Frequently viewed as a sport for the over-privileged many of us are understandably scathing about an activity involving straddling a horse in unforgiving white denim whilst wielding a large stick. However, watching Latino hunks atop galloping ponies with well-heeled Londoners on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon might just convert you.
The event runs for three days at the beginning of June in Hurlingham Park, West London. Now in its seventh year it is proving to be a permanent fixture in London’s social calendar. Teams representing different cities play over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The rules have been tweaked somewhat to make the game faster bringing the spectators closer to the action.
Regardless of whether you are interested in polo, it’s a great day out with something for all the family. The ‘Pitch Invasion’ for children on Sunday has become a firm favourite with Magnus. From 11.30am to 1.30pm massive inflatable slides and non-stop entertainment from children’s party specialists Sharky and George will keep your little ones occupied.
Once they’re exhausted with catapulting water bombs and playing space hopper polo, head over to Eddie Catz. It’s an enclosed soft-play area that stays open all day and is free of charge. There’s an inflatable obstacle course for older children and a small bouncy castle for younger guests, Magnus charged round enjoying every second of it.
There is also face painting, a design your own t-shirt area and popcorn. Magnus spent a good 30 minutes engrossed in drawing fish on his Chesterton’s sponsored t-shirt and was very pleased with the end result; allowing us to leave the fun-zone without any resistance.
By then we had worked up an appetite, at the food market we were greeted with lots of appetising options and surprisingly short queues. Wood fired pizza, squid and pig, fish and chips to name but a few; but nothing could sway me from a burger. There was also upmarket ice cream on offer but much to Magnus’s horror, vanilla was clearly too run of the mill to feature.
Fortunately the Sweet Kingdom stall softened the blow and we stocked up on sweetie necklaces and fizzy cola bottles; naturally they were doing a roaring trade. For grown-ups there are a handful of stalls selling items such as equestrian art, bikinis and Argentinian polo belts. I fell in love with the luxury handcrafted espadrilles from Clifton Fourth, and couldn’t resist buying a pair.
Shopped out and played out, it would be amiss to leave without watching at least one chukka. With a glass of Lanson rosé in hand (mine not Magnus’s), we were quickly engrossed in the Abu Dhabi vs Davos match. The action is so close that it’s genuinely exhilarating, although I was easily distracted by the array of interesting outfits on show.
Very much a fashion contest, the men are dandy in tasselled loafers and the women flashy in fake tan and revealing dresses. I almost regretted my decision to wear trainers in lieu of a more eye-catching outfit, but realised I made the informed decision when a tottering pair of seven-inch canary yellow heels caused their owner to wipe-out; wedges really are the only sensible option at the polo.
Feeling smug and with my dignity in tact we headed for home, when I asked Magnus what his favourite part of the day was he answered, “all of it mummy, obviously”.
For more information and next year’s dates click here.
Tickets for Sunday cost £35 per adult and £10 per child (5-15 years), under fives go free. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) costs £70
Open from 11.30am to 7pm
There is no designated parking, you can park in residents bays on Sunday but it’s difficult to find a space. There is a taxi drop-off area. The closest tube is Parson’s Green.