As the Beaufort Polo Club celebrated its 30th Anniversary year, it once again hosted the popular Gloucestershire Festival of Polo over the weekend of 8th and 9th of June. Literally thousands of spectators were treated to action-packed international polo and arena displays, enjoyed the tented shopping village and a traditional funfair at what the Club describes as the highlight of the Gloucestershire Polo calendar.
The first polo match of Saturday saw famous faces from sport and TV take to the field for the Celebrity Polo Match. Proving their sporting prowess and competitive spirit, the all-girl Diamonds Team with National Hunt jockey Lizzy Kelly and multi-Olympic medal winning track cyclist Victoria Pendleton CBE, beat the All Stars Team including former Made In Chelsea cast member George Amor and National Hunt jockeys Richie McLernon and Wayne Hutchinson. The Diamonds were guided to a 2-1 victory by their Captain, Nina Clarkin – the world’s best female polo player. Prizes were generously provided by Walter Bull & Son and Nyetimber, with the winner’s trophy presented by Louise Baines, wife of Michael Baines – Chairman of World Horse Welfare which was the Official Charity of the day.
Next it was time for the feature match of the day, the Swinhay International Test Match. Teams Frasers England and Pakistan were led on to the field by an Aston Martin DBX, a rare appearance for this iconic brand’s first SUV, which is due to be officially launched later this year. In honour of the 150th anniversary of the first ever polo game played in England, a limited-edition Polo 150 ball was thrown in to start the match – very fitting considering the original Beaufort Polo Club (then as the Beaufort Hunt Polo Club) was founded by Colonel Frank Henry who took part in that very first game. It was a close, and hotly contested match, with Frasers England seeming to confidently pull away 3-goals ahead by the fourth chukka, only for Pakistan to battle back and narrow the gap in the closing seconds, eventually conceding the match to Frasers England by 6 goals to 5. Iain McMurty and Chris Hughes, Directors of Gloucestershire-based property experts Swinhay (Title Sponsor of the match), presented hand-crafted and bespoke prizes to the players before the victorious Frasers England team lifted the Golden Jubilee Trophy.
As the second day of the Festival got underway, spectators poured through the gates for another day of socialising and family entertainment plus more international polo action. Guests in the gazebos of the Nuffield Bristol Hospital Picnic Spot, had a front row view of the polo action as they enjoyed picnics with friends and were entertained through lunch with the first main match of the day.
Some of the top U15 Juniors from around the globe had been competing through the morning in a four-way series of matches on two of the Club’s six polo grounds, before the final took place in front of crowds gathered around the main Swinhay No. 1 Field. The Javier Novillo Astrada U15 Cup sponsored by Walter Bull & Son, ultimately saw Team Beaufort victorious, winning 5 – 4 against LAP Research, and James Gegg from Walter Bull & Son presented individual trophies to each of the four teams, who also won prizes from NAF, MacWet and RJ Polo. Keep your eyes on these players for the future!
For the final match of the Festival, crowds gathered in the Arbuthnot Latham Grandstand to watch Beaufort GB take on the Barbados Tourism Commonwealth Team in the Beaufort Commonwealth Cup – the weekend’s second seriously top class International high-goal polo match. Chris MacKenzie shone as Captain of the Barbados Tourism Commonwealth Team, and after a hard-fought series of chukkas led them to a 7 – 5 victory over the GB side.
Off the field, visitors were entertained with exciting displays in the NFU Wotton-under-Edge Arena, including a fast and exciting display by the locally based Box Clever Flyball Team, a Falconry demonstration by expert Ben Long of The Falconry School, and a seriously good Gundog training session by experts from Mullenscote Gundog Training Centre. Caspar West the Club’s Polo Manager, guided everyone through the ins and outs of polo with an engaging Polo Demonstration whilst youngsters had a chance to give polo a go with the Beaufort Polo Challenge run by World Horse Welfare and NFU Mutual Wotton-under-Edge. A comprehensive shopping village and traditional funfair kept all ages entertained and visitors enjoyed delicious English Sparkling Wine from the iconic Nyetimber bus plus a variety of foodie treats from the Clubhouse and garden. There really was something for everyone at the Gloucestershire Festival of Polo last weekend.