Chaps and chukkas at the ready for this unusual away day
Words: Millie Milliken Photos: Milles Willis
It all began in Persia. Part-sport, part-war training, polo was pioneered by mounted nomads who travelled to Iran in 600BC. Today, you’re more likely to see Wills and Harry swinging handsticks on horseback to the clicks of paparazzi cameras. In fact, as we arrive at Coworth Park, the team are setting up for the weekend’s Audi Polo Challenge, which sees Hollywood royalty such as Emma Stone and Tom Hardy watch the royal bros at the Berkshire country-house hotel.
Manager of Guards Polo Academy and regular commentator Ebe Sievwright is there to meet us with helmets, gilets and half-chaps (yes, they’re a thing). Before we mount our horses, we learn the four main shots: offside, nearside, neck shot and tail shot. After a few practice hits, which are straightforward on two legs, we’re ready to saddle up. Manoeuvring a horse while simultaneously trying to hit a ball and not fall off your steed is at once tricky, tiring and lots of fun. The boys start off strong and fast, but when it comes to the final chukka, it’s the girls who clinch it.
For a sport that, on the surface, seems reserved for the upper echelons, today’s masterclass felt like a rare chance to get a first-hand glimpse into the world of polo. Over afternoon tea with Ebe at the hotel, we’re keen to learn more from the former pro-cum-actor-cum-DJ. Did you know that Adolfo Cambiaso, the best polo player in the world, had a clone of his horse sell at auction for over £600,000? That brings a whole new meaning to ‘bang for your buck’.
Prices start at £150pp for a one-hour lesson, but we advise a half-day booking (three hours) for £340pp. Afternoon tea add-ons can also be arranged
Coworth Park, Sunningdale, Ascot, SL5 7SE | 07470 092251
This article was first published in SquareMeal Beyond 2017