Archives from 2004

King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament

Published in News on 29 Sep 2004

THE Army was invited for the second year to send a team to Thailand to compete in the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament. Sponsored by British Airways the players soon got to grips with this new take on the sport and put up good performances against strong opposition.

THE Army was invited for the second year to send a team to Thailand to compete in the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament.

A Regimental team from the Kings Royal Hussars competed in 2003 but due to operational commitments were unable to compete in 2004. Lt Col Felix Gedney threw open the invitation Army wide and formed a team from past and present members of the Rhine Army Polo Association based in Germany.

Elephant Polo is played at an amateur level in Nepal (the home of elephant polo), Sri Lanka and now Thailand. The original concept was dreamed up between two horse polo players while competing at the Cresta Run in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Sponsored by British Airways the Army team flew out in early September and based itself close to the Thai Military ground three hours south of Bangkok at the spa town of Hua Hin – favoured by Thai Royalty for its cool breezes and long stretches of golden coastline.

 

Five rigorous practice sessions followed to experiment with elephant selection, stick length and elephant driver (mahoot) instruction. The basic rules are the same as horse polo, but with the pitch being two thirds of the size and only three players on each team.

The start to the tournament on the Monday was preceded by a colourful and much feted opening ceremony involving all the players, elephants and drivers. The tournament hosted 14 teams from all over the world with varying degrees of skill level-from hugely experienced elephant trainers to high and low goal polo players to nil experience of either elephants or any form of polo. The army team fell somewhere in the latter category.

Drawn in a very tight league against the double world champions from Germany and and a local Bangkok side, the Army of Lt Col Felix Gedney, Major George Deakin and Captain James Cretney played hard and fast polo, but were pipped at both posts by teams that fielded the most experienced elephant polo players in the world.

To the uninitiated the sport may seem rather cumbersome, but the elephants are surprisingly nimble and supple and seem to bend their bodies to enable the players to hit the ball. Played in 35 degrees of heat with a two metres of stick, with all the twisting, lurching, and encouragement of the mahoot, the sport is truly an experience not easy to forget.

Two further matches followed to qualify for the finals day and the highlight of the tour was beating a former All Black Rugby side in front of a packed spectator stand. Preceded by a traditional ‘haka’ and suitably English retort Major Tim Jalland and Major Andy Rule took to the field, gloriously slotting goals from the No1 position. The Army were voted most improved side during the tournament.

However, elephant polo in Thailand is not just about the sport. All the proceeds of the tournament go to the Thai Elephant Polo Association which promotes the welfare and care of elephants all over Thailand especially those that have suffered at the hands of illegal loggers on the borders of Burma and Cambodia. The associated tournament entertainment was spectacular to say the least with lavish dinners at the ‘Generals Mansion’ overlooking the sea and a Brazilian Gala Dinner, and cocktail parties and receptions on all other nights.

And so to the future, and the outlook for 2005 looks good. Sticks are being fashioned from imported bamboo, and practice sessions scheduled in Hamburg with cut down landrovers and jeeps under the tutelage of the German world champions. The lure of an exotic location, good sponsorship and excellent camaraderie and sport is alluring.

The rules and regulations of the game can be found at www.thaielepolo.com


CSPA Tour To Ecuspa

Published in News on 02 Sep 2004

THE CSPA team travelled to the USA for an 11 day tour to the Eastern Circuit of the United States Polo Association. This fabulous visit, made memorable by the hospitality of the hosts, culminated in the Commonwealth Cup match which had spectactors on the edge of their seats.

Tour Diary

Thursday 2nd September 2004 – There was a feeling of great excitement when the team met at Heathrow Airport. The journey began well when Katherine managed to ensure that we received an upgrade and moreover that we would be allowed to use the First Class Virgin lounge. Virgin looked after us well and it was not long until we were in Washington and in the safe hands of Tom Hulfish aka ‘The Big Fish’. Tom has been involved with the CSPA Tour since its inception and has assumed the role of being the chief organiser and all round tour legend. That evening the team went out with some old friends of the tour and our hosts. For Katherine and Nick it was there first taste of Poultners Bar, which is Tom’s second (or maybe even first) home.

