everyone soaked, yet it was also more than enough to leave the spectators’ appetites whetted. Even in just the three minutes and 17 seconds of play that Mother Nature allowed, Gonzalito Pieres twice broke away to score, riding his rocket-like mare Lizzie with incredible conviction, despite the instantly soggy ground underhoof, and applauded by a clap of thunder above. Nothing has moved that fast on water since triple Olympic sailing champion, Ben Ainslie. The tone for the game was set. And Sunday’s conclusion certainly didn’t disappoint, as the obvious quality of the tournament’s only undefeated teams shone through, as did the sheer competitive edge and intense rivalry that has characterised all their contests in recent years. Ellerstina’s Pieres brothers and, in particular, the supposedly out-of-sorts David “Pelon” Stirling, for La Dolfina, lit Most valuable player

Juan Martin Nero up the early exchanges, scoring the most exciting goals of the first half. However, all eyes were on the heavyweights making their much-publicised swansongs for La Dolfina, Bartolomé “Lolo” Castagnola and Lucas Monteverde. Both were playing with a determination I have rarely witnessed in them, involved in probably their last Argentine Open finals, but they displayed u Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Argentine Open 2010

Photographs by Sergio Llamera and Tony Ramirez


MVP Juan Martin Nero makes a break out of defence, where he spent most of his time keeping tabs on Cambiaso. In attack, he managed just one goal, from a throw-in


Team polo and one outstanding performance triumph Our pro pundit, four-goaler Nick Snow, says Ellerstina’s admirable approach deserved to win The performance of Juan Martin Nero in defence was the chief reason Ellerstina took victory. He was able to neutralise the game’s best player, Adolfo Cambiaso, in a way no other player in the world has been able, never affording him the respect that causes other opponents to back off and give him space to operate. One particular play that springs to mind demonstrated this unique approach: Cambiaso, on his famous mare Cuartetera, was defending Juan Martin at an Ellerstina knock-in from the back line. Sensing that Cambiaso 40

Polo Times, January/February 2011

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appeared a bit relaxed in his defensive coverage, Juan Martin brought his mallet back as if he was going to send it deep down field and instead, smoothly

Juan Martin Nero never gave Cambiaso space to operate, but took him on head on eased by Cuartetera on the right, bringing it all the way to midfield as Cambiaso raced to catch up. It was a play that very few, if any players, would attempt against the

best player in the world, riding one of the best horses in his string. Offensively, Ellerstina relied on a quick release at opportune times to send teammates free down the field. The epitome of their offensive scheme came in the sixth chukka when, not only did all four players on the team score (turning a 10-8 deficit into a 12-10 lead), but they also converted the most pleasing team goal of the afternoon. A knock-in from Juan Martin was played to the right boards to Facundo. He controlled it and passed a neck shot into midfield, where Pablo MacDonough sent

it first time towards goal and a speedy Gonzalo got on the end of it to put it in. It was Ellerstina at their best, and showed where they had the edge over La Dolfina. Such passing plays are not a normal facet of La Dolfina’s attack, as they tend to rely much more on Cambiaso’s individual skill when the game is on the line. No one Ellerstina player tried to do it all in attack or defence. They took the responsibility together. Ellerstina was the better team, and deservedly won the game and took the Triple Crown. F

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How did they perform? We mark the finalists out of 10, based on their effectiveness in terms of handicap

Ellerstina Facundo Pieres (10) Castagnola’s vigorous attentions restricted Facundo to just two goals from open play, though that was two more than in 2009. He was metronimic from the penalty spot and instrumental in defence at times, too. Gonzalito Pieres (10) Gonzalito’s string stood out, not only Fina Pepa (a horse he bought for nearly half a million dollars) but each and every other pony at his disposal. He really took the game to La Dolfina, to great effect. Pablo MacDonough (10) Quiet until the final three chukkas, he supplied some good passing and fantastic defence at the business-end of the game, which proved crucial. “The side really wanted to go out on a high, having been so close before,” he told Polo Times. “It’s sad to leave. We have all been such close friends.” Juan Martin Nero (10) His second excellent final in a row, after keeping Ellerstina in it right to the death in 2009. But this year he got his reward, and all the plaudits as MVP.

8 8 6 9

La Dolfina Cambiaso appeals for a foul alongside Facundo Pieres (top), and Lolo Castagnola displays his desire to win (above). Lolo produced his most effective performance for several seasons in his last game for La Dolfina

u no shortage of skill and each got themselves on the score sheet in the first four chukkas. It was as well that they did, as – particularly early on – La Dolfina’s captain Adolfo Cambiaso struggled to dominate the game utterly in the way he can, despite several customary moments of absolute brilliance. MVP Juan Martin Nero, hereafter to be known as “Juan Martin Hero”, must certainly accept much of the credit for this. Having conceded an obvious 30-yard penalty just moments earlier, Cambiaso’s frustration was then there for all to see at the end of the third chukka when, despite new rules for the 2010 highgoal that supposedly prevent players from haranguing the umpires for their decisions, he and brother-in-law Lolo gave Estaban Ferrari and Matías Baibiene an absolute earful. Yet, no yellow cards – not

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even a technical foul. This was perhaps fortunate, given the tough sanctions dished out to players earlier in the tournament, and the defending champions then left Ellerstina feeling even more aggrieved when they hit their stride in the fourth and fifth chukkas. Cambiaso awoke and quickly helped La Dolfina to a 10-8 lead, with an unusually quiet Pablo MacDonough still struggling to get himself into the game for Ellerstina. However, arguably it was the sixth chukka that won Ellerstina the game, bouncing back when their heads might have dropped to score four unanswered goals, taking the momentum back from La Dolfina and re-establishing themselves as a side that wasn’t prepared to lose. They certainly weren’t about to allow their arch rivals to deny them the Triple Crown for the second year in succession. u

Adolfo Cambiaso (10) Cambiaso scored fewer goals than he has ever done before in a Palermo final, and La Dolfina paid for it. He looked slightly under-horsed at times, but still produced enough of his own special brand of magic to suggest that losing this final was just a blip.


Lucas Monteverde (10) Brilliantly saved Facundo’s only unsuccessful penalty on the line and provided plenty of industry throughout, especially in the first half, when he scored and hit a post.


David Stirling (9) “It was great to be involved in such a wonderful game and we had our chances,” he said. “I was pleased with my performance, and I scored some good [long-range] goals, but it means nothing unless you win. I wanted to do it for my grooms.”


Bartolomé Castagnola (10) Castagnola’s pure determination was there for all to see, but at times it boiled over too much, arguing with the umpires and unnecessarily whipping Chalo Easypoint to excess right in front of the stands in the sixth chukka.


Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Argentine Open 2010

Clockwise from top: Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres lift the Argentine Open trophy with Pablo MacDonough and Juan Martin Nero; Lolo Castagnola and Facundo Pieres ride off for the ball in front of the chasing pack and the packed grandstands in the final; Gonzalito Pieres lines up to have a crack at goal

The merry-go-round

How the teams are changing Ellerstina 2010 F Pieres G Pieres P MacDonough J M Nero Team handicap: 40 La Dolfina 2010 A Cambiaso L Monterverde D Sterling B Castagnola Team handicap: 39


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La Dolfina 2011 A Cambiaso D Sterling P MacDonough J M Nero Team handicap: 39

Ellerstina 2011 F Pieres N Pieres G Pieres I Heguy Team handicap: 37

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La Dolfina drew the game level going into the final chukka but, sure enough, Ellerstina won out in the end, as Facundo Pieres scored a 30-yard penalty early in the eighth period and then the team hung-on doggedly to the final bell, with Pablo MacDonough finally making his presence felt, accepting the responsibility for stopping Cambiaso play in the final few minutes. This was when Cambiaso was riding 2009’s best playing pony Dolfina Cuartetera, the mare whose clone sold for $800,000 a month earlier, and which he had also briefly used to devastating effect in the seventh chukka. It wasn’t to be for the world number one, but it was one of his former ponies that won best playing pony, Dolfina Toro, played and now owned by Lolo Castagnola. However, even with Cuartetera and some other well-known mounts, many

Lucas Monteverde and Gonzalito Pieres give chase

“Juan Martin Nero became Juan Martin Hero, successfully restricting the impact of world number one Adolfo Cambiaso” were left wondering if Cambiaso’s muchpublicised commercial interests in 2010 as far as horses were concerned had impacted somewhat on the strength and depth of his playing string. He didn’t look quite as well mounted as usual. It normally jumps out at all-but the most novice eye. Not so this year. Nevertheless, locked at 7-7 at half-time and at 13-13 at the start of the eighth and final chukka, few would have been brave enough to bet against yet another extra sudden-death period. All the previous five Argentine Open finals have been decided this way. Thus, if anything, this final was made more remarkable for Ellerstina’s ability actually to win it in normal time. In previous years, the irony has been that, for all the superb quality on show, once it gets to golden goals, it might as well come down to the toss of a coin. The sides can rarely be separated and it is basically luck that cruelly decides the outcome. Not so in 2010. As our analyst Nick Snow points out, Ellerstina took their destiny in their own hands, playing the final at their preferred pace, and deservedly taking the game’s biggest prize with passing polo. It’s all change in 2011, as Nico Pieres

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and Ignacio “Nacho” Heguy come into the team, replacing Pablo MacDonough and Juan Martin Nero, who move to make up a very strong looking La Dolfina side. “I’ve been waiting for this for the last five years,” Nico told Polo Times. “For me, playing with my brothers, it’s a dream. I definitely need to improve my own game to make that step up and ensure Ellerstina will still be one of the top teams, but the experience I have had playing the Open [for São José] this year has definitely helped. And next year I will have 10 new horses that will be ready. I’ll be ready.” Ellerstina’s victory in 2010 makes them the first side to win the complete Argentine Triple Crown (the Tortugas, Hurlingham and Argentine Opens) since La Aguada’s triumph in 2003, seven years ago. And, sure enough, the team went on to celebrate in style: “We deserved to win and, tonight, we party,” said Pablo MacDonough after the game. “I want to drink as much as my body will let me!” Meanwhile, according to Cambiaso’s half-brother Salvador Socas (six goals), La Dolfina’s party at the team’s headquarters near Cañuelas was “like a ghost town”. The side felt aggrieved at their treatment by the umpires, who gave them very little

by way of decisions throughout the game, including a particularly contentious 30-yard penalty miss from Cambiaso, which was awarded by the goal judge but overruled by the men in the middle. “I’m very unhappy that we didn’t manage to win,” said Pelon Stirling. “It was my first final at Palermo and, right now, while I hope to be here again, you never know, so it’s disappointing to have lost.” While the side might have a point about the fairness of the umpiring, ultimately, it was poor discipline and the lack of a clear and consistent four-man strategy that let La Dolfina down. In many other ways, they looked the better team, scoring all the more memorable goals, and competing admirably with Ellerstina’s renowned horsepower, despite the nature of the game, which required constant running and turning. Either way, even though lower-scoring than many previous finals (mainly because there were so few penalties) and despite the lack of the edge-of-the-seat drama of an extra chukka, the last great showdown between these two powerhouses of the modern game was perhaps its best. It was a privilege to witness. F w Read an exclusive interview with top Argentine umpire JJ Diaz Alberdi, on page 24.

Game rating

• • • • • • • • • •

u The 117th Argentine Open, 20 November – 12 December 2010; Palermo, Buenos Aires Result: Ellerstina beat La Dolfina, 14-13 Sponsors: Movistar, La Martina, Rolex, Mastercard, Mercedez-Benz, Stella Artois, Nespresso, HSBC, Chandon, ESPN Handicap level: Open (30-40 goal) Number of team entries: eight Chukka scores (Ellerstina): 2-3; 5-4; 7-5; 7-7; 8-10; 12-10; 13-13; 14-13 Most valuable player: Juan Martin Nero Best playing pony: Dolfina Toro, owned and played by Lolo Castagnola Finalists Ellerstina (40): Facundo Pieres 10 (scored 6 goals); Gonzalito Pieres 10 (scored 6); Pablo MacDonough 10 (scored 1); Juan Martin Nero 10 (scored 1) La Dolfina (39): Adolfo Cambiaso 10 (scored 6); Lucas Monteverde 10 (scored 1); David Stirling 9 (scored 4); Bartolomé Castagnola 10 (scored 2) Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Cámara de Diputados, Argentina

Last-gasp Ferrario goal

seals Cámara win for La Aguada Annika Urbat in Buenos Aires

La Aguada Magual

Photographs by Tony Ramirez


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a Aguada produced a strong finish to win the Cámara de Diputados title after a physical and nailbiting final against Magual that saw the lead change hands four times. The match at Palermo was moved back a day to Monday 13 December to accommodate the re-scheduled Argentine Open final. When it eventually took place, there was no shortage of drama. La Aguada, the Novillo Astrada-run Buenos Aires club, got off to a flying start and led 2-0 after the first chukka. And they looked to be cruising towards victory as they powered 7-3 in front midway through the third. However, a remarkable turnaround in the fifth chukka, with four


unanswered Magual goals, suddenly put the 29-goal Pilar-based side in front at 9-8. La Aguada kept their heads, though, and a Manuel Crespo goal brought them level before Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario struck with two minutes to go in the final chukka to snatch the win for the 30-goal side. Alejandro Novillo Astrada, who scored twice for La Aguada, feels the team won because they stuck to their game plan. He said: “After going behind we started playing the same way we did at the beginning, hitting passes and marking the man. That was the key to winning. “We never got desperate and kept playing the way we always do, we had a system and even when losing we didn’t change it.” If the first chukka was dominated by La Aguada, when Crespo and Ferrario helped them to a 2-0 lead, the second certainly belonged to Magual. Seven-goaler Joaquin Pittaluga scored the first two of his six-goal haul on the day to bring them level before Diego Cavanagh put the side from Pilar 3-2 in front. The pendulum swung back in favour of

La Aguada in the third chukka as they outscored Magual 5-1. Ferrario, Crespo and Alejandro Novillo Astrada were all amongst the goals as La Aguada opened a 7-3 lead, before Cavanagh got one back for Magual. Both sides added one goal in the fourth chukka, through Pittaluga and Julito Novillo Astrada, before a dramatic turn-around in the fifth. Cavanagh’s third

“We never got desperate and kept playing the way we always do. That was the key.” – Alejandro Novillo Astrada goal narrowed the gap before three goals from Pittaluga put the Pilar side in front for the second time. Suddenly trailing 9-8 in the penultimate (sixth) chukka, La Aguada equalised through Crespo’s third goal to set up a tense finale. And there was drama at the start of the seventh chukka as Magual’s Lucas Di Paola fell off during a melee at the

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boards. He dusted himself down and was able to continue a few minutes later, but it was La Aguada’s Ferrario who had the final word, slotting the late winner. Having lost the opening game of the Cámara 14-13 against Venado Tuerto, Alejandro Novillo Astrada was delighted with how his team responded. He said: “We were able to identify the problem that made us lose the first game so we changed our attitude as a team. It is a great honour to win the Cámara. “It’s a very difficult tournament with a lot of games.” F w The Cámara de Diputados final was umpired by JJ Díaz Alberdi, who was third man at the Open final. See pages 24-27 for an in-depth interview with the popular high-goal official

Game rating

• • • • • • • • • •

u C  ámara de Diputados, 16 November – 5 December 2010; Pilar and Palermo, Argentina Result: La Aguada beat Magual 10-9 Handicap level: 30 Number of team entries: 17 Chukka scores (La Aquada): 2-0; 2-3; 7-4; 8-5; 8-9; 9-9; 10-9 Final teams: La Aguada (30): Julio Novillo Astrada 8; Ezequiel Martinez Ferrario 7; Manuel Crespo 7; Alejandro Novillo Astrada 8 Magual (29): Lucas Di Paola 7; Diego Cavanagh 7; Joaquin Pittaluga 7; Marcos Di Paola 8

Across the top: action from December’s high-octane final, after which La Aguada’s entourage celebrated with the Cámara de Diputados cup Below: the view from the main Palermo grandstands on the final as the late afternoon sunshine casts its familiar long shadows

w Additional reporting by John O’Sullivan

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19/1/11 18:04:10


Argentine Pato Open

Old head masterminds victory of traditional prize At 58, Dante Spinacci still looked every inch the 10-goal player as he led La Guarida to a comfortable, and very popular victory, in the gauchos’ original pastime – pato James Mullan reports

