Sandhurst Polo: The Ladies Heritage Cup

02/07/2008

The Ladies Heritage Cup '08 - Sun 29th June Played at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
                                                                                                     

A lakeside panoramic view in front of the world famous Royal Military Academy Sandhurst building, amid lush green lawns and acres of trees was the scene for The Ladies Heritage Cup '08.

Gina and I went along to support and report this unusual event organized and created by Barbara Zingg RMAS Polo Manager who also participated in the main event playing for the British Army Ladies Team.

In England, the military first imported the game of modern polo from India circa 1869 and now it's the Ladies turn to play polo and romance the game. A 1900's Polo renaissance when polo was played by ladies across the Atlantic in the US.

Ambling alongside the polo field just as the semi finals had finished, we saw caravans and polo vans, horses being groomed - people mucking in and mucking out or simply lazing about. Further along was the picnic area and a refreshment tent where we found a tempting display of bespoke, novelty cupcakes homemade by Josephine Young of Pat a Cake and, a bar serving Pimms and chilled drinks for the parched spectator.

The ‘Style Exchange' brand display was also represented by Mark Collen entrepreneur/sponsor and Christine Benson Head of Beauty buying at Selfridges London.

Before the start of the Heritage Cup match there was a little horseplay with ladies parading on horseback attired in period costume. We spoke to Jo Strange in a red costume and riding a chestnut; she was dressed as a 1907 FANY... First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. The Fanys were women running the organization and usually came from well-healed ‘ladies who lunch' background but who had a sense of adventure and were involved with the ambulance service.
Sue Passion also parading on horseback wore a late Regency style 1790's costume, an exact copy we were told of a George Morland painting.

Then, there was Piper William Cooper clad in a bright scarlet Gordon Highlander tartan uniform who charmingly piped the Ladies polo players into the Heritage Cup match with bagpipes ringing in their ears...

Competing in fashionista form were the British Army Ladies Team sporting red gilets and the Amazons of Brazil in long beige gold gilets but where were the jodhpurs... The match was introduced by articulate commentator Captain Ben Marshall Sec/Treasurer of RMAS Polo Club.

Both the Ladies teams played exceptionally well creating excitement during the chukkas and the game ended with the Amazons winning having scored 5 while the British Army Ladies Team scored 4 1/2 making it a tightly played match.

Presentations followed with prizes presented to the 4 Nations team, winners of the semi finals while The Ladies Heritage Cup was presented to the Amazons. Team players received Pol Roger champagne with goody bags and finally, the winners enjoyed sipping champagne from the winners Cup. Oh, and not forgetting Maggot the ‘best polo pony' adorned with garlands came to receive a prize of oats and posed for pics charming us all.

It was a first for us seeing a Ladies polo match being played in an idyllic and delightful setting and though overcast the rain stayed away making it a perfect polo day...

Article by Amita Chatterji © Photos by Gina Chrysanthou

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