Archives from 2017

Ukafpa Tour To The States

Published in News on 21 Sep 2017

The UKAFPA tour to the US was a shorter but equally as chukka filled, in comparison to tours in previous years.

Heading to Middleburg, Virginia the team, consisting of Major Mark Cann, Capt George Walker, Lt Paddy Selfe and OCdt Hector Fair, had one night to recover from the jet lag before being thrust into the arena.

Although the hurricanes had steered clear of this area, heavy rain over the weeks before had not, so the team spent a couple of days getting their eye in and trying ponies in the arena instead of on the grass.

This set them up well for the Twilight Series Arena polo event played at Great Meadow Polo Club on the Saturday. The evening event attracted at least 800 spectators watching from their tailgates or boxes.

With some fast, experienced plays to begin with, the US team got a couple of early goals in. However, Selfe dug out his back hand that found the stick of Fair and Walker, who took the ball up field with conviction. Cann then swapped in on the next chukkas and we saw the slightly unconventional but effective offside under the neck backhand, that he was a so keen to teach us earlier, demonstrated with aplomb and finding the goal. He was so chuffed with himself and exuded so much confidence that he barely stayed mounted for the rest of the chukka and missed a short penalty.

The well-practised and strong US team, with some strong ride offs and well-executed plays, managed to claw a couple of goals back and the final score finished with the US winning 6 goals to 3.

Unperturbed and after a relaxing evening the team headed back to Great Meadows for the main match of the tour; the National Sporting Library and Museum 7th Annual Polo Classic.

Facing Dubai in the competition the UKAFPA team did not know quite what to expect. However, having managed to get some practice chukkas on the grass the day before, the team felt well-rehearsed and keen to improve on the result of last year.

Determined to make a strong start, the team fought hard from the first line out and Walker took the ball from the front. With Fair following up the team took it into the opposition’s half and began to apply some early pressure. This resulted in a 60 yard penalty which Selfe drove high above the opposition’s goal, securing an early lead.

More positive plays, marking the opposition hard and causing them to make some early mistakes unsettled the opposition. The US team defended well preventing a couple of close goals until Cann was just too much for them and slotted a goal in.

In the second and third chukka it seemed the Brits were going to pull ahead but somehow the Dubai team managed to stop the ball before goal, allowing only one more to be scored by Selfe in another 60 yard penalty.

In the final chukka Fair had a fast run up field to convert. When the final whistle blew the score was 4 goals to 1, with a convincing victory to the UKAFPA side.”

A week of parties and polo with some significant fundraising. It was not difficult to enjoy.

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Published in News on 15 Aug 2017

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Captains & Subalterns Tournament

Published in News on 07 Aug 2017

Some 20 teams competed in the 2017 Captains & Subalterns Tournament at Tidworth Polo Club, home of the UKAFPA.

There was fantastic support for the event, sponsored by Team Army, with more than 600 spectators during the course of the weekend.

The teams – from all three Services – competed across five divisions. The winners of Division One, awarded the Captains & Subalterns Trophy, were the Queens Royal Hussars.

Top of Division Two were the Royal Artillery while the AGC were winners of Division Three. The Royal Dragoon Guards and RMA Sandhurst won Divisions Four and Five respectively.

Captain Scarlett Geering of the Royal Horse Artillery was awarded Most Valuable Player.

Ukafpa Win Chapple Cup Series

Published in News on 17 Jul 2017

The final of the Chapple Cup Series – contested this year between the UKAFPA and South Africa – was settled at Guards on the same day as the Inter-Regimental final.

The contest was delicately poised before the decider. South Africa had won the Sudan Cup in the opening match at RMA Sandhurst by seven and a half goals to three. However, UKAFPA levelled the Series two days later at the Hackett Rundle Cup Day when they won the ICOA Trophy.

So it was all to play for at Guards with both the US Cup (the match sponsored by Roseville) and, more importantly, the Chapple Cup up for grabs.

It was UKAFPA who came up trumps by five goals to three and a half with some fine plays by Albany Mulholland and George Walker.

Foot Guards Lift Hackett Inter-regimental Trophy

Published in News on 14 Jul 2017

Foot Guards were victorious in the 2017 Hackett Inter-Regimental Tournament. They faced the Royal Navy at Guards Polo Club who were desperate to defend their grip on the trophy.

The Ft Gds were straight into the attack in the first period with two quick goals by Aprahamian – a plan executed with style with Drummond-Moray putting long passes forward.

The RN though, with Lucas and Suzuki combining well, came back. A fine run by Suzuki saw him score from way out with a 70 yard shot under his pony’s neck, the gap was closed still further when he put away a 60 yard penalty.

