This year’s end of season Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) handicap changes have effectively doubled the number of British six-goal players, with James Beim, Satnam Dhillon, Malcolm Borwick, Jamie Le Hardy and Mark Tomlinson — who is only 21 — moving up from five.
Many believe that the HPA has tried to “help” British players in the past by keeping some handicaps down for as long as possible — however, if this was the case, this round of changes appears to signal an end to the practice.
Some fear that an abundance of six-goalers in an already difficult market will exacerbate the struggles of the British professional. But on the positive side, a strong base of six-goalers could lay the foundation for a fresh wave of players to join eight-goaler Henry Brett near the top of the handicap scale.
HPA chief executive David Woodd says: “There’s a bunch who have been knocking on the door of six goals for a couple of years, and among those, there are certainly some who are capable of going to eight.”
Other promotions include Tom Morley, who has gone to five, which will prevent an identical line-up for the highly successful Graffham team next year, especially as Gillian Johnston, the team’s US sponsor, has gone to two goals.
Several promising young players have gone up, such as Michael Howe (to three) and Bobby Dundas, Edward Hitchman, George Meyrick and Ashley Rake (to two). Among foreign players, Tommy Wilson has gone up to seven and Pikki Alberdi has gone down to eight.