Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Going for gold!

Liz Higgins previews the international polo event at Midhurst this June and looks at the allure of the world renowned King Power Gold Cup.
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Come June every year, the eyes of the polo world focus on Cowdray Park Polo Club during the four thrilling weeks of the world famous Gold Cup. The fabulous golden trophy, launched in 1956, is played to decide the British Open Polo Championship and attracts not just the sport’s wealthy ‘Patrons’ and elite players, but also a huge crowd of enthusiastic spectators. Many nail their support to a particular team and watch its progress right through the Championship.

Midhurst and the surrounding locality come alive. There is a tangible festive spirit, with hotels, bars and restaurants buzzing, not least the award-winning Cowdray Farm Shop & Café, located right next to the Lawns’ competition grounds. Spanish is likely to be heard as often as English as the majority of the world’s finest players hail from Argentina, the sport’s mecca, and travel the international polo circuit with wives, children and nannies too.
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Photo Copyright: Clive Bennett
The majority of the elite players are based in around Midhurst for the three months of the UK ‘high goal’ season and the Patrons who recruit them to play in their teams hail from all parts of the world further enhancing the cosmopolitan vibe. Twelve teams are contesting the 2018 Gold Cup for the British Open, brought in by Patrons from France, USA, Thailand, Italy, UAE and Russia. But the crowd’s favourite is likely to be the El Remanso side of four Englishmen which made it to the 2017 Final only to be beaten by King Power. Based locally on the Cowdray Estate, El Remanso’s Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper have been training hard with the clear-cut goal of ‘going for gold’ and finally lifting the magnificent cup after three attempts. There’s no doubt who the crowd will be supporting.

This year the luxury Thai duty-free brand, King Power, has taken on title sponsorship of the Gold Cup for the British Open. In the past three seasons, the King Power polo team has lifted the stunning trophy in a hat-trick of wins, but this year decided to take a break from competing in high goal polo. However, having enjoyed the competition of the British Open and the relaxed, laid back attitude of Cowdray Park so much, the Srivaddhanaprabha family, owners of King Power, couldn’t imagine a season without the buzz of the Gold Cup and decided to take on the sponsorship role instead.
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Photo Copyright: Clive Bennett
The King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship opens on 26 June, with up to 40 matches taking place in the tournament. Semi finals are played on 18 July and the high octane Final on 22 July. The Final marks a gala day for both the club and the sport of polo with attendance regularly hitting the 14,000 mark and a programme of entertainment – including the RAF Falcons parachute display team – a shopping village, children’s mini-funfair, bars and food outlets all adding to the fun. Never been to polo before? Cowdray’s informative and entertaining commentators will guide you through the rules and you’ll soon be part of the polo set!
On Finals’ day, 22 July, gates open at 10.30am, when spectators rush in to try and grab the best picnic spots. Entry is £22.50 on the gate, under 12s’ free, but purchase before 6 July and the price is £18.50. Grandstand seats range from £26–£36. Pre-booked picnic sites start from £80. All you have to do is ring the Polo Office on 01730 813257 to book your day at Cowdray Park.

Outside of the Gold Cup, Cowdray Park’s busy polo season offers a feast of polo from the beginning of May to the end of September with some 400 matches being played. Polo at all levels is catered for, from beginners starting off in Cowdray Park Polo Club’s Academy, through to competitions at low, medium and high goal handicap levels. Sited in such glorious countryside, an afternoon at polo rarely disappoints. Around 30 tournaments are played during the course of a season, so there is a final with prize presentations just about every weekend. So why not pack a picnic and head for Cowdray Park’s glorious grounds?
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For further information, visit www.cowdraypolo.co.uk

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