Archives from 2018

Captains & Subalterns 2018

Published in News on 23 Jul 2018

The largest UK weekend polo tournament has taken place at Tidworth Polo Club. The Captains & Subalterns Tournament, first played in 1898, is the biggest of its type in the UK of any civilian club.
Some 24 teams were originally entered for this two-day event but ground pressure and the weather meant the tournament director and team from TPC reduced that number to 19 and some matches to three chukkas to ease the pony providers concerns.
Division One witnessed a pulsating encounter in the final with four members of the HACKETT Army Team spread equally across two teams. The first day of three chukkas saw the KRH hold the seemingly superior QRH team – over from British Army Germany – with some strong play by Paddy Selfe. Despite going behind at the end of the third, with Alex Walch playing well above his handicap, the momentum was seemingly with the KRH.
However, the second day brough about a difference with the QRH, especially Tpr Christian Baker who marked Paddy Selfe out and with Johnny Sleeman combining well with Jamie Fry, creeping further ahead in the fifth by 5 goals to 3. Max Morant found his range having been away for four years and the QRH won the final in front of a large crowd by 7 goals to 3. Capt Alex Walch KRH won the ‘Ledger’ MVP Cup for consistent skill over the two days.
In Division Two The Royal Yeomanry won their final on penalties leaving The Light Dragoons as runners-up. Division Three winners were the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst with the RAF in second, while The Royal Artillery topped Division Four ahead of The Royal Dragoon Guards.
The Army Medical Services took the honour in Division Five with the Scottish and NI Yeomanry in runners-up spot.

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Published in News on 23 Jul 2018

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Hackett Inter-regimental Final

Published in News on 22 Jul 2018

The 2018 Hackett Inter-Regimental Final played host to two of the strongest teams for more than 25 years.

Foot Guards, +4 handicap, were back at Guards Polo Club to defend the title they won last year. They were facing stiff opposition from the Queen’s Royal Hussars, +5.

The current holders went into the match with a half goal advantage and immediately put the QRH under heavy pressure. Lt Billy Aprahamian, despite having not played at all this season, soon found his range.

A foul by QRH opened the door in the third period and the Foot Guards pressed home their advantage still further.

Despite some excellent play throughout by the QRH they simply struggled to find the flags and subsequently the Foot Guards ran out winners by four and a half goals to three.

They lifted the trophy in front of a large crowd while the Pringle Cup for best performance went to the Foot Guards’ Lt Jamie Drummond-Moray for the second year running. The prizes were presented by Nik Porter, Director of Marketing at Hackett London.


Chapple Cup Series 2018

Published in News on 22 Jul 2018

The UKAFPA has won the three-match Chapple Cup Series after holding off a challenge from a touring team from the Eastern Circuit United States (ECUSPA).

The opening game traditionally played at RMAS had to be switched to Guards Polo Club as the pitch was being used a landing site for President Trump’s helicopter during his visit to the UK.

Despite the 11th hour change in logistics the game went ahead on Ground Six at GPC and, after a very even-handed contest, it was UKAFPA who triumphed 8 goals to 7.

The prizes were presented by the Army guest player HH Prince Abdul Rahmanb of Johor Bahru. There followed an enjoyable social evening, made all the more remarkable because of the short notice, demonstrating the excellent relationship between the UKAFPA and GPC.

Two days later and the sides met again – this time for the ICOA Trophy played during the Hackett Rundle Cup Day at Tidworth Polo Club.

The match was played on a bobbly pitch and the visitors did well to lose by only two goals against a strong UKAFPA team, epitomised by newcomer OC Hector Fair. The final score was 5-3 which meant that the home-side had sewn up the Series even before the third match.

Although the ultimate prize was already beyond their reach, the ECUSPA team still had plenty to play for the very next day in the United Service Cup match – the opener the Hackett Inter-Regimal Finals Day at GPC.

The Americans had, by this time, found their rhythm and deservedly won the game 4-3 with a last gasp winner. They lifted the United Services Cup while UKAFPA hoisted the Chapple Cup.

Post match drinks in the Dukes Ground Pavilion brought a successful and enjoyable Series to a close.

 


Hackett Rundle Cup 2018

Published in News on 21 Jul 2018

Hackett Rundle Cup Day at Tidworth Polo Club proved another huge draw for spectators.

The highlight of the day’s matches was the annual Rundle Cup contest between the Army and the Royal Navy.

It was a much-weakened Navy side that took to the field compared to recent years following the departure of Hiro Suzuki from the Service.

A young Hacket Army Team was fielded to reflect the RN’s drop in handicap although the Senior Service still started the match with two goals on the board.

