Archives from 2014

Beware Atypical Myopathy

Published in News on 27 Nov 2014

Horse owners have been urged to identify trees near where their horses are turned out as there have been increased warnings regarding Atypical Myopathy – a seasonal disease that is fatal in 70-80% of horses.

There has been a surge this year in the number of reported cases of the disease which is caused by a toxin in sycamore seeds.  The British Equine Veterinary Association says that the weather is to blame due to high winds and heavy rain resulting in seeds falling from trees and are urging owners not to graze horses near sycamore trees from the autumn through until late spring and to check their horses at least twice a day.

For moe informartion check out the Polo Times.

Commonwealth Cup

Published in News on 29 Sep 2014

The USA proved to be stronger than the British Combined Services team, to lift the Nespresso Commonwealth Cup for another year running at Banbury Cross near Middleburg, Virginia.

The British military team comprising of Capt George Walker, Lt Rishi Ahluwalia, Maurice Ormerod and Maj Mark Cann took the British weather with them and although seen as an advantage, the home team still secured a 6-5 victory in the 28th Commonwealth Cup tournament.

The Nespresso tournament, also supported by La Martina, Masserati and Salamander Resort and Spa, saw a number of people braving the rain to watch the two teams battle it out.

With an early lead of 3 goals against the USA in the first chukka, it finally looked like the visitors could improve on their defeat last year.

The USA then clawed back the score with two field goals and a couple of penalties to bring the score even at 4-4 going into the fourth chukka.  However with the rain having stopped, the USA delivered two more goals to the Brits 1, leaving a final score of 6-5.

The tournament was part of a series of matches and sociable events aptly named the British Invasion Weekend based around Middleburg, Virginia.  It saw the Combined Services team playing in a handful of matches at Banbury Corss, Great Meadows polo club and at a number of private fields.

A Nod to Mod party was thrown in the Salamander Resort with the team displaying a strong Brits abroad fashion sense.  Towards the end of the tour the team travelled to Pennsylvania facing an American team at Brandywine Polo Club, winning in a nail-biting match 7-6.

Team Army Captains & Subalterns

Published in News on 06 Aug 2014

The Household Cavalry finished top of the pile in the 2014 Team Army Captains & Subalterns Tournament.

This Cup is the second oldest polo cup in the world having first been instituted by The 9/12th Lancers playing at Hounslow in 1896.

Some 20 teams from all three Services descended on Tidworth Polo Club to do battle. W. Play was outstanding at times, especially in the Division 1 and Division 2 Finals. Results are as follows:

Div 1:

Winners: The Household Cavalry
Runners Up: The Royal Navy
3rd: Army Reserves – A
4th: The RAF
5th: The Royal Artillery
6th: Army Reserves – B

Div 2:

Winners: Sandhurst A
Runners Up: The HAC
3rd: The KRH
4th:  The AGC

Div 3:

Winners: The Royal Artillery
Runners Up: The RAF
3rd:  The AGC
4th: The RLC

Div 4:

Winners: Sandhurst B
Runners Up: Sandhurst C
3rd: The Welsh Guards
4th: The RDG

The Div 1 Final was an intense battle and both teams played amazingly well. Congratulations to the Household Cavalry – a well deserved victory! It was a wonderfully enjoyable day and it was good to see how the sport brought together players and players’ families who all came out to support.

Courtesy of Bose, Team Army was proud to present the winning team with Bose headphones.

Winners of Div 2 were awarded Camelback water bottles and all 68 players received smaller prizes.

Casa Silva And The CSPA

Published in News on 23 Jul 2014

The CSPA is delighted to announce a new partnership with Casa Silva –  a family owned winery based in Chile’s awe-inspiring Colchagua Valley.

Since its humble beginnings in 1892, the estate is now run by the eldest son of the family’s fifth generation, Mario Pablo. His aim is to reflect the beauty and elegance of this remarkable region in his wines.

Through hard work and determination Casa Silva can now officially claim to be the most awarded winery in Chile. The team have implemented a number of sustainability practises over the years to ensure their wines can continue to be produced for generations to come.

Alongside wine, the family’s love of polo is legendary. The winery even boasts its own polo field where friends are invited to play and regular matches are held.

This love has translated into success with the Casa Silva polo team now one of the best teams in the whole of Chile! They even have a wine named in honour of the legendary polo horse ‘Pintao’ whose offspring are now ridden by the sixth generation at Casa Silva!

Appeal For Use Of Safe Helmets

Published in News on 23 Jul 2014

Following recent accidents, Aurora Eastwood has written an open letter to the HPA regarding the use of safe helemts.

It is with a heavy heart that I climb on my soapbox. Having been an advocate of using safe helmets for several years, recent accidents have only compounded that view. Seeing a strong, good man, a friend to so many, lying in a hospital bed, stricken with a critical brain injury following an accident on the pitch, has removed the final vestiges of ambivalence towards the issue. 