By the second chukka it was clear what both team’s strategy was to be; namely for the lower handicap players to mark hard and clear the path to goal for the better players. This worked better for the Ft Gds with Windsor-Clive shadowing and marking hard assisted by Mossy Hamilton allowing for the combination of Aprahamian and Drummond-Moray to break away up the middle.

A fine couple of runs by Drummond-Moray meant the score at half-time was four and a hlaf goals to two in favour of the Ft Gds.

However, the RN were not done and they came out hard in the third, with Bassett and Santrian now returning the compliment to the Ft Gds. By the end of the third, and after some fine runs by Suzuki the RN had cut the deficit to just half a goal.

Now it was down to calm heads and the Ft Gds kept theirs whilst the RN were under pressure. A foul by the RN led to the shot of the day from Drummond-Moray who scored a poised 60 yard penalty that was still climbing as it went over the goal.

A substitution due to injury forced a delay as Harry O’Rourke took over from Bob Santrian and on the restart the Ft Gds found their range and scored to settle the affair. It was a gooid match played with spirit and manners and the Ft Gds won by six and a half goals to five – the first time since 1997.

Jamie Drummond-Moray won the Pringle Trophy for the MVP performance and Mr Jeremy Hackett of Hackett London presented the prizes.

1. Lt Bob Santrian RN -1  (subbed by Surg Cdr Harry O’Rourke -1 due to injury).
2. Capt Dean Bassett RN -1
3. Lt Hiro Suziki RN 2
4. James Lucas 2

Foot Guards
1. Lt Tom Windsor-Clive CG -2
2. Capt Mossy Hamilton IG 0
3. Lt Billy Aprahamian IG 2
4. 2Lt Jamie Drummond-Moray SG 1

Navy Win Rundle Cup

Published in News on 14 Jul 2017

The Royal Navy beat the Army by just half a goal in in a tense 2017 Rundle Cup.

Hiro Suzuki bagged no fewer than five goals – playing well above his handicap – to secure the honours for the Senior Service.

For the Army Albany Mulholland’s performance stood out to earn him Most Valuable Player while Johnny Sleeman eventually found his range to notch up some goals.

“Thanks to a controversial decision over whether the ball went over the goal posts with Umpires deciding wrongly that it did not the RN won by just half a goal,” said match commentator Lt Col Simon Ledger.

The final score was seven and a half goals to seven giving the Navy their second successive Rundle Cup victory.

Earlier in the day, the crowds at Tidworth Polo Club watched the UKAFPA take on South Africa for the ICOA Trophy – the second match of the three-match Chapple Cup Series.

Having lost the opener at RMA Sandhurst two days earlier UKAFPA beat the tourists by six goals to four and a half. UKAFPA Chairman Piers Hankinson scored two of those goals and Hector Fair scored two more.

Ukafpa Tour To South Africa

Published in News on 11 Apr 2017

The UK Armed Forces Polo Association tour to South Africa got off to a most authentically African start – within two hours of leaving Johannesburg airport the team ‘party bus’ had received a glancing blow from a spatially-unaware driver, and had been stopped by traffic cops with dubious intentions.

Undeterred, and well-stocked with biltong, the team; consisting of Major Mark Cann (RL), Major Will Todd (LD), Major Will Mawby (RY), Captain George Walker (KRH), and Second-Lieutenant Rishi Ahluwalia (LD) continued on to their first destination – Polo Africa.

The polo club double-hats as a remarkable charity, using polo as a means of creating opportunities and education for local children. The hospitality of Catherine and her Polo Africa scholars was unrivalled, and the pitch was a pleasure
to play on – perfectly flat and set against an imposing backdrop of one of the Free State’s signature flat-topped mountains.

After getting straight down to business with practice chukkas that same afternoon, we then played two games against neighbouring teams over the weekend, with Will and George also taking turns to mentor young teams of Polo Africa scholars.

Before leaving Polo Africa for our next destination – the intriguingly-named Sparta ranch – we got our first fix of military history, touring two incredible, painstakingly built and maintained private collections of militaria from throughout South Africa’s martial history; from Zulu War war assegais to modern Caspir vehicles whose design inspires our own Foxhounds and Ridgebacks.

These first 72 hours were a whirlwind of chukkas, braais (barbecue to you and I) and generous hospitality – a theme which proved to characterise our entire tour.

This was certainly the case in Sparta, hosted by Lou Van Reenen and his family, where we had our first exposure to a six-chukka match; an absolute treat which meant we certainly earned our braai that night!

The UKAFPA team split up for the match, playing in local teams headed up by 2 or 3-goal players, which proved highly educational.Pre-dinner entertainment that night consisted of Lou kindly letting us play with his small arsenal of hunting rifles and pump-action shotguns, the highlight of which was the opportunity to fire (with varying levels of success) the iconic elephant gun. The sheep grazing closest to the target were probably the safest.