La Guarida El Relincho

19 14

Photographs by James Mullan


his was my first proper experience of a competitive pato match, so I won’t pretend to talk with any great authority about the ins and outs of this year’s championship, but the final left me in no doubt as to why this game retains so much interest in Argentina, even in the face of the best quality polo in the world – it’s tough. It’s a proper gauchos’ game, played on gaucho saddles, with none of the elbow-pads or gloves that the polo players favour. It’s rough, raw, fast and impressively physical. The 2010 Argentine Pato Open final was dominated from start to finish by 32-goal side La Guarida, a team featuring two 10-goalers, in the shape of Ariel Tapia and 58-year-old renowned horse breaker (particularly of polo ponies), Dante Spinacci. These were the two that made the difference, making their opponents El Relincho pay for every mistake and every missed opportunity. Rather like basketball, if a team fails to score too often when they get possession of the ball and a chance to attack, they can quickly find themselves a long way behind on the scoreboard. So it was with El Relincho. They went two goals down inside the first three minutes of the contest and, despite a full-blooded attempt at a comeback in the fifth and early in the sixth and final 46

Impressive 58-year-old 10-goaler Dante Spinacci moves down the field at full tilt during the final

chukka, they never got back within range, eventually losing 19-14. El Relincho’s side predominantly consisted of three members of the Lemme family, and they had plenty of support in the grandstands from fans that appeared to span about four generations. However, there was also a cacophony of noise every time La Guarida scored, which was often, and the plaudits lavished on the towering figure of Dante Spinacci at the lengthy presentation ceremony in the aftermath were greeted by cheers and applause from supporters of both sides. He was clearly a popular winner, particularly amongst the gauchos. The Italian ancestry, common amongst many Argentines that claim pato as their kind of game, was also unmistakable. It made for a peculiar and, at times, confusing atmosphere. The names of the four players

on La Guarida’s side sound as though they could have been lifted straight out of an episode of the Sopranos, and yet half the crowd resembled extras from a film about the Argentine War of Independence, wearing “boinas” berets, sashes and alpargatas and drinking maté The rest of the crowd looked as though they might be part of the smart polo set. It was an enjoyable dynamic, and a fun way to spend the afternoon. The game itself featured rather less tackling than I had expected, when a player on one side wrestles the ball from an opponent by tugging harder on the leather straps on the ball until he relinquishes, but the displays of horsepower were a constant thrill. They reached a full-speed gallop probably more often than the ponies do in polo and, when a player picks a clever line to the basket-shaped goal and attacks it in top gear, it is a joy to behold. F w Read more about pato and its history in our feature on page 46 of the last issue, November/December 2010

Game rating

• • • • • • • • • •

u A  rgentine Pato Open final; 19 December 2010; Palermo, Buenos Aires Result: La Guarida beat El Relincho, 19-14 Chukka scores (La Guarida): 3-1; 7-3; 10-5; 12-9; 15-12; 19-14 Finalists La Guarida (32): Francisco Bellapart 4; Andres Lanfranco 8; Dante Spinacci 10; Ariel Tapia 10 El Relincho (30): Martin Lemme 7; Luciano Tunon 7; Gaston Lemme 9; Luciano Lemme 7

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Dante Spinacci moves in on goal during La Guarida’s Argentine Pato Open final win over El Relincho. The 58-year-old’s son, Pablo, is a six-goal polo player

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Watersfield Trophy, UK

Report Photographs by Tony Stephenson and Abi Meakin

Inset: the triumphant Watersfield team of James Stephenson, Mark Burgon and Maurice Ormerod show off their winning trophy. Main picture: Maurice Ormerod powers clear of Rex Woodhouse in the semifinal clash between Watersfield and Los Vegetales

Sibling rivalry

ignites thrilling arena Trophy final The McCarthys and the Ormerods both put family ties aside for the weekend as the keenly-fought Watersfield Trophy took centre stage at Druids Lodge in Wiltshire James Stephenson




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ome tremendous polo was played at Druids Lodge in mid-January as four teams entered the Watersfield Trophy, which was played at 7-9 goal level. After four extremely close matches, the nine-goal Watersfield team – featuring the Wiltshire club’s polo manager James Stephenson, Mark Burgon and five-goaler Maurice Ormerod – took the top prize with a 18-16 win over Los Vegetales claimed the subsidiary trophy with a nail-biting win against Emlor. In the first semi-final Los Vegetales, with Max Lopez filling in for his father Pedro, played a great game against Watersfield. However the latter made the most of their experience in the last chukka and a 22-18 win took them through to the final. The other semi final was a family

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affair where vocal ability seemed to be an important skill. Six-goaler Will Emerson was joined by Ellie and Spencer McCarthy in the Emlor team, while James and Clinton McCarthy joined forces with Eden Ormerod in the side. Eden Ormerod stayed calm throughout and that proved crucial as he guided his team through to the final with a 16-10 win. The weather held true for the weekend so both finals were played under blue skies. The subsidiary final was very hard fought with Spencer McCarthy and Will Emerson appearing to have everything in control for Emlor. However, Los Vegetales, with some inspirational play from Andrew Gebbie, managed to come back to win 18-17 in the last seconds of a very exciting game. The final itself was a quality affair with James McCarthy of playing at a serious level for the first time. The two Ormerod brothers – Maurice for Watersfield and Eden for – battled it out, while Clinton McCarthy worked like dynamite against Watersfield’s James Stephenson and Mark Burgon.

The scores were close throughout, but at the end Watersfield managed to run out narrow winners, 18-16. There was some great polo during the Watersfield Trophy. It really was a wonderful start to 2011 at Druids. F u W  atersfield Trophy, 8-9 January 2011; Druids Lodge Polo Club Result: Watersfield 18, 16 Handicap Level: 6-9 Number of entries: 4 Final teams: Watersfield (9): James Stephenson 2; Mark Burgon 2; Maurice Ormerod 5 (8): James McCarthy 0; Clinton McCarthy 1; Eden Ormerod 7 Subsidiary Final: Result: Los Vegetales 18, Emlor 17 Final teams: Los Vegetales (7): Rex Woodhouse 2; Pedro Lopez-Valido 3; Andrew Gebbie 2 Emlor (8): Ellie McCarthy 0; Spencer McCarthy 2; Will Emerson 6 Polo Times, January/February 2011


19/1/11 18:07:48


South African Open

Kurland finale proves to be real Boxing Day treat Mabelstone looked to be well on course for South African Open victory in Plettenberg Bay until Rocksteady’s Jean du Plessis made his mark on the match

Richard Le Poer

Photograph by Christy Strever (

in South Africa

Rocksteady Mabelstone


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moment of magic from Jean du Plessis inspired Rocksteady to South African Open glory over Mabelstone on Boxing Day. Rocksteady – who had already beaten their opponents earlier in the tournament – looked to be heading towards defeat as they fell behind early on, before five-goaler du Plessis made his mark. A brace of goals by tournament MVP Buster Mackenzie got Mabelstone off to a flying start as the match began at a blistering pace. The frenetic start and

Mabelstone’s dominance continued through the first three chukkas. But the turning point came at the start of the fourth chukka when du Plessis grabbed hold of the ball and sifted his way through the Mabelstone defence, scoring a very impressive individual goal. This shifted the momentum towards Rocksteady and they took full advantage after this to secure a 9-6 win. The final had been due to take place on Wednesday, 22 December, but was pushed back to Boxing Day following torrential rain. Earlier in the tournament both finalists won two of their three group games to book their places in the championship decider. Two late goals by Tom de Bruin helped Rocksteady win their first clash with Mabelstone 10-9. The eventual winners also beat Southern Cross Coal, featuring England six-goaler Malcolm Borwick, 10-7. Mabelstone started the tournament with an overwhelming 13-5 win over hosts

Kurland, and also triumphed over Cross Coal. Kurland bounced back from their opening defeat by thumping Cross Coal 13-6. But, despite inflicting Rocksteady’s only defeat of the tournament after that, they missed out on a place in the final. F u S  outh African Open, 13-26 December 2010; Kurland, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa Result: Rocksteady 9, Mabelstone 6 Handicap Level: 15 Number of entries: 4 MVP: Buster Mackenzie Best Playing Pony: Macdate (owned by Stonefield Polo, played by Guy Watson) Best string of the tournament: Tom de Bruin Final teams: Rocksteady (15): Mike Griffiths 0; Jean du Plessis 5; Guy Watson 5; Tom de Briun 5 Mabelstone (15): Chris MacKenzie 4; Richard Le Poer 4; Buster MacKenzie 6; Vaughn Richardson 1 The Rocksteady (black and yellow) and Mabelstone (white) players clash in front of the Kurland pavilion during the Open final


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Junior polo

Argentina’s future stars

cut their teeth in the Potrillos As rumours circulate about a possible relocation for the world’s most famous children’s polo tournament, the participation of more than 200 youngsters in 2010 confirmed its importance

Hernan Alvarez at Los Indios


Photographs by Noel Jessen

erennial big guns Trenque Lauquen claimed the big prize at the Potrillos Cup in early December with a narrow 6-5 win in the fastpaced final of the tournament’s top division. The side from west of Buenos Aires, playing in their famous red and green shirts (right), saw off a strong challenge from MCLV – who were made up of a mixed team from the Vicuna Mackenna, Chapaleufú, La Lucila and Valeria clubs – to get their hands on the most famous trophy in youth polo. The Potrillos Cup has been the most important tournament for children in

Argentina since it was first launched at the Heguy’s Los Indios Polo Club in San Miguel in 1963. It has returned to Los Indios every December since then and the 2010 edition featured 228 players across 57 teams in three divisions. Trenque Lauquen’s victory in the top division meant they finished ahead of 28 other squads of boys and girls aged 12 to 14, and so is no mean feat. In the middle division, the “Potrillitos”, for 10 and 11-year-olds, 17 different teams took part in the competition, with La Lucila beating Dona Pilar 4-0 in the final.

“Most players hailed from Buenos Aires, but players from England, Colombia, Brazil and France also joined the proceedings, as did 10-goaler Lolo Castagnola’s young sons”

Action from the top-division final in December, when the blue shirts of MCLV lost out narrowly to Trenque Lauquen (above)


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Junior polo


The grass-roots view Theresa Hodges, UK Pony Club Polo chair, brings us her first regular column

A Dona Pilar player reaches behind himself on his nearside to try and keep the ball from the advancing La Lucila player, wearing red and yellow. However, his side was soundly beaten in the Potrillitos final by La Lucila, 4-0

The youngest age group, the “Mini Potrillitos”, gave children of nine and under the chance to show off their budding skills. A two-club combination of Venado Tuerto and Trenque Lauquen beat Los Pingos del Taita 4-2 in the final. La Dolfina’s 10-goaler Bartolomé ‘Lolo’ Castagnola watched from the sidelines as his sons Camilo and Bartolomé Jr turned out for Navidad. Most of the young players on show at the Potrillos hail from Buenos Aires, but the provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe, Entre Rios, La Pampa and Tucuman were also represented this year. There was also an international flavour to proceedings, with players from England, Colombia, Brazil and France representing the Los Indios team. Eduardo and Alberto Heguy assisted

with running the host team alongside Marcus and Alberto Heguy Sr. Historically, the Portrillos has proved to be a great training ground for the stars of the future, with most of the current highgoal players cutting their teeth on the fields of San Miguel. Current São José eight-goaler Nicolas Pieres played in the tournament for the first time as a seven-year-old in 1998 and went on to win the 2002 Potrillitos Cup and 2005 Potrillos Cup. The likes of Bautista Heguy, Guillermo Caset, Ignacio Novillo Astrada, Joaquin Pittaluga, Guillermo Terrera, Sebastian Merlos, Tomas Garcia del Rio, Lucas James, Facundo Sola and Pablo MacDonough also launched their polo careers at the tournament. F

One to watch Toby Addison (11) Toby, a member of the Old Surrey and Burstow Polo Club, won the inaugural Rupert Thorneloe Trophy at last year’s Pony Club Polo Championships. The award goes to the most promising boy aged 11-years-old or younger, and Theresa Hodges has identified him as a young player to keep your eye on again this year. “Toby’s a very promising prospect”, she told Polo Times, “both now and in the future.” The photograph, right, shows Toby receiving his award from the late Rupert Thorneloe’s mother, Veronica Thorneloe.

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The Pony Club was delighted with 2010. The major challenges we were faced with were lower team numbers, lower tournament entries and budgetary considerations. But, in spite of all of this, the New Year sees us in a very happy position. We are very much grateful to Audi for their continued sponsorship and we look forward to working with them in other areas. Without them the tournaments simply could not go ahead. Our major innovation for 2011 is that players will sit on the Pony Club Committee for the first time. There will be one representative from each section. The objective of this is to ensure that the committee is aware of all the good ideas coming up through the network. It will also give the players information to carry across to the Development Committee and the Junior HPA. Looking ahead to the summer, we are hoping this year that a girls’ tour from Kenya will be able to form teams to take part in the Rendell and Ledner sections of the Pony Club Championships. That would be terrific and leads me into another of our innovations for this year: we want to find out if a girls-only tournament is something our female Pony Clubbers would have an appetite for. How much girl power is there out there, or are they happy as they are, playing with the boys? In the meantime, the Pony Club will be sending two groups abroad in the February half-term. The first will be a training tour to Kurland in South Africa and the second is a playing tour to Argentina. Elsewhere, however, the players who expressed an interest in going to South Africa (on a separate training trip) have all pulled out. This has come as a great disappointment to myself, Richard Watson and Justin Stanhope-White. What we are trying to achieve is that all Pony Club members have access to the same opportunities designed for the development of the fast-trackers. Polo Times, January/February 2011


20/1/11 18:09:49


Home and abroad

Kampsen inspires side to second consecutive Aspen snow title The Audi team claimed the USPA World Snow Polo Championship title in December, writes Alex Webbe, overthrowing what had looked like a very strong Beluga Vodka side

Audi Beluga Vodka


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n the centre of Colorado’s ski resort, at Wagner Park in Aspen, Audi stormed to victory in the USPA World Snow Polo Championship. Five three-a-side teams took part, playing in a round-robin format to decide the finalists. Beluga Vodka were the first team into the finals, scoring wins over Lucchese, 6-4, and Harry Winston, 3-2, on the opening day. Audi joined them, completing a big win over Bombardier, 4-1. On the second day, Bombardier rebounded from its opening day loss to score consecutive wins over Lucchese, 4-2, and Harry Winston, 2-1, earning them third place. “It was my first time out here,” said Bombardier’s seven-goaler Tommy Biddle. “I just loved it. It was a great experience and I hope to return.” The highly-touted Lucchese team had a disappointing time, but seven-goaler Luis

Action from the snow polo at Aspen’s Wagner Park

Escobar put a positive spin on it: “Neither John Muse nor Andres Weisz had ever played on snow before,” he offered. “But playing in Aspen is always great fun and very competitive. I think that we will do much better next time.” Beluga Vodka came up against Audi in the final, with the latter completely dominating play. The 12-goal Audi side were awarded a one-goal advantage over their 13goal opponents, and with four goals by Kris Kampsen, the team sailed to a 5-1 win. Gaston Laulhe put one goal on the

scoreboard for Beluga Vodka, but it wasn’t enough to overthrow Audi. “I’ve played on four winning teams in Aspen over the years,” said Kampsen, who was also named most valuable player. “But playing with Melissa Ganzi and Juan Bollini made us virtually unbeatable.” Although the competition was fast and furious, the social side kept everyone on their toes. Parties at Kemo Sabe, the Hotel Jerome, the Caribou Club and the Sky Hotel filled competitors’ social schedules over the course of the tournament. u B  eluga USPA World Snow Polo Championship. December 16-19, 2010; Aspen, Colorado Result: Audi beat Beluga Vodka, 5-1 Handicap level: 10-14 goals Number of team entries: five Chukka scores (Audi): 2-0; 4-0; 5-1; 5-1 Most valuable player: Kris Kampsen (Audi) Final teams: Audi: Melissa Ganzi; Kris Kampsen; Juan Bollini. Beluga Vodka: Anastasia and Misha Rodkianko; Gaston Laulhe; Hernan Traverso Ladlau.

