A polo tournament will be played at an unusual venue in Switerland next week (16-19 August) when Gstaad-Saanen airport is converted into a pitch.
It is more than 20 years since polo was last played at the site in the canton of Bern, which is the only flat space in this upmarket region of the Alps.
The airport will be temporarily transformed for the Hublot Polo Gold Cup, where more than 7,000 visitors are expected to enjoy the sport against a backdrop of unusual and spectacular scenery.
“For several days now, the teams have been working on assembling the stables and the exhibitors’ village, as well as preparing the grass field — which requires real expertise — on which the six matches will be played,” a spokesman for Polo Club Gstaad said.
“Early next week, several trucks from across Europe will take the road to the mountain to bring the 120 horses, the 16 players and two referees to the tournament.”
Organisers need to assemble 120 boxes on the site to house the ponies, while tonnes of hay, straw and feed will be brought in to the airport, which was first established as a military airfield in the Second World War.
The event will also host tradestands, a children’s play zone and a VIP area where 1,500 meals are expected to be served during the competition, including the £275-per-head lunches and glamorous £300-a-head gala night.
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Four world-class teams are set to participate in the contest, bearing the colours of Hublot, Bank Eric Sturdza, Gstaad Palace and Clinique La Prairie, with Hublot watches on offer for the winning players.
The tournament begins with qualifying games on Thursday, followed by the semi-finals on Saturday and the finals on Sunday; while on Friday a parade will take place through the streets of Gstaad where the polo players and their ponies will salute the villagers, accompanied by bell-ringers and carriages.
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