The third and final stop on our Free State odyssey was the small town of Harrismith. The pace and generosity of the hosting certainly did not relent, with Andries Young whisking us from sundowner to game-drive to braai and even into enclosures with teenage lions – one of whom couldn’t resist the lure of prime British meat and helped himself to a small titbit of George’s left leg.

Tours of old Boer War sites and braais with the local veterans network gave us our fix of military history, made especially poignant by the involvement of many of our own antecedent regiments.

In amongst all that, we played a generous amount of polo, trying out horses and stick and balling on the Friday, playing chukkas on the Saturday, and playing a UKAFPA vs Harrismith game on Sunday. The locals certainly showed us how to rack up a big scoreline, but the experience was extremely good for us in the opening weeks of our season, and post-match analyses with the 3-goal umpires were both constructive and encouraging.

The tour provided an amazing opportunity for each of us to get some intensive riding, stick and balling, and playing time before we start our UK season. The generosity of the South Africans with their homes, horses, and all-round hospitality was unsurpassed, and as a team we are indebted to Mark’s hard work in planning and running the tour, giving us the opportunity to shake off the winter cobwebs in such an incredible part of the world.

We look forward to seeing our hosts this summer for the reciprocal visit.

Military Challenge Cup

Published in News on 11 Mar 2017

Three UK Armed Forces polo players converged on Phoenix Airport, Arizona, in January to take part in the 2017 International Military Challenge Cup, an arena polo match played against a US Military polo team.

The event was held at Westworld of Scottsdale, a 386-acre purpose-built site featuring an indoor Equidrome, with a sunken arena and seating for 4,000 people. Slightly different from a typical UK arena polo game in January in the lashing rain; the irony of travelling across the world to a desert to then play indoors was not lost on the Brits!

As an added benefit, the military tournament was aligned with a number of other high profile polo matches. The USA took on England for the 2017 Townsend Cup in a High Goal International match and an English University team played a US Collegiate All Stars Team.

The UK Armed Forces Polo Association (UKAFPA) team was headed up by Maj Mark Cann RL, Director UKAFPA, with Sqn Ldr Ed Whitechurch RAF and Lt Gearoid O’Connnor HAC completing the line-up.

The polo was played over a weekend, running concurrently with the start of the Barrett-Jackson Collector’s Car Auction, a huge event where thousands of cars are sold over the course of the week with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to several million for the rarest of cars. The amount of chrome on display was certainly an assault on the visual senses but it was a bucket list experience that was a bonus extra for the visiting polo teams. Despite our best efforts to bring home a classic Jaguar or Aston Martin, our incessant hints about what prizes should be on offer should we win unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

Following a relaxed start to the Friday morning to try and shake off any jet lag, we had the chance to try out our horses at the Azteca Polo Club, the local club that hosted us and arranged ponies.

Once we had established that the grooms advice to ‘ride them like a cowboy’ didn’t require us to whoop and holler throughout the chukka while wearing a Stetson, but actually referred to riding with long reins and a deep seat, we took the chance to scope out our opposition in a couple of short chukkas.

The US Military Team was made up of a mix of currently serving and retired players from both the Regulars and Reservists; the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force were all represented, coached by a retired US Army Officer.
The military match was scheduled as the first polo event on Saturday. Following the tournament opening ceremony, with an Honour Guard from Luke Air Force Base and live versions of both National Anthems, the game commenced with the UKAFPA team having a 1-0 score on the board due to the one goal difference in team handicaps in the Brits favour.

The UKAFPA team took an early lead in the first chukka through a combination of field goals and penalties; apart from a tense few moments during the game when the score was even, the UK team remained ahead of the US team on the scoreboard for the opening two chukkas.

By half-time all three Brits had scored goals, with Mark Cann the leading scorer and ultimately the Official’s pick as Most Valuable Player. The UKAFPA team built on their strong start as they came back into the Arena after half-time. Although the US team stayed strong in attack for the remaining two chukkas, they gave away a lot of penalties which, thanks to Cann’s consistent shooting, kept the UK in control of the game.

The UKAFPA team entered the final chukka with a two goal advantage and although the US team closed to within a goal, they never managed to nudge into the lead.  After a highly enjoyable match, the final score was UKAFPA 11 – USA 8. As an extra bonus for military polo, the UKAFPA team were the only British team to win over the weekend, with both the England International team and the University team losing their matches by the closest of margins.

Our thanks must go to Maj (US Army Retd) Mark Gillespie for pulling the whole weekend together and to all the local players who kindly donated their ponies to mount us.

We were looked after fantastically from the moment we arrived and were all struck by the welcoming hospitality on offer from everyone we came into contact with. It was a privilege to participate in a great showcase of Arena Polo in such fantastic surroundings.