Crowds from all over London poured in to Hurlingham Park as the action kicked off for the first day of Chestertons Polo in the Park 2016.
Renowned for its world-class polo in the heart of the city, decadent food and drink offerings, and the ever-popular Mahiki Bar (the longest outdoor bar in Europe). the event yet again exceeded expectations with a day of thrilling on-field clashes.
In-between the action, spectators were treated to the debut of The Great Polo Food Festival, serving gastronomic delights from some of London’s most fashionable food destinations, including HIX, Maze Grill, Smokestak, and many others. Fans were also able to browse through a luxury shopping village between chukkas.
The highlight of the opening day was undoubtedly the City AM International match. An eruption of noise greeted the players as they rode out to the ‘Colosseum of polo’ that is Hurlingham Park. It is steeped in history as the game’s spiritual home, but until last year an England team had not played an international match there since 1939.
Against fierce rivals, AwakeConBal Team South Africa, the ICM Capital Team England, with Jack Richardson, George Meyrick and Hugo Lewis, were up against it from the start. A sizzling opening chukka from South Africa gave them a lead that they would never relinquish. George Meyrick tried his hardest to cut the deficit in the final quarter with a two-point goal but Derreck Bratley’s team held on for an 8:6 victory to lift the Olympic trophy.
“We are ecstatic to win the City AM International match, especially against a quality opposition like ICM Capital Team England, the atmosphere was unbelievable!’” said winning captain Derreck Bratley.
International Friday saw three high-octane matches kick off the action as six cities from around the globe began their quest for the coveted Chestertons Polo in the Park trophy.
Playing under unique City Polo rules that make for a faster game, Jnan Amar Polo Club Team Marrakech and Navigant Team New York were the first two sides in the action. Team Marrakech made their intentions clear from the outset as Jack Richardson and Rhys Cole’s skills helped Pete Webb score a first chukka hat-trick, including a goal from almost inside the MINT bar, to help his side to a 5:3 victory.
“It was great fun being out there and starting with a win. This year there seems to be a great atmosphere and really good support from all the sponsors and people in the crowd,” said Team Marrakech’s, Jack Richardson after the victory.
Defending champions, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Team Hong Kong, in the absence of injured captain Jamie Morrison, started like true champions against Air Europa Team Buenos Aires.
A sublime volley from Sebastian Dawnay was the highlight of the first chukka as he rode with adrenaline pumping in front of the Mahiki bar. The Hong Kong players were ultimately victorious and look one of the teams to beat this year.
The home crowd roared from the outset as MINT Team London cantered on to the Hurlingham turf for their opening match against Argentex Team Dubai led by Mohammed Al Habtoor. England International, Malcolm Borwick, scored the first two-point goal of the tournament, a special city-polo rule. With George Spencer-Churchill parading his much vaunted power and tenacity, MINT Team London held on win by six goals to five.
Chestertons Polo in the Park is an annual three-day polo tournament that takes place in June at Hurlingham Park in Fulham. The round-robin style tournament is played under the HPA-endorsed City Polo rules, developed to maximise spectator enjoyment.
Jnan Amar Polo Club Team Marrakech 5 : 3 Navigant Team New York
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Team Hong Kong 3 : 2 Air Europa Team Buenos Aires
MINT Team London 6 : 5 Argentex Team Dubai
City AM International Match:
AwakeConBal Team South Africa 8 : 6 ICM Capital Team England