10 Facts to Know about Polo: The Sport of Kings

  • Polo is the oldest equestrian sport: the first games played in Persia (Iran) date back to the 6th century BC and were used as part of military training
  • The first Europeans to play polo were British tea planters in Assam, India, and they formed the first European polo club in 1859 in Silchar.
  • Her Majesty The Queen suggested Smith’s Lawn as the perfect venue for a polo ground and Guards Polo Club was established by HRH Duke of Edinburgh in 1955, he remains President of the club to this day.
  • By the late 1860’s polo matches were being played between many of the cavalry units based in India and it was gaining rapid popularity in England.
  • In the late 19th century polo clubs were being formed by high profile sportsmen across the United States and they first defeated England in the Westchester Cup in 1908
  • Since the late 1920’s Argentina has become the uncontested master of international polo and hosts The Argentine Open in Buenos Aires which is considered the ultimate competition between the all of the world’s best professionals
  • St Moritz has played host to Polo on Snow since 1985, the world’s pre-eminent snow polo tournament that takes place each January. Teams compete for the honour of winning and a Cartier watch.
  • Guards Polo Club is also home to the Guards Polo Academy which welcomes novices through to more experienced players wanting to fine tune their skills. By the end of their first lesson, novices will be in the saddle of a polo pony hitting the ball, and the sense of achievement is huge.
  • Players are assigned numbered positions, each requiring different skill sets: Number One is theoretically responsible for scoring goals, neutralising the opposite Number Four and anticipation is a key skill; Number Two can be known as the “hustler”, is quick, manoeuvrable and assertive; Number Three plays a pivotal role between attack and defence, supporting the goal scorers and the defence; Number Four is primarily a defensive role preventing the scoring of goals by the opposition.
  • Most of the best polo ponies are bred in Argentina and training can last from 5 months to 2 years. Many ponies will only retire when they reach the age of 18 – 20 years old.