Friday 3rd September – The team set off to Great Meadow Polo Club in Middleburg, where we were due to have an evening arena match. We had time to visit The National Sporting Library, where they have an extensive collection of literature and articles covering the history of horses in sport. Whilst we were there we met Juan Salinas- Bentley who is the Great Meadow Polo Club manager and professional. Juan has helped the team for many years, and this year he had once again organised the next two days polo for us. There were a few nerves before our first game, as it was for most of the team a fairly new experience playing in the arena. However any nerves were soon forgotten as the team immediately took control of the game, with Justin and Tim scoring freely. By the end of the first chukka the USA Team had pulled a couple of goals back and the score was 5-3. The second chukka then continued in the same vein, as Justin and Nick began working well together. So at half time the CSPA Team were leading 8-4. It was a dream start for the British and so far the Americans had failed to make an impact on the game. However, it is “a game of two halves” as they say, and this one certainly was. The Americans came out in the second half like men possessed, and on some serious horsepower. Sadly we simply could not live with them in the third and forth chukkas. Their extra experience in the arena also told and we ended up losing 16-11. The evening was sponsored by Astin Martin, so having licked our wounds we had a great party.

Saturday 4th September – Juan had organised for us to play a friendly grass game on Saturday at a private club just down the road from Great Meadow called, Herringwood. It was an excellent chance for the team to play together. Once again the team began well. Justin and Tim both scored early on and Ian and Nick were solid at the back. It was also encouraging to see the team beginning to play well together. Juan, who was playing for the Americans, really stepped his game up in the last chukka, to bring the Americans into striking distance of us, but he had not counted on Tim scoring a great lofted goal in the final few minutes. From then on we were able to hold out, and run out the winners 6- 51/2.

Sunday 5th September – The team met up with Juan and his patron Philip Staples (who also sponsors and organises the Commonwealth Cup) in The Stock Exchange, which is a classic American greasy spoon. The team then set off to Brandywine Polo Club in Pennyslvania. Brandywine is a traditional heartland of polo and riding, and we found out why when we arrived to see two pitches in immaculate condition, and 8 goal polo already underway. Once that game had finished we were on against a select Brandywine Team. It was now becoming a bit of a habit to begin well, and at Brandywine we did not disappoint. Nick opened the account with a huge 60 yard penalty which boded well for the rest of the tour. From then on we had some trouble turning our superiority in the game into goals. By the forth chukka we were 4-3 up. They then scored early on in the fourth to bring the game level, and we simply could not find a winner. Nick had a chance in the dying seconds, but only managed to push the ball wide – which is some ways summed up our performance.

Monday 6th September – Dixon Stroud had invited us to play a morning game on his private farm, and so after breakfast we were straight down there to play. The pitch was like a bowling green and we were up against a formidable 6 goal team, so good polo was guaranteed. The CSPA played some truly excellent polo, both in attack and defence. Ian was solid at the back, putting in some huge ride offs, while Nick and Justin worked frantically in the midfield. By the start of the final chukka we were 5- 4 up, having added three goals to the two that we had received on handicap. Then we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Stroud’s Team scored once with one minute to go to draw the game level, and then with the first bell having gone, they managed to score again to win the match. It really was an excellent performance by the CSPA Team and while the result was disappointing there were lots of positives that we took from the game. Sadly we had to leave Brandywine to head back to Washington.

Tuesday 7th September – We were never sure that it was going to happen, so there was huge excitement as we headed down to the US Park Police Training Stables. There, two Park Police Instructors, Billy Good and Poncho Gonzales, were waiting to take us around Washington on horse back. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. We spent four hours riding around the city and all of its monuments and sites. With the park police we had the run of the city, and its was simply fantastic.

Wednesday 8th September – Sadly the polo at Jack Whittemore’s in Seneca, Maryland was cancelled due to the weather, and so the team had a rest day in Alexandria. We all did some shopping and then hosted a BBQ in the evening for all the people in Washington who had so far looked after us.