However, they were unable to actually score during the game itself and had no answers to the Army’s six goals – the match finishing 6-2. The victors had demonstrated some excellent team play throughout, with Capt Paddy Selfe on particularly fine form earning him MVP.

It was also the first time in the Cup’s history that a female player had graced the field. Capt Jess Wood said she was honoured to represent the Army in such a prestigious match.


Ra Cup

Published in News on 07 Jun 2018

Eleven teams, all Army, gathered at Tidworth Polo Club at the end of May for the fifth annual RA Cup.
The standard in the three divisions was consistently high and whilst all teams played some excellent polo mention must be made of the RLC A Team who put 5 goals past their opponents in their 2two chukka final and Capt James Wilson -1 deservedly won the MVP for the tournament.
The H4H Phoenix Team, of wounded personnel, very nearly pulled off victory but conceded a goal in the dying seconds to come second in their division against a new team from the Army Medical Services.
A special MVP for RA players was won by Gnr Dale Gordon King’s TP RHA, who hit some excellent backhands – one of which went 70 yards!
The winners of the main RA Cup were the Light Dragoons who travelled down from Catterick to participate for the first time led by Rishi Ahluwalia just back from operations in Afghanistan.
Roll on the TEAM ARMY Captains’ & Subalterns’ Trophy on the 21st and 22nd July also at TPC.

RAF In Argentina

Published in News on 01 Jun 2018

A polo handicap is a passport to the world – a phrase that the Royal Air Force Polo Association has tried and tested in recent years, with players journeying to New Zealand, South Africa and the USA to train and compete in the Game of Kings. One place has always eluded us however, the spiritual home of polo, home to the highest level tournaments in the world; Argentina. But that all changed this year, and after a huge amount of work behind the scenes by the Argentine Ambassador, his Embassy staff in London and our partners at Grob Aircraft we were honoured to receive an official invitation to visit. Flt Lt Mark Lynch reports:

Our destination was to be La Tarde Polo Club in the Mercedes area to the west of Buenos Aires, well provisioned with fantastic facilities, friendly hosts and beautiful ponies. Eight RAF Polo Association members were selected to attend; a mix of senior team and developing players between 0 and -2 goals from across the RAF. Four pilots, one navigator, two operations officers and a retired RAF Regiment officer – a very broad mix, but despite our very different backgrounds we are all united in our love for this fantastic game.

We were also honoured by an invite to the official residence of the Argentine Ambassador to the UK before our departure, where we were treated to our first taste of empañadas along with some very kind words from Ambassador di Cerisano to spur us along our way. Our next obstacle was the long flight down to BA and, despite the hopes of some players of a bit of a rest, after a warm welcome from our host Juan we were led to the yard to mount our horses for the first chukkas of the trip.

Unfortunately, two players were a bit slow to remember their riding skills after the long flight and were dismounted within 20 seconds of the first line-out, but they found themselves much more stable thereafter.

The next couple of days were filled with chukkas, stick and ball and practise under the watchful eyes of Juan and the two Nachos, the resident coaches at La Tarde. We spent time inbetween practise nursing our aching riding muscles, chatting with the coaches about team tactics, and enjoying some of the superb food prepared by Monica and her excellent team.

The weekend brought the competitive matches against our sponsors at H3 Polo Passion (the Grob Aircraft team) and the Argentine Military. We were honoured once again with an invite to play at the beautiful San Jorge Polo Club, where the RAF Spitfires took on the Argentine military team of 1st Lt Edgar Echezarreta 2, Capt Emilio Bertolone 2, Lt Col Horacio Henry 2 and Col Guillermo Venier 2. The Spitfires, made up of Sqn Ldr Ed Whitechurch 0, Sqn Ldr Vicky Woodhead 0, Flt Lt Ellie Hoogewerf -1 and Ignacio Boronat (3) from La Tarde, enjoyed a fast paced match in a fantastic setting at the home of Argentine military polo. The action was end to end with each team fighting hard on the field. However, after four chukkas the final score was 8-5 to the home team.

Next up was the RAF Hurricanes, made up of Flt Lt Mark Lynch -1 and Flt Lt Georgie Harwood -2 sharing a spot at 1, Flt Lt Andy Waldron 0 at 2, Flt Lt (Ret’d) Dave Black -1 at 3 and our host Juan Martin Sarli 3 playing at 4. The RAF Hurricanes were taking on our sponsors, H3 Polo Passion, made up of Ishan Sahgal, Julia Hiebeler, Andre Hiebeler, and Tommy Ussher.

