Royal Sport

by Kelly Stavropoulou

Before anything else, it is important to say that polo is not a newly arrived aristocratic “hui” as some people think, but it is one of the oldest team sports. Specifically, it began to be played in the 6th century BC. in Persia, today’s Iran that is, and then his fame spread to Arabia, Tibet, China, and Japan. We have identified it with the British and Argentina: in fact, the British discovered polo during their colonial rule in India at the end of the 19th century, when they created its rules as a modern sport, and they spread it to Argentina in the decade of 1870, when the country was under their occupation. Argentinians embraced the sport so much that its popularity has endured through the centuries and the country still has the most world polo champions. How it came to be a symbol of style and good pedigree is another story, probably related to the presence of horses at the function. After all, equestrian activities are intertwined with the nobility… First and foremost, the British Crown is identified with polo. The fifth season of the Netflix series “Crown” made sure to remind us of this, which showed us the Queen watching polo matches, her policy of honoring the sponsor of the respective games by sitting next to him and Mohamed Al-Fayed capturing the idea to buy Harrods and become a sponsor at the next games only to win the same price. During polo matches, after all, he met Princess Diana and the story began, the end of which we know. Be that as it may, the Windsor family has produced several notable players. King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth, played polo regularly. Prince William is considered quite competent at polo – even with the restriction of playing right-handed, according to the regulations, although he is left-handed – and the current King Charles III has also distinguished himself. Even little Prince George has already started training to carry on his family’s tradition. But if one member of the family truly loved polo, it was Prince Philip. In 1955, he founded one of the most well-known polo clubs, the Guards Polo Club, which has since evolved so that today it is considered the most important and largest in Europe in terms of the number of members and fields.

But polo is not the exclusive prerogative of the English Crown. Prince Albert II of Monaco is not only a keen player but also the founder and sponsor of the Monte Carlo Polo Cup, a four-day event established to celebrate the ‘sport of kings’ and taking place at a luxurious private venue just outside Monaco, in the village of Saint-Martin de Peille. Those in the know what this is all about. We are talking about an institution that promotes the values and culture of the sport. Beyond its courts, the avant-garde furniture, the service, the luxury, and the music stand out, which is undertaken every year by an “elite” DJ, who after the event sees his cassette change scale. And in the East, however, polo has its rightful place. We cannot fail to mention Abdul Mateen, the tenth and most handsome son of the Sultan of Brunei and one of the most sought-after bachelors in the world. Apart from being an Instagram star and sports car collector, he is also passionate about polo. Polo may be associated with aristocracy and wealth in some parts of the world, but in Argentina, it is the most popular sport, with big matches drawing more than 30,000 fans. Also, note that 9 out of the 10 best players in the world are Argentinian. There’s a logical explanation for that too… Bill Buchanan, head of the Polo Pony Breeders’ Association in Argentina, claims: “There is a culture around horses in our country, which is why polo has become so popular. This starts from the fact that our land, the soil of our country, is the most ideal for raising small horses.” However, Argentinian player and model Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras is without a doubt the “David Beckham of polo”. When he was approached by photographer Brice Weber at a dinner party hosted in the Hamptons by Kelly Klein, Calvin’s ex-wife, and suggested that he take up modeling, he thought that this way, on the one hand, he would earn extra money and on the other hand, advertise the sport to the world. of.

The result is that he became the face of Ralph Lauren and, yes, gave a little more star and sexy quality to polo worldwide. His compatriot Adolfo Cambiaso, who is 2000 and 2010 was named the best polo player of the decade in Argentina, is of similar fame and brilliance. On June 12, 2012, Queen Elizabeth presented him with an award praising his effort to train horses without violence – something not so common. The best part of the ‘sport of kings’, as is often the case, is the style. Attendees at polo matches, guess what…, don’t wear T-shirts with the logo of their favorite team. From business deals worth millions to dating that will lead to marriages (also worth millions) happening on these courts. Ladies prefer airy knee-length dresses – floral or pastel usually –, pearls, headpieces, and elegant shoes, but not with a thin heel, so as not to sink into the ground. Gentlemen follow the path of classic chic: chinos, white shirt, blazer, pochette, oxford shoes or brogues, maybe even a tie. I know, you haven’t received an invitation to be a VIP at a polo match yet. The important thing, however, is to have the know-how and why for the basics. Let’s say, then, that we have conquered a first step.