London arena polo match gets mixed reaction from spectators

  • The HPA Gaucho International Polo at the 02 Arena has been met with criticism by H&H polo fans, with readers citing a lack of atmosphere and a “predictable outcome”.

    The polo was billed as a “celebration of Argentina’s sporting and cultural heritage” and was held at London’s 02 Arena on 21 March.

    Scotland took on Ireland, followed by England versus Argentina.

    One fan, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I’m in favour of bringing polo to a bigger audience. However, the event needs to iron out a few teething problems.

    “There were moments of good polo. But the score seemed ‘conveniently’ nail-biting with the penalty shoot-outs resulting in the home side win.”

    And spectator Hannah Grissell added: “It was disappointing that the result seemed a bit predictable. It was unnecessary to make it a crowd-pleaser when polo is such a brilliant sport to watch anyway.”

    But H&H reporter Aurora Eastwood disagreed: “The first game had genuinely good arena polo.

    “The second [England] was lacklustre in comparison and I’ve no doubt that the political situation [regarding ownership of the Falkland Islands] was making both sides a bit nervous, but neither side seemed to want to win.”

    Oliver Hughes of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) strongly refuted any criticism.

    “It was very successful,” he told H&H. “Those who suggested the match might have been fixed are misguided and it would have been very difficult to do so.

    “The event did what it said on the tin, promoting polo to the greater public.”

    But others cited a lack of atmosphere. “It wasn’t exactly buzzing,” said one visitor.

    Another said: “It was a little stale. The event experience was non-existent, especially in comparison with something like ATP tennis.”

    And another said: “The seats were half empty.”

    H&H Facebook fans enjoyed it. Kirstie Peake said it was “fantastic” and Annabel Waters said: “It was worth going to see.”

    Prior to the event, Gaucho’s Martin Williams said he hoped it would “grow to rival the success of the former HPA Cartier international polo”.

    A spokesman for the event said there were around 8,000-10,000 spectators.

    “It wasn’t a full sell-out as the arena is huge, but it was the biggest polo match ever to happen in this country,” she said.

    “We felt it was a huge success and I’m sure it will happen again next year.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (29 March)

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