Archives from 2007

2007 Season Report

Published in RAF on 30 Nov 2007

The 2007 season has reflected the growing interest in Polo within the RAF. The Association has never been stronger, both financially and on a playing level, despite results not being as good as in 2006. Of the 35 members within the Association, 15 represented the RAF this season, and Flt Lt Black, OIC Development, has encouraged 21 personnel to take part in polo taster sessions at Rutland Polo Club. The ‘Behind the Bar’ scheme introduced at Tidworth towards the middle of the season has also proved a success, encouraging developing players to play more chukkas and thus improving their game.

The 2007 results were less impressive than the previous year, despite an encouraging start to the season: of twelve fixtures, one was cancelled, 4 won and 7 lost.
RAF v Eton: cancelled
RAF v Rutland: won (10-6)
RAF v Army Novice: won (6-3)
RAF Cranwell v Vale of York: lost (4-4_)
RAF v Tidworth: won (3-3_)
Crabs v Cavs: lost (2-5)
RAF v Cambridge: lost (0-5)
Cornwell Affiliates: lost
RAF v Defence Academy: won (2_-2)
Captain and Subalterns: lost
RAF v AGC: won
Duke of York: lost

The biggest improvement has been in this area. The Cranwell Weekend proved yet again to be a success and is to be expanded to a two day tournament preceded by a two-tier training day to cater for the beginners and more advanced players. The expansion is due to the ever-increasing levels of interest as well as the opening of the Leadenham Polo Club in the next village, which is keen to forge close links with the RAFPA.

Flt Lt Black has kept a steady trickle of enthusiasts from Waddington and Cranwell taking part in chukkas or lessons at Rutland Polo Club, and as usual the training courses provided by Tidworth Polo Club continue to be well used by RAF personnel. Tidworth, which is the centre for all military polo within the UK, represents the gateway to Polo for many Service players and long may it continue to do so.

Both Sqn Ldr Adcock and Gp Capt Brown were picked to represent the CSPA this year, at Sandhurst and at the Rundle Cup respectively.

2007 has been a successful season for the RAFPA despite the results, and should prove to be a good building block for 2008, in particular with respect to the development of young players. Our next target will be to increase the number of 0 goal and above players so that the RAF can compete at the next level.

Berenberg Bank United Services Cup & Hackett Inter-regimental Final

Published in News on 15 Jul 2007

TWO finals, one venue, made for the most thrilling climax to the Chapple Cup Series and the oldest tournament in polo.

GUARDS Polo Club bore witnes to the most thrilling finale to the Chapple Cup Series in the history of the tournament as the CSPA and Eastern Circuit United States Polo Association clashed in the ultimate decider.

Having each drawn blood – first the CSPA at Sandhurst and then ECUSPA at the Hackett Rundle Cup Day – there was all to play for as the sides met in the United Services Cup match sponsored by Berenberg Bank.

The winner of the Cup would also be crowned champions of the three-match Chapple Cup Series – never before won by a touring team. In fact the ECUSPA have tried four times unsuccessfully to lift the coveted trophy and were determined to go for broke on their fifth attempt.

Leading their challenge was six-goaler Nacho Figueras who was joined by John Muse, John Goodman and Juan Salinas-Bentley. They were up against the CSPPA’s Maj Cann, Lt Col Hunter, Lt Col Stanhope-White and Capt Vestey.

With all to play for it proved an incredible match, played at a huge pace, which kept the spectators on the edge of their seat until the final bell of the final chukka. With just seconds left on the clock it was the CSPA’s win for the taking but a last gasp goal gave victory to the American side by eight goals to seven and a half.

The jubilant touring team were quick to celebrate what was an historic result and one they had been waiting for nine years or more. The consolation for the CSPA side was that two-goaler Lt Col Nick Hunter was named best player on the field – playing like a professional four or five goaler in the game of his life.

There was more action on the field with the Hackett Inter-Regimental Final between the Household Cavalry Regiment and the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. It was a walk in the park for RWxY who won the game by nine goals to three and a half.

