A controversial bid to raise the level of high-goal polo in two of Britain’s flagship tournaments has been shelved after patrons, who fund the teams, overwhelmingly rejected the idea.

The proposal involved upping the aggregate handicap of teams in The Queen’s Cup, held at Guards, and the British Open Championship for the Gold Cup (above), at Cowdray, from 22 to 24 goals. Some felt this would give British professionals more chances to fit into teams, as well as raise the level further.

Horse & Hound polo columnist Luke Tomlinson wrote last month: “Moving to 24-goal would provide greater opportunities for English and European six-, seven- and eight-goalers to be playing better polo, and give extra prestige to the sport on the world polo map.”

But the move could have priced several patrons out of the country’s most prestigious tournaments, so reducing the opportunities for all professionals.

Long-standing patrons Urs Schwarzenbach (Black Bears) and Hubert Perrodo (Labegorce), both of whom were in favour of the change, carried out a survey of high-goal patrons. Eight were either ambivalent or in favour of the proposal and 11 were vehemently against it. The clubs, too, were against the proposal, fearing a lack of entries if some patrons were priced out.

“We would have ended up with a premier league, and the slightly hotchpotch teams wouldn’t have played at the level, which would ease the fixture list and the grounds,” says David Woodd, chief executive of the Hurlingham Polo Association.

“We weren’t sure whether it would be good for English players. But I think that with so few patrons in favour, we would have been lucky to see more than three Englishmen in high-goal if we’d changed.”

  • This article first appeared in H&H (2 September 2004)


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