AEPC Hickstead

Photographs by David Lamanski and Emma Cook

Impressive ladies crowned queens of the arena IN AN EXHILARATING spectacle of girl power, team Hawksfold and the UberPolo Ladies swept the board at the “Here come the girls” tournament weekend at AEPC, Hickstead, at the end of November. The 0-1 goal UberPolo Ladies Arena Tournament featured a superb line up of players, as the all-female teams of Las Vacas Locas, UberPolo, Hawksfold and KSJ Consulting Ltd entered the fray. In a closely fought affair, Hawksfold and Las Vacas Locas advanced to Sunday’s final, which was won by Hawksfold. 54 Polo Times, January/February 2011

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The UberPolo Ladies proved too strong for the Hickstead Men in the Battle of the Sexes Challenge

Finals day culminated with the UberPolo 3-6 goal Battle of the Sexes Challenge, where AEPC’s polo manager Sarah Wiseman, joined by Alex Jacob and long-standing AEPC member Fiona Reilly, went head-to-head with club director John Bunn. Although at a slight disadvantage in terms of physical strength, Wiseman and her brave charges held their own and eventually ran out the winners, 13-7. The opening season tournaments were once again sponsored by UberPolo.

20/1/11 16:57:44

Home and abroad


Vale of York

Popular patron goes from Cordoba to Cleethorpes VALE OF YORK Polo Club welcomed high-goal patron Estefano Radfordo from Cordoba to the beach at Cleethorpes to play in the Patrick Wilkinson New Year Beach Challenge. ABI sponsored the match between ABI White and ABI Blue on an unusually warm and sunny January day. Having said that, the players were all grateful for the long sleeved team shirts. The match was played on a super-sized polo arena, 300m long by half a mile wide, as the sea was right out, and the tournament proved to be very fast and competitive. Scores were tied at half-time, 2-2, and again in the last chukka, 4-4. With

Paul Piddington clear on goal, ABI White’s Richard Hobgoblin decided to throw himself into the sea and his partner Susi Johnston called for and had play stopped. Clearly Arthur Douglas Nugent would have sited Rule 29A (play stopped for dismounted or injured player) although, the Blue Book doesn’t mention the sea! The ABI white and blue teams line up at Cleethorpes beach The resulting restart saw ABI new pony Millie for ABI Blue. Following White’s Estefano Radfordo bolt to the the match, both teams thoroughly enjoyed posts for the winning goal, leaving a whole mulled wine and continued to celebrate host of ABI Blue in his wake. Vale of York member Ryan Mooney’s 21st Despite the horrendous winter, even birthday, complete with fireworks in cakes. 11-year-old Chloe Simpson played her


Alam brothers go head-to-head as charity takes centre stage LAHORE’S POLO SEASON took a decidedly charitable turn at the end of 2010 with a splendid exhibition match on 19 December, in aid of the 14 million people affected by Pakistan’s recent floods. A large and influential crowd, swathed in banners and balloons, were treated to a blood-curdling display of tent-pegging. A fearless and agile team of schoolboys from

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Photographs by Paul Piddington and Clare Sheikh

Lahore Polo Club had a busy festive schedule

Aitchison College took part, and proved to be experts of the ancient military art, which involves spearing a flag with a lance at full gallop. The main event, a contest between two 10-goal teams, sponsored by Bank Alfalah/ Monnoo Foods and Guard Group, offered the added spice of family rivalry between Shah Shamyl Alam (4) and his elder brother Shah Qbilai Alam (3) on opposing teams. Play was evenly balanced and highly unpredictable throughout. In the final chukka, Qbilai converted two penalties for Guard Group and much-respected local patron, Sufi Muhammad Amir (2), closed matters for Bank Alfalah/Monnoo Foods with a neat spot penalty, as the match ended in a thrilling 6-6 draw. During the festive period, 16 teams contested the first 6-goal tournament of the season. The final of this event brought some outstanding and athletic play from Saquib Khan Khakwani (3), playing for Master Paints/Monnoo Foods. He rescued his struggling team, who trailed 7-4 to Rijas after four chukkas. Khakwani scored four goals with Shah Shamyl Alam adding a further one to clinch a surprise 9-7 victory.


CLARE MILFORD HAVEN took part in a Jaeger-LeCoultre charity match at the end of November, to help raise funds for the Christian Family Polo Movement. Clare played alongside Eduardo Novillo Astrada in the victorious White team during the match at the Hurlingham Club in Argentina. Jaeger Le-Coultre donated US$10,000 to the charity following the game. Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Home and abroad

Audi race to 4-1 victory u R  esults: Brisbane (Doomben Racecourse), 23 October Audi (9): Steven Barnard 3; Sam Hunt 3; Morgan Ruig 1; Drew Slack-Smith 2 Veuve Clicquot (9): Glen Gilmore 7; Jacob von Plessen 2; Matt Dunn 0; Dean Caulfield 0 Result: Audi beat Veuve Clicquot 9-7 Sydney (Centennial Park), 20 November Audi (16): Ruki Baillieu 7; Sam Hopkinson 6; Ric McCarthy 3; Cole Aguirre 0 Veuve Clicquot (15): Glen Gilmore 7; Rob Ballard 5; Ed Matthies 2; Augustus Aguirre 1 Result: Audi beat Veuve Clicquot 8-6 Adelaide (Nanto Womma Park), 27 November Audi (11): Sam Hopkinson 6; Ric McCarthy 3; Rob Abbott 2; Scott Roberts 0 Veuve Clicquot (13): Damien Johnson 7; Martin Ingham 3; Jock McLachlan 2; Thyne McGregor 1 Result: Audi beat Veuve Clicquot 10-8 Melbourne (Albert Park), 4 December Audi (11): Damien Johnston 6; Ric McCarthy 3; Rob Abbott 2; Cole Aguirre 0 Veuve Clicquot (11): Nacho Figueras 6; Matt O’Leary 2; Sam Baillieu 2; Augustus Aguirre 1 Result: Audi beat Veuve Clicquot, 10-7 Perth (Langley Park), 11 December Audi (15): Sam Hopkinson 6; Tex Webster 4; Zac Hagedoorn 3; Hugo Fisher 2 Veuve Clicquot (15): Damien Johnston 6; Matt Welsh 4; Ric McCarthy 3; Darren Smith 2 Result: Veuve Clicquot beat Audi 10-6 Audi won the overall series 4-1

Five years after its launch, Paspaley’s Polo in the City is celebrating record attendances, writes Sarah Martin


reated by Polo Enterprises Australia co-directors, Ruki Baillieu and Janek Gazeki, Polo in the City was designed to bring polo to the people and redefine the sport as both exhilarating and accessible. Ranging from 9-goal (Brisbane) to 16-goal (Sydney), the series ran from October to December in five of Australia’s state capitals: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. The latter was a new edition for 2010. An all-star cast of players took part, including Nacho Figueras, Ruki Baillieu, Glen Gilmore and Sam Hopkinson. Hamish McLachlan and Glen Gilmore entertained the crowds with their commentary as Audi won four of the five games against Veuve Clicquot. It was only in Perth, on 11 December, that Veuve Clicquot managed to rally a win. The series introduced a new ball into the game, allowing spectators to get closer to the action. Usually used in softball pitching machines in the US, the ball is slightly larger than a polo ball and made of a dense foam material. It made the game slightly

slower and proved ideal for the smaller exhibition field. With new long-term sponsor Veuve Clicquot joining main partners Paspaley and Audi, the event has established itself as a key fixture on the summer social calendar. It is also attracting a number of new players into the sport through beginners coaching programmes.

Audi’s Damien Johnston on the ball in Melbourne


Inaugural Open is picture perfect

THE INAUGURAL Ladies Polo World Open Championship, the only women’s open championship sanctioned by the AAP since 2008, took place in November. Eight teams, playing under the new women’s handicapping system, took part in the tournament at Puesto Viejo Polo Club. The semi-finals took place after four days of qualifying matches. In the open section, Las Betulas-La Ginevra defeated San Jorge and were joined in the final by Magdala-Kawasaki, who beat Puesto Viejo-Givenchy. In the final, Las Betulas-La Ginevra, featuring seven-goaler Lía Salvo and British player Hazel Jackson, stormed to 56

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a thumping 9-2 victory. The Handicap final saw Chapa II-Cardón defeat Chapa I-Kerastase to win the Perfil Trophy. Among the British contingent were Stephanie Haverhals, Georgina French and Annabel McNaught-Davis, who played together for Pilará-Lagomarcino alongside Marianela Lagomarcino. Alice Gipps, April Kent and Irish player Jeanine Hugo played for Puesto Viejo-Givenchy, while Sophie Kyriazi played for Puesto Viejo II. The event helped raise money for the ALPI children’s charity, which is also supported by the Open at Palermo. Famed artist Alejandro Moy painted ‘Women Playing Polo’ in aid of the charity.

Lía Salvo, Ginebra D’Orazio, Carola Di Mambrio and Hazel Jackson, of winning team Las Betulas-La Ginevra, with Catalina Manzorro and Alejandro Moy’s painting

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Home and abroad


in inner-city polo series 1. Audiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cole Aguirre, Ric McCarthy, Ruki Baillieu and Sam Hopkinson celebrate victory in Sydney. Audi, which also featured 10 other players in the course of the series, won against Veuve Clicquot in four of the five cities they played in 2. Hamish McLachlan interviews polo-playing model Nacho Figueras, who played for Veuve Clicquot in Melbourne 3. Ruki Baillieu leads the Audi charge in Sydney, where the team took an imposing 2-0 lead in the series


w Photographs by Neil Egerton



United Arab Emirates

Three in a row for Nations hosts THE DESERT PALM UAE Nations Cup culminated in a third consecutive win for the UAE home team after the hosts defeated Hungary 6-5 in the final on Saturday, 15 January. The Hungarian team played well against a strong UAE team, bringing the game to 5-5 by the end of the fourth chukka, pushing the game into extra-time. Rashid Albwardy converted a 60-yard penalty to win the match for his team. In the subsidiary final, Pakistan were victorious against Great Britain, who were led by patron Shane Younger, 8-4. Hosted by Desert Palm Polo Clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ali

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Hosts UAE saw off the Hungarian challenge in the final

Albwardy, the Desert Palm Nations Cup is the highlight of the UAE polo season. Since the tournament was launched in 2009,

u The Desert Palm UAE Nations Cup, 10-15 January; Desert Palm Resort and Spa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Final Result: UAE beat Hungary 6-5 Final teams: UAE (7): Rashid Albwardy 2; Martin Valent 5; Najeeb Khory 0; Mutaf Alwardawi 0 Hungary (7): Matias Machado 3; Eabriel Iglesias 2; Andras Tombor 2; Thomas Claesen 0

when Adolfo Cambiaso led the UAE team to victory, it has grown to a five-day event with the 2011 tournament showcasing qualifying matches between the UAE, Great Britain, Hungary and Pakistan. The Royal Salute after party followed the tournament, hosted by the Duke of Argyll, and has become one of the main events on the Dubai social calendar. Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Home and abroad


Memo Gracida storms to victory on home turf


he Copa Careyes is one of Mexico’s oldest trophies and brings players from all over the world, writes Jamie Peel. This year two greats of the game, brothers Memo and Carlos Gracida, took part. The 12-goal tournament, the highest level played in Mexico, runs annually from 27 December to 5 January. Six teams entered, split into two leagues of three, with teams playing across the leagues. There are two tournament fields at Careyes Polo Club, where one is slightly smaller than the other. The first stage of the tournament was held on the small field, saving the larger field for the finals. This worked in favour of the teams who were not so well organised with horses. The opening league games were extremely competitive and the majority of the games were decided in the closing stages of the final chukkas. As you would expect, Memo and Carlos were both superbly mounted and this really made the difference for their teams as they both qualified for the final. Memo’s team, Cobra, was an entirely Mexican line-up with two brothers Rodrigo and Alvaro Fernandez playing alongside Isaac Sepulveda. Nick Clarke’s team, Casa Iguanas, featured Carlos Gracida,

Memo Gracida (second left) with his Cobra teammates, Rodrigo and Alvaro Fernandez and Isaac Sepulveda

Guillermo Steta and Jamie Peel. Clarke, as well as a familiar patron in the UK, is a regular in Careyes, playing there every year since 1997 and twice winning the title. The final was an incredibly tight game with both teams level going into the last chukka at 8-8. Memo, who had been exceptional throughout the game, converted two 60-yard penalties early on in the final chukka. Teammate Rodrigo Fernandez then

followed this up with a field goal as Casa Iguanas struggled to get back into the game. Cobra were the deserved winners with an 11-9 victory. Rodrigo Fernandez was named the most valuable amateur player of the final. Club owner and tournament organiser Giorgio Brignone was heralded for organising another fantastic event and kindly mounted many of the players, including Jamie Peel and Nick Clarke.

Photographs by Christopher Pollard and Beatrice Jacobs


New arena and junior academy prove times are good THE INAUGURAL ARENA season at Sussex has made a successful start according to the club, with chukkas and lessons booked solidly and the new allweather Martin Collins surface exceeding all their expectations. Despite the economic gloom, 2011 is shaping up well for the club, with new sponsors signed up and the appointment of Jason Coupe as polo manager. Jason, with his 20 years of polo experience, will focus on managing and expanding the club, particularly the two-goal fixtures. 58

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Sussex Green win the Ann Ross Cup in January

For newer players and those on a budget, County Polo will be featuring three times a week under the instruction

of 0-goal instructor Ryan Conroy, who has previously coached at Beaufort. With the continuation of the popular three-a-side and minus-two-goal tournaments, Sussex is aiming to provide something for every low-goal player, from novice to two-goal, this summer. The Junior Academy is a new edition to the club and has been set up to build on the success seen at the Cowdray Park Pony Club Polo Championships last year. Training will be during holidays and each week on Sundays.

20/1/11 17:00:06

Home and abroad

News in brief


Bankers bag a bonus and shoot to top of elephant-polo rankings EFG SWITZERLAND BANKED their first ever World Cup triumph with a golden goal finish against UAE Sepoys at the 29th World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) World Championships hosted at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal. The win resulted in Switzerland going to the top of the WEPA world rankings. With the scores level at 5-5 at full-time, the teams changed ends to play out a five minute extra-time golden-goal period. Robert Mehm of EFG Switzerland scored the winner with a 30-yard forehand shot from outside the ‘D’ after just 30 seconds, ending the game 6-5. EFG Bank’s Keith Gapp and Robert Mehm presented Sangjay Choegyal, playing for EFG Switzerland, with the most valuable player award. At 71 years old, James Manclark (co-founder of WEPA) became the oldest player in the history of the sport to become a world champion as part of the EFG Switzerland team. In the bronze medal play-off, Scotland beat Nepal’s National Parks team. Both teams had topped the table in the league stages but then failed to convert this good form into semi-final victories against EFG Switzerland and the UAE Sepoys respectively.

Nepal National Parks, who won the title in 2009, looked impressive throughout and were deemed favourites after defeating EFG Switzerland in the league stages. However, they were outplayed and outthought on a semi-finals day where the Sepoys could seemingly do no wrong. With Audemars-Piguet winning the King’s Cup in Thailand and EFG Switzerland becoming world champions in Nepal, Switzerland leapfrogged Scotland, Nepal and Thailand to become number one in the official WEPA world rankings.

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w HABTOOR BEAT MAHRA 5-1 in the fourth edition of the Mitsubishi Motors Beach Polo Championship in Dubai. Four teams took part in the two-day tournament in December. Argentine professional Guillermo Cuitino scored four goals for his Habtoor team. w JAIPUR POLO GROUND hosted a 14-goal match between an India side and a visiting South Africa side in November. India stormed ahead in the first three chukkas, leading 6-1, before South Africa quickly tallied up five goals in quick succession. However, India managed to score three more goals, ending the game in their favour, 9-6.

well deserved achievement for a club that concentrates on kids’ polo. Juan Cruz Triumphant Trenque Lauquen Merlos, Pite Merlos’s son, was on the winning Trenque Lauquen side in the 12-14 year old category and was named most valuable player. Martin Zubia’s son Juan Martin Zubia, was MVP in the 9-11 section.

Terrence Spilsbury (4), Bradley MacGibbon (5), Michael Osborn (3) and Mark Davies (2) represented the South African side, while Col Tarun Sirohi (4), Maj Ravi Rathore (3), Maj Vishal Chauhan (2) and Samir Suhag (5), who was awarded the MVP, represented India.

