It is with great sorrow that the United States Polo Association, Polo Players Support Group (PPSG), Cowdray Park Polo Club in Easebourne, England, and all who were fortunate to meet him, mourn the loss of Henry Charles Auverny Stevens, 79, of Midhurst, West Sussex, England, who passed away peacefully on Friday, November 15, 2019. Henry was a gifted sportsman, generous supporter and avid polo player.
Born in Salisbury, Rhodesia, on December 1, 1939, Stevens attended Beaumont College in England where he developed his passion for sports, including rugby. As a young man, Henry played First Class Rugby and had the opportunity to play a few seasons in Australia. When he returned to the United Kingdom (UK), he was offered a position on one of the country’s leading clubs—London Irish—and later played for Guildford & Godalming. Watching both rugby and cricket remained a lifelong passion.
In the 1980s, Henry opened what became a very successful nightclub, The Good Knight Club, in Haslemere, England, which attracted the local polo crowd. The sport and his love for horses worked its magic on him. It wasn’t long before he learned to play. In one night he bought two polo ponies from one of his customers from the nightclub. He found such enjoyment in the sport and began playing in Cowdray Park’s tournaments, also winning the Junior County Cup with Howard Taylor’s Whitehall team in 1994, with a 3-goal handicap. Henry went on to become a successful umpire for the Hurlingham Polo Association, working both in the UK and regularly in Europe where he umpired several times for the Swiss Open, German Cup Open and Gold Cup Gstaad.
During the 1990s, Henry spent several seasons in California before moving with his partner, Carol, to Wellington, Florida, for the winter season. There he continued his passion for raising and selling young thoroughbred ponies, as well as umpiring.
“I knew Henry for over forty years. He was a real character—a truly genuine man,” said Lord Charles Beresford. “He knew a lot about horses and made some very good horses. A really great guy to have around, he was very loyal to his mates and a great friend to everyone in England, Cowdray and Florida.”
In the UK, Henry made and sold polo ponies and could always be relied upon to offer good ponies for hire to professional players when they were short of a mount or two. “Henry Stevens was a great friend of mine and the Santa Clara organization,” said Luis Escobar. “He was always ready and willing to help with any aspect of the game. At Santa Clara he always helped us with fall polo, volunteering in the winter when he could as well. When I competed in England and Germany in 1998 and 2000 he was an invaluable resource for horses. And in 2018, the USA won the Junior Westchester Cup in England with the help of two incredible mares that he provided,” Escobar continued. Having had polo yards at Lodsworth and Ambersham, England, he was most recently based at the Milford Havens’ Great Trippetts Farm in the UK.
Due to his charm and knowledge of polo, Henry was frequently called on to entertain corporate marquee guests on Cowdray’s big days with his amusing “Introduction to Polo” talks. He remained a huge character at Cowdray Park and a constant presence in polo life.
Just shy of his eightieth birthday, Stevens was known to be full of energy, humor and life. Henry will be missed very much by his partner Carol, his daughter Gaby, son Julian (Jules), their mother Jeannette, four grandchildren and his many, many friends. Please contact Roger Poat & Partners, in Midhurst, England, for funeral arrangements.