Thursday 9th September – After a slow morning we all heading into Washington to go to the Smithsonian Museum, and to have a closer look at the Vietman War Memorial, which was very moving indeed. And then it was back to shower and change for a visit to the White House. The President’s Chief of Protocol, Donald Esenat plays polo at Great Meadow and so he had extremely generously invited us on a tour of the White House. We met him, and Juan and his family at The Old Ebbitt Grill where we had a delicious meal before heading over to the White House. Donald Esenat took us in to the White House through the door which is used by Heads of State when they come on an official visits. The highlight of the tour was undoubtedly seeing the Oval Office. Finally we visited the Rose Garden. It was another once in a lifetime experience, and truly awe inspiring to see the inner chambers of the most powerful country on Earth.

Friday 10th September – It was once again time to move, and this time we set off to Richmond, Virginia. In the evening we went to a beautiful house, appropriately called Soldiers’ Lodge, for a big charity auction which was organised by the same charity which we were playing polo for on Sunday. It consisted of a live and silent auction. Unknown to Tim the team outbid him in the silent auction for a polo painting, which much to his surprise we presented to him later in the evening. The Team then set off to the famous Bart Fry’s Alpha Omega Farm. Bart has hosted the tour for years and he did not disappoint this year. After treating us to lunch at his golf club he then treated us to our best polo match of the tour. He has the most immaculate polo fields, and he produced some ponies to match. The team we played against were impossibly strong, with two Argentine 4 goal players in the middle, but they played open polo, and they really let us play our game as well. We lost by two goals but it was the most open and free flowing polo of the tour.

Sunday 12th September: Commonwealth Cup Day
  When we arrived at the venue the crowds were already growing, and there was a real buz in the marquees which surrounded the ground. Before the real game began they had a ‘Big Hitting contest’. Justin did not have the best start when his stick broke on his warm up swing, but after that the CSPA fared better and Nick in the end won the contest fairly easily. With the fun and games over, it was time for the real show. They played both National Anthems, announced the teams and umpires, one of which was Julian Hipwood, and then play was under way. The Commonwealth Team was on paper a very strong team including Juan(3 goals), Gary Leonard (2 goals) and Philip staples (1 goals), so they gave us a 3 goal start on handicap. As soon as then game began Justin once again showed how dangerous he could be by scoring twice to give us a 5- 0 lead. Over the next two chukkas the Commonwealth Team fought hard to get within one goal of us at 6-5, before the CSPA once again extended their lead, so that by the start of the fifth chukka we were 9-6 in the lead, due both Nick and Justin scoring goals. Once again the Commonwealth Team came back and it was only due to a Cowley 60 yard penalty that we went into the final chukka 10- 9 to the good. The tension by now was huge, and the crowd were really enjoying the hard fought tussle. Nick scored early on in the sixth to put us two goals ahead, only for disaster to strike. The Commonwealth Team suddenly found their scoring touch, putting through two quick goals to bring the scores level at 11 all. But things were soon to get worse when Juan in the last three seconds of the game scored with a near side under the neck…and in one instant destroyed our hopes of winning the Commonwealth Cup after so many years in American hands. It was a fantastic game and all of the CSPA players played exceptionally well. Justin deservedly won most Valuable Player; his huge work rate, competitive spirit and goal scoring meant that he was worth far more than his handicap suggested. The horses that the CSPA used were provided by the University of Virginia, and they were all very good. The standard of horses from the university has improved dramatically over the years and the team of grooms who came with them really looked after us. Our reception from the crowd after the game was amazing if somewhat humbling. Through the course of the tour we had made many friends and loads of them had come to support which was fantastic. There was also a large contingent from the British Embassy.

Monday 13th September – After many good byes the team set off in Monica for one last journey back up to Washington where we meet Tom. Finally it all ended where it began with the Big Fish at Washington Airport.