Photographs by Lucy Monro, Sophia Zuberbuhler and Yuvraj Solanki

Kids tournament continues rapid growth

w ABU DHABI’S GHANTOOT Racing and Polo Club hosted the Golden Cup in January. Al Basti defeated Ghantoot 5-4, watched by 200 guests including royalty. Argentine professional David Bernal picked up the Tom Ford MVP award for scoring four of Al Basti’s goals. Matthias Colombres scored three goals for Ghantoot, putting the score at 4-3 going into the final chukka. Ahmed al Nueimi of Ghantoot levelled the scores, but Bernal grabbed a late winner.

The South African and India teams at Jaipur EFG Switzerland in action in Nepal


CHILDREN FROM ALL over Argentina descended on Pilar at the end of November for the 2010 edition of the ToloPolo Tournament. The founder, Tolo Fernandez Ocampo, has seen the annual tournament grow considerably since it first started in 2003, with 55 teams taking part this year. The 55 teams were divided into three categories: under-9s, 9-11 year olds and 12-14 year olds. The winning teams of each category were all from the same club, Trenque Lauquen, which was a


w LUKE TOMLINSON LED his 23-goal Fortin Frias team to victory in the Copa Provincia de Buenos Aires on 14 December, defeating La Herradura Silver Arrow 10-9 in the final. The finals of the tournament were held at Palermo, with earlier league games taking place at Pilar. Eight-goaler Luke Tomlinson played alongside Bautista Ortiz de Urbina (5), Tomás Maiquez (5) and Joaquin Maiquez (5). La Herradura Silver Arrow, 21-goals, featured Antonio Eguiguren (2), Alejo Taranco (6), José Donoso (7) and Matias Vial Pérez (6). Polo Times, January/February 2011


20/1/11 17:00:38


Playing around – Longdole

Our intrepid improver Carlie Trotter (-2) works her way around the UK’s clubs

Warm family feeling Photographs by Sergio Llamera and Tony Ramirez

Carlie braved ice and snow to test out the arena facilities at Longdole this issue, where she was pleased to discover the reception she received was anything but frosty I know from SUPA nationals circa 2004 that no amount of snow and ice stops play at Longdole and on a particularly Baltic morning this winter, seeing one fellow low-goaler mount up in a T-shirt, I begin to fear that the players I’m about to face in the arena are made of far sterner stuff than most. As it turns out the atmosphere is as laidback as it gets on our half-day refresher course, which has been carefully scheduled ahead of the mass exodus to Argentina for the Open. Polo manager Rob Cudmore puts the cold snap into perspective. He said: “I didn’t know what cold was until I umpired the snow polo at St Moritz in my normal polo boots, now I say just


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Below, junior members play with a mixture of enjoyment and determination etched on their faces. Right, the view through the net at Longdole

bring your snow boots and let’s play.” We quickly get warmed up practising open backhands and while my hire pony does everything in her power to make me look good, I dare to dream that some of her owner’s finesse

is rubbing off, bearing in mind Ollie Cudmore won many a Pony Club final with her and is now off playing alongside Adolfo Cambiaso. Members are able to rest their strings in winter because the club boasts a number of former high-goal poniesturned-schoolmasters that play only the arena season. Rob added: “We’re lucky, I could have sold some of the school ponies six times over and nothing ever goes lame on our Martin Collins surface.” When we team up for practice chukkas I realise that Cotswolds polo involves every member of the family because most people are used

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to having horses at home. Hayley Swain-Grainger joined the weekly adult instructional to find out what her children were raving about, while Kate Gibbons quickly got the offspring involved for a ready-made tournament squad. From thrice-weekly lessons for Cheltenham Ladies College to regular low-goal tournaments and plans for greater interaction with nearby arena clubs, Longdole makes it easy for the whole family to take part. Kate said: “You’re not tied to full annual membership when you start and there’s no pressure to play more often or at a higher level than you feel comfortable with.” I do feel a degree of pressure,

however, when Rob announces that we’re to be filmed taking penalties. Never questioning her duty as club secretary, Jo Scully-Beim takes her precarious place in goal with the camcorder and following Rob’s advice to strike the arena ball low I’m amazed to almost take her out. The cringe-worthy ritual of watching ourselves back is soothed by a hearty lunch in the cosy clubhouse, while infinitely-patient chief instructor Dan Banks remains out in the cold with two of the club’s youngest and most opinionated new recruits who refuse to face their sticks the right way. It’s a good thing the arena is getting floodlights this season.... F

Longdole Vital statistics Playing members 55 Non-playing members All visitors to Longdole end up having a go Facilities 100x50yd (91x45m) all-weather arena overlooked by a well-appointed clubhouse with changing room and honesty bar, 22x44yd (20x40m) manège, grass exercise track and wooden horse. Two full-size boarded grounds, chukka pitch and stick and ball field for summer. Location Set in 200 acres of rolling Gloucestershire countryside down a farm track just off the A417, half an hour from Cirencester Park and 15 minutes from Gloucester (two hours by fast train from London Paddington).

Soundbites from the sidelines

Philosophy Family-friendly polo academy ideal for upand-comers and those with young horses Running the show Every chukka at Longdole farm, which is owned by former HPA chairman Major Christopher Hanbury, is fired with the Aussie enthusiasm of world-renowned instructor and polo manager Rob Cudmore. When he’s not training up Irish Thoroughbreds, Rob also heads up the embryo transfer breeding programme. He is ably supported by HPA instructor Dan Banks, who has specialised in developing young players since joining the club in 1998, and logistics queen Jo Scully-Beim. Resident and supporting pros include David Miller (4), Dave Allen (5), Charlie Hanbury (4) and the Cudmore boys Ollie and Matt (both 4-goals in the arena). Welfare officer Sue Cudmore and a large team of grooms, many Antipodean, ensure ponies are kept in top condition year-round.

Rob Cudmore – Polo manager “In summer we’re busy with higher goal tournaments but I’m here day in day out this winter and pleased to see more and more kids coming to learn. We’re always racking our brains to find new ways to keep people of all ages and abilities interested and the club boasts a few very good young players now. Longdole members have enjoyed a lot of generosity from the Hanbury family and the club benefits from the high-goal scene because we’re focused on making high quality ponies. Plus, we’re lucky to be able to call in players such as Dave Allen and Tom Beim when people want to play flat out.” Dave Allen (5) – Visiting pro “I’m based in New Zealand for most of the winter but the facilities at Longdole are excellent and I pop down for weekday chukkas whenever they’re stuck for a player. Whatever your need is, you fit it in at Longdole and what I really appreciate as a professional is that I can send a patron here while I’m away and know they’ll be taken care of and not poached – we laugh about it but it’s incredibly important.”

Crowd The club has a good base of pros on speed dial, though the winter scene is largely made up of local horsey folk on hire ponies, talented teens and pony clubbers. Seasonal highlight Regular emerging tournaments involving one professional per team are hugely popular in winter but the annual highlight has to be the El Remanso Argentine Challenge in May. Livery Winter full livery is £126+VAT per week including exercise, grooming, overnight stabling with turnout when possible and playing if requested. With 90-odd stables and 40 corals the club also offers DIY from £35 a week, summer livery with daily turnout and runs a private highgoal yard nearby.

Kate Gibbons – Member “I started playing three years ago, joining Longdole when we moved to Gloucester and the kids quickly followed me into the game. My son has since played for Young England, we’re heading for our fourth pony and a lorry this year and holidaying at El Remanso in Argentina for the third time – not that I’m addicted. I’m left-handed and never want to be more than minus-two but everyone here is very encouraging and Jo Scully-Beim will put a team together if you don’t yet have the courage to ask others to play with you. There’s also a nice continuity because the staff have all been here long-term.”

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Membership Adult arena membership is £400 (outdoor is £700) or £110 for under 18s. Lessons range from £45 for a group session on your own pony to £90 for private tuition with Rob including pony hire. Non-playing membership is £25 for the year. Contact; 01452 864 544

Polo Times, January/February 2011


21/1/11 15:49:52


Know your horse

Mark Emerson MRCVS is a two-goal polo player and an ambulatory equine vet

To rug or not to rug

Photographs by Ruth Baldwin and Mark Emerson

As a particularly cold winter continues in Europe, our duty vet reflects on the effects for horses and weighs up the benefits and the problems associated with rugging them

The extremely cold and snowy weather in December raised a number of issues regarding winter care of ponies. However, thankfully I haven’t yet had to attend to any wintering polo ponies suffering from weather-related conditions. Speaking shortly after the New Year to David Morley, chairman of the HPA’s polo pony welfare subcommittee, he had only encountered one reported problem, which was probably unrelated to the cold weather. He is of the opinion that people tend to make more of an effort to care for their horses during periods of extreme weather than they would do otherwise. Providing they have plentiful access to forage and fresh (unfrozen!) water, horses can tolerate the cold much better than we can. Relative to humans, horses have a much smaller surface area to volume ratio – which in simple terms means that they have 62

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The insulating properties of a horse’s natural winter coat are virtually unrivalled (top). But, if you choose to rug your horses (above), I recommend the “half combo” design that covers half the neck and reduces the likelihood of sores developing over the withers

much bulkier body mass generating heat, covered by a relatively small outer surface through which that heat is lost. And we shouldn’t underestimate the great insulating properties of the winter coat that covers the outer surface, though this won’t obviously apply to ponies that are still clipped out and playing arena polo. Yet it brings me on to one of the most commonly asked questions: “To rug or not to rug?” A thick rug with good waterproofing obviously has its benefits. However, there are many potential problems with using rugs and, on balance, I prefer polo ponies to be wintered without

rugs unless there is a specific need. Rugs must fit properly or else they will rub and cause sores. If moisture gets under the rugs, other skin conditions can also arise (sweat can even become a problem on the occasional warm day). As well as hiding sores, rugs can mask further problems such as weight-loss and lice, so they should always be removed and refitted at least once a week to check on the horses underneath. But how easy are your most feral horses to catch? A thin summer rug used during the winter can be particularly detrimental as it flattens the hairs of a horse’s winter coat that normally stand up to trap an insulating layer of air. Providing it is dry (which is always the case when the temperature falls below freezing), the insulating properties of a horse’s natural winter coat are virtually unrivalled– millions of years of evolution have achieved this. Rugs are most valuable to horses kept in fields with poor shelter from strong wind and rain, but do little to benefit horses with good fluffy coats in still sub-zero conditions. Saying that, once you have elected to use rugs for more than a week, then it is probably best to continue to use them for the rest of the winter as horses rapidly become reliant on them. F w Mark Emerson works as an ambulatory equine vet based near Ascot and has polo clients across the south of England: tel 07973 800358 or email w The main picture by Ruth Baldwin was entered into our photo competition. See page 32 to find out the winners, and see more ponies in the snow in our new-look Sidelines section, on page 85

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Know your horse

Physio for thought Back to basics by Australian high-performance vet Nicola Jagger, specialist in chiropractics and cohesive equine physiotherapy When horses are turned out, the strength and bulk of the back muscles quickly declines, making them the most important muscle group to focus on when bringing polo ponies back in to work. They are involved in flexing, turning, stabilising and carrying the rider. A strong back helps keep a horse pain-free when carrying the rider and it allows the pony to be balanced and mobile while playing. Always: 1. Begin and end every training session with a few minutes stretching the back muscles, asking the pony to soften his neck and drag his nose on the ground 2. Take it slowly and keep training periods short, because horses with fatigued muscles will hollow their backs and work the wrong muscle groups, leading to back pain. 3. Don’t do any cantering until the top line starts to come up. You must start with two weeks of lungeing, initially employing only walking and minimal trotting. The spinous muscle group extends from the mid-neck and wither to the sacrum. It protects the ribs and spine from the rider and poorly fitting saddles

Gaucho grooming tip


Lorna Jowett – specialist equine nutritionist

How are your ponies faring so far this winter? Putting mineral licks out in the field We have experienced a lot of snow will ensure the horses receive all the and very cold temperatures this essential vitamins and minerals that winter. Fortunately, ponies cope with they need. These enable the coat to the extremely cold and snowy weather be thick and work as it is designed to. better than the wet and windy. The immune system will be boosted, By making sure they have access any scrapes or scratches will heal to fresh water at all times, plenty of quicker and foot growth will continue good quality forage and field (mineral) to be strong. licks they will continue to be rounded By pampering your ponies for the and hairy for a few more weeks until last few weeks of turnout, you will they are brought back into work. reap the benefits as they come into Should access to fresh water be work. Horses will be looking and restricted, they will not want to eat feeling well and they will not have to forage, particularly hay, as thirst is battle to put the condition back on. increased even more, which will in turn increase risks of an impaction type of colic. Providing plenty of forage allows Tip of the month the horse’s own central heating Remember to keep an eye on remaining system to work efficiently. We can top line and don’t get too hung up on the keep putting rugs on but they “hay belly” as this is not an indicator actually keep warm from the inside of body fat. too. As forage (fibre) is digested in the hind gut it produces inner Acordate que para determinar la condición física heat, so let them eat to their de un caballo lo importante es la musculatura hearts’ content. superior. No te distraigas con la barriga, esta es producida por el consumo de forraje y no es un indicador de la cantidad de grasa en el cuerpo.

y en español...

During the winter, make sure your horses have access to plenty of grass or hay at all times. This stops them fighting for food and helps keep them warm; when the hay ferments in their digestive system it provides them with inner-body heat. Ponies should be checked daily for cuts and lumps. Trot-up ponies to spot any lameness. If possible, check horses early in the day in case you need to call the vet. Remove rugs weekly to check condition and for sore patches. Check for rainscald and mud fever; if spotted early these can be easily treated. Clean hooves regularly and have them trimmed to prevent splits and cracks. Break and remove ice in frozen troughs; it will take longer to freeze again if you remove the broken ice. Float a football in the water to slow down freezing.

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Al escribir este artículo hay mucha nieve en los campos todavía y hace mucho frío. Por suerte los caballos soportan mucho mejor bajas temperaturas y nieve que lluvia y viento. Asegurate que tengan acceso a agua fresca en todo momento, forraje de calidad a discreción y piedras de sales minerales y van a seguir redondos y peludos por unas semanas mas hasta que vuelvan al trabajo. Si por alguna razón no tuvieran acceso libre a agua fresca y tuvieran sed, van a dejar de comer forraje, en especial pasto seco que aumenta la sed, incrementando así la posibilidad de sufrir cólicos. Así que no dejes de romper el hielo de los bebederos dos veces por día! El forraje sirve de combustible para el sistema de calefacción central que tienen los caballos. Les podemos poner mantas

gruesas pero se mantienen calientes de adentro hacia afuera, cuando el pasto es digerido genera calor. Así que deja que coman todo el pasto que quieran! Los bloques de sales minerales provéen todas las vitaminas y minerals esenciales que ayudan a mantener su pelaje grueso y los mantiene abrigados. El sistema inmunológico se verá fortalecido (de manera similar al nuestro si tomamos Berocca!). Cualquier raspón o lastimadura sanará mas rápido y los vasos se mantendrán fuertes. Sin duda todo beneficios deseables. No dejes de mimar a tus caballos en las últimas semanas de invierno afuera y van a volver al trabajo en buena forma y sintiéndose bien, no teniendo que aumentar de peso al mismo tiempo que comience el trabajo aeróbico, lo que es siempre difícil de lograr. Polo Times, January/February 2011


21/1/11 15:53:30


Know your game

Vital riding and playing tips from Jamie Peel, three-goal pro and 2008 Gold Cup winner

Horsepower pays dividends Photograph by Alice Gipps

Over Christmas and New Year, I have been lucky enough to spend two weeks playing with Carlos Gracida. He is not only an exceptional player but he is also a brilliant coach. In polo, coaching is largely associated with beginners. The majority of clubs in the UK that offer lessons will find that their client base is made up from schools, universities, pony club and individuals looking to take polo up as a hobby. It is fantastic that we have so many new people coming in to polo but what are the more advanced English players doing to improve? I have spoken once before about the HPA’s efforts to help in the development of young English pros. They have provided thousands of pounds to support young individuals who are mainly playing in Argentina

Legends like Carlos Gracida have much to offer England’s mid-goal pros

during the English winter, putting these players in the most competitive polo environment on the planet, surrounded by the best players in the world.