O/Cdt Jamie Horton was in eye-catching form scoring at least four of the nine goals and he was justly awarded the Jack Pringle Trophy for the player best playing up to his handicap. Ironically, Horton is set to join the Household Cavalry Regiment shortly.

For the Berenberg Bank United Services Cup and the Hackett Inter-Regimental Final photo galleries click here

Hackett Rundle Cup Day

Published in News on 14 Jul 2007

THE 2007 Hackett Rundle Cup Day at Tidworth Polo Club proved yet another memorable event in the polo calendar.

Thousands of people soaked up the unique atmosphere, with music from The Portsmouth Royal Marine Band, to witness two very exciting matches.

The ICOA Trophy, sponsored by BAE, was round two in the Chapple Cup series with the Eastern Circuit United States Polo Association side looking to level the scores having lost the opening game at RMA Sandhurst two days earlier.

This time six-goaler Nacho Figueras was in the starting line-up alongside John Muse, John Goodman and Juan Salinas-Bentley – and they were looking for revenge.

It was, however, the CSPA team of Lt Col Hunter, Capt Verdon, Maj Hayward and Gp Capt Brown who settled the quickest to turn early pressure in goals. They led comfortably until the third chukka when the American side began their fight-back – thanks mainly to Figueras.

He began to dominate this exciting whistle-free match with some brilliant play, and in the final chukka it was the ECUSPA side who stole the honours by just half a goal. The result set the stage for a momentous Chapple Cup decider at Guards Polo Club the following day.

In the Hackett Rundle Cup itself the Army and Royal Navy battled it out in a clash which produced a spectacle even better than the previous year. HRH Prince William lined up alongside Capt Hayman-Joyce, Capt Eyre-Brooks and Lt Col Stanhope-White for the Army against the Royal Navy’s Cdre Mason, Lt Cdr Wilson, Cdr Lustman and Lt Cdr Cooke-Priest.

The Royal Navy did very well in the initial stages and in fact took an early lead which they doggedly held on to for as long as they could. But it was the Army pony power which won through in the end and the team in red ran out victors by five goals to three.

During the prize-giving, the PQ Saddle – awarded to a member of the Combined Services who has significantly contributed to the work of the CSPA – went to Gp Capt Tim Brown, chairman of RAF Polo.

Events at Tidworth had begun with the Jockeys versus Eventers clash in aid of the charity Inspire, and the crowds were also treated to a freefall parachute display.

For the Hackett Rundle Cup Day photo galleries click here

Captains And Subalterns Tournament

Published in Army Polo on 06 Jul 2007

The Captains and Subalterns Polo Tournament will be played at Tidworth Polo Club over the weekend July 21– 22 2007. The aim is to get as many military players together for a really fun weekend of polo and some good competition.

The Tournament will be played along the same rules as last year in that:
a. Each team may field one player of the rank of Major (in the case of the RAF Wing Commander) to enable that team to compete. This must not, under any circumstances, be to the detriment of any player from that unit who is of the correct rank. There may be exceptions to this rule and will be decided on by the APOLOA committee.
b. All players must be serving in the Regular Forces or the TA.
c. All Army players must be members of APoloA. It is the responsibility of the team captain to ensure his team members have paid their subscriptions. If not they are to pay before the first match.

Entries are to be made directly to Tidworth Polo Club (TPC). The entry fee is £200 per team, payable to TPC. Early entry is encouraged to allow time for TPC to collate ponies for hiring. Entries must be in by Friday 6 July 2007. Late entries may be accepted by the Manager TPC.

APOLOA in conjunction with TPC will be hosting a drinks party on the Saturday evening at Tidworth. The idea is for a low key affair, open to all players/ members and friends. Price is tbc, however it will be very reasonable.

This year’s tournament will be sponsored by Mabway Ltd.

APOLOA will subsidise pony hire for all players throughout the tournament. The exact amount is still to be confirmed depending on the number of players, but will be confirmed prior to the tournament.

Any queries with regard to team or player eligibility should be directed to the Secretary of APOLOA on the numbers listed above. If there are any individuals who would like to play, but do not have a team, please let me know and I will try and put something together.

Team Line-ups

Published in Army Polo on 30 May 2007

The full team line-ups for Army polo matches in June, July and August have now been confirmed.

