Search

Polo: You don’t need to be royal to enjoy the king of sports

PUBLISHED: 15:48 22 May 2013 | UPDATED: 14:04 25 May 2013

Reporter Sara tries out polo in Hurlingham Park

Reporter Sara tries out polo in Hurlingham Park

Archant

Often called the sport of kings, polo certainly conjures up images of rich folks in expensive frocks, swilling champagne.

Sara and a player on the opposite team chase the ball Sara and a player on the opposite team chase the ball

But strip away its elite reputation, and you have an exciting, skilful and fast-paced game that you don’t need a heavy wallet to enjoy.

Londoners have the perfect chance to watch the sport up close next month when Hurlingham Park in Putney hosts its annual MINT Polo in the Park, a three day tournament between June 7 and 9.

The park held regular polo fixtures before the Second World War, but in 1939 the fields were given over to the Dig for Victory food effort and for decades not a single game was played there.

However, in 2009 City Events Ltd decided to bring the sport back to its Putney roots and since then the tournament has become a popular date in the polo calendar.

As the organisers and riders prepare for the big event myself and a few others have been invited to the park by polo school Cool Hooves to try out the sport for ourselves.

Having ridden throughout my childhood, I feel pretty comfortable on a horse but navigating my mount while hitting a ball at the same time is another thing altogether.

A quick lesson from our coach, Andrew Murray, in how to hold the stick and strike the ball confirms my suspicions that I have little in the way of hand-eye coordination. I spectacularly miss the ball on a number of occasions and we’re not even in the saddle yet.

But remaining positive I jump on my steed, a pretty chestnut coloured pony called Pedrosa, and with reigns in one hand, stick in the other I’m ready for action.

Gone are the proper, hard polo balls we just practised with, instead we’re given special soft orange balls that are twice the size. Fine with me – they’ll be much easier to hit I think.

Sadly this isn’t the case. At one point poor Pedrosa has to circle the ball five times as I try in vain to reach it.

Before long it’s time for a match and the group is divided into two teams of four. As everyone is new to the game, most of the rules are dispensed with - just get the ball in the goal says Andrew.

Once the match starts I suddenly forget I can’t play and I’m riding up and down the field with a new-found enthusiasm and energy, chasing after the ball, pushing other riders out of the way and feeling probably a little bit too competitive for a ‘friendly’ beginner’s game.

I say chasing as I rarely actually touch the ball, but who cares I’m a having a great time.

As I look around I see the rest of the group are too, and many have never ridden before. There’s definitely something a little comic about us all scrambling rather unsuccessfully for the ball – you can just imagine the Benny Hill music in the background. But no-one seems particularly bothered about what they look like, they’re having too much fun.

The game comes to an end and as I wander exhausted out of Hurlingham Park, I ponder my future in the sport. The royal princes and I enjoying a friendly hit-around while their grandma cheers us on from the sidelines? Time to book my next lesson.

For more information on MINT Polo in the Park go to polointheparklondon.com. Tickets cost from £20 per adult per day and £10 for children.

For more information on Cool Hooves, who run one-off and regular one-to-one and group lessons, go to coolhoovespolo.co.uk.

Latest Romford Stories

17:00

Romford manager Paul Martin wants to build on their recent form and pick up a vital three points against fellow Bostik North strugglers Aveley.

16:15

Hornchurch’s Colin Lynes is hoping to give himself the perfect 40th birthday present when he returns to the ring next weekend, writes Lee Power.

16:00

Daggers manager frustrated by fluctuating levels of performance in recent weeks

15:44

David Moyes has warned West Ham’s record signing Marko Arnautovic to start pulling his weight for the team.

15:00

Hornchurch goalkeeper Sam Mott is backing his side to get back on a run against Bostik North play-off rivals Hertford Town this weekend.

14:30

Upminster’s men continued their good run of form in East League Division One with a 4-0 win over Cambridge City at Coopers.

14:15

Romford’s Kelly Staddon has been celebrating after winning a bronze medal at the European under-23 Championships in Podgorica, Montenegro.

Crow Lane club putting plans in place for fixture with Chelmsford on November 25 after London Intermediate Cup tie was cancelled

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now