This was another fast paced match, with H3 taking an early lead in the first chukka and finishing 3-1 ahead. The second half was swinging back to the RAF, however the final bell came just too quickly and the game finished 5-3 to H3.

We spent that afternoon at the Hurlingham Club watching the real professionals playing in the final of the Hurlingham Open. After an eight chukka epic, with highs of incredible plays on beautiful horses and lows of a nasty fall for Facundo Pieres (we wish him a speedy recovery), the match finished with Ellerstina beating Alegria 16 goals to 13.

After the excitement of Saturday we were on a huge high, but there was still more to come. Sunday saw the teams invited to play at Pilar, a world renowned ground and one of the best in Argentina. We were to be the first match ever on their number 11 pitch, with the Spitfires now taking on the H3 team and the Hurricanes taking on the Argentine military.

In the spirit of the tour, with international co-operation at its heart, the Argentine military and the Hurricanes were mixed together to allow us to play alongside each other, further fostering the friendship between our two nations through the medium of sport.

The Spitfires fared slightly better against H3, in a match that could have gone to either team, but it was H3 that won the day by 5 goals to 4.

In the second match, some superb plays and teamwork between the players saw the Hurricanes ahead after the third chukka by 4 goals to 3. However, in the final chukka the Argentine military team managed to take the lead and win the day by 6 goals to 4.

After the match we were bundled onto a bus without being told our destination – H3 had organised a surprise for us, the downside being we would have to skip lunch. As we journeyed across Buenos Aires our minds were racing; were we visiting a tack shop, another meet and greet, or perhaps another high goal tournament?

You can imagine our shock collectively when we were told that we were on our way to visit La Dolfina where we would be able to see the legend that is Adolfo Cambiaso play, meet his ponies and the man himself – what a fantastic experience! Along with Cuartetera and Lapa, two of his best horses, we also met their extremely well presented clones, and the other ponies that have sealed his reputation as the top player in the sport.

After the busy weekend we spent some time visiting a stick maker, enjoyed some more time in the hitting cage working on the various shots on the (stationary) wooden horse, and practising our riding. We were clearly thrilled when we arrived at the pony lines one morning to see the ponies of La Tarde lined up with bridles but no saddles – we were in for a fun but somewhat painful morning of bareback riding to practise our pure riding ability. Galloping around barrels and running relay races against each other made for some exciting moments for a few players, but worked wonders for our riding ability, and we all felt much more secure on our horses thereafter.

All good things must come to an end though, and as the sun began to set on Thursday we dismounted for the final time on the tour, with a weekend of receptions and some more high goal polo to look forward to at the first day of the Argentine open at Palermo. Watching the pros making it look particularly easy is a very humbling experience, and gave us all a huge amount of respect for the skill and commitment required to succeed at the Game of Kings. It was also pleasing to see that even 10 goal players occasionally miss the ball!

We would like to give our sincere thanks to all the staff at La Tarde Polo Club, along with the staff at the Argentine Embassy to the UK, and all the support from the various tiers of the military who helped with the organisation of this amazing tour. Our biggest thanks go to our partners at Grob Aircraft and H3 Polo Passion without whom this trip would simply not have been possible. We look forward to putting some of our new found skills into practise in the coming UK season, and of course to visiting the beautiful nation of Argentina again in the future.

RAF Polo is open to all serving members of the RAF, and is the only representative sport featuring mixed teams of male and females. If you want to find out more about RAF Polo, you can find us on Twitter @RAFPoloOfficial, or on Facebook, facebook.com/RAFPoloOfficial.


Hackett Army Team In India

Published in News on 24 May 2018

The HACKETT Army Polo team had three matches ahead of them as they departed a soggy UK for the heat of India in December 2017 for their seventh consecutive tour to the birthplace of polo. Col Simon Ledger reports:

The first few days were spent in Delhi and the team – Capt Moss Hamilton Irish Guards 0, Ct Jamie Fry Queens Royal Hussars 1, Lt Jamie Drummond-Moray Scots Guards 1 and Mr Gaston Devrient Army Coach 3 – was joined by Maj Gen Robert Talbot-Rice, Chairman of the APOLOA, a -1 goal player.

After a tour of Delhi and a practice session at the Gurgaon Polo and Golf Club our first match was for the Penisular Cup at the British High Commissioner’s Polo Day sponsored by Peninsular Productions.

A crowd of 400 or so turned up to watch a US style tournament with the HACKETT Army Team playing against India and South Africa, all at around 3 goal level. Robert Talbot-Rice took his place in the Army Team and after two chukkas, and a bit of good fortune, HACKETT Army prevailed against South Africa. The Indian team then beat the South Africans leaving the Army with just a draw or a win to lift the trophy. It was a patchy two chukkas but the Army team secured a draw and and the trophy went their way on goal difference.