 Click here

Rma Sandhurst Polo Day

Published in News on 08 May 2007

AGAINST all the odds the sun shone at the RMAS Polo Day which raised substantial sums for Service charities and military polo.

In the middle of the wettest start to a British summer on record, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Charity Polo Day began under the threat of more storm clouds. But as the play got underway the threat of rain lifted and so too did the spirits of spectators and players alike.

And in true tradition the event proved to be a most memorable and pleasurable sporting occasion.

The first match of the Sandhurst Polo Day was the Sudan Cup – round one of the three-match Chapple Cup series between the CSPA and the touring team from Eastern Circuit United States Polo Association. In four previous visits since 1999, the ECUSPA side have come off second best to the home team, but this year – with six-goaler Nacho Figueras among their number – they meant business.

Nacho was rested for the Sudan Cup as he was to turn out for the Commandant’s team in the Sandhurst Cup. Instead the ECUSPA side consisted of Juan Salinas-Bentley, Doug Barnes, Martin Brown and Geoffrey Schlesinger. They faced Lt Col Hunter, Maj Hayward, Capt Vestey and Sqn Ldr Adcock for the CSPA.

The home side proved far too strong and although ECUSPA scored a number of consolation goals, the final score was nine goals to four and a half.

Next up was the Sandhurst Cup. For the CSPA Invitational Team were John Muse, BFF Director Mark Cann, Nacho Figueras and Howard Hipwood. They squared up to the Commandant’s Team – John Goodman, HRH Prince William, John Paul and Nina Clarkin.

The husband and wife combination were an incredibly powerful force and helped the Commandant’s team to a two and a half goal victory – the final score five goals to two and a half.

The final action of the day on the pitch saw the RMAS against Hagis Farm and the Cadets were soundly beaten nine goals to two and a half.

Hackett Army Novice Team Vs RAF Cranwell

Published in Army Polo on 07 May 2007

ON a sunny afternoon, seeming much more like midsummer than early May, a team of Army Novice Polo players rode out to do battle with the RAF.

Forgetting that the Army may have longer history of polo than our light-blue cousins, the odds were much in the RAF’s favour. They were on home turf, had played on their horses the previous day and most hadn’t had to drive for three hours and more to get there.

The game itself was one of two halves; the stronger RAF team wiped out the half-goal advantage that the Army had started with to lead by a goal to half going into the second. The Army fought back hard and were ahead by half a goal at the half time break and they left the field with renewed optimism.

However, from then on it was all downhill as the RAF’s superior skill and fresher mounts told. As the Army tired they let goal after goal slip by. The final score was a flattering 9 – 21/2 in the RAF’s favour.

Nonetheless it was an exciting run out for the Army side which had only met for the first time the day before. The event was very well-organised by Squadron Leader Dave Black and there was an enjoyable dinner afterwards along with other matches to entertain and bring a decent crowd.

Such a tournament early in the season also enthused the Army novices and guaranteed that polo would be foremost in their minds as they plan their hectic social lives. The Army will surely be back next year; the RAF will doubtless be ready with a few tricks up their sleeves!

The Hackett Inter-regimental Polo Tournament 2007

Published in Army Polo on 07 May 2007

The Inter-Regimental Tournament 2007 will be played over the period 7th May – 15th July 2007. The Tournament will be organised by The Army Polo Association (APOLOA) on behalf of the Combined Services Polo Association (CSPA), the governing authority for the tournament. The Inter-Regimental will be played under HPA rules.

The Inter-Regimental will be played on a similar basis to 2006. All rounds must have been played by 2rd July 2007. A breakdown of “played by” dates will be forwarded to team captains once the total number of rounds has been determined. The final will be played on 15th July 2007 at the Guards Polo Club.

There will be exceptions, but players should, in the first instance, play for regimental teams; composite teams consisting of more than one regiment will be accepted only once it is clear that a single regimental team is not possible. Teams from regiments posted outside the UK are eligible to enter and the committee will make every effort to accommodate them. The Inter-Regimental should serve as a means of demonstrating Services polo at the highest possible level and it is hoped that all teams that enter do so to maintain the spirit of the tournament.