Playing with these players and getting involved with them is by far the best way to learn. However, watching the top players

My travels with Torrey Dorsay Diana Brandt finds out about the adventures of Singapore Polo Club’s globe-trotting general manager Where have you been in the last six months? I travelled to Australia for the Portsea Polo, Thailand for the Ambassadors Cup, Malaysia for the Royal Selangor Tournament and the America’s Cup in the USA. I’d like to travel to more major polo events, but we host at least three international tournaments and three major riding events a year. Where do you plan to go in the next six months? Thailand and Malaysia for the FIP Zone D World Cup Qualifying Tournament. Best ever polo trip and why? Bangkok in Thailand for the Ambassador’s Cup - the social events are on a par with the exciting polo. 64

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Worst experience on a polo trip? Apart from being thrown, I don’t have a specific bad memory. Polo is a life-style and you have good days and bad days; and I can tell you I’ve had both during my career! Favourite place to watch polo? Can I say Singapore? The clubhouse is practically on the field and this year we celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary. It should be a great year. What’s top of your list of places you haven’t visited yet? Argentina, I have been all around the world but never South America. I would love to go to

the Palermo Open. I’d also like to visit Coworth Park, Guards and Ham polo clubs as well. It’s a catch-22 situation for me, though, because I can’t be everywhere at once. Do you ever take holidays outside polo? Yes, I like to ski once a year in Australia. I would also recommend Shek O beach in Hong Kong and Galle beach in Southern Sri Lanka. What is the first thing in your suitcase on a polo trip? My Polo Bar T-shirt, which reads “The Polo. The Power. The People” and I always pack my noisereduction headphones for the plane.

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Know your game as much as you can also really makes a difference. In Argentina you have access to these players almost every day but, for those of you stuck at home for whatever reason, watching DVDs of matches is also a great way to help you pick up the different plays and understand when to make them. In other sports, coaches play a big part in a professional’s career. Athletes such as Jonny Wilkinson, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer all

enough. As far as I’m concerned, I truly believe that having a coach would make a massive difference. A coach can really help a player focus on his game, analysing all aspects of it as they develop and improve. Access to quality horses is crucial. This is another area a coach could help with. HPA coaches such as Claire Tomlinson and David Morley have so much experience and knowledge that could really help a pro get well

Fit for purpose James de Mountford, polo player and personal trainer to the Red Bull F1 Racing Team reveals the exercises and techniques that will specifically help your polo These following exercises are to improve your balance, hand eye co-ordination and reaction times. Improving your proprioception skills, which refer to the body’s ability to sense the position of all its joints and limbs, will improve your ability to be in the right place and react at the right time. Begin by standing on your left foot and spell out the alphabet with your right, repeat on the opposite foot. When you can go all the way through the alphabet comfortably, repeat with your eyes closed. Throw a ball above eye level and catch in your opposite hand without moving your head. Pass a ball from hand to hand behind your knees. Get hold of a reaction ball or wrap some elastic bands around a tennis ball to create an uneven surface, have a partner bounce the ball to you, or throw it against a wall. You have to catch it before it bounces twice. Use both your hands and repeat left hand and right hand only. Contact James on 07949 455712 or to put together your own regime to get you fit for purpose. More next month

“In the UK we have some of the top polo coaches in the world but we are not really making the most of them” have personal coaches. In the UK we have some of the top polo coaches in the world but we are not really making the most of them. It is common knowledge that the majority of young English pros struggle to get beyond four or five goals. Now that more of the young guys are starting to play in Argentina, perhaps this will change. However, I’m not sure it will be


mounted. Carlos’s main piece of advice to young players is to focus on their horses. Horses are 90 per cent of the game, so the better mounted you are, the better you will play. Learning how to manage your horses is crucial and it will make a massive difference to your development. Put quality in front of quantity as you can always rent horses in for games and tournaments if you are short. F

Avoiding injury Essential tips, by the game’s go-to expert, Linda Byrne

Mind games Sports psychologist Miranda Banks brings you the first of a new regular column on what polo players need to think about to optimise their performances Successful athletes know there are three components to performance: competition, training and recovery. It’s the recovery component that can see the least attention, as the demands of life absorb time. Recovery is time set aside to consciously rejuvenate body and mind. Focus is on healing, relaxation and re-energising. Understand the importance of fencing that time off, if you are going to consistently play at your best. For recovery to be effective, it needs to be regular during season and sustained out of season. During season, use good re-hydration, speedy re-fuelling and stretching

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post-game as well as a decent massage. Take at least an hour each day to unwind mentally, whether with or without others. Accept the necessity of relaxation, rather than, as can happen, feeling guilty because you’re “doing nothing”. When planning your year, ensure you’re giving yourself at least four weeks off all polo-related activities too. Good recovery = good training = great performance. w Contact Miranda on 07789 933936 and

Traditional methods of resistance training, concentrating on one muscle group at a time, can be limited and contradictory to the demands of polo. They can also lead to overuse injuries and muscular imbalances, while limiting mobility and strength gains. Instead, players need to look at the energetic demands of polo on the body, such as the mechanics and co-ordination efforts required. Originating as a form of injury rehabilitation, functional training does just this, exercising many muscle groups simultaneously with synchronised movements representative of playing the sport – thus helping develop basic motor patterns and maximising strength and fitness gains. Throughout the year I will be giving tips and advice on how to train more “functionally” for polo. This month try the “single-arm snatch”, exercising the whole right-hand side of the body: • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes pointed out slightly, looking toward the horizon (this ensures that the back remains flat) • Holding a light dumb-bell in the right hand, quickly lift, keeping the weight close to your body, into an overhead throw action (without releasing the weight!) • Slowly lower the dumb-bell back to starting position. • Do three sets of 10 reps, increasing the weight as needed

w Linda Byrne is an equestrian and extreme sports biomechanics fitness specialist. Contact her on 07535 655338 and

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Keep your eye on

Pony power

Guy Watson tells Tom House about his laid-back mare, Macdate, named best playing pony at the 2010 South Africa Open


Player power Ryan Pemble

Where did Macdate come from? She was bought at a Thoroughbred sale in Johannesburg four years ago, and is jointly owned by myself and Leo Baxter of Stonesfield Polo Club. She is by Kahal, a Thoroughbred stallion well known for siring top quality polo ponies. Why is she such a favourite? She has always been quiet and relaxed from when she was a youngster and has a good mouth and great lateral movement. Her natural talent has come through over the years and, as she’s got older and started to play harder polo, her untold power has emerged. She is super fast and can accelerate quickly over a short distance yet is still soft to stop. She doesn’t tire like most ponies and recovers quickly; I often play her in two chukkas per match. What’s the highest level she has played? She’s played up to the highest level here in South Africa. We have 20-22 goal practice matches which she has played in and I’ve regularly played her in 15-16 goal. She’ll easily make the step-up to high-goal, the polo is fast here in Plettenberg Bay so I have really been able to test her. When they reach seven or eight years old, I think they are ready for high-goal; their minds are settled and their bones are strong.

Macdate Height: 15.1hh Age: 8 years old Colour: Bay Breed: Thoroughbred Will she be playing in the UK this summer? Yes, she went into quarantine at the beginning of January and she should arrive in England in March. She is going with a group to be tried by the Zacara high-goal team. I also have one of her sisters, by Kahal, that I am taking to England to play as well. What has been your highlight with her? She won best playing pony in the South Africa Open in December. It’s South Africa’s premier tournament so it was a great achievement. I played her in the second chukka and then brought her back in the fifth. What do you feed her? She has been on a product called Capstone, which is a mix with corns, brans and lucernealfalfa, all pre-cooked. She also gets alfalfa and Teff Grass, a good quality grass. But she’s generally very easy.

Page sponsored by Baileys Horse Feeds - experts in polo nutrition Tel: +44 (0)1371 850247

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This will be the season to keep all eyes on six-goal English arena player Ryan Pemble, says James Mullan. Pemble forms part of an impressively strong-looking Tchogan side for February’s Westbury Arena Gold Cup at the Berkshire, replacing Tim Bown, alongside patron Heiko Voelker and a recently engaged Seb Dawnay (see page 85). And, with his handicap set to go up at the end of the season, the 31-year-old winner of the 2009 Best Arena Player award at the Audi Polo Awards knows this will probably be his best ever chance to win the tournament. “I’d sacrifice every other trophy and accolade if it meant winning the Arena Gold Cup,” he told Polo Times. “It’s the biggest prize of the winter as far as the home-based pros such as myself are concerned, and I’m desperate to win it.” Though the side is a new one, they have already won two warm-up tournaments in the Berkshire arena, and the team appears to have the horsepower. The backbone of Pemble’s string will be four ponies loaned to him by former England coach and player John Horswell. His side will take some beating.

Ryan Pemble sees this year as his best ever chance of winning the Arena Gold Cup

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How to spend it

Motors Range Rover Evoque Range Rover is hoping to prove that good things come in small packages with its latest offering – which could prove to be the must-have motor of this summer’s polo season. The Range Rover Evoque – nicknamed the Baby Rangie – at just five feet high is the smallest, lightest and most environmentally friendly car ever produced by the Midlandsbased manufacturers.

The cross-coupe design aims to bring the luxury of the coupe together with the power and performance of a traditional SUV. And, for the first time in the firm’s history, a front-wheel drive version will be available to make the Evoque greener and more fuelefficient than any of its predecessors. But fear not off-road adrenalin junkies, the car will also be available in four-wheel-drive with the new 240PS, 2.0-litre Si4 petrol engine offering an impressive 7.1 seconds 0-60mph time. The Evoque was launched at the Paris Motor Show last year and will go on sale this summer.

Prices start from £30,000.


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Adrenalin alternatives with Andrew Dent This month: Rigid inflatable boat racing Wind in the hair and saltwater spray on the face, while the craft beneath you skips over the waves – there are few experiences to match boat racing on a sunny afternoon. As islanders, the British have enjoyed getting out onto the water since even before the Vikings arrived in their longboats; a glance at the Solent on any summer weekend will demonstrate that this is no minority pursuit. But, when the wind drops, sailing is much too gentle for some – they have a need for speed, which only a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) can satisfy. One man’s chance modification of an ordinary rubber inflatable in the mid-Sixties, by the addition of a rigid deep-vee bow and hydroplaning hull section, was spotted by the Avon Rubber Co and led directly to a class of boat that is now used for everything from rescue and military applications to leisure and pleasure. Bolt a couple of powerful outboard motors to the transom and you have a light, fast and safe craft, capable of forty knots or more. This may not sound much by land-bound standards, but on choppy waters it’s enough for plenty of thrills. Numerous providers now exist that can take

you for an exhilarating and bumpy RIB ride on the coastal waters round the UK. Those with a sensitive disposition, or back trouble, need not apply. You can even get a completely different take on London from the Thames with a RIB thrill into the bargain – indeed there is no speed limit in the outer reaches of the Thames estuary. You can charter a whole boat for yourself, although insurance usually means it’s better to include an experienced helmsman. Further afield, the Kiwis have developed specialised jet boats that can operate in a few inches of water to blast up fast-flowing mountainous rivers, jumping from section to section over shale banks. The expert drivers operate their foot throttles without shoes for maximum sensitivity. Mad, but fun and skilful too. F Inshore_Powerboat_Taster_527

Oyster Perpetual Datejust II It takes more than perfect timing to become a 10-goaler, but it’s certainly not a bad place to start. Gonzalo Pieres Jr – part of the allconquering Ellerstina Triple Crown winning team in Argentina – is the poster boy for Rolex’s latest offering. While the Oyster Perpetual Datejust II can’t promise to transform the average club player into a super-star, it’ll certainly make you look the part. With a 41mm face, it is the largest Datejust ever. It is waterproof to 100m (330 feet) and will set you back £5,000.

Brazilian farm offers carnival of polo A rare polo estate boasting the only all-weather arena field in South America has come on the market in Brazil. The plush 59-acre Indaiatuba horse farm, based in South Brazil between Rio de Janiero and São Paulo, is available for a cool £11.25m (US$17.5m). The estate also includes an outdoor polo field (to add to the sand arena one), 20 stables, 18 paddocks and an allpurpose sports court. The 17,222-square-foot main house has six bedrooms and features a plush garden terrace with barbecue area and swimming pool. The property is being sold through Sotheby’s International.

19/1/11 18:24:45

Need to send a Valentine to your pony/girl/guy?

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Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Polo-playing rock legend’s exclusive Western Cape estate on the market Ginger Baker’s picturesque South African horse farm offers a unique opportunity to buy in the country’s hottest up-and-coming polo region, writes John O’Sullivan


rare opportunity to purchase a picturesque estate steeped in music history has emerged in South Africa’s hottest up-and-coming polo region. Ginger Baker – famed rock drummer and hell-raiser turned polo enthusiast – has decided to sell his exclusive 31-hectare (77-acre) estate in Tulbagh, Western Cape, South Africa. The property boasts a full-sized professional polo field – which is the home of Kleine Tol Polo Club – as well as top class stabling for 39 horses. The estate has five paddocks and plenty of access to water, provided by four boreholes and water rights to the valley’s river. Tulbagh, 100 kilometres from Cape Town, is a secluded valley surrounded by a horseshoe of mountains, which produces wines, olives and a variety of fruit. The climate is extremely popular with overseas visitors as the summers (between November and February) are long and warm, while the mountains are snowcapped in the winters. Nelia Retief, from agents Seeff Tulbagh, is responsible for the property. She believes it is unique in the Western Cape. “It is very rare,”

she told Polo Times, “as there are no other private polo estates in the Cape Town vicinity. “The location of the farm is perfectly situated on the R46 road and has easy access to Cape Town and the airport. There are beautiful views of the Tulbagh valley, plenty of accommodation, stabling and sheds, and ample parking for spectators on the property.”

“There are no other private polo estates in the Cape Town vicinity.” Tulbagh and the Western Cape have developed rapidly as polo communities in the last five years. Val de Vie Polo Club (with international standard facilities), Cape Hunt and Polo Club and Botriver-Maremanna Polo Club are all roughly an hour from the Tulbagh valley, while Plettenberg Bay is a five-hour drive. Val de Vie hosts an international every February and plans to develop a high-goal season in the Cape Town area are afoot. Closer to the estate, three polo fields are

currently being developed in the valley and two practice fields are already in use. Tulbagh is perfectly set up for a polo enthusiast looking to move to the region. And, as Nelia Retief explains, the versatility of the region is another one of its major attractions. “One of the best features for newcomers to the valley is having a rural lifestyle,” she said. “However, it’s not isolated, as Cape Town is only a 60-minute drive away. “We are a growing horse and polo community. Many horse breeders have moved to the area, as it is a low risk area for African horse sickness. One of the other main reasons it attracts polo players is that there are no language problems, as English is one of our official languages in South Africa.” Ginger Baker rose to fame with 1960s rock band Cream and went on to play the drums in Blind Faith, Air Force and Hawkwind. He first fell in love with polo on a trip to Nigeria in the 1970s. He has lived in Tulbagh since 2002. F w Asking price is R8,500,000 (£790,000). See for more information

For further information with regard to equestrian property sales contracts, please contact Mark Charter at Blake Lapthorn directly: on 023 8085 7116; via email, at; or write to Mark Charter, Partner, Real Estate, Blake Lapthorn, New Kings Court, Tollgate, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 3LG


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Travel – South Africa special

Re-born as a polo powerhouse Polo Times falls in love with the polo, estates, landscape and lifestyle of the resurgent Plettenberg Bay area Tom House in South Africa


lettenberg Bay will take you by surprise. Whether it’s the vista of the pavilion and mountainous backdrop at Kurland, the quality of the polo, the speed of the horses, the warmth of the hospitality, the breadth of après polo options, or how cheap the beer is – you’ll love it there. “The story of polo in Plett is one of rebirth, that’s your story,” Malcolm Borwick, England’s irrepressible number three, helpfully told me. And he should know, he’s been a fixture there since the start. Stonefield Polo Club seems to 72

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symbolise this better than anywhere. Owned by former IT mogul Leo Baxter it was bought as a base for his high-goal team in the Cape at a time when five or six other patrons were doing the same. Baxter had David “Pelon” Sterling and Luke Tomlinson playing for him as well as top talents from all over South Africa and the finest string of ponies. It was their playground and they delighted in bringing the best professionals from around the world. However personal tragedies struck several of the key money men behind the Plettenberg playground, and a polo accident paralysed Baxter in 2007. Things fell a little flat for a while, but

such is the spirit of the locals (many of whom were drawn down from the more rural Kwa-ZuluNatal), the quality of the facilities and the sheer beauty of the area it is little surprise that it is now on the up again. Stonefield was bought in chunks of land, acquired over a period of time to make an estate of 30 hectares of land on the bank of the Bitou River. Leo Baxter built 52 stables, a hangar for his chopper and put three paspalum grass fields in. The irony this summer was that with so much rain the only place fit to play was Stonefield’s sand-based fields, which were formerly marsh land. We arrived at Stonefield after dark