The team then moved on from Delhi to Jaipur for the first of the British Polo Days. The Rajastan Polo Club, under the patronage of the Maharaja of Jaipur, was the setting for this match against the 61st Cavalry for the first time in recent years. The full team took to the field for the Chelsea Barracks Jaipur Cup with a very large crowd of BPD guests and local dignitaries.

The 5 Goal 61st Cavalry were an experienced team used to the conditions and ponies but with Gaston Devrient marshalling the British Army with some tight marking it was the HACKETT team that scored first to settle the nerves. Mossy Hamiton scored a fine gaol and a 60 yard penalty by Gaston ensured both teams were even after the first. With growing confidence the team began to string some passes togther and Jamie Drummond-Moray scored a fine solo goal from deep. An instant reply by the 61st saw the scores even at half time.

The all-important third chukka saw both teams striving to make the breakthrough. It was advantage HACKETT Army when they went ahead through Jamie Fry but the 61st replied in the dying seconds to make it four goals apiece going into the fourth.

Tight marking in the centre of the field and some strong runs by Fry and Drummond-Moray saw them score a goal apiece to put the result beyond doubt and secure a famous victory for HACKETT Army by 6 goals to 4.

After a long journey by car to Jodhpur for the second British Polo Day and a day coaching and practising, hopes were high that, for the first time in seven years, the HACKETT Army Team would win all three matches.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace Trophy, with HACKETT Army up against The Jodhpur Risala, saw both teams playing with some confidence. This was soon shattered by Druvpal Godara being on top of his game and some quick goals in the first period put the pressure on the HACKETT Army side. Despite some valiant work on the marking front the Risala team played well up to their handicap and at half-time were 6 to 1 up.

Things did not get much better in the third and fourth, and with two nasty falls by Jamie Fry and Jamie Drummond-Moray matters were not going to improve.

A skillful run though by Mossy Hamilton restored some pride and with Jamie Fry also scoring the result was 10 to 3 in favour of Risala. It was a fine game of polo played at pace by a team on some good ponies.

So the hat-trick of wins was not to be but what a tour it had been – our hosts so generous and the entertainment superb.

The British Polo Day staff went out of their way to make it all work and grateful thanks to Ben Vestey and his team for looking after us so well.


Winter Training In Argentina

Published in News on 24 Mar 2018

In January the RN Polo Association fled the British winter for the sunnier climes of 25 De Mayo, Argentina (arguably the home of great polo), to undertake an intensive training camp ahead of the British polo season commencing in the summer. Lt Josh Skelding reports:

The party consisted of Lt Cdr Bob Santrian RN, Maj Simon Dinsmore RM, Lt Holly Carter RN and Lt Josh Skelding RN, with experience and ability ranging from novice to seasoned veterans.

Having unpacked after a long flight, the team threw themselves into practice sessions, dusting off some of the cobwebs (and extra ballast!) acquired during the winter months.

The polo club and training grounds of Mr Santiago Moyano provided an idyllic venue for the team to hone existing skills (these peaceful surroundings only occasionally disturbed by his robust, vocal style of encouragement!) in the company of some very accomplished Argentine players.

Well-kept grounds, diligent grooms and spectacular horses made the experience truly special, with morning training sessions as well as evening chukkas (to spare playing in truly ‘redders’ afternoon conditions) forming a fantastic coaching package.

The training peaked with a tournament, running out of Los Petalos estancia, supported by patronage from the De’By brothers (two prominent patrons of Guards Polo Club).

Over the course of a sweltering couple of days, with temperatures roaring into the mid-thirties, there were some fantastic displays of polo by the Los Marineros (Navy team).

Textbook nearside shots delivered to great effect by Dinsmore, and an outstanding goal by Santrian (quickly followed by an equally outstanding fall) put Los Marineros on top.

Prize-giving was followed by an asado (one of many) where the RN team regaled the club members and patrons with their witty banter.

Looking back on the camp, there was truly a quantum leap in the abilities of those attending, with Skelding and Carter showing great confidence in hitting (and even scoring occasionally) at speed, despite being very new to the sport.

In summary, immersed in Argentine culture and staying with Martin Del Papa in the heart of 25 de Mayo made for a thoroughly enjoyable training camp, with plenty of great experiences and fantastic polo.

The RNPA continues to attract interests from personnel across the Navy and truly is the way to enjoy this fantastic sport.

Should you fancy yourself as the next Cambiaso or just want to partake in a new challenge, please contact the Blue Jackets development squad via the Royal Navy Polo Facebook site