Horses, hay bales and champagne

A day at the London Polo Club

The excitement and power of Polo is the backdrop to a day of civilised revellery. Photo by Mark Abouzeid.

Where: HPC, The London Polo Club, Richmond, UK (https://www.hpclondonpolo.com/home)

When: May — September (check schedule for specific events)

I was invited by an Italian friend to join her and friends for the British National Polo Championships held at the London Polo Club, just 8 miles from Hyde Park Corner. They knew I was a fan of Polo and thought that having someone who understood the sport would be valuable, albeit they did momentarily question their decision when I arrived in a cream cotton suit, open white shirt and leather field boots. They understood my sartorial direction shortly after arriving at the club.

You see polo is a different scene to what most expect. It is sophisticated and very fashion conscious but in an understated, practical way. Afterall, every man, woman and child will be required during breaks to take the field, stomping down divots caused by the horses and mallots. Given London’s spring weather, this can be a fairly muddy excercise.

Argentinians comprise the bulk of Players and Fans at any Polo Match.

Whether you are in a canopy covered, grass floored private marquee sipping champagne or sitting astride a hay bale drinking Pim’s Cups with the Argentinians, it is an experience not to be missed. Women in evening heels quickly swap for flats and boots as they take to the field in Spring dresses and ‘marvelous’ hats. Men, who may never have ridden a horse, swagger like cowboys after a cattle train.

Polo has the sophistication and glutinous delicacies of Cricket but without the boredom factor. The action is fast, powerful and, at times, dangerous. The play is quick, allowing ample opportunity to chat with other spectators and enjoy the sumptuous offerings. If you are lucky enough to have good weather, where else in London can you bask in a country setting while getting a tan.

Although not for bargain travellers, a day at the Polo does not need to break your budget. Field seating is generally cheap, so pack your own Pim’s, tappas and hibachi, bring a blanket and make friends with marquee guests to round out the experience.

Originally published at MJA.