Officially launched at the Hurlingham Club on Wednesday morning, this year’s Polo in the Park looks to be even bigger than last year’s inaugural event, a successful weekend which attracted over 24,000 spectators. World Polo Chairman Daniel Fox Davies, Model Jodie Kidd, London team Captain Jack Kidd and a bevy of other polo players were on hand to explain the new rules, promote their new schools initiative and generally look pretty on ponies.
Taking place on 4th, 5th & 6th June, Polo in the Park will showcase the streamlined, crowd friendly version of the sport which is designed to make the game faster, more exiting and more comprehensible for spectators. Not only will 8 international teams vie for the coveted (and really rather shiny) trophy, but there will also be an Oxbridge grudge match, military displays and even a spot of jousting. With tickets starting at just £10, the event aims to dispel the false perception that polo is an elitist sport and promises to deliver a fantastic weekend’s entertainment.
Whilst the polo action at the launch was negligible, they did highlight the work that World Polo Series is doing with local schools: giving free lessons to schoolchildren with the aim that the best young players will then showcase their skills during the tournament. Whilst it’s easy to laugh at the idea that Hammersmith and Fulham Council are launching this initiative ‘to promote a healthy lifestyle’ (champagne, anyone?) , it seems like a great way to engage kids in sport, especially as girls and boys are treated equally. (Every team has to have at least one female player.)
When we’d finished being amused at the sight local residents protesting the event’s occupation of their running space, we chatted to team London captain Jack Kidd, an internationally recognized player with a handicap of 4 who is also Polo Director for this event.
How did it feel to bring team London to victory last year?
To win at Hurlingham was a huge achievement and an amazing experience. It was the perfect end: I was polo director and had put the project together and to end it in such style was incredible.
How does it feel to play with the new rules?
Really good. It simplifies the game, the players really like it because it encourages more goals and it also takes away the more complex situations which cause problems for the spectators. Most of the rules have been changed to create a more exciting game to both play and watch and it really works.
So do you hope it will be easier to teach schoolchildren this new version?
Absolutely. It’s much easier for them to understand and to play. Also, over the last 10 years polo has been getting more and more accessible, because there are more clubs and things are getting cheaper.
Which club would you recommend for Londoners wanting to learn polo?
The Royal County of Berkshire Club.
How’s team London shaping up to defend the title this year?
Team London, is looking very strong and we should be very competitive, especially as it’s gone from 4 to 3 a side this year . It is going to be harder this time, though.
Do you get nervous about playing your sister?
Oh yeah! No, not really, I’ve had years of practice.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
I don’t think I’ve been sick on the tube, that I can remember, although I’ve probably come very close on the way back from pubs..
Polo in the Park takes place between 5-6 June at the Hurlingham Club. Early bird tickets are currently available here.