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Travel – South Africa special


Opposite page: chukkas on the number one ground at Stonefield, with the club’s stables in the background This page (clockwise from top): the view across the main ground at Kurland, showing the pavilion on the far side; Stonefield’s delux cottages, situated behind the goal on the main ground; stabling for 52 ponies at Stonefield

and were shown to our lodgings, which were evidently being hastily vacated by one of the resident young pros in order to make room for us. A La Martina bag and a diary are left behind on the counter. The diary is open on a page that at first glance reads like a dinner party seating plan but, on closer inspection, appears to be an exercise plan for a pony he is training. Luckily he’d left some shower gel behind, because I’d forgotten mine but, though it was self-catering accommodation, I decided not to start on his plentiful stockpile of onions. If this was a somewhat inauspicious start, the polo manager, five-goal pro Guy Watson, and his delightful other half Grace made up for it in the morning. A smashing breakfast was followed by a

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“We’re in virtually the same time zone as the UK, and speak the same language” – Guy and Grace Watson tour of the facilities and a quick history of the club and surrounding area. Stonefield offers a range of accommodation to suit differing needs. The estate boasts two gorgeous topspec cottages behind the goalmouth of number one field. Each comfortably sleeps eight. In contrast there are also four somewhat shabbier selfcatering digs inhabited by young polo players out

for the season such as Tom de Bruin and Richard Le Poer. These also house a nonchalant sixth form maths geek who has fallen for the charms of the area. He revealed: “I hope I don’t get into Cambridge this year, I’d quite like to come back here to do a whole season!” Guy is keen to emphasise that Stonefield can tailor your trip to suit all your needs, and there is so much to do that the local advice is indispensable. Grace found the Richardson clan (from Knepp Castle) the perfect beachfront pad for the festive period from which they watched dolphins and whales play each morning. “If you want to come out on a shoestring, cook for yourself and have Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Photographs by Will Hodson and Tom House


Travel – South Africa special

lessons from the resident pros and play a tournament at the end of the week we can fix that,” Guy reveals. “If you want a house on the beach for the family, a cook, and ponies to play in a handful of tournaments then we can fix that too.” Stonefield is not short of options, with two-hour rides along the beach proving popular. What they lack at present is a swimming pool but they do swim in the Bitou River, where they also fish for cobb whilst drinking a ice-cold beer (always Castle or Windhoek) to unwind after a few chukkas. To find out what makes polo in Plett so special, I was taken by local polo fixers Alicia Wright and Shaun Brokensha – who will be playing out of Cirencester this summer – to see South African polo stalwart Buster Mackenzie, who puts up players and families in his beautiful farmhouse and cottages. “Due to the number of grooms and the set ups we have, if you wish to, you can play as much polo in six days as you could in the UK in six weeks,” said Buster. “Just as in Argentina, the exercising is done for you, so you have more time to ride and improve. You can ride 12-15 horses per day and not tack up one.” Buster will claim, 74

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Tom House, on Tango, gets put through his paces by coach Guy Watson at Stonefield

as all the residents do, that they get 22 sunny days out of 30 – try telling that to the Richardsons however! Buster continues: “The grounds are very good, the horses are Thoroughbreds, the weather is good and the style of polo is fast and open. “More foreign players are coming over than ever, and they seem to be heading to Plett, which is fast becoming the country’s centre for polo tourism. “While the quality of the polo will never compete with Argentina, there are still many ways in which it is superior. “It is easily accessible from the UK, with six flights to Cape Town daily from Heathrow and three flights from Cape

hotel and play in the tournament there; the returning polo family who are keen to combine tournaments with horse safaris and the many other off-field activities; the young pro who is playing for board and lodging; the gap-year student who is working in return for polo. They are all there and loving it. Something of a set back to the resurrection of Plett Polo was the cancellation of the Kurland International this year, after BMW (the event’s sponsor of many years) withdrew support at short notice. But organisers are positive the event will be back next year. Plus, with more foreign players coming in than ever before and the

“The beaches, game and good restaurants make Plett a perfect family destination” – Alicia Wright Town to George. When you consider the lack of jet-lag, it’s even an option for a long weekend.” While there I met someone who fits almost every category of polo player and each was glowing in their appraisal of Plettenberg Bay: the pro who has brought his patron and family out to stay at the Kurland

commercialisation of Stonefield, the re-birth is well under way. F w Contact details: Stonefield: gwatson@stonefield.; +27(0)827854199 or +27(0)445332500 Polo in Plett:; +27825601260 (Alicia and Shaun) The Leap, Horse Safaris: www.; 01672 519922

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Travel – South Africa special

What else is on offer?

Plettenberg Bay’s added attraction is the large variety of non-polo activities at your doorstep. Diana Brandt runs the rule over them Bungee jumping The Bloukrans Bungee Jump, just 40km east of Plettenberg Bay, is the world’s highest commercial bungee jump at a 216 metres. You plunge into the valley above the Bloukrans River. Location: Tsitsikamma Khoisan Village (20km from Plettenberg Bay) Cost: R690 per person (approx £65) Open: Daily, from 9am to 5pm Website: Phone: +27 042 281 1458

Primate sanctuary Monkeyland, based 20km east of Plettenberg Bay, is a unique primate sanctuary with the aim of rehabilitating previously caged primates. The sanctuary, located on 23 hectares of indigenous forest, cares for all sorts of primates, from the Gibbons of Asia to the Lemurs of Madagascar. Location: East of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa Cost: Free entry Open: Daily, from 8.30am to 5pm Website: Phone: +27 044 534 8906

Canopy tour Lasting two to three hours, the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is a unique eco-wilderness adventure, the first of its kind, taking place in the heart of the Tsitsikamma’s rainforest. Suspended up to 30 feet above the forest floor, you are flown

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Playing polo in style An African experience for the whole family at Oaklands

Bungee jumpers, secured in a full body harness attached to Bloukrans Bridge, leap from a specially designed catwalk

Game park At more than 2,200 hectares (5,400 acres) in size, the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is the biggest in the Southern Cape. Spread out across the hills above the scenic Garden Route coastline, it includes game drives, horse safaris and bush walks. With facilities for day and overnight visitors it offers an exciting child-friendly safari experience in a non-malaria area with an excellent chance of spotting four of Africa’s big five (buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino). Location: Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, Garden Route, South Africa Cost: From R790 per night for adults (£70) and R265 for kids (£25); Game drives and horse drives R395 for adults (£35) and R95 for kids (£9) Open: All year round Website: Phone: +27 044 535 0000/1


down a steel cable, stopping on platforms located in giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees. The scenery and bird life is spectacular and professional guides provide interesting facts about the forest ecology. Location: Tsitsikamma National Park, Garden Route, South Africa Cost: R450 per person (approx £40) Open: Summer (1 September to 31 May) – 7am to 4pm; Winter (1 June to 31 August) 8am to 2.30pm Website: canopy_tour Phone: +27 042 281 1836

The lavish Oaklands Country Manor estate offers the whole South African experience alongside a family polo holiday. Based within three hours of both Durban and Johannesburg, Oaklands has world class field and arena facilities, including floodlights. Four-goaler Terence Spilsbury offers half and full-day polo lessons against the backdrop of the picturesque Drakensberg mountains. The polo club at Oaklands has been running for eight years and annually hosts the eight-goal Fuimus Cup early in the African summertime. The hotel was bought by the late Sir Hervy James Hugh BruceClifton in 1995 and is run by his wife Lady Caroline and her sisters Kathy and Annie, who boast it is run ‘by a family for families’.

Shark diving Dive with the great white sharks, averaging between two and seven metres long, in Mossel Bay around Seal Island. The island is populated with over 2,500 cape fur seals and is a primary hunting spot for the great white shark. Location: Mossel Bay, Garden Route Cost: R1200 per person (approx £110) Open: All year round Website: Phone: +27 044 691 3182

Helicopter tours Capri Helicopter offers the chance to experience a breathtaking flight over the scenic Garden Route. Everything from short trips to all-day charters are available, taking in the whales, great white sharks and dolphins swimming along the beautiful coastline. Location: Garden Route Mall, George Cost: Available on request Open: Summer – 7am to 6pm; Winter – 8am to 5pm Website: Phone: 0027 44 695 0693

Luxury accommodation at Oaklands

Oaklands also offers the chance to sample the best of South African cuisine, with the on-sight Kathy’s Kitchen championing locally-sourced produce. Outside of polo, Oaklands can arrange a whole host of activities including hunting, fishing and watersports as well as tours of the Spioenkop game reserve, dam and battlefield. w For more information, visit or call +27 58 671 0067/77

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Travel – South Africa special

Play, then pamper yourself Just two minutes from Kurland Polo Club’s grounds, Kurland Hotel offers 12 sensational and secluded spots, where players can enjoy refined comfort and relaxation after polo

Alice Kent

in South Africa

Nestled between the bustle of Plettenburg Bay and the wild beauty of Natures Valley, lies the tranquillity of the five-star Kurland Hotel, next door to Kurland Polo Club. Set up 11 years ago, it aims to provide a centre of luxury for the whole family away from the hectic lifestyle of the African adventure and bills itself as “the most desirable address on the Garden Route”. Everyone is made to feel welcome: despite hosting big-spending honeymooning couples, even my battered and decidedly grubby Volkswagen Golf is greeted with a smile at the main gates. Entering the reception, you feel the sense of an Africa away from Africa, and the scent of flowers that hits you as you walk into the garden creates immediate relaxation. The centrepiece is a pool, ingeniously heated by a dark base that reflects the sun, surrounded by pristine white suites bedecked in roses. Whilst not designed for a businessman at work, as there is only limited Wi-Fi available, this is definitely a place you can sit until sunset: no one is in a hurry and life here is clearly to be enjoyed. There are only 12 suites on the whole 7,000-hectare estate, in three categories, giving a huge sense of space and freedom. Each is contained inside its own house, a little oasis you can retreat to for peaceful isolation whenever the world gets too much. The luxury and superior suites sleep four, with a loft for the children upstairs. Each room is individually and beautifully decorated. The double bedrooms have their own living space with a log fire and books for any taste, and there are 76

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more to be found in the well-stocked library, which also has 24-hour internet connection. The bathrooms are impressively huge, with under-floor heating and their own courtyard outside. The main emphasis of the hotel is its ability to provide for the whole family, with staff organising bespoke holidays catered to individual desires. Internally, there are play areas for the children and a whole range of activities from tennis and riding to swimming and art classes. During peak season, staff will look after your children all day, whilst the parents can enjoy their own holiday. For the more active among the adults, there are safe jogging paths, and the ability to explore the mountains on horse, quad-bike or mountain bike (all included in the price). For those who prefer the sedate pace, there is a superb spa with treatments ranging from facials to the very popular deep tissue massages. Outside the hotel, Kurland will help you organise any adventure you want, be it visiting one of the surrounding animal sanctuaries, bungee jumping, skydiving or merely a picnic on the beach. For the

Accommodation at Kurland Hotel is luxurious and secluded, designed as a retreat in which to unwind in peace

aspiring polo player, it is also possible to organise lessons with a number of top visiting international players in season. The dining area is small and elegant, with a calm and settled atmosphere. Whilst the menu doesn’t offer a huge range of choices, it generally caters for every need – from seafood and meat to vegetarian – and the chef can provide for any special requests, with his kitchen open for guests to explore. Breakfast is provided in the courtyard garden, with everything available from pastries to the full English. Breakfast, along with alcoholic beverages, teas, coffees and cake is complimentary for every guest. This is not somewhere you find adventure: this is where you escape from it – somewhere the whole family can enjoy, where you can discover Africa away from the wild. F

Essentials Kurland Hotel, 2km from the N2, The Crags, outside Plettenberg Bay, South Africa; +27 44 534 8082; www.; Rooms from 4,040 Rand (approx £365) in the high-season (December to April). Children under 12 stay for free in low season (May to November). Breakfast: complimentary Lunch: approximately 60-100 Rand per head (approx £5-9) Dinner: approximately 250 Rand per head (approx £22)

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Hold your horses With so many different types of bit on the market, varying from “soft” to “strong”, Georgie May picks out 15 of the polo fraternity’s most popular gags and pelhams

Mullen Mouth pelham, from £25.95

Double bridle set, £95 (UK) or £38 (KOR)

Cherry roller gag, £99.50

Balding gag, £21 Vulcanite pelham, £50

Barry gag, £26.50

Copper mouth Cheltenham gag, £39.50


Polo Times, January/February 2011

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Rubber jointed pelham, £26

Coscojero, £35.50

Stainless steel gag, £75

Fixed ring gag, £75

Twisted gag, £76

Half twisted barry gag, £79.95 Rubber jointed gag, £79.95

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Copper half moon balding gag, £95

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Rare shots light up extensive photo biography John O’Sullivan reviews your recommended reading for this month, Polo: 40 years behind the lens, by popular polo photographer Mike Roberts


s a young guardsman employed by Major Ronald Ferguson to take pictures at Guards Polo Club in 1968, Mike Roberts recalls he had to sip his beer on the back step of the kitchen as only officers were allowed in the clubhouse. He did not remain confined to the back step for long though – far from it. In the forty years that followed, the former Welsh Guard’s photos would become famous for their unique portrayal of polo’s high society. His presence in the inner sanctum of the polo world became accepted by both Royals and high-goalers alike, who remained at ease as he snapped away. This unparalleled level of access allowed Roberts to capture some of the world’s most photographed people in a rare, relaxed light. It is these shots that make Polo: 40 years behind the lens such a triumph and make it essential reading for polo aficionados and royal enthusiasts alike. Roberts’s interest in photography started at a young age when his father taught him to develop pictures. But it was not until he joined the Welsh Guards in 1959 that photography changed from a hobby to a serious pursuit. When his regiment was looking for some PR shots, Roberts stepped forward. This offered him his first chance to photograph his Colonelin-chief, Prince Charles, who he would later capture regularly at Smith’s Lawn. Roberts also came to the attention of Major Ferguson, whose invitation to Guards – then known as the Household Brigade Polo Club – started his fascination with the polo world. Polo: 40 years behind the lens includes all of the pictures you would expect. It charts the rise of Prince Charles as a player, culminating in his 1986 Queen’s Cup triumph. And the Queen is present throughout as generation after generation of the sport’s most famous families – the names Vestey, Hipwood, Horswell, Tomlinson, Packer and Pieres come up again and

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again – clash on the field and rub shoulders with celebrities as Smith’s Lawn develops around them. But the strength of the book lies in the hidden gems, which you simply will not see anywhere else. Roberts is particularly proud of a picture of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in their young teens, which he believes to be the first image of them together. He also showcases the first picture of Charles playing with Prince William, as well as some rare shots of Princess Diana. My favourite, which Mike Roberts, inset, and a selection of his photographs perfectly captures how The only flaw of the book is that it almost relaxed the Royals remain in his presence, exclusively focuses on pictures taken at Guards. shows the Duke of Kent and Prince Charles in Roberts mentions several times how polo has animated conversation with Earl afforded him the opportunity to travel to places Mountbatten of Burma. like Argentina, the USA, France, Switzerland While many formal shots of and the Philippines. And it seems an oversight this trio appear elsewhere, that none of these adventures are represented Roberts’s snap shows the photographically. Earl amusing his peers by Having said that, Guards obviously has a pretending to use his epaulettes special place in his heart and the club has as a telephone. It captures the been instrumental in his rise to fame. So real personality and humour of maybe it is fitting that Smith’s Lawn remains the people involved and must be the canvas for this photo biography. seen to be believed. And certainly, for this reason, it makes the Another joy of the book is the book quintessential reading for any longearly pictures of some of the standing Guards member. games current stars. Among them are shots of James Beim Polo: 40 years behind the lens and Henry Brett as are early snaps of England internationals by Mike Roberts 132 pages, available from Blacklocks Polo Art Luke and Mark Tomlinson. ( UK - £95 (plus Alongside the photos, the £12 postage) foreign shipping available at cost. written introduction to each chapter also reveals many Book rating amusing anecdotes.


