Charlie Hanbury is one of the most well known English players on the polo scene, but he is also known for his breeding program, Lovelocks. The horses he breeds are played by him, as well as several other teams and players, both in England and in Argentina.
Hanbury was part of the winning Remanso team that won the Gold Cup in 2018, a team composed of four British players. Hanbury, who is is currently in Argentina competing in several tournaments, spoke to PoloLine about a passion of his: horses.
Can you describe your ideal polo horse?
The perfect polo pony needs to be fast, agile, and have comfortable action to hit the ball off, as well as having a good mouth.
What do you think is the most important characteristic for a polo horse?
The mouth is very important. If you can’t stop, you can’t do much. The rest can come with time, but the mouth is essential.
What is your ideal number of horses for a string?
I think 12 to 15 horses is a good number to have, that way you can rotate your string and still play everyday.
On average, how many new horses should you have coming into your string each season?
It depends. Ideally, I like to try and sell the bottom two out and replace them at the top with ones coming through from my breed. It helps keep my string young and ensures that it is always improving. This year, I will be bringing two or three over from Argentina to England, and I have added two from the Lovelocks UK breeding programme, as well.
What is the most important stage in the training of a polo horse?
The first five years of a horse’s life are very important. Time is essential. If you push a horse too hard, too early, you can ruin all the previous work that has been done. We have a great team at Lovelocks and ensure that the horses have the best possible attention from day one to maximise their chance of future success.
Which is or has been your favourite horse, and why?
Lovelocks Sex (Atlantic x Summer) is a favourite of mine. She was an embryo. I bred her at home in England out of a South African mare I had played for years. This year was her third Gold Cup final in a row. She played the 2017 and 2018 finals with me, and the 2019 final with King Power. She’s very fast and comfortable to hit the ball off.
Which is the best polo horse you have seen play, and why?
I think I have to say Dolfina Cuartetera, because of the prizes she has won over the years. I was lucky to watch her in Palermo and she had everything. Adolfo was unstoppable on her, and he is now doing the same on her clones.
Is there a particular horse you would like to try?
Every player has a best horse, and there are some great ones out there, but I think Dolfina Cuartetera stands out as one of the greatest ever. I would love to try some of the old horses from history to see how they would perform in today’s polo.