The following dates apply and are to be adhered to by team captains:
a. Deadline for entry forms and entry fees Friday 4th May 07
b. Draw Tuesday 8th May 07
c. Announcement of draw Wednesday 10th May 07
d. First round (depending on entries) by Sunday 27th May 07
e. Final Sunday 15th July 07

Team captains will be informed of the order of play following the draw on 8th May 2007. The Chairman of the CSPA will conduct the draw.

The 2007 Tournament will be overseen by Secretary APOLOA. He is responsible for the collation of entry forms and collection of entry fees and is to ensure the “play by” dates are adhered to. He is also the authority for decisions over any discrepancies encountered. All queries should be directed through the contact details above.

APOLOA Coaching Day

Published in Army Polo on 02 May 2007

The first APOLOA Coaching day will take place at 1400 on Friday 4 May at Tidworth Polo Club. Martin Ffrench-Blake will be the coach. There are places available for approximately eight players of all levels, but -1 to +1 preferred. The only cost to individuals will be pony hire from TPC. If interested please contact the APoloA Secretary no later than Wednesday May 2.

CSPA Polo Tour Chile

Published in News on 13 Mar 2007

A TEAM from the CSPA enjoyed a very successful week-long tour in Chile in March.

ON Tuesday 13 March, Lieutenant Commander Al Wilson and Major Charlie Valdes-Scott departed the UK for a week-long polo tour to Chile, accompanied by wife and fiancée respectively. Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Wheeler, the tour organiser, most unfortunately snapped his Achilles tendon the preceding week and could not embark on the trip. The final member of the team, Major Cameron Humphries, was fortunate enough to travel to Chile a week ahead of the main party and spend five days honing his polo skills in preparation for the tour.

Arriving in Santiago on the morning of 14 March, the first observation was the difference in temperature (2 degrees on leaving London, 35 degrees on arriving in Chile!). Our hosts in Chile were members of the Chilean Armoured Cavalry School notably 2nd Lt Sam Rider, a 64-year old 1-goal reservist and stalwart of Chilean Cavalry polo. We jumped in our minibus to drive to the Cavalry School at Escablind, two hours north of Santiago. After a brief opportunity to “refresh” it was off to meet the school’s Director (Colonel Arancibia), tour the camp in a horse-drawn carriage, before joining the Colonel and his officers for lunch.

The first match of the tour, against the Cavalry School took place that afternoon. The fourth player in the CSPA team was Captain Alfonso Anguita (a 3-goaler provided by the Cavalry) giving us a handicap of -1. With the Cavalry rolling-out a 3-goal team, we were given a measly 2 _ goal advantage. The match itself was preceded by the teams lining-up in front of the esplanade, whilst the Cav School band played respective National Anthems, and parading for the substantial crowd.

The game got off to an incredibly fast-paced start, and within moments Capt Anguita had placed a beautifully-lofted shot between the posts, thus starting our scoring extravaganza. Each goal was heralded by the band striking up in celebration! The final score was 10 _ – 5 to the CSPA, and, apart from a 30-yard penalty by Valdes-Scott, all goals were scored by Capt Anguita, After a celebratory pisco-sour or 2 (the national drink of Chile) the first day was rounded-off with a quiet meal in the magnificent Officers’ Mess.

Day 2 started with a late-morning drive to Sam Rider’s ranch, 45 minutes from the Cavalry School, where we were to play against a “Rider Select” team of Cavalry officers. With a more evenly-matched opposition, the CSPA team employed a 1-goal cavalry officer (Capt Alexandro Martin) as our fourth player. With no goal advantage to start, it was obvious that this would be hard-fought match, with revenge on the minds of the Chileans. The score was evenly matched throughout, with all four CSPA players finding the posts on at least one occasion. The goal of the match, however, was an incredible 50-yard lofted punt by Valdes-Scott whilst being ridden-off by his 1-goal opponent.

The final chukka saw the teams matched at 5-5 before Humphries dribbled the ball past twoplayers to finish off with an under-the-neck winning goal. The rest of the day was taken up with a barbecue and reception at the Rider ranch, where speeches and presentations rounded-off what was a magnificent afternoon of enjoyable polo and fantastic hospitality.

