CNA Lifestyle Experiences invites you to experience Urban Polo, which top player Sam Hopkinson says is a modern, fast-paced and exciting version of polo that combines a music festival with a traditional match.
As one of New Zealand’s top polo players, not only has Sam Hopkinson saddled up alongside members of royalty, he has also travelled to exotic destinations all over the world on the job. One of his most memorable experiences was a tour of India where the New Zealand polo team were guests of the maharaja of Jaipur.
“It was a real eye opener for me and something that will stick with me forever. I witnessed some of the most incredible luxury and extreme poverty in the same trip,” Hopkinson told CNA Lifestyle.
While he got to see life on opposite ends of the spectrum on that specific trip, the game of polo, often called the sport of kings, has long been associated with the ultra-affluent. Which is why he is a firm proponent of Urban Polo, a modernised polo game-meets-music festival concept, to get a wider range of people interested in the sport.
Launched in New Zealand three years ago, Urban Polo’s first international event will be held in Singapore at Marina Bay on Feb 23. Sign-up details for this edition of CNA Lifestyle Experiences are at the end of the story. Invitations are exclusive to CNA Lifestyle Facebook followers, so you’ll want to follow us here. Closing date: Feb 17.
WHAT IS URBAN POLO?
“I liken the game of Urban Polo to that of other short-format games that have been adapted to create a much faster and more exciting version of the game for players and spectators,” explained Hopkinson, one of the founding directors of Polo Events, which runs Urban Polo.
For one, the field is a third of a regular field, which makes this modern version much more fast-paced. “Like it or not, you are always in the thick of the action,” said Hopkinson. “I really enjoy that intense environment as you are relying heavily on instinct and reflexes, and don’t have time to overthink things.”
Hopkinson is also a fan of the convivial game day environment, which includes live DJ acts, a sports commentator and a lower arena-type wall, so audiences can stand close enough to the pitch to high-five players as they trot by on their horses.
Contest winners will receive Veuve Clicquot Champagne Terrace Tickets to the event, which provide access to an exclusive area to watch the match, plus catering and a complimentary bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
Animal lovers will also be glad to know the horses are well cared for. “Although the field is smaller and so there are less of the long galloping runs like in traditional polo, it is much more intense, and the horses can tire with all the stopping and turning. For this reason, we have shortened the chukkas (period of play) for the horses’ wellbeing.”
Once all the horse play is over, everybody gets to party – and maybe snap a few wefies for Instagram. He adds: “It’s nice to be able to talk to the crowds and hear how much they enjoyed the event.
“By the time the games are over and the field is open for spectators to mingle, the party is well and truly underway, and there is no option but to join in the fun!”