A Fabulous Festival!
Beaufort Polo Club once again hosted the popular Gloucestershire Festival of Polo over the weekend of 9th and 10th June. Spectators were treated to action-packed polo and arena displays, enjoyed the tented shopping village and traditional funfair at one of the greatest events in the Gloucestershire Polo calendar.
On day one of the Festival the sun shone down as spectators poured through the gates. Olympic, World and European Championship medal winning dressage rider Laura Tomlinson MBE, started the Festival’s action on the Swinhay No 1 Field, with ‘An Insight to Dressage’ display. Laura, riding Unique VII (stable name Minnie) and assisted by Lara Butler on Kristjan, took the horses through their paces, allowing the crowds to gain a deeper appreciation of the fine art of dressage.
In the first polo match of the day, famous faces took to the field for the Beaufort Celebrity Polo Match sponsored by Gray & Farrar and in aid of LAP Research. Players included Made in Chelsea cast members George Amor and Francis Boulle, plus multi-Olympic medal winning track cyclist now Amateur Jockey, Victoria Pendleton CBE, who made this her third year playing in the Celebrity Match. It was the All Stars who came out on top with a 4 – 1 win against the Diamonds team. Prizes were generously provided by Walter Bull & Son and Nyetimber, with the winner’s trophy presented by Kalina Boyadjiew, Managing Director of Gray & Farrar.
The Swinhay International Test match saw Flannels England take on Ireland for a chance to raise the Golden Jubilee Trophy. Acknowledged as one of the most exciting and dramatic Internationals of the British season to date, both teams fought hard and fast for the title. Beaufort’s own Mark Tomlinson impressed the crowds by sending the ball long across the ground allowing youngsters Josh Cork and Henry Porter a chance to excel and notch up the score board in England’s favour. By the end of the third chukka the scoreboard showed 9–5½ points to England. However, at the start of the fourth, Ireland Team Captain, The Earl of Tyrone tore apart the England defence, scoring a goal on Chunky Monkey who was later named the Polo Times Best Playing Pony. In the fifth, Ireland continued to fight hard, bringing the score to a nail-biting 10–9½ and as the clock counted down they edged ever closer to the goal. But as the bell cried out signalling the end of the match, it was a win for Flannels England for the second year in a row. Most Valuable Player went to Henry Porter, and RoR (Retraining of Racehorses) Best Playing Pony went to George Meyrick’s Easter Bunny. Iain McMurtry and Chris Hughes of local property business, Swinhay (title sponsor of the match), presented prizes from Hurlingham 1875 and Nyetimber.
As the sun set over the first day of the Festival, the celebrations continued with the Eat Wild X Skinny Lager International After Party in the Beaufort Clubhouse.
The second day of the Festival started with a chance for some of the top U15 Juniors from around the globe to shine on the big stage. Teams Royal Marsden Green and Royal Marsden Blue were the first to play in the Semi Finals, and despite a final score of 6 – 0 in favour of the Blues, both teams played with great skill and determination. In the second Semi Final, polo legend Adolfo Cambiaso’s son Poroto, performed a dazzling display showing why he is one of the best up and coming players in the world, taking Team Beaufort Orange to a comfortable 6 – 0 win against the Beaufort Purples. As the mass of spectators gathered ready for the afternoon’s polo action alongside the main Swinhay No. 1 Field, the U15 Final got underway. Beaufort Orange and Royal Marsden Blue both impressed, however team Orange stayed on top throughout, winning 6 – 0. James Gegg from Walter Bull & Son presented individual trophies to each player, including prizes from NAF and MacWet, before HRH The Duke of Cambridge kindly presented the Javier Novillo Astrada U15 Memorial Cup to the winning team. We look forward to seeing what these players will achieve in the future.
A real highlight of the weekend then got underway; The Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy, which helps raise funds and awareness for two important charities: The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity which HRH The Duke of Cambridge supports as President, and Centrepoint, of which His Royal Highness is Patron. The Duke took to the field as a member of the Maserati team, playing against Dhamani 1969 who had taken the honours last year. In the first two chukkas Bruce Merivale-Austin had the freedom to bring Maserati to a 3 – ½ lead over Dhamani 1969. However in the closing seconds of the 2nd chukka Beaufort’s Mark Tomlinson converted a penalty for Dhamani to make the score 3 – 1½ prior to the tread in. This galvanised the Dhamani team to creep up on the scoreboard, with interplay on the back line from Mark Tomlinson and Antonio Manzorro who sent the ball to an unmarked Karan Thapar who took it through the goal posts, earning him the title of Most Valuable Player. Maserati held the advantage however of their successful start and ran out ultimate winners 6 – 5½ .
Off the polo field, visitors to the Festival of Polo had the chance to see arena displays including a fascinating Gundog Demonstration by Mullenscote Dog Training Centre and a Falconry Display by Ben Long of The Falconry School. Beaufort Polo Club’s Polo Manager, Caspar West, guided spectators through the fundamentals of polo and youngsters had the chance to test their skills with a polo stick and ball with the Polo Challenge run by Wiltshire Air Ambulance throughout the afternoon. In all you could say it was a fun weekend for all!
Mark Tomlinson, one of the Directors of the Club said “The Festival was one of the most successful we have had and on behalf of the family here at Beaufort I would like to thank all the sponsors, in particular Swinhay and Maserati who were our two title sponsors for the weekend. On a personal note it is always a privilege to play for England, especially on my home ground and what a contest we had with Ireland! Thank you to HRH the Duke of Cambridge for playing the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy with us once again and everyone involved should be very proud to have raised such an impressive amount for the two main Charities; Centrepoint and The Royal Marsden”