Polo ponies set foot on the grounds after 20 years
Members of Ham Polo Club, the last surviving polo club in London, descended on Richmond Park on Wednesday 10 June to play their first match in the park in over 20 years. Preparation of the grounds took a slightly more unusual approach for the 21st century, as a pair of Shire horses, Murdoch and Tom, pulled the mowers too cut the grass. After an absence of 39 years, The Royal Parks reintroduced the Shires in 1993 as a sustainable way to manage parkland. In addition to mowing, the horses’ duties in the Royal Parks also include verge cutting, rolling bracken to preserve grassland and chain harrowing bridleways. Adam Curtis, Assistant Park Manager at Richmond Park spoke to Polo Times, “Horse riding is actively encouraged in Richmond Park, with ten miles of horse rides and several local stables offering riding lessons in the park. Shire horses still work the land as they have done since the park’s enclosure in 1637, and today we are proud to welcome back polo, the oldest recorded team sport in known history.”
Every Wednesday until the 1 July, members of the Ham Polo Club (HPA) will be playing a friendly match at 5pm and the public are invited to watch for free. The pitch is located by the Roehampton Gate entrance of the park. Nicholas Colquhoun–Denvers, Chairman of the Club said, “The players from HPC are delighted to be returning to play again in Richmond Park on the old Roehampton Club Ground after a break of many years. The historical significance of playing polo in Richmond Park cannot be over emphasised as it was where the second recorded match of the modern game was played in June 1870, some 145 years ago.” For more information about Richmond Park click here, and to find out more about Ham Polo Club click here.
Photograph: Polo has returned to Richmond Park thanks to Ham Polo Club. By Robert Piper