Playing the sport of kings

ALONGSIDE MINT Polo in the Park bringing the game of polo to a new and ever expanding audience, clubs like Ascot Park polo club are bringing the sport of Kings to the masses. In partnership with the MINT polo tournament, Ascot Park has given more than 300 school children a taste of the game over three days on the fields where the professional elite players will be playing in three weeks time.

Victoria Grace, director of the Ascot Park club, has seen a surge of interest from those wanting to try and emulate Jack Kidd, the Talamoni brothers et al having seen them play at the MINT Polo in the Park tournament. “Ascot Park Polo Club is delighted to work with Polo in the Park to bring polo to more people, allowing them to experience this great sport either by watching or getting on a pony and having a go. Ascot Park is home of the largest training centre in the world teaching over 2,500 people each year how to play with about 70 per cent being non-riders.”

Opening the game up to all is nothing new to Ascot Park. They have been welcoming new players for 35 years, a record that Victoria Grace is very proud of: “Polo is a great sport for both men and women alike and for all ages – our Junior Academy has some youngsters picking up a polo mallet at four years old and our more senior participants are in their seventies. Ascot Park is also home of the International Woman’s Polo Association which was established to encourage and promote more women into polo.”

Young and old, men and women, Ascot Park welcomes all. Even slightly overweight journalists. Catching the train from Waterloo to Woking and then taking a short taxi ride to the grounds took less than an hour and the club couldn’t have been more friendly. After half an hour of stick and ball with Carlos Gadea, the club coach and two goal handicap player, club secretary Mia Randall-Coath took me on a tour of the set up at Ascot, where beginners start by learning the basic shots whilst stood on a crate, before sitting on a polo pony for the first time and having a taster of the sport with an instructional chukka on the arena.

So if you want to try and follow in the hoof prints of the stars at the MINT Polo in the Park, you should hop on a train down to Ascot Park.

Further details st www.polo.co.uk

Where to buy your polo kit

LA Martina, clothing sponsors of MINT Polo in the Park, will have a stand at the tournament. It will be divided into two halves. One side will be clothing, including replicas of the shirts worn by the players, and the other will offer technical equipment for riders such as boots, helmets and saddles including the new La Martina range of hi-tech polo equipment being produced by the company. The range includes features such as anatomically designed rubber inserts in their boots and pads (see right) to provide extra protection on the polo field.

La Martina has a store at the Guard’s Polo Club which is based at Smiths Lawn, in Windsor Great Park. It also has a boutique within Harrod’s – though this only sells clothing – and has plans in the pipeline to open a store in central London.

The company’s website offers online shopping for the full La Martina range and also offers customers the option of ordering custom boots to fit.

Find it at www.lamartina.com