My lovely friend Kelly is a keen player (soon to be a ‘hired assassin‘) at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. On a sunny Saturday in July we visited the club for a charity match supporting Sebastian’s Action Trust.
The day began with a champagne reception and saw the finalists of The Eduardo Moore Tournament play 15 goals in a bid to win the Illias Lalalounis Trophy, finished off with a jazz band and afternoon tea. Very civilised, as you can see…the rest of the crowd were not too lively.
However it was much too civilised for us! Kelly thoughtfully made sure we stayed hydrated on route there.
I went to my first polo match in January (left), it was played in a small arena making it an incredibly fast paced game (much more than usual) with the ball bouncing off the sides and flying everywhere.
I’m a novice when it comes to polo, so here are a few pointers I learnt from Polo in the Park earlier this year (courtesy of Chestertons handy guide to what’s-what).
Chukka: Polo matches are usually divided into four period, which are called ‘chukkas’. The first three chukkas last seven and a half minutes and the final chukka lasts seven minutes. To ensure that ponies are changed between chukkas, a pony can be played in no more than two chukkas in any one match.
The polo pony: The present day polo pony has a height between 14.5 and 16 hands, or 155-160cm.
Player handicaps: Depending on ability, each polo player plays with a handicap between -2 and +10, with +10 being the ideal (there are less than 20 players in the world with a handicap of +10). The handicaps of all four players are added up, if the total handicap of a team is more than that of the team against which they are playing, the difference is added to the scoreboard.
Direction of play: Every time a goal has been scored, the teams will swap sides. After a goal, the ball is ‘hit out’ from behind the goal to restart play.
Umpiring: The game is usually umpired by one or two mounted umpires.
‘Bump’: A player is permitted to ‘bump’ into another to spoil his shot or to remove him away from the play. The angle of contact must be no more than 45 degrees but the faster the pony travels, the smaller the angle must be.
Right of way & line of the ball: The most important rule of polo is the ‘right of way’ (ROW) rule. When a ball is in play, the player established on or at the closest angle to the ‘line of the ball’ (the extended path along which the ball has travelled or is travelling) has a right of way.
As for my fourth polo match, I’m hoping this could be it…!