Overall it was the most amazing tour and all of the team will have a huge number of special memories from their time out there. There are a massive amount of people who have made this tour possible on both sides of the Atlantic. Without them this tour would never go ahead and we are hugely grateful for everything that they do.


Four-nations Tournament (nigeria) January 2005

Published in News on 18 Jul 2004

THE CSPA has been invited to take part in a four-nations tournament in Nigeria from January 11 to 15 2005 along with the Pakistan, US and Nigerian military. Team selection will be in October and anyone who wishes to be considered, and is in the military with a polo plus handicap, should contact Mark Cann by email only (markcann@cspa.org.uk).


CSPA Hosts Pakistan Military Team

Published in News on 17 Jul 2004

A TOURING Pakistan Military team arrived in England in July to compete against the CSPA in a three-match test series for the Chapple Cup. The exchange between the two countries has gone on for many years, although this was the first visit after a ten year gap, and this tour proved a great success.

A TOURING Pakistan Military team arrived in England in July to compete against the CSPA in a three-match test series for the Chapple Cup.

The exchange between the two countries has gone on for many years, although this was the first visit after a ten year gap.

The three-match Chapple Cup series began with the United Services Cup at Guards Polo Club. The visitors settled quickly into their stride but the CSPA team had the edge and went on to win the game by a single goal.

The second contest, held the following day, was for the Sudan Cup at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In driving rain the CSPA proved far too strong for the Pakistan side and romped to victory by seven and a half goals to one.

The team on this day were Gp Capt Tim Brown, Capt Richard Mason, Maj Andrew Fox-Pitt and Maj Nick Hunter. Not only were they presented with the Sudan Cup but they had secured the Chapple Cup trophy too.

The final match was played three days later at Tidworth Polo Club for the Aldershot Cup. Although a formality as faras the series was concerned, it was a good close game and Pakistan were on top for much of the match.

However, the turning point came when their best player took a nasty fall and was substituted in the final chukka. In the end, the CSPA completed a clean sweep of the series with a seven goals to six victory.

The Chapple Cup was first awarded in 1998 in recognition of Field Marshal Sir John Chapple’s contribution to Services’ Polo as the CSPA President.

In 2000 the CSPA beat Abu Dhabi and in 2001, and again in 2003, they were victorious over the ECUSPA (Eastern Circuit United States Polo Association). In fact the CSPA has now won the series for the past seven years.

The CSPA enjoyed a fabulous tour to Pakistan earlier this year and the hospitality extended to them by their hosts was second to none.

Likewise, the Pakistan Military team was made to feel most welcome during their stay in England.
Throughout their visit they enjoyed a varied itinerary in addition to the polo competition.


Rundle Cup Day – Tidworth Polo Club

Published in News on 17 Jul 2004

THERE was a major upset in this year’s Rundle Cup to keep the minds of the spectators off the atrocious weather conditions and on some enthralling polo. HRH The Prince of Wales, along with Prince William and Prince Harry, also braved the monsoon-like rains in their charity match.

THERE was a shock victory for the Royal Navy over the Army in the historic Rundle Cup match at Tidworth Polo Club.

In a thrilling encounter, the Navy, who considered themselves lucky to come out on top, played well as a team. They defended strongly and took their chances.

The Army had strengthened their team from a two goal to a three goals side in the days leading up to the event. They played well and were very unfortunate not to convert more of their many chances.

At the end of this tense match there was just half a goal in it – the victorious Navy scoring four and a half goals.

Earlier in the day the CSPA team took to the polo field against The British Forces Foundation/Highgrove team. HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince William and Miss Zara Phillips were joined by the CSPA Director Mark Cann. He replaced Prince Harry who had to pull out of the line-up because of an injury.

Just two days earlier the princes had played in atrocious weather at the charity polo day in Sandhurst – but on Rundle Cup Day the conditions were even worse.

Despite the monsoon-like rain there was some impressive polo action. The royal side put up a great fight against a strong Combined Services Polo Association team who ran out winners by six goals to five.


