Fast, furious and fashionable — the British polo season has arrived. We pick 10 players to look out for at major matches this year

Adolfo Cambiaso

Age: 41
Nationality: Argentine
British high-goal team: Dubai
Handicap: 10
Few sports boast such a legend as Adolfo Cambiaso. Reigning world number one for two decades, Cambiaso burst onto Argentina’s polo scene as a teenager, and proceeded to lift the sport to new heights. Having held a 10-goal handicap since the age of 19 — becoming theyoungest ever to achieve the maximum rating — Cambiaso has won the world’s most prestigious tournament, the 40-goal Argentine Open, 12 times, leading his La Dolfina team to their ninth victory in 2015. In England, he has lifted the Gold Cup seven times, including in 2014 with Dubai. He remains the basis for the Albwardys’ formidable team this year, and every match he plays is a guaranteed thriller. Cambiaso has also hit the headlines in recent years for his pony cloning programme — he has around 100 clones, many playing important roles in his elite string.

Facundo Pieres

Age: 29
Nationality: Argentine
British high-goal team: King Power
Handicap: 10
The only person to have seriously challenged Cambiaso for polo’s throne in the past few years — and many do believe he is the world’s best player. He swept the British board with King Power Foxes in 2015, landing both high-goal titles in a repeat of his 2013 season with Zacara. Unsurprisingly, he has impeccable polo heritage, and watching him and his brother, fellow 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, play alongside one another again this year will be poetry in motion. Stylish and scintillating on the polo field, he has a dazzling string of ponies, including Open Galactica, named most outstanding high-goal pony of 2015.

James Beim

Age: 36
Nationality: English
British high-goal team: El Remanso
Handicap: seven
All eyes will be on the England captain again this year, to see if he can recreate the side’s Coronation Cup success from 2015 — his first year in the hot seat. Aside from leading England in international fixtures, Beim will also play for Charlie Hanbury’s all-British El Remanso team during the high-goal season, with Ollie Cudmore and James Harper. At the pivotal number three position, all Beim’s talent will be on display during the UK’s most high-profile tournaments, and any team with a national captain among their ranks is a good bet to do well.

Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha

Age: 30
Nationality: Thai
British high-goal team: King Power
Handicap: one
Football isn’t the only sport dominated by the Srivaddhanaprabha family. Last year,Top — who is vicechairman of Leicester City football club — led King Power Foxes to a rare double victory in both the Queen’s and Gold Cups, an unprecedented achievement for an organisation in just their second year of polo. Far from leaving it up to the professionals, the patron proved handy off his one-goal rating, scoring a brace of goals in the Gold Cup final. The pressure is on to repeat the feat this year, but with the Pieres brothers back onside, the odds are in their favour.

Jose Ramon Araya

Age: 17
Nationality: Argentine
British high-goal team: King Power
Handicap: one
The teenager stood in for the UAE team’s Sheikha Maitha in 2015, raising eyebrows with his performance in the Gold Cup final, and he has been snapped up this year by the team that denied him the title on that occasion, King Power. With his handicap deservedly raised from zero to one after becoming the top-scoring amateur of last season, the 17-year-old — who came up through the English Pony Club ranks — is sure to be a useful addition to the squad, and definitely one to watch.

Tommy Beresford

Age: 19
Nationality: English
British high-goal team: Talandracas
Handicap: four
Beresford joins Talandracas off the back of playing with Adolfo Cambiaso for Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente in the Ylvisaker Cup in Florida. Polo’s in his blood — his grandfather, the Marquis of Waterford, won the Gold Cup alongside Prince Philip in 1969, and his father Charles lifted the Coronation Cup with England five times. Tommy has been a familiar face in junior polo ranks and it would a brave person to bet against him making an international impact in the future. His mother is Chilean, giving him the option of playing for either country; thankfully, his heart lies with England.

Max Charlton

Age: 26
Nationality: English
British team: Black Bears
Handicap: seven
Charlton has swept up the levels with remarkable speed since beginning his career in the Pony Club. He now holds the highest handicap of any England player, along with James Beim and Luke Tomlinson, despite being over a decade their junior. In 2015 he made his much-anticipated Coronation Cup debut, helping England to a euphoric victory over South America. He looks likely to make a reappearance on the England team this year, and if his polo continues to develop at the same rate, he could be climbing the handicap ladder further.

Kian Hall

Age: 18
Nationality: English
British high-goal team: Dubai
Handicap: one
Despite his tender age and non-horsey background, Hall has been in demand by both leading high-goal teams, King Power and Dubai, this season. A reserve for King Power last year, Hall was originally mooted to be playing for the Srivaddhanaprabhas’ all-conquering side again, but an alleged higher offer from rival organisation Dubai proved too much to turn down, and the one-goaler has swapped across to play alongside 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martín Nero.

Jack Richardson

Age: 24
Nationality: English
British high-goal team: Cowdray Vikings
Handicap: six
One of the brightest young English players coming up the ranks, Richardson is sure to prove an asset to the Pearsons’ high-goal team this season. A quick and skilful attacking player who always gives 100%, Richardson is exciting to watch on the field with his electrifying playing style and goal-scoring ability, and even more exciting as an England player of the future. Look out for him at international matches this summer too.

Like this? You might also enjoy reading these:

Jack Hyde

Age: 18
Nationality: English
British high-goal team: Zacara
Handicap: three
The son of arena 10-goaler Chris Hyde, Jack Hyde has been signed by Lyndon Lea’s high-profile Zacara team for the second year on the trot — hardly surprising after he was named young player of the year in 2015. With his handicap raised to three goals after some stellar performances last season, and having won the 18-goal Dubai Gold Cup in March playing alongside Zacara teammate Lucas Monteverde, Hyde will be re-entering the English high-goal fray in a strong position.

This article was first published in the 12 May 2016 issue of Horse & Hound magazine