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What’s on

What’s on in February 2011 UK highlights High and medium goal RCBPC – Olin Trophy (7-10): 1-6 February Druids Lodge – Forest Edge Rosebowl (6-9): 5-6 February Vaux Park – Sponsors Tournament (4-8): 5-6 February RCBPC – The Westbury Arena Gold Cup (12-15): 8-19 February Epsom – Commonwealth Cup (7-9): 26-27 February Special events O2 Arena, London – Gaucho International Polo (Open): 24 February Low goal RCBPC – Ladies Tournament (0-3): 1-6 February Lynt – Chairman’s Cup (4-7): 5-6 February AEPC – The Heating and Cooling Services Ltd Polo Tournament (4-6 and 0-3): 12-13 February Ascot – Tessa Memorial Challenge (2-6): 19-20 February Epsom – St David’s Cup (2-4) 19-20 February FHM – Falcon Equine Feeds Tournament (0-2): 26 February Vaux Park – Sponsors Tournament (0-6): 26-27 February

Desert Palm – Cartier International Dubai (10-goal): 18 February New Zealand Wanstead, New Zealand – Port Hills Radford Cup (8-10): 10-12 February Kihikihi – International Day, New Zealand vs Australia (20): 12 February Auckland – New Zealand Open (Open): 15-20 February Hololio – New Zealand Women’s Open (Open): 15-20 February South Africa Val de Vie – Cape Town BMW International, South Africa vs India (14): 26 February Thailand Polo Escape – Thailand All Nations Cup (8-12): 8-13 February VRSC – King Power Gold Cup (Open): 17-20 February Polo Escape – Ladies international (6): 24-27 February

Open Longdole – Stickhedz St.Valentine’s Tournament (Open): 12-13 February The Hand Equestrian Centre, Bristol – Akuma National University Arena Championships (Open): 17-20 February Vale of York – ABI Beach Challenge (Open): 20 February AEPC – The Bryan Morrison International Trophy (Open): 24 February

USA International Polo Club Palm Beach – Ylvisaker Cup (20): 20 January – 20 February International Polo Club Palm Beach – CV Whitney Cup (26) 12-27 February International Polo Club Palm Beach – Iglehart Cup (20): 16-27 February International Polo Club Palm Beach – Piaget Gold Cup (26) 24 February – 20 March

Overseas highlights

Other key dates

Australia Werribee Park – Australia Stella Artois International (Open): 5 February Adelaide Polo Grounds – Chris Verco Cup (0-6): 27-28 February

Tattersalls – February sale (breeding stock, fillies and horses in training, yearlings): 3-4 February Goffs – February mixed sale (flat and NH horses): 16-18 February Brightwells – Ascot Bloodstock Sales (horses in and out of training, point to pointers and youngstock): 22 February

Barbados Lion Castle, Clifton and Holders – Polo Club Tour (Open): 9-13 February Apes Hill, Holders and Clifton – Clifton Tour (Open): 16-20 February China Metropolitan Polo Club – International Snow Polo 15-20 February Dubai Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club – Dubai Polo Silver Cup (12-15 goal): 16-25 February

TV highlights on Horse & Country TV (Sky 280) 2 February, 9pm: Argentine Open 2010, Ellerstina vs Alegria 9 February, 7pm: Argentine Open 2010, La Aguada vs Indios Chapaleufú II 16 February, 9pm: Argentine Open 2010, Pilará vs São José 23 February, 7pm: Argentine Open 2010, La Dolfina vs Chapa Uno

Mid-season UK arena handicap changes The following changes were agreed at the HPA meeting on 5 January. They were effective from 7 January. Moving to six Hipwood, Oliver: Moving to two Browne, Oliver: McCarthy, Spencer: Beavan, Huw: 82

6 to (6)

Potter, Jamie:

2 to (2) 2 to (2) 1 to 2

Moving to one Clover, Joshua: Mooney, Ryan: Parish, Anton:

Polo Times, January/February 2011

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Kahia, David:

-3 to 1

Moving to zero Goldsmith, Adrian: Pidgley, Jasmine: Pidgley, Charlie:

-3 to 0 -3 to 0 -3 to 0

1 to 2

1 to (1) 0 to 1 0 to 1

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What’s on

February’s upcoming arena action in full Medium 15 Goal RCBPC The Arena Gold Cup

8-19 February

Medium 10 Goal RCBPC Olin Trophy

1-6 February

Low 9 Goal Druids Lodge Forest Edge Rosebowl Epsom Commonwealth Cup

5-6 February 26-27 February

Low 8 Goal Vaux Park Sponsors Tournament Lynt Winter Blues

5-6 February 26-27 February

Low 7 Goal Lynt Chairman’s Cup RCBPC The Katie Tunn Farewell Trophy Druids Lodge The Corramore Trophy

5-6 February 18-20 February 26 February

Low 6 Goal RCBPC Chairman’s Trophy AEPC The Heating and Cooling Services Cup Rugby 2-6 Goal Tournament Vaux Park 0-6 Goal Challenge Ascot Tessa Memorial Challenge Rugby 2-6 Goal Tournament Vaux Park Sponsors Tournament

8-13 February 12-13 February 12-13 February 12-13 February 19-20 February 26-27 February 26-27 February

Low 5 Goal Druids Lodge The Valentine Trophy

12 February




Low 4 Goal Ascot The Valentine’s Challenge Epsom St. Valentine’s Cup Rugby 0-4 Goal Tournament Epsom St. David’s Cup Rugby 0-4 Goal Tournament

12-13 February 12-13 February 12-13 February 19-20 February 26-27 February

Low 3 Goal RCBPC Ladies Tournament AEPC The Heating and Cooling Services Cup

1-6 February 12-13 February

Low 2 Goal Maywood 2 Goal Cup Ranksboro 0-2 Goal Tournament FHM Falcon Equine Feeds Tournament

12-13 February 12-13 February 26 February

Open Wicklow Spain (Barcelona) v Ireland 4-6 February AEPC Champagne Pommery Challenge Matches 5-6 February Longdole Stickhedz St.Valentine’s Tournament 12-13 February Lynt Ladies Tournament AEPC Champagne Pommery Challenge Matches Vale of York ABI Beach Challenge Vale of York Lay-Soft Arena Challenge AEPC The Bryan Morrison International Trophy

12-13 February 19-20 February 20 February 23 February 24 February

Junior Hand, Bristol SUPA – Akuma National University Arena Championships 17-20 February

the biggest arena clubs by members

1 Ascot Park 2 RCBPC 3 Rugby 4 AEPC 5=  Druids Lodge 5= Vaux Park 7 Longdole 8 Vale of York 9 White Rose 10 Tidworth Arena Source: HPA Arena Polo Year Book 2010/2011 (based on 2009/2010 figures)

(63) (61) (57) (47) (44) (44) (38) (26) (23) (22)


Club contacts UK and Ireland

South East AEPC, Hickstead – 01273 834315 * Ascot Park – 01276 858545 * Ash Farm – 01932 872521 * Belmont, Mill Hill – 01344 829955 * Binfield Heath – 01491 411969 Barcombe – 01273 400179 Burningfold – 01483 200722 Cowdray Park – 01730 813257 Coworth Park – 01344 875155 Epsom – 01372 748200 * FHM – 07778 436468 * Fifield – 01628 620061 * Guards – 01784 434212 Ham – 020 8334 0000 Hurtwood Park – 01483 272828 Kirtlington – 01869 350138 Knepp Castle – 01403 741007 Lacey Green – 07946 360569 Park Lane – 01491 411969 RMAS – 01276 412276 Royal County of Berkshire – 01344 890060 * Sussex Polo – 01342 714920 * West Wycombe – 01865 858475 * East Apsley End – 01462 712444 * Cambridge & Newmarket – 07769 976781 Carlton House – 01986 892231 Frolic Farm – 01223 812922 Haggis Farm – 01223 460353 * Hertfordshire – 01707 256023 Little Bentley – 01206 250435 Silver Leys – 01279 652652 St Albans – 07879 866647 Suffolk Polo – 07990 576974 South West Asthall Farm – 01367 860207 Beaufort – 01666 880510 Cirencester Park – 01285 653225 Druids Lodge – 01722 782597 * Edgeworth – 01285 821695 Ladyswood – 01666 840880 Longdole – 01452 864544 * Lynt – 07957 468220 * Maywood – 01962 885500 * New Forest – 02380 811818 Orchard – 01258 471000 Taunton – 01823 480460 Tidworth – 01980 846705 * Vaux Park – 01460 242684 * West Somerset – 01844 820432 Midlands Foxhill – 0115 9651790 Offchurch Bury – 07816 830887 Leadenham – 07816 216356 Ranksboro – 01572 720046 RLS – 01926 812409 Rugby – 01788 817724 * Rutland – 01572 724568 North Beverley – 01964 544455 * Toulston – 01422 372529 Vale of York – 07788 426968 * White Rose – 01430 875767 * Cheshire – 01270 611100 Chester Racecourse – 01244 304602 Scotland Borders Reivers – 01890 840777 Dundee & Perth – 07879 895780 Edinburgh – 0131 449 6696 * Kinross – 07831 365194 * Stewarton – 01560 483411 Ireland All Ireland – +353 (0) 1 6896732 Bunclody – +353 87 6605917 Curraghmore – +353 51 387102 Donaghadee – 02891 882521 Limerick – +353 (0) 87 2231690 Moyne – +353 85 1313224 Northern Ireland – 02890 727905 Wicklow – +353 (0) 404 67164 * Waterford – +353 51 595280 * denotes winter arena polo venue hTo contact the HPA, tel: 01367 242828

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Tell us yours at

Welcome to Sidelines Turn to page 88 for all the best social snaps from the 2010 Argentine Open

Baby boom Congratulations to Becky Simpson and Tarquin Southwell who welcomed Ava Florence Southwell, pictured, into the world on Christmas Day. “It meant I had to spend Christmas in hospital but what a lovely Christmas present!” Becky told Polo Times. “She’s already a fan of watching her dad, having attended her first polo match at Ascot Park when she was just seven days old.” Also celebrating is Guards’ events manager Tiffany Wise, who gave birth to her first child, Elsie Lauren Wise, on 9 January at Reading’s Royal Berks hospital.

Over in the US, it seems shirts are entirely unnecessary, as pin-up professional Nic Roldan demonstrates in his new Twitter profile picture. Roldan, who was recently demoted to an eight-goal handicap in the US, had the picture mocked up to look like a GQ magazine front cover. However, as far Polo Times knows, Condé Nast has no plans to make any such GQ edition available on the shelves.



Soon to be wed: Seb Dawnay and RCBPC’s Louisa Crofton got engaged on New Year’s Eve. Although Louisa’s mother has known the Dawnay family for many years, helping out at Major Hugh Dawnay’s Polo School and babysitting Seb’s brother David, Louisa and Seb first met at RCBPC. The couple, pictured, who have been together for just over a year, will marry at Seb’s home in Waterford, Ireland in November. However they may be registering as married in the UK as early as March. Already married is one-goaler Hugh Crouch, who wed fellow Rutland player Natasha Bird at Langham Parish Church in October.

Getting shirty Clothing company Joules looks set to be replacing Crew as the new sponsors of the official England Polo Team shirts this year. Although the deal is yet to be closed, Polo Times understands that talks are in their final stages.

Wedding bells

Paul Hogan and Sir Charles “Cow” Williams

And, as Polo Times went to press, a large party of Brits was on its way to Sydney, Australia, for the wedding of England number one James Beim to his long-term girlfriend, Lauren “Lozza” Carter at the end of January.

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In association with Aprés Polo

Grooms Mario Ramirez and Telmo Maidana work hard in the harsh conditions at Sussex Polo Club

Polo Times assistant editor Georgie May’s horse Tiggy wrapped up from the snow A panoramic view of the polo ground at Ham Polo Club

Karl Ude-Martinez leads a “mock hunt” at Christmas

Subscribers’ photos – ponies make the most of a bitterly cold December

Snowed under Sussex Polo Club’s ponies are caught having a kiss

While most of the UK ground to a halt in December (experiencing prolonged abnormal below-freezing temperatures), we asked subscribers to get their cameras out and snap their ponies frolicking around in the snow. Just as last year, you responded in numbers and the office has picked the best shots worth displaying here. Don’t miss the “big picture” too, on page 14-15, which features Janet Martinez’s beautiful mare, Gatita, glistening in the snow. w See also page 62 for rugging advice

Feeding time at the Warwick International School of Riding

Nikki Keene’s ponies shovel through the deep snow

Matthew Mitchell’s Rosilla, Nieve and Woody in Sussex One of Karl Ude-Martinez’s horses enjoying powdery snow in Warwickshire

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Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers with some ponies at Ham 85

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Claudia Morales, Margie Brett and Leigh-Anne Moore

New Polo Times editor James Mullan with Adrian Gahan and Charles Betz

Polo Times 15th birthday party The Osborne Studio Gallery, Thursday 25 November 2010 Herbert and Judith Spencer make their entrance

Katherine Hudson and John Szymanski

Raising a glass on a special night Polo Times celebrated its 15th birthday in style with a lively drinks party in Belgravia. The great and the good of the polo world joined the magazine’s staff at the Osborne Studio Gallery in Motcombe Street to raise a glass to the special anniversary. The party coincided with an exhibition by famed bronze sculptor George Bingham, whose work includes many sculptures inspired by polo. Invited guests sipped wine and ate salmon treats, while perusing the equestrian-based art. Founder and publisher Margie Brett – who launched the magazine as a one-sided newsletter back in the mid-1990s – made a speech to thank all of those who have helped Polo Times go from strength to strength over the years. She gave particular mention to the support of the HPA and the magazine’s loyal advertisers. Mrs Brett also formerly unveiled James Mullan as the magazine’s new editor, taking over from Yolanda Carslaw.

Lorna Jowett and Sophia Heath

w Photographs by Tony Ramirez Tom House and Susan Barber

Daniel Gerber, Nicholas and Annie Colquhoun-Denvers and Piers Plunkett A selection of guests at the Polo Times party

Former Polo Times editor Yolanda Carslaw takes her final bow


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21/1/11 11:00:09

Sidelines Musical entertainment

The victorious Team Goldin (l-r: Craig Wilson, John Eight-goaler Fisher, Vowles and Tommy Wilson) MatíasAaron Magrini

Argentine Open final 2010 11 & 12 December – Palermo, Buenos Aires

Una final que merecio la pena esperar Rain was once again the worst enemy of players and polo-goers at the Argentine Open in December, forcing the postponement of the final after just three minutes on Saturday 11 December. As HPA chairman Nicholas Colquoun-Denvers remarked, it was the fourth final in five years that had been moved from its original schedule. However, the downpour easied off just in time to allow the ground to recover for Sunday, and the culmination of the contest, when the Pieres brothers finally emulated their watching father’s greatest achievement and won the Argentine Triple Crown. It proved to be a final worth waiting for, as you can discover for yourselves in our full report on page 38.

HPA chief exec David Woodd, with wife Fra

w Photographs by James Mullan

Aurora Eastwood

Action in the final Jamaica’s Shane Chin

Guard’s chairman Colonel Paul Belcher and wife, Sanda, who flew home before Sunday’s conclusion

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Ireland’s deputy Argentine Ambassador Ana Pisano and husband Chris Ashton, at the pato

A nervous Gonzalo Pieres before the final

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Elina Donoso, Clare Milford Haven, Francesca del Balzo, Harry Wentworth-Stanley, Fred Coleridge-Cole and seven-goaler José Donoso

The crowds arrive at Palermo, with the iconic tribune of the Hipodromo horse-racing circuit showing behind

Chile’s Jamie and Cata Huidobro

Argentine four-goaler Martin Jauregui

Gonzalito Pieres celebrates a famous Triple Crown victory

Sir Charles and Lady Williams at Sunday’s final, straight off the plane from Barbados

Lord and Lady Charles Beresford

Bunny girls provided some new halftime entertainment at this year’s final

Luke Tomlinson

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William Melville-Smith, Hannah Firman and Becky Hall revel in the experience after witnessing a great final


21/1/11 16:42:35


The victorious Team Goldin (l-r: Craig Wilson, John Shaun Brokensha Fisher, Aaron Vowles and Tommy Wilson) and Alicia Wright

Ray Fine and his children

Polo Times drinks party â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Wednesday 5 January Kurland, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa Gareth and Louise Evans

A perfect chance to repay obliging South African hosts With a good smattering of English players enjoying the season at Kurland, Polo Times seized the moment to entertain their South African hosts, who had welcomed all their visitors with such generous hospitality. Giving a party has never been easier â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all arranged within 24 hours! The venue was the beautiful Pavilion Club House at Kurland (see picture page 50) and, with Alicia Wright generously offering her services as social secretary, Polo Times was able to make contact with all the visiting players and their hosts, issuing them with the invitation. Michelle, manager of the Pavilion, pulled out all the stops to facilitate the party, even though she had a private dinner party to cater for on the same evening. And she did a great job. The party took place after games held on the Pavilion ground. The beautiful setting of the club with the backdrop of the Tsitsikamma mountains and a warm summer evening all contributed to a very convivial occasion.

