On the evening of Thursday 14th August, for the first time polo was played on Horse Guards Parade Ground and provided a fitting and spectacular setting for the game within walking distance from Jermyn Street, 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and overlooked by the iconic London Eye across the River Thames.
Horse Guards Parade Ground is famous for The Trooping of the Colour on the Queen’s birthday and the ceremonial Changing of the Guard, photographed by millions of visitors each year.
[© Tony Ramirez]
Prior to the evening polo commencing at 6.30pm, it was the opening day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of London, featuring riders from around the world including 18 of the best show jumpers competing in the 11th round of this Tour.
Riding into the Arena with the determination of many of the mounted military men who are more regularly seen marching through Horse Guards Parade, Clogau/DSTRKT London Team Wales captained by Ricky Cooper backed up by Roddy Matthews and Peter Webb opened play in the first match against Silex Team Ireland, with Captain Richard Fagan flying in from Sotogrande where he is currently competing in the Silver Cup, alongside teammates Mikey Henderson and Sebastian Dawnay.
Despite the rain, there was no dampening of play as the two teams drew level until in the last few seconds of play Peter Webb scored the winning goal for Clogau/DSTRKT london Team Wales. Final score: Clogau/DSTRKT london Team Wales 12 v 11 Silex Team Ireland.
In the second game of the evening, commentators Karl Ude-Martinez and Sebastian Baker introduced to the crowd EFG England – Chris Hyde (Captain), Max Charlton and Charlie Pidgley and King Power Polo Team Bangkok fielding Argentine professionals Santi Lujan, Antonino Menard and Adolfo Casabal. Once again the two teams battled on the very spot where Henry VIII used to host jousting competitions in 1749.
There was strong play from both teams, but Bangkok managed to hold the lead for the entire game, finishing with a final score of: EFG England 11 v 15 King Power Polo Team Bangkok.
[© Tony Ramirez]
At the prize-giving Sonia Menezes from Clogau Gold of Wales and David Emanuel presented The Westminster Cup (provided by Steven Sanson of Bezant) and a bottle of Pommery to Clogau/DSTRKT london Team Wales captain Ricky Cooper along with Clogau prizes to all the players.
Robert Mehm, Senior Vice President of EFG Bank handed over The London Polo Championships Trophy, a bottle of Pommery and more Clogau prizes to Adolfo Casabal, captain of the winning team King Power Polo Team Bangkok and his fellow teammates.
The Best Playing Pony Indi, a 5 year old dark bay gelding ridden by Max Charlton in the second chukka of the second game, owned by Richard Blake Thomas and looked after by his groom Victor, was presented with a rug by Georgie Reeves from Uber Polo in conjunction with the Household Cavalry Foundation, the chosen charity for the event.
Alison Cryer and Jamal Alazki from Oman Ministry of Tourism and Oman Air presented the Most Valuable Player of the match, King Power Polo Team Bangkok captain Adolfo Casabal, with his prize. Umpires Howard Smith and Tim Bown were handed Pommery by Peter Phillips.
City Polo at Horse Guards Parade Ground, St James’s
Post-match, England professional Max Charlton (who has just seen his outdoor handicap rise to 7 goals) commented on the game saying ‘it was a good size arena, the surface was amazing, you could go at any speed and turn, it was great footing for the horses and the new rules really helped the flow of play.’
It was no mean feat to organise two international games of polo, with such high profile players in the centre of a city the size of London in a space approximately 50/85 metres, complete with new amendments to the Arena Rules regarding side or end wall ride-offs and play, put in place specifically to make the game faster and more open.
As the lights went out around the arena, the lights of London beckoned the players, spectators and celebrity supporters including Bruce Springsteen who were all invited to gather at DSTRKT London at an After Party organised in conjunction with Clogau Team Wales. If you are a keen Polo player, it’s worth visiting La Martina Jermyn Street to get kitted out.
La Martina (23 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6ST)