RAIN? WHAT RAIN? — IT CHUKKA’D IT DOWN!
A dank overcast day with drizzle and some heavy showers were not the most appealing conditions to stand in a field and spectate sport! But then you perhaps may not have experienced Army polo, a sport very much on the rise. Last weekend bore witness to a record entry in the annual Captains and Subalterns, inter-Corps competition held at Tidworth. With slippery conditions and run in several ability divisions, you could not help admire the guts, courage and sheer horsemanship displayed by the wide variety of men and women, young and old as they battled it out on the two pitches in the shadow of Tedworth House. With 18 Army teams, including an all-soldier entry from the Household Cavalry, a first, and teams from the Royal Navy and RAF, the rain failed to dampen the spirits or enthusiasm on the field. With the inimitable style of Simon Ledger providing a brilliant commentary, the spectators were entertained to a wonderful display of sport.
A thrilling final had the crowd ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ as the desperately close match between the King’s Royal Hussars (KRH) and the Royal Navy ebbed and flowed. Holding onto a slender lead into the final chukka the KRH looked like taking the 2015 crown only to have it snatched away in the closing five seconds as the relentless pressure of the Royal Navy team produced a winning last charge and the reward was to clinch victory by half a goal!
Team Army fundraising has undoubtedly helped to bring the sport within reach of many more soldiers; adding variety and challenge as well as having a positive impact on morale, retention and recruitment. Polo isn’t a cheap sport but by Team Army raising money through fundraisers and sponsorship the costs to players are considerably defrayed; enabling a wide, grass-roots entry into this event and helping to take forward the polo programme started at Sandhurst.
I can’t wait for 2016 — hopefully next time on a sunny balmy July day!
Images courtesy of Peter Meade Photography www.petermeadephotography.com (above image – Captain Marcelle Wright leads the AGC ladies)