Here’s nine things about the England polo player that you might not have known — some of them might surprise you...
1. As an England team stalwart since 2004, Mark has played for his country in the prestigious Coronation Cup a whopping 11 times, and has lifted the trophy on seven of those occasions. He’s also won Britain’s most high profile tournament, the Gold Cup, with Hildon Sport in 2003.
2. His mother is Claire Tomlinson — the most highly rated female player of all time, having held a five-goal handicap during the 1980s. Mark and his older brother Luke grew up at their parents’ Beaufort Polo Club — one of the premier clubs in the UK — and have now taken over the running of it.
3. He’s married to Olympic gold medal-winning dressage rider and H&H columnist Laura Tomlinson, and the pair have two children: Annalisa, three (pictured top with her parents in 2014), and Wilfred, one.
Mark’s not sure about the idea of Annalisa taking up polo when she’s older, though: “It’s great for polo that the ladies’ game is growing, but as a dad and a player myself I’m dubious about girls playing polo — it’s so physical and pretty much rugby on horseback, and I probably wouldn’t want my daughter — or my son — to play rugby either,” he says. “But the separate ladies’ leagues and handicapping system is great; they’ve realized that ladies can’t really compete at the top level with the guys. There are women such as my mum, and [top British female player] Nina Clarkin who have, but they are exceptions to the rule. Women-only polo creates more of a opportunity for younger girls, such as Annalisa one day, as they don’t have to go on the field with seven men.
“Ultimately I just want Annalisa and Wilfred to do something they are passionate about.”
4. Breeding polo ponies is high on Mark’s agenda — his sister Emma runs Tomlinson Equine, formerly known as Beaufort Embryo Transfer, which is based just down the road.
“Half my string are home-breds now and I’m starting to play the sons and daughters of my top mares, which is hugely satisfying,” says Mark.
5. He has had a spin on wife Laura’s dressage superstars — but it hasn’t always gone to plan…
“I have ridden Alf [Mistral Hojris] — he ran away with me! Let’s just say Laura is a lot of better at polo than I am at dressage,” he laughs.
6. Prince Harry’s a good friend, the pair having played alongside and against each other on many occasions — and Mark and Laura attended the royal wedding in May this year.
“The highlight of the day was at the reception, after Harry had done his speech he asked if anyone could play the piano. Elton John stood up and played a half hour set on the piano, all the old classics. It was absolutely amazing,” reveals Mark
7. He’s a dab hand in the kitchen — but also admits to having dishwasher OCD.
“I’m OCD about stacking the dishwasher — it must be done correctly! I’m not too shabby on the cooking though; my signature dish is either a classic spag bol or an Argentine style barbeque.”
8. His TV habits might surprise you…
“I love rom coms! My favourite films are Love Actually and Notting Hill,” admits Mark. “I also watch Home and Away on catch-up every day, after the kids have gone to bed.”
9. There’s no doubt in Mark’s mind what he would do if he wasn’t a professional polo player.
“If I didn’t play polo, I’d be a football manager — I’m very keen on my football and I’m an avid Newcastle supporter.”
Don’t miss the full interview with Mark Tomlinson in the current issue of magazine, which is out now and on sale up to and including tomorrow (27 June 2018).