Charity Polo Tournament – Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Published in News on 13 Jun 2004

Torrential rain did little to dampen the spirits or sense of occasion at the Sandhurst Charity Polo Day in aid of The British Forces Foundation.With HRH The Prince of Wales, along with Prince William and Prince Harry, taking part the crowds were treated to some spectacular polo.

The delightful setting of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was barely visible during the downpours but all three matches went ahead as scheduled.

Music from The Band of the Hussars and Light Dragoons set the tone for the event and the champagne flowed.

The highlight of the afternoon’s action, sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, was the much anticipated game between HRH The Prince of Wales’ team and The Commandant’s team.

HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry lined up alongside their father and one of the world’s greatest players, Gabriel Donoso.

Facing them were Gabriel’s equally talented brother Jose, Tim Gannon, his son Chris and John Goodman.

It was end to end polo with some sublime play from both sides despite the atrocious conditions.

The princes thrilled the crowd and the quality of the Donoso brothers shone through. Young Chris Gannon proved he is a player who will go far in the game.

With goals in every chukka it was ultimately the royal side who triumphed with a seven goals to six scoreline to lift the coveted Sandhurst Cup.

Earlier in the day the Combined Services Polo Association took on the Pakistan Military touring team in what was the second game in the three-match Chapple Cup series.

Having won by a single goal at Guards, London, on the previous day the CSPA were looking to seal overall victory.

In driving rain they proved far too strong for the Pakistan side and thrashed them by seven and a half goals to one. They were presented with the Sudan Cup and had secured the Chapple Cup trophy. The CSPA team were Gp Capt Tim Brown, Capt Richard Mason, Maj Andrew Fox-Pitt and Maj Nick Hunter.

Director of the CSPA, Mark Cann, said: “It was yet another wonderful occasion which thankfully even the weather didn’t manage to spoil.

“We are deeply grateful to all those involved in putting it on and supporting it – especially Tim Gannon, John Goodman and The Royal Bank of Scotland. It was a great day for the CSPA.

Maj Gen Andrew Ritchie CBE, Commandant of The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, said: “It was a great pleasure to host the Pakistan Army Polo team this year and of course a huge privilege that HRH The Prince of Wales again agreed to play. With his talented sons and two of the finest players in the world also playing it was a brilliant exhibition.

“We should not forget the reason we gather here. This event has succeeded over the past few years in raising a wonderful amount of money for The British Forces Foundation of which HRH The Prince of Wales is Patron.

“We are deeply indebted to Mr Tim Gannon, Mr John Goodman and to the Royal Bank of Scotland for their most generous donations and support to the event.”

Maj Gen Ritchie added: “Sandhurst provides many of the officer cadets with their first opportunity to become involved in this exciting sport.

“Through the support of both the Army and the Combined Services Polo Association these new players will have the chance to develop their skills and deepen their enthusiasm whilst at the Academy.”

Click to view photo album


Royal Navy Tour – Argentina

Published in News on 15 Feb 2004

THE Royal Navy broke new ground in March, sending a five-man team on a tour to the home of polo – Argentina. It was the first time the Royal Navy polo team has toured there and it was the ideal opportunity to hone the skills of five riders most likely to represent the RN during the current season – Capt Richard Mason, Cdrs Adrian Aplin and Arnie Lustman, Lt Nick Cooke-Priest and SLt Geoff Braithwaite.

The squad was based at El Retiro Polo School just outside Buenos Aires, and the first three days were spent getting used to the local horses. The RN team also underwent intensive team training in tactics and all aspects of game play.

The training regime was overseen by Dr Marcos Llambias, whose critical eye was much appreciated by the RN quintet and helped bring out the best in their riding talents.

For their opening match, the RN, with a team handicap of just 2, took on a 5-goal team from the Argentine Navy. The match was hard fought but excellent team play (and excellent horse power) saw the intrepid British visitors record a 10–3 victory.

There was not much opportunity for the RN team to celebrate its red letter day – 24 hours later they had to compete against an awesome 11-goal team from the Argentine Army – in football terms it would be like a pub side taking on Manchester United!