Flushed with the success of the previous 2 days, an early-evening match was scheduled in Santiago against the Grenadier Guards (the Presidential Guard Cavalry Regiment). The CSPA team again benefited from having the 1-goal Capt Alexandro Martin as the 4th player and the game started with a 3 _ goal advantage to the visitors. The Grenadiers rolled-out a 3-goal team, with their No. 4 a very hard-hitting and talented 2-goal player. From the outset it was a physical match, with the Grenadiers determined to break our unbeaten run. Again, the match was neck and neck throughout, with the Grenadiers giving away some basic penalties. Capitalising on this, the CSPA team was leading 6 _ – 6 right up until the last 30 seconds of the last chukka when some very good stick skills by the Grenadier No. 4 eluded all four CSPA players and culminated in him finding the posts from 30 yards to score the winning goal. After a brief champagne reception the team rushed back to the Cavalry School to enjoy a late dinner hosted by Colonel and Mrs Arancibia.

The next day, Saturday 17 March, marked the departure of the CSPA team from Escablind, but not before a tour of the facilities, including both the equestrian and armoured schools.The team then travelled to Santiago for a match at the famous “San Cristobal” club (the “Palermo” of Chile) against a 6-goal “chairman’s’’ select, including Matias Vial, the 5-goal professional who played in the Chilean World Cup, and the 1-goal son of the club chairman. Sam Rider had organised a TV crew to both interview the CSPA team and film the match, coverage of which we expect to receive in due course. Additionally, the British Defence Attaché, Colonel Richard Carrow, was kindly present with his family to join the players’ partners in the small supporting element!

A tactical decision was made to play the 3-goal Capt Anguianta, 1-goal 2nd Lt Rider and the -2 Valdes-Scott for all 4 chukkas, with Wilson and Humphries sharing 2 chukkas each. This team-plan gave the CSPA a 2-goal start, which, through 2 goals by Wilson in the first 2 chukkas, increased to 4, with the San Cristobal team clawing back 2 goals in the second chukka. One further goal by Humphries after the half-time changeover saw the score rising to 5-4, however, by some magnificent (and not unexpected!) play by Matias Vial, the home team increased the score to 7-5 by the final whistle.

Although a respectable showing by the CSPA, player and horse power won-over and gave the San Cristobal team a most deserved victory. Disappointment was dampened by a glorious late-lunch at San Cristobal, followed by some retail therapy at the resident stick shop and an evening out on the town enjoying the bright lights of Santiago.

The final match of the tour was held at Mahuida Country club, owned by the former 8-goal Chilean National Team Captain Tono Ihurate. The Mahuida team comprised a 3-goaler and three 1-goalers, giving the CSPA potentially the toughest match of the tour. Sam Rider played as the CSPA’s 4th member and a 2 goal advantage was awarded to the visitors. Under the intense afternoon sun and 38 degree heat, the CSPA increased the lead in the first chukka to 3-0 through a spot hit by Rider. However, the Mahuida team was not going to give up easily and answered with 3 goals in succession. Nonetheless, the CSPA teamwork that had progressed over the last week was in evidence and 2 further goals by Wilson and one each by Humphries and Rider. A last-ditch attempt by Mahuida in the last chukka was rewarded by a further goal, but close marking and tight defending by the CSPA ensured a 7-4 win in what was the most exciting and rewarding match of the tour. The Mahuida team gracefully hosted the visitors for a post-match barbecue before the CSPA team returned to Santiago for one last evening of pisco-sours and monster steaks! After a morning of sightseeing, an exhausted CSPA team arrived at Santiago Airport for the 18 hour journey back to the UK.

The team were looked after tremendously throughout the tour and we forged many enduring friendships. Five matches in 7 days (including the return flight to South America from the UK) was a busy programme but extremely rewarding. It has been 20 years since the last CSPA polo tour to the UK – we hope not to have to wait a further 20 years to be asked back.

We look forward to hosting them for their reciprocal tour in August where we will have a hard act to follow.