If you’re in England and looking for something different to do this weekend then I would suggest you stroll on over to the beautiful Georgian clubhouse and grounds of the Hurlingham Club on the River Thames where, for only the second time in nearly a century, polo will be returning.
The King of Sports is coming home…
Hurlingham was the headquarters of British polo before the Second World War, but lost this coveted status when the size of the club was significantly reduced after the polo fields were compulsorily purchased to build council housing. Ye gods, how the illustrious must have heaved and hurled in their graves!
However, in memory of the faded days of glory, the governing body of British polo is still known as the Hurlingham Polo Association.
This weekend – 4th – 6th June, world-class polo players will be going to The Hurlingham Club in Fulham for a three-day Polo in the Park event. Jack Kidd (captain for the London Team) talks about the event in 2009:
The polo will be fast, furious and spectator-friendly. The Mint Polo in the Park (as it is known) will include 8 teams from Moscow, Mumbai, Paris and New York who will compete against and alongside London players.
More than 32,000 spectators are expected to attend the weekend spectacular and pack the stands to cheer Team London to victory as they fight to defend last year’s historic win amongst a total of eight fully professional teams.
The rules and traditions of polo date back hundreds of years. The game now known as Polo was first recorded in 600BC and took place between the Turkomans and Persians (the Turkomans won). Speed forward a few hundred years and across a few continents and the first game was played in England in 1869 and was known as ‘hockey on horseback’. The Americans introduced the first handicap system in 1888 and Britain and India followed suit in 1910. Today, polo is played in 80 countries worldwide. It was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1939 and has now been recognised again by the International Olympic Committee.
However, the rules are being severely bent for this tournament. For starters the traditional 4-man a side format is being cut to 3 (there is another game out there sometimes known as poor-man’s polo which has 3 a side – Polocrosse). However, with less space than in its hayday, the Hurlingham Club hope that this will make their tournament faster, more exhilarating and an easier-to-watch spectator sport.
With a basketball style D-ring to encourage long shots and a smaller pitch to ensure fans are never too far away from the action, the World Polo Series games at the Hurlingham Club aim to make this dramatic and dangerous game even more exciting for first-time viewers.
The Polo in the Park London matches start 11am, Friday 4th June – Sunday 6th June 2010. Grandstand seating tickets for adults are £30.00, and standing ground tickets for adults are £15.00. Early Bird discounted tickets are also available. To purchase tickets for this event, click on the Buy Tickets button: buy tickets
And to add to the ritz and glamour, Nikki Beach of St Tropez & St Barts fame will be participating in the festivities on Sunday night at The Hurlingham Club…