Polo is the last governed equine sport in the UK to not insist upon helmets that meet a European safety standard. Showjumping, Eventing and more recently, Dressage, all insist on hats that are kitemarked and certified to at least PAS015. A critical factor is the presence of a three point harness. As for racing; it has been decades (since 1978) that jockeys have had to wear proper helmets. 

Polo is played at high speed and is inherently dangerous, with 10 horses on the pitch at any one time, going at a gallop in different directions; collisions, stumbles and falls are common.  
The only comparable sport really is racing, which also involves speed and the possibility of collisions bringing horses down - with jump racing carrying even more risk. And yet British racing has not seen a fatality due to a head injury for well over 20 years, even though falls are far more frequent than in polo, the number of participants far higher, and jockeys are often trampled/rolled over by a horse. 

By highlighting the most common "excuses" given by opponents to a blanket rule, I have tried to dismantle each one. 

Personal Choice
There is of course the argument that the usage of safety equipment should be left to the individual. That it is a matter of personal choice. Nonsense!
The HPA have a moral and ethical and increasingly legal responsibility to keep its members safe. They owe it to player’s families, friends and to the reputation of the sport. 
People left to their own devices often make poor choices and take foolish risks, it is up to the governing bodies to take matters into their own hands and insist upon safe headgear.  

This is simply a non issue. Charles Owen sell polo helmets starting from just over GBP100. That is little more than the cost of a set of shoes for one pony. 

Confusion over safety standards
Charles Owen make a helmet to PAS015 and this came out top in a test conducted on behalf of the HPA. Casablanca produces helmets that meet the standards of the USA (NOCSAE). La Martina’s helmet has been endorsed by the Mark Davies Injured Jockey’s fund. 
More information here:

Helmets wont save everyone
Of course they won´t. Motorcyclists are still killed even with helmets. Event riders still die from crush injuries. Car drivers still perish in crashes despite seatbelts. The point is that the numbers who die or suffer serious injury is vastly reduced. 

Difficulty in enforcing the rule
The other sports seem to manage! Aside from anything, it’s pretty easy to spot a three point harness, even from a distance. Apart from that, it is a simple matter of cascading responsibility down.  The HPA inform the clubs. The clubs inform the players and umpires. The umpires make sure that every player on the pitch is wearing a proper helmet before he/she rolls the ball in.  This is no more taxing than a quick look around - once more, the three point harness is very easy to spot. 
Another option is to employ a tagging system, like BE do once hats have been checked, is very simple.  Before any player sets foot on the ground for the first time that season, their hat must be checked for standards by a club official. They get a tag. The tag stays in place for the rest of the season. 

Vanity and Tradition
Yes, low profile "traditional" helmets look cool. However safe helmets are no longer the "mushrooms" of yesteryear and once a blanket rule is adopted everyone will look the same anyway.  Vanity is a pretty ridiculous reason to take a risk and is one that many players will sheepishly admit to. 

There simply isn’t any reasonable argument against an enforced rule

Who remembers the furore regarding the seatbelt rules? There was uproar when it became law, but who now would challenge the fact that seatbelts save lives? Wearing one is second nature now. Of course there are still un-survivable crashes, as there are un-survivable falls from horses, but by using proper equipment we reduce the odds of death and permanent brain injury by a hugely significant amount. 

Let us not forget insurance. It will only be a matter of time before insurers state that unless clubs demonstrate that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure player safety, they will not provide cover.  Or they will raise premiums to unaffordable levels to reflect the risk. Ditto personal accident providers. 

We all need to take responsibility for the lives and well being of both ourselves and our fellow players.  To allow a cultural change will simply take too long.  This has to be pushed through, and now.

Guards Finals Day

Published in News on 16 Jul 2014

The King’s Royal Hussars retained the Hackett Inter Regimental Trophy, proving stronger in a battle against the Royal Navy.

They put on a great display of polo to win the match 8-51/2 and lift the oldest polo trophy still competed for in the world.

The KRH’s Capt Robert Freeman Kerr, who had a great game at 3 for the Army team, was rewarded with the Pringle Trophy for the Most Valuable Player.

The players were all awarded prints by Jeremy Houghton, who has been hosting an exhibition in the Clubhouse over the past month in commemoration of the centenary of the First World War

This was not the only action on the day as the first match, for the Connaught Search United Services Cup, saw the Combined Services Polo Association (CSPA) defeat a visiting South African side, from Cape Town Polo Club, 8-3. However this was a match for the Chapple Cup series and South Africa won overall, receiving the impressive Chapple Cup from its namesake Field Marshall Sir John Chapple.

Following the main presentations, Guards Polo Club was presented with a memento of the day from the South African team in recognition of the Club’s hospitality.