Henry Brett and Tom de Bruin

Buster and Penny Mackenzie

John Kent, Tom de Bruin and Juan Britos

w Photographs by Alice Kent

Clive and Tash Peddle with Alicia Wright

Alan and Fiona Kent

Brad Mallet and Sophie Crossley


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Michael Mackenzie and Juan Britos

Jaquie Mackenzie and Jo Richardson

Guy Fox-Andrews

Freddie Horne Alan Kent and daughter, Alice

John Kent, Juan Britos and Jack Richardson with his mother Jo

New year’s eve party – Friday 31 December Kurland, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

John Kent and Freddie Dear

Brits see in New Year in style

Kim and Jo Richardson

The Pavilion Club House attracted 150 party goers in the form of polo players and their guests on New Year’s Eve. Before heading to the party, Chick Lee hosted a barbecue at his new property earlier in the evening. The table of Jäger shots was well-captained by Freddie Dear and Freddie Horne, while Sophie Crossley braved the dance floor, despite being wobbly on her feet having been a victim of Tom de Bruin on the polo field. Many English families, such as the Richardsons and de Ferrantis, enjoyed the great South African hospitality. With everyone partying hard, the countdown to New Year was nearly missed. However, the situation was salvaged, champagne corks were popped and the dancing continued well into the small hours. w Photographs by Alice Kent and Mojo Photography Penny Mackezie and Kasia Briars

Tommy Crowe and Michael Mackenzie


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Rob Cudmore England Coach, 2 HPA Instructors • International Equitrack Polo Arena • Fantastic clubhouse with licensed bar & excellent viewing of the arena • Polo Pony Hire, School Ponies • Chukkas and Matches - call the office for Info • Individual Coaching, Group Lessons, Social & Corporate Events

For information on membership, polo lessons and general enquiries please call: Tel: (office) 01452 864 544 Mobile: 07974 532 841 email: Longdole Polo Club, Birdlip, Gloucestershire, GL4 8LH


Beaufort Polo Club

Assistant Polo Manager The Beaufort Polo Club has 27 tournaments at all levels from 2 goal to 20 goal as well as numerous practice chukkas and Club Matches. We are seeking an Assistant Polo Manager for the 2011 season to work alongside the Polo Manager to ensure the smooth running of all chukkas, matches and tournaments. They will also assist in administrative duties and be expected to keep accurate records. The successful applicant will be well presented with good organisational skills, and must be able to work under pressure. They will be positive, well motivated and able to deliver a friendly and professional service to all playing members of the club and visiting teams. A reasonable level of IT knowledge would be an advantage. The role could equally suit a player or non-player, and the package can be offered to reflect this.

Please email applications to


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Appletrees Transport

Local, National & International Horse Transportation. Members of ERS, BAS, RTA. DEFRA Approved & Regulated. Shared/ Individual loads. Regular trips to Scotland, Ireland, Wales & West Country.

Competetive freight booking service. CCTV, Temperature controlled environment. 07850215805/ 01403 741757

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21/1/11 14:10:04

Classifieds PONIES THREE POLO PONIES FOR SALE In work and playing at Ash Farm Polo Club, 7-9 years old, all very easy to play. £4000-£8000. Please call Roy on 07799 711336 RETIRED HIGH GOAL PONIES Ideal schoolmasters for Pony Club or beginners - with perfect manners and will teach anyone. £3,500 upwards. Tel 01666 881254

SITUATIONS POLO PLAYER 2 GOAL wanted for low and medium goal team. £350 per game. Can provide horses. Must have EU work permit or nationality. Playing April to August 2011 approximately 30 games. Please send your details to

PLAYING PONIES for improving young players. We have a selection of very playable ponies that aren’t quite up to high goal, priced from £3,000 to £8,000. Tel 01666 881254

ARGENTINE GROOM SEEKING WORK, UK-based Argentine groom with 5 years polo experience is looking for a seasonal or permanent position. Has own transport and does not require a visa. Available from mid February. References available. Call 07703 476742

15.2HH CRIOLLO TYPE ARGENTINE MARE 10 YEARS OLD playing arena now, versatile pony either up to weight or suitable for lady/ lightweight player. Fabulous light mouth and turns inside out. Oxfordshire, £5250. Tel 07979 494553

GROOM REQUIRED FOR PRIVATE YARD 2011 SEASON excellent modern facilities (walker, arena etc) and brand new accommodation. Very friendly. Car included. Good rates of pay. Must drive 7.5 ton box. Call David on 07775 511555 or

BAY MARE ARGENTINE 15.2HH Carina, is a pretty, Argentine 15.2hh bay mare, 16 years old. Easy to ride, clip, box and shoe, and has a gentle and uncomplicated character - no downside. She prefers not to live alone, but is totally fine to ride alone. £1500. Tel 07971 226989

POLO GROOM REQUIRED to start March/April 2011. Polo playing family of many years, fabulous yard, accommodation, must drive, good polo experience, full time, based in Guildford. Email or tel 01483 208693

BLACK BEAUTY Easy smooth uncomplicated sound mare - played up to 2 goal and Young England match 2010. 15.1hh. 10yrs. Stick and balls quietly or fast and nippy in competition. Sussex Polo. £4950 ono. Tel 01342 714920 SKEWBALD STUNNER Eye catching painted 14.2hh 8yrs sound mare with heart shaped markings on forehead. Nippy fun pony to suit lady or pony club. Also jumps and mounted games. Sussex Polo. £4750 ono. Tel 01342 714920 PRIMISCIA 15HH 13 YR OLD ARGENTINE POLO MARE Specially sourced and brought to UK for 2 goaler Tom Mackintosh by Tono Ituarrte. Awesome fast athletic pony. Ideally suited to 1+ goaler wanting to upgrade their string. £3750 ono. Tel 07733 031269/01794 323195 SAFE AND STEADY POLO GELDING 8 years old, 16.1hh, ideal to learn on, total gentleman, 100% sound, 100% traffic and all other ways except windsucks, also hunts and jumps. No time wasters please. £1950, Cheshire. Tel 07764 757214 ARGENTINE POLO PONIES A selection of Argentine bred polo ponies for sale. Must sell, sensible offers considered, based at Cowdray Park. Call to view and try – 07887 525497


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Polo Times, January/February 2011

HEAD GROOM required to manage a medium goal polo pony operation. This person will be responsible for the welfare and management of 40 ponies. The job will involve the welfare and training of the string of ponies and the oversight and management of four grooms. The job is well paid and is based in Lewes, East Sussex. Accommodation is supplied. Please send your resume to or call +44 (0) 20 7762 3017 GROOM REQUIRED Attractive terms, Gloucestershire/Wiltshire Border. Experienced polo groom required for family yard, close to Beaufort. Attractive terms. Preferably non-HGV driver. Tel 07768 866499

LIVERY YARD FOR 6/7 HORSES TO RENT NEAR ASCOT/WINDSOR AND VIRTUALLY NEXT TO RCBPC FOR 2011 SEASON All the facilities you could wish for: Barn with internal stable and automatic drinkers, sand corrals, horse walker, manège 40m x 20m, 400m drained exercise track, stick and ball field, turn out paddocks, feed room with drying facility for rugs, tack room with commercial washer and drier. Tel 07710 328832 or email (Flat available by separate negotiation)

BURNINGFOLD POLO CENTRE Stables and stable units for rent 2011, yards starting from eight upwards. Based on the Burningfold Estate, facilities include all weather exercise track, sand school, round pen and turn-out paddocks. There are chukkas three times a week from mid April to mid September and we hold 10 low goal tournaments per year on irrigated grounds. Ideally located for all main southern clubs and readily accessible from central London. Please contact Gary on +44 (0)1483 200722 or visit STABLES TO RENT NEAR CIRENCESTER Stables to rent three miles south of Cirencester, with all-weather exercise track, polo ground, and lots of turn-out. Apply to Mandy Keegan on 07976 867313 or email mandykeegan222@

TRANSPORT 10 TONNE HGV SIX HORSE P reg Iveco Box. Professionally maintained and refurbished. Barn kept. Reliable and powerful easy drive. 258500kms, MOT March 2011, Tax August 2011. Badminton Horse Boxes. £7500 ono. Tel Mark 01454 218220 or 07812 347999 LEYLAND DAF FOUR PONY LORRY Recently re-painted compact 7.5T 1993 Lorry. Stalled for four ponies with tack room, cut through to cab. Recently serviced, very reliable, two new batteries. MOT and taxed. £4350. Tel 07843 515709 HORSEBOX FOR SALE Leyland DAF 150, green 7.5 ton four horse lorry, aluminium cattleback with partitions. Recently taxed and serviced £3900. Wiltshire. Tel 0208 8426 112 or 01985 845365. TRISTAR 1996 IVECO/CARGO 75E15 PARTITIONED FOR SIX Renowned build quality Tristar body on Euro Cargo fitted with electric winch and towbar. MOT to December 2011. Six cylinder engine no limiter. Maintained regardless of cost. £10750 ono. Tel 07786 475123/01794 323195 POLO LORRY S REG non-HGV, taxed, MOT, good runner, up to six ponies, cab as new. £7,000 ono. Herts. Tel 07879 827940

PROPERTY TWO BEDROOM PROPERTY TO LET NEAR ASCOT AND VIRTUALLY NEXT TO RCBPC Immaculately decorated and beautifully presented throughout, this newly built property is available furnished or unfurnished. Located within a private estate with its own garden. £1500 pcm. Tel

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07710 328 832 or email (Yard available by separate negotiation) HOUSE FOR SALE IN ARGENTINA 72km from BA Canuelas. Three bedrooms – three bathrooms Newly built interior designed 250 square meters. Large reception dining room – with open fireplaces. Internet, barbeque house, swimming pool, grooms’ house and paddocks. 12.5 hectares of levelled stick and ball on 10-year lease. US$250,000 offers. Tel Anneliese 07789 865691 POLO FACILITIES The ideal base for you and or your team for 2011. Just 10 minutes from Beaufort, 30 minutes from Cirencester Park, 15 minutes from the M4 with the following facilities available: 30 loose boxes; fully maintained 25 acre polo field and 12 acre stick and ball field; paddock grazing; corrals; polo pony simulator;

club room; fibre sand manège; grooms accommodation; secure tack rooms; manager’s accommodation. In fact, everything you need to achieve the best results in polo. Interested in discussing all, or part of the above please contact Paul on 07887 930664

EQUIPMENT SCOREBOARDS AND CLOCKS ESPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR POLO Outdoor and arena sizes. Fully electronic, displaying the time counting down, both scores and chukka number. Automatic bell/horn. Controlled wirelessly by a remote control you can even wear on your arm. Visit or call +44 (0)7860 303217

Advertisers in January/February 2011 All England Polo Club 01273 834315

Hololio +64 (9) 292 8650

Appletrees Transport 07850 215805

Horserail 07932 995155

Ash Farm 01932 872521

Jeremy Curling Fencing 01483 894888

Baileys Horse Feeds 01371 850247 Beaufort Polo Club 01666 880510 Blake Lapthorn 023 8090 8090 Bulthaup 01780 727212 Cebu Polo Club +63 32 344 6181 Clark Plates 07787 127368 The Cool Ice Box Company 01598 740685 Druids Lodge Polo Club 01722 782597 El Retiro El Venado Estancia +54 9 2 24 167 3320 Elizabeth Jones 07826 124669 Equibuild 01367 820960 Equine Logistics Company 01264 810782 Financial Private Clients 01242 820738 www. Generations 01509 210321

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Images of Polo

Kate’s Art 07887 678421 Kestrel Ltd 01256 880488 Kingsland Stabling 01568 708206 La Clarita 07909 991003 La Mariposa 07947 725305 La Quinta Beaufort 01666 881254 La Tarde +54 1 14 798 9231 Land Rover Laundry Machine Ltd 01214 863566 Longdole Polo Club 01452 864544 Lycetts 01672 512512 Marshall Earthmoving 01264 782176 Monarch Equestrian 01902 605566 New Horizons Solar 0845 6806986 Oaklands Polo and Country Club +27 58 671 0067

Onoto Pampeano 0871 2001272 Piaget Polo Permits 01798 869496 RB Galleries 07899 947056 Re-Bound 0845 5193294 Rolex SATS 01285 841542 SCH (Supplies) 01473 328272 SEEF Properties +27 23 230 1414 Shahira Industries +92 52 459 7606 Spanish Boot Company 0845 3138167 www. Stonefield Polo Club +27 82 785 4199 T&S Harker Horse Boxes 01325 332649 The Leap 01672 519922 The Polo Lifestyle Company 020 7730 6868 Watershipdown Polo Club 07900 272488 West of England Stabling 01837 810209 Wildman Design 07818 023211 YARDANDGROOM 020 81441636

Polo Times, January/February 2011


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Passions Final bell

Ascot Park one-goaler Charlotte Christodoulou’s...

Favourite polo memory? When I played with singer Sarah Harding on ITV2’s The Passions of Girls Aloud two years ago. Tarquin Southwell, Sarah and I played against John Bunn, Jamie Morrison and Sarah Wiseman in front of the cameras at Hickstead (AEPC). Favourite tournament and why? The HPA National Club Championships at RCBPC. It’s a tough tournament and very competitive, you can’t just sit back and relax, you have to get stuck in. Hardest opponent? Heiko Voelker at the HPA National Club Championships in the 12-goal section in 2008. He’s so hard to contain and quite scary too! Favourite polo venue? I really like the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where I played in the Heritage Polo last summer. Polo manager Barbara Zingg is brilliant. Ham Polo Club also holds fond memories. I played the Laureus Cup last June with Pelon Stirling and Eduardo Heguy. I was awarded the MVP, but I think that’s because I was the only girl! If you could change one thing about polo what would it be? To make it cheaper! Favourite form of the game? Arena. I like the fact that it is three-a-side and is always non-stop. Who taught you to play polo? I had my first lessons with James Wayland at Ascot Park and Robert Burke (also from Ascot Park) has taught me all I know. As well as teaching me, Robert has also been a great friend; last year he even sold me his blue Fiat for £1 which was very sweet of him! Charlotte Christodoulou is passionate about (from top): playing polo with Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, X-Factor, Johnny Depp, Wham, Alexandre Dumas Fils’ La Dame aux Camélias and Captain Kirk from Star Trek


Polo Times, January/February 2011

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Last time you fell off? I don’t remember the last time I fell off but I was pulled off my horse by Vivek Rawal during the 2008 arena season. His reins got caught on my knee and I was dragged off backwards!

What would you do if you were not a polo player? I’d definitely be doing something to do with horses, possibly eventing. Favourite pastime outside polo? I love walking my dogs, Willow my English Pointer and Luca who’s a Vizsla. What other sporting team do you support? Fulham Football Club – but only because my son is an avid supporter! Person you would most like to meet? Johnny Depp. He’s such an interesting character and he seems like he’d be a bit of fun. What was the first single or album you ever bought? Club Tropicana by Wham.

“I played against Prince William at Sandhurst in 2006. He is very charming and very positive.” Who was your hero growing up? William Shatner as Captain Kirk in Star Trek! Who was your biggest crush growing up? It’s embarrassing to admit but Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran was quite a big crush! Favourite book? Le Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas Fils Most prized possession? My four children – Sophia, 15, Max, 14, Jack, eight and Tallen, six. Strictly, X-Factor or neither? Definitely X-Factor. What’s your biggest ambition? It’s bold, but to win the Gold Cup at Cowdray! Prince William or Prince Harry? Prince William. Gaston Devrient invited me to play against him at Sandhurst in 2006. He was very charming and a very positive person. F

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