A Student’s Visit to the Polo

Written by Dan Wilde, student at Loughborough University

To tie in with the launch of the Hurlingham Polo student discount, I travelled to Chester to watch my first Polo match. My preconceptions of Polo were that it was a sport only available to the rich and famous and by no means an event for someone on a student budget. The sport itself was an area I had little idea about with the extent of my knowledge comprising of a few video clips from the Gold Cup and a quick glance over the rules, so I was unsure of what to expect from the event.

Unlike most people’s first Polo event, in amongst the glitz and glamour of a hospitality tent, I was able to immerse myself behind the scenes. Upon arriving, I was introduced to a few grooms who were friendly but keen to get the games underway so were unable to chat for long as each was busy preparing multiple horses for the upcoming matches. Next, I had an opportunity to visit the players tent, chatting to eventual victors, the Laurent Perrier sponsored team, who spoke of the vast quantities of kit each had to wear which seemed to cover every inch of their tent.

Soon the players headed out to warm up, mounting their horses and entering the playing field; despite my severe lack of knowledge of the game I was already able to pick out who the star players were, making the act of striking a ball at 30 km/h look almost effortless.

As the game began, I quickly started to grasp the rules and tactics, aided by the helpful commentary broadcast on the loudspeakers. However, what really shocked me about the sport was quickly a game could change, one chukka neither team looked like they were going to score then suddenly 4 goals were scored in as many minutes. The set up at penalties also astounded me; lining up in front of goal with only a mallet to block, whilst a solid ball travels towards you in excess of 70mph is not something that many people would volunteer to do.

The game finished in a comprehensive victory with Laurent Perrier progressing onto the final the following day. Overall, it was an entertaining day out and an exciting sport to watch, an event I would recommend experiencing at least once.

Written by Dan Wilde, student at Loughborough University

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