Army Defeat Royal Navy In Rundle Cup

Published in News on 15 Jul 2014

Royal Navy polo players put up a tough fight against an Army side containing Prince Harry for the 2014 Rundle Cup but ultimately they were out-gunned.

It was a beautiful summer’s afternoon for the highly anticipated fixture, the highlight of the Services’ Polo season, played at Tidworth, home to the Combined Services Polo Association.

This year the 1 goal senior RN team of Commodore Adrian Aplin, Commander Al Wilson, Lieutenant Commander Steve Spiller and Lieutenant Hiro Suzuki faced a 3 goal Army side of Major Rupert Lewis, Captain Harry Wales, Second Lieutenant Rishi Ahluwalia and Officer Cadet Paddy Self.

After a combined services team, which included Lance Corporal Max Kamper of the Royal Marines, was defeated by a visiting South Africa squad for the Indian Cavalry Officers Association Trophy the main event of the afternoon got underway in front of a crowd of 6,000 spectators.

The Army, odds on favourite with Prince Harry on their side, faced a disciplined and well-structured Royal Navy team for what was undoubtedly going to be a hotly-contested match with the Royal Navy extremely keen to avenge the previous year’s defeat.

From the outset the crowd was treated to a fabulous display of polo with individual flair and outstanding teamwork featuring strongly from both sides.  In what was a past-paced and incredibly exciting game the score was neck and neck right up until the last chukka when the Royal Navy gave away a penalty and the Army capitalised on fast horses to increase the lead by two goals.

The Royal Navy could just not regain the initiative from this and the Army came out the victors winning 7 – 4 ½.  The prestigious trophy was awarded to the Army captain by Vice Admiral Sir Phillip Jones CB, president of Royal Navy polo, and Jeremy Hackett, sponsor of the Hackett Rundle Cup Day. Best playing pony was presented by Tristan Young of Gore, sponsor of the Royal Navy Polo Team.

British Forces Defeat Us Army

Published in News on 14 May 2014

A British Forces team whopped the US Army to win the Armed Forces Cup at Grand Champions Polo Club, Florida, on a beautiful May day.
Both teams consisted of either Active-duty or Veteran members of Armed forces, from both Great Britain and the United States of America. The BFF team wasted no time getting the game started, they had a blinder of a first chukka, leading by 4 at the end of it. A goal from Rupert Lewis and two from Mark Cann, put BFF where they wanted to be at the beginning of the game. The US Army Polo Team had many chances but were unable to finish off any of the plays.
While the second chukker lacked any goals scored, it did not lack any excitement for it. The US Army Polo Team had two penalties early in the chukka that they were unable to convert. As half-time began the Brits led the way with 4 to the US Army Polo Teams 0.
The third chukker started off with a bang, Joe Meyer walked up to the 30 yard stripe and knocked the ball through the posts to put the US Army Polo Team on the scoreboard. Later in the chukker Mark Cann made an impressive run easily three quarters of the field to maintain the BFF lead.
The fourth chukka went the way of the Brits early on with a goal from Matthew Blakiston. Rupert Lewis converted a penalty four to put the BFF team ahead by 6. The game ended with a great goal from Matthew Blakiston, who made a quick move while the US Army polo Team was bringing the ball in for a knock-in. Blakiston met the ball as the 30 second horn blew, he made one tap and scored the BFF’s eighth goal.

Phillip Kaye told Grand Champions Polo: “It was a really enjoyable game, the grounds were fantastic, the horses were amazing. The first chukka started really strong for us, which made us relax and gave us some confidence to open up and pass the ball between each other.”

Pictured is Susan Meyer awarded the trophy to Mark Cann, Rupert Lewis, Phillip Kaye and Matthew Blakiston.(ph Alex Pacheco)

British Army Polo Website

Published in Army Polo on 09 Apr 2014

For all British Army Polo news please visit

Carlos Gracida Dies In Polo Accident

Published in News on 26 Feb 2014

Polo great Carlos Gracida – a long-time friend of the Combined Services Polo Association – died late Tuesday night in the intensive care unit of Delray Medical Center, Palm Beach, after being involved in a polo accident earlier in the day. He was 53.

The former 10-goal rated player, was playing for Santa Clara in the International Polo Club’s Freebooters Classic 14-goal Tournament at Everglades Polo Club.

Gracida is said to have suffered bleeding and swelling on the brain following a fall and never regained consciousness. He was surrounded by family members at the hospital including his sons, professional polo players Carlos Jr. and Mariano, and his brother, Memo, also a Hall of Famer.

Gracida was a nine-time U.S. Open winner, five-time Argentine Open winner and five-time Player of the Year. He was one of the most respected players in polo and a product of the Gracida polo dynasty. Gracida, born in Mexico City, earned the highest ranking in polo in 1985 and for 15 years maintained his 10-goal ranking.