England skipper, socialite, campaigner and polo’s leading man says he has no intention of giving up his mallet just yet.
IF polo has become more visible in Britain over the past ten years, Luke Tomlinson is the man to thank. The 37-year-old Etonian, who has played with Princes William and Harry, has unintentionally become the face of the sport on this side of the pond. One of England’s highest handicapped players, he’s known as much for his convictions as his skills with a mallet. In 2004 he infamously stormed into the House of Commons as part of a pro-hunting demonstration and over the years has played a pivotal role in challenging people’s preconceptions of the sport as a class-bound game. Right now he’s expanding his repertoire outside the polo world, becoming an ambassador for Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Polo still isn’t as big in Britain as it is in Argentina and I think the main reason is the climate. Polo is only played in the summer so in Britain there are at least six or seven months when the sport can’t be played compared to Argentina, where there’s almost always great weather.
It really surprises me that people see me as the face of the sport. I like to think that I’ve been an ambassador of polo but it’s not something I’ve been conscious of. I’ve always been really coy about it, especially with friends.
Horses have always been a big part of my life. My mother and father played and bred horses at home so I was very lucky to have always been surrounded by them. I got into polo through the family.
Working with Jaeger LeCoultre felt natural. The brand has alway been really supportive of the sport. It’s a great way for a luxury brand to get out there to the right people. As long as I’m involved in high level sport, I will definitely work with them.
Polo is a lot more accessible than it was 10 years ago. The increase in the number of clubs has meant there’s been more competition so the cost of playing has become more accessible. The curse of the credit crunch, though, is that things have gone backwards.
I don’t have any plans to retire anytime soon. High level guys play until they’re about 42. I’m 37 now so I’ve still got a little bit of time to go. Interview by Naomi Mdudu