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.

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