The Navy team battled hard in 32C heat but the superior skills of the Argentine quartet led to them
winning 16–8.

The next day the RN team and the Argentine Navy and Army teams combined for a friendly tournament.

The last week was spent with further training and team practices, followed by a final match against a local team, which the RN won 7–5 to successfully round off an excellent tour.

For information about playing polo within the Royal Navy, please contact the Cdr AM Lustman on 0207 2183079 or fax 0207 2184702.


Chairman’s Message

Published in News on 14 Feb 2004

CAPTAIN Richard Mason took over the chairmanship of the CSPA from General Reddy Watt last autumn. He found the CSPA in good heart and shape, both at the ‘top end’ with the option to field a 10-goal team, and in the growing number of players in the -2 to 0 range

 

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE

I AM delighted to have taken over the Chairmanship of the CSPA from General Reddy Watt last autumn, and would like to thank him for his wise counsel and most effective stewardship of the organisation over the last three years.

I find the CSPA in good heart and shape, both at the ‘top end’ with the option to field a 10-goal team, and in the growing number of players in the -2 to 0 range, whose enthusiasm and commitment is improving the standard of Services polo all the time.

Brigadier John Wright and Tidworth Polo Club continue to provide excellent support and encouragement at the core of CSPA activity, despite the uncertainties for equestrian facilities raised by the forthcoming Private Finance Initiative contract for Tidworth Garrison.

Equally, the Sandhurst Polo Club maintains its amazing success story in introducing many officer cadets to the sport, and we are enormously grateful to Major General Ritchie and his staff for their backing.

A great vote of thanks is also due to our Director, Major Mark Cann, for his stirling efforts across all areas of CSPA activity, but particularly in his fundraising role which, among other things, enables us to maintain a very enjoyable and beneficial overseas tour programme.

A team visited Pakistan in March and we look forward to the reciprocal visit by the Pakistan Army this
summer, with further outgoing tours to the US and South Africa in the autumn.

None of the above would have been possible without the continued support of our loyal sponsors.
A special thank you to them, and I hope you enjoy the Combined Services polo events this summer.

Captain Richard Mason – CSPA Chairman


CSPA Tour – Pakistan

Published in News on 13 Feb 2004

An historic tour to Pakistan proved to be so much more than just the competitive polo. It was the re-establishment of links between the people and militaries of the two countries. And such was the success of the visit the Pakistan Army were invited to the UK in July to compete in the Chapple Cup series.

THE Combined Services Polo Association’s recent tour to Pakistan was of far greater importance than the competitive polo alone. It was an overt gesture of understanding between not only the peoples of the two countries but also the militaries of the two countries.

The CSPA have been very keen to re-establish links with the Pakistani military polo for a number of years. Indeed, due to international events, no fewer than three planned tours with Pakistan had been postponed over the last six years. It is clear for their part the Pakistanis shared the frustration of those postponements and have been equally as keen to re-establish relations.

The product of this was a fantastic two week tour by the CSPA to Pakistan during which the team received an extraordinarily generous level of hospitality – and most importantly it was great fun.

As ever in polo, and with polo people, it is the shared passion for the great game and its magnificent horses that transcends language, religion and national difference. To see the players of both teams chatting after a game in Lahore was no different to seeing players chatting informally after any game anywhere in the world.

The tour began after arrival on a hot day in Karachi and a transfer to Lahore. The four-goal CSPA team comprised Major Mark Cann (1), Captain Nick Harrison (0), Captain Mark Dollar (2) and Captain Rupert Lewis (1).

Wives were also invited and, as with everyone on the tour, were extremely well looked after. Mrs Dollar and Cann carried long-term reserves, as both were pregnant, the latter with twins! Mrs Harrison enjoyed doing all the things they couldn’t! The level of the care and hospitality was evident in the fact a doctor accompanied the tourists wherever they went.

This was a very small CSPA squad and they were lucky to stay fit throughout especially due to the likelihood of tummy upsets and the fact Capt Dollar – the best rider on the tour – fell off no less than six times!

