In this interview, we hear from Joss Ridley of the Beaufort Polo Club – Joss does a great job at showcasing the unique attributes of Beaufort and what makes them such an ideal place for players of all skill levels.
This year, Beaufort Polo Club celebrates its 30th Anniversary. If you’re in the area be sure to check out one of the many polo events that they’re hosting, you won’t be disappointed.
Read on to find out what Joss had to say to PoloWeekly and to learn about this fantastic institution…
Can you give us a brief background on the Beaufort Polo Club?
The Club was revived by Claire and Simon Tomlinson back in 1989, making 2019 our 30th Anniversary Year. However, the Club’s history began back in 1872 when it was inaugurated by Captain Frank Henry. Henry was responsible for bringing the sport to England and had taken part in the historic 9th lancers v 10th Hussars match – the first polo game held in England.
In 1929, the Club was reformed and renamed in honour of its first president, the Duke of Beaufort. 1933 heralded the arrival of the Maharajah of Jaipur bringing his team to England, along with 39 ponies and 51 syces who arrived at Beaufort on the 4th April.
Following the outbreak of the war the Club, like many others, did not reopen after hostilities ceased so it wasn’t until 1977, when new blood in the form of the Tomlinsons arrived, that polo once again restarted at the Club.
Over the years the Club has helped raise money for charity through Charity Polo Days and has hosted both International Polo stars and Royalty. Today the Club continues to provide first class facilities for players and spectators alike, and holds some of the highlights of the UK polo calendar, including the Gloucestershire Festival of Polo.
What makes the Beaufort Polo Club unique?
We pride ourselves on a warm and friendly atmosphere, hosting high quality polo throughout the UK polo season, offering everyone a chance to enjoy polo either on the field or the sidelines. We aim to dispel the idea that polo is ‘elitist’ and welcome everyone to the Club – the only reason the main gate is shut is to keep the ponies in, not anyone out!
What are some of the most important tournaments that the Beaufort Polo Club hosts throughout the year?
The Club hosts tournaments from Intro to 15 Goal during May – September. Our biggest tournament is the Justerini & Brooks Arthur Lucas Cup 15 Goal Victor Ludorum in September, although our Beaufort Ladies 12 – 18 Goal Victrix Ludorum has proved very popular as women’s polo has continued to grow. Our biggest event is the Gloucestershire Festival of Polo that takes place this year on the 8th – 9th June. Last year saw 7000+ people attend the weekend, enjoying top class polo, arena attractions, a tented shopping village and a traditional funfair. Guests can enjoy the day in style in our VIP Marquee or picnic on the side of the Swinhay No1 Ground.
Can international players participate in Beaufort Polo Club tournaments?
The Beaufort regularly welcomes players from far and wide, including at the Swinhay International Test Match on the 8th June or the Javier Novillo Astrada U15 Cup, sponsored by Walter Bull, which sees young, up and coming talent from all over the world take to the big stage at the second day of the Gloucestershire Festival of Polo.
What other tournaments do Beaufort Polo Club members participate in?
The Club is fortunate to be home to two of England’s best International Players, Mark and Luke Tomlinson. They split their time between England and Argentina, playing the high goal.
How many polo ponies does Beaufort Polo Club have?
The Club has stabling for up to 180 horses and during the height of the polo season the Club has 220 horses and 40 grooms onsite.
Where do Beaufort Polo Club members typically buy their horses?
There is a good local source of horses for sale but some people buy them in from across the globe including Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand importing them. Some members breed and produce their own horses including the vital ROR (Retraining of Racehorses). Just down the road from the Club is Tomlinson Equine, pioneers in equine embryo transfer. We have foals onsite during the winter and many young horses begin their career at the Club.
Are you seeing a lot of new people interested in playing polo?
Yes there are always new people entering the sport – be it young or old, male or female and from all walks of life. Beaufort is always keen to encourage and help develop new players.
If someone is interested in taking lessons at Beaufort Polo Club, what is the best to get started?
The Beaufort Polo School, run by OKL Equestrian, offers Polo Experience days that give everyone a chance to give polo a go. Our HPA accredited coaches teach you from the ground up, with hand sticks through to riding for polo and bringing it all together for a fun chukka. We have an indoor school or our beautiful grounds offer the perfect place to get hooked on polo! Afterwards, guests are invited to enjoy lunch in the Clubhouse and watch the day’s matches so they can see how the professionals do it.
And where can people learn more about Beaufort Polo Club?
Our website, www.beaufortpoloclub.co.uk, has all of the information you need and everything from membership to merchandise can be purchased online. However, our Polo Office are always happy to answer any questions either over the phone on 01666 880510 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.