Land Rover have added Guards Polo Club to its burgeoning equestrian portfolio as headline sponsors for the bespoke club based at Windsor Great Park.
The deal, announced on Wednesday, will be seen from all quarters as a massive coup. The timing is impeccable as it brings together two globally renowned, quintessential British brands in their distinctive fields, in a multi-year deal.
Land Rover are already title sponsors of the Burghley Horse Trials, and beyond that, with the Rugby World Cup 2015, as the company was for the 2011 event, which was held in New Zealand.
This year’s RWC takes place in this country, making the Guards Polo Club-Land Rover union a significant step forward for both club and country polo.
“It is fantastic to have such an iconic British brand as Land Rover supporting us financially, with vehicles and through the sponsorship of the prestigious Duke of Cornwall Trophy,” Neil Hobday, CEO of Guards Polo Club said.
“This attractive deal, which is for an initial period of three years, will benefit the Club even further as Land Rover expands its activation with us at Smith’s Lawn.”
“Land Rover is well established within the equestrian world, but this sponsorship agreement will be their first in polo at the highest level in the UK and Guards Polo Club will provide the perfect platform for them to make their mark in the sport.”
Laura Schwab, UK Marketing Director at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “For Land Rover, obviously we have a long history within equestrian sports, especially in the UK, and so for us, we really saw polo, and specifically Guards, as a wonderful extension to our venture in equestrian sports, It really speaks to our brand and our customers. It was a perfect fit for our brand.”
Schwab told The Telegraph: “It will enhance what we already have in a long-term interest in equestrian sport. We try to go deep inside a sport. We are really proud of what we have done with Burghley and the British Equestrian Team.”
“This was the next, natural extension. It speaks to the heart of our brand. We believe it will be a wonderful partnership. We see Guards Polo Club as the pinnacle of polo in the UK.”
Hobday sees two quintessential brands coming together, rejecting the notion that Guards is an exclusive members club. He eschews the view that Guards can be perceived as ‘stuffy’.
“A lot of people are attracted to Guards polo club because they perceive it to be quite stuffy and difficult to get into,” he said. “You know what it’s like in life – if you can’t get into somewhere, you try twice as hard to get in there.
“The military origins are the pillars of the discipline and the way we perform and behave here as a business and as a club. Contrary to that, I think this is the most un-stuffy place I’ve ever been. It’s a really international club, it has great people, they’re very enthusiastic.
“Of course, our members maintain high standards because they’re very proud to be a member of this club, but sometimes I think we should be more stuffy. I think we’ve got a really nice balance of tradition and standards and I think we’re very warm and welcoming to polo players, their families, professionals and visitors and spectators.”
Hobday, who once worked with Donald Trump on the acquisition and design of a links golf course in Aberdeenshire, added: “This year will mark an extraordinary anniversary and a unique achievement made possible by all of the members, the Household Division, the President, his family, professionals from all over the world and particular sponsors, without whom this club certainly wouldn’t be in the financial position it is in. The members and sponsors combined make this a truly great club.”
Street’s ahead: polo is gearing up for a busy summer in the UK
Meanwhile, Chestertons Polo In The Park has teamed up with city restaurant venue M as its official restaurant partner for the event on June 5-7 at Hurlingham.
M restaurants is embracing the polo season by turning the M Bar into the ‘Chukka Lounge’, decorated with polo mallets, saddles and a turfed floor. M Restaurants has created a cocktail to mark the season, The Mallet Martini.
A dinner will be held on April 21 at M, which will be attended by England and South America players.
Tickets for the polo themed dinner at M cost £50 and can be purchased by visiting www.mrestaurants.co.uk