In the summer of 2011 I spent a day learning to play polo with Barbour at Coworth Park. Imagine my glee when I was invited again this summer for another go. This time, because Barbour are the sponsors of the Household Cavalry Polo team, we were to assemble at Guards Polo Club at Smith’s Lawn. Crushingly my Sacroiliac is still not happy, so my agent Richard was pressed into service as my polo playing ringer. Well, we are both blonde, right?
I do not get on well with early mornings. However, when a Land Rover with charming driver (thank you Steve) is scheduled for a pick up at 8am, it’s amazing how quickly the leap from a comfortable bed can be achieved at the alarm’s first shriek. It also helps that I can be showered, hair washed & dried, fully made up and ready in under thirty minutes although, as I knew that Richard is always early, there was a tossup between drying my hair or ironing my dress first. I figured (correctly) that he would be less horrified by wet hair than a state of undress. (I’m in my favourite new Whistles frock, Panama here, and ancient old Pierre Hardy for GAP sandals)
Richard and I picked up the divine Henry Conway en route, and arrived cheerily in Windsor Great Park by 0930hrs, after a blissful hour of swapping salacious gossip en route. Mr Conway and Mr Gibb:
A very promising looking Barbour-laden table for lunch.
After IV coffee, a change for the players into Barbour kit, and some email checking, we were whisked in a convoy of Land Rovers to the other side of the ground for the instruction to commence.
This *is* how you play polo, right?
I took up a station on a chair in the sun, and tipped my Panama over my eyes. This rather lovely Terrier felt that my handbag and my thighs were obvious places to stash polo balls…
Very pleased that Susanne Madsen, my Monaco partner in crime was invited too. She’s a dressage rider, but looked equally home on a polo pony.
Here’s Phoebe from Ponystep (middle), and Cosmopolitan’s Shelly Vella (left).
And again: Cosmopolitan’s properly lovely Fashion Director, Shelly:
We had CB, a rather dashing member of the Household Cavalry as one of the instructors. Seated here (left), with Mr Conway.
Emma Akbareian from The Independent
Lovely Lily from Grazia (left), Rose Gamble from Country & Townhouse (middle) and Sophie from Dust PR (right)
Richard and Shelly:
Tommy, the Argentinian pro, who was instructing.
The first chukka from the editors (not so notable for its speed, but amusing to watch, nonetheless).
Remembering my efforts last time I played polo, the fact that most of them were actually hitting the balls whilst on the move was impressive enough.
Here’s Richard being shown how to grasp his polo stick by Tommy.
Lily (left) and Beth from Barbour (right)
Lily, Beth, Rose, and Henry Conway:
The real stars of the day: the long suffering beautiful ponies
And then lunch.
Afterwards we went off to watch the Household Cavalry team play their match against Buck’s Club.
Both the turn of speed and acceleration of the ponies when in the hands of serious players is quite extraordinary to watch
The Household Cavalry team.
The inherent danger in charging down the field on ponies, whilst wielding what are essentially mallets on poles, was hammered home when one of the Household Cavalry players was felled momentarily.
And lest we forget why we were there, we got a preview of the AW13 Barbour collections. I long for this jacket.
This tailored tweed piece is from Amanda Harlech’s first collection for Barbour.
And there is a scarf in a pretty horse print designed by Emily Bond exclusively for Barbour. (The jacket is lined in the print too.)
I feel sure that Guards don’t normally have fan-wielding Henrys for divot treading on the field. A shame, really, as he brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the proceedings.
This really is my summer of polo. I’ll next be at Coworth Park on the 4th August for the Audi Polo Challenge charity polo match.