Over the two weeks it was hot during the day – with temperatures rising between 17 and 29C – and cold during the night, dropping to 5C.

Before the first exhibition match in Lahore the team paid visits to Mona Remount depot and the Anarkali tombs and were treated to dinner with Brigadier Pataudi of the Army Polo Committee.

The first sporting action was against the Lahore Garrison team – and the CSPA ran out victors 7-6 after a tight, hard game.
That evening the players enjoyed dinner with Lt Gen Rafi Alam and the following morning went sightseeing at Lahore Fort.
In the afternoon, an exhibition match against Lahore Polo Club saw the CSPA side suffer their first defeat with the score line 3-6.

It also marked the end of the team’s stay in Lahore and the following day they departed to Peshawar by air for an exhibition match against Peshawar Polo Club. The home side narrowly won by 5-6. While in Peshawar the players visited the Khyber Pass and enjoyed dinner with IGFC Commander at the Bala Hissar Fort.

For the next stage of the tour they headed for Rawalpindi and en route visited the Armd Corps Centre Nowshera and Probyn’s Horse. Here they competed in the Army Polo Championship with matches on the Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
The team played well to reach the final of the championship but were well beaten by a superior side three goal to six.

Before returning to London there was just time for a visit to Bhurban Hills for a game of golf and dinner, plus a trip to Taxila and dinner with Gen Syed Arif Hassan, President of the Army Polo Committee.

The tour was excellent fun and the team, who were popular and mixed well, were superbly looked after. The relationship between the two polo associations is now extremely healthy and must be continued.

In fact such was the success of the re-establishment of relations and new found friendship, the CSPA had no hesitation through Mark Cann to extend an invitation from Field Marshal Sir John Chapple to the Pakistan Army to tour the UK between July 4 and 12, and compete in the Chapple Cup series. They will be most welcome again.


RAF Polo Takes Off

Published in News on 05 Jan 2004

The RAF polo team has undergone a revolution, which has sparked an upturn in form. For many years the RAF team has suffered at the hands of the other services but now has struck a new winning formula – based on sheer hard work, dedication, training and excellent teamwork.

THE Royal Air Force Polo Association can trace its roots back to 1919, when many ex-cavalry officers joined the new service and came into contact with the vast areas of flat grass on the new aerodromes that were springing around Britain.

Between the wars, Sir Winston Churchill encouraged polo among the airmen, because he recognised that the skills of tactical awareness, co-ordination and rapid manoeuvre needed for polo, were similar to those
needed for aerial combat.

Until recently, base membership had been in the doldrums. However, a change in approach and some energetic recruiting has seen an increase in the number of active players, and membership levels are on
the increase.

The RAF polo team has undergone a revolution, which has sparked an upturn in form.
For many years the RAF team has suffered at the hands of the other services but the new winning
form has been brought about by a willingness of opposing teams to match the RAF on handicap –
and by sheer hard work, dedication, training and excellent teamwork.

During the 2003 season the RAF team drew with a cavalry team, were runners-up in the Cornwell Affiliates tournament and defeated the Royal Navy in the prestigious Duke Of York Cup (last won by the RAF in 1996).

The success has been largely due to the A-team stalwarts Group Captain Tim Brown, Wing Commander Mark Smith and Squadron Leader Martin Adcock, and the arrival of several new faces.

The team mainly bases itself at Tidworth Polo Club, the home of the Combined Services Polo Association.
Located in the stunning grounds of Tedworth House, it is where the majority of the RAF players learned to play the sport.

There is also a newly-established and fast-growing polo club based at RAF Cranwell. There are also
individual playing members all over the UK.

The future of RAF polo is looking up, with a growing membership. This year the RAFPA will field A and B teams and is also pushing through a series of initiatives to raise the general awareness of RAF polo.

For information about playing polo within the Royal Air Force, please contact the Chairman, Group Captain Tim Brown on 020 7217 0461, or email secretary Flight Lieutenant Kris Bebbington at Kristian.bebbington@ btopenworld.com.