Pony Club death shocks polo world

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A full investigation has been launched into the death of a Pony Club polo player during qualifiers for last weekend’s annual championships. The fatality is the first in Pony Club polo’s 48-year history.

Catherine Yates, 20, a member of the Croome Hunt Pony Club branch and treasurer of Cambridge University Polo Club, died on 9 August, six days after she was seriously injured in an accident at a Pony Club tournament at Cirencester Park Polo Club.

She was playing for a North Cotswold team at the time of the 3 August accident and was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. No other players or horses were injured.

“This is a great tragedy for the Yates family and for the whole sport,” said Pony Club polo chairman David Cowley. “Everyone at the Pony Club is shocked and saddened by the tragic accident, and our thoughts and sympathies are with Catherine’s family and friends at this time.”

Catherine’s death marks the second polo fatality since July 2004, when New Zealander Paul Clarkin, 51, was killed during a match in Gloucestershire. He was taken to the same hospital with serious head injuries, but never regained consciousness.

Outside Pony Club polo, the circuit has witnessed a string of serious accidents this season. In early June, Black Bears patron Urs Schwarzenbach was knocked out and broke several ribs in a league game of the high-goal Queen’s Cup tournament at Guards, but he regained consciousness by the time he arrived at hospital.

The same month, H&H columnist and England captain Luke Tomlinson broke his pelvis when his horse came down during a ride-off, and Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club chairman Bryan Morrison remains in a coma after his pony fell in a “friendly” exhibition match on 16 July.

  • Read this news story in full, plus a report from the Pony Club polo championships in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (17 August, ’06)
  • Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk