Celebrating Polo Excellence in Style
The 11th Annual Polo Awards held at Guards Polo Club were a great success, with the world’s top players in all categories gathered together to celebrate the best and brightest names in polo. More than just a prize-giving ceremony, The Polo Awards is an event that brings everyone together to celebrate excellence, talent and the sport that we all love. With a fabulous three course dinner and life and death defying entertainment, it is a great advert for the sport and the community that surrounds it.
The evening started off by celebrating the women of polo with The Xerjoff Most Outstanding Lady Player award. With stiff competition in the form of Nina Clarkin, Hazel Jackson, Claire Brougham and Lucy Taylor, it was professional 2 goaler Sarah Wiseman who walked away with the prize.
Next up, it was The Tally Ho Farm Most Outstanding British Professional award which went to 7 goaler Max Charlton for the third year running. A great achievement for the young professional, the hat-trick shows determination as well as talent.
It was Facundo Pieres who swept the board at the “Oscars of Polo” not only winning The Guards Polo Club Most Outstanding High Goal Professional award, but also scooping up The Polofix Most Outstanding High Goal Pony award for his mare Cube (last year he won with his mare Open Galactica). He also formed part of the winning team for The Tiffany & Co. Most Outstanding High Goal Team award with King Power Foxes after their tremendous season last year, winning both the Cartier Queen’s Cup and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup. Thanks to King Power’s success, The Hedonism Wines Most Outstanding High Goal Patron prize went to Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha who was unable to attend. The prize was collected on his behalf by Marcos Di Paola.
For the second year running, the Talacrest Young Player Award, and the generous bursary of £15,000 was won by Jack Hyde. On winning last year, Jack told Polo Times that he would invest the money in horses; and it would appear that this investment has paid off, as Jack took centre stage to again collect the prestigious prize from Talacrest’s Chairman John Collins.
The King Power Polo Recognition Award went to Mrs Bethell for her contribution to polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
Surrounded by her three children, Luke, Emma and Mark, Claire Tomlinson took to the stage to receive The HPA Lifetime Achievement Award. Having dedicated her life to the sport and having been a huge influence on every area of the game – from women’s polo to youth polo, through to the highest echelons of the high goal – Claire not only won both the Warwickshire and Queen’s Cups, but she also attained the highest handicap of any lady player in the world, reaching 5 goals. A moment’s silence was also observed for the late Brigadier John Wright CBE, who posthumously received the second HPA Lifetime Achievement Award of the evening.
The Thai Polo Club Outstanding Contribution to Polo Award went to the number one player in the world, Adolfo Cambiaso, who was unable to attend the event.
The HPA Victor Ludorum series winners for each handicap were also present to collect their prizes during the night with Josh Cork picking up the huge 18 goal Victor Ludorum trophy for Jonathan Ruthermore’s Ferne Park after injury side-lined Jonathan and saw Josh substituted in for the tournament. Damien Duncan’s Delaney team consisting of Agustín Merlos and nephew Juan Cruz Merlos alongside Mat Lodder picked up the 15 goal trophy while Poulton/ Balvanera won the 12 goal. In their first year of playing the Victor Ludorum series, Duncan Wales and his Renegade team pipped La Rosada to the post to win the 8 goal series, while Louise Jebson’s CANI team beat Strategic by 10 points to become the victors of the 6 goal series.
The Thai Polo Club Dream Team ‘fearsome foursome’, was voted for by guests during the evening, and consisted of Facundo Pieres, Gozalito Pieres, Pablo MacDonough and Australian Ruki Baillieu. The finale to the evening, was the live charity auction of an embryo from Adolfo Cambiaso’s prize-winning mare, Small Person, in aid of three benefitting charities: SkillForce, Map Action and The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund. The winning £15,000 bid went to Talacrest’s John Collins, who in turn, immediately, and very generously, resubmitted the embryo for auction at a further charity event.
After the awards it was time to relax, party and start to look forward to the 2016 season where it starts all over again for patrons, players and spectators alike. Congratulations to all nominees and winners and good luck in the season ahead.
Photograph: The Thai Polo Club Dream Team as voted for by The Polo Awards guests. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com