Polo players accused of ‘putting the sport at risk’ after teams held secret games

Polo players have been warned by their own governing body over breaking lockdown rules that is ‘putting the whole sport at risk’, it has emerged.

The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) has written to its 3,000 members after discovering that teams had arranged matches on private country estates. 

They claimed that players had broken lockdown measures by playing the contact sport in ‘chukkas’ – seven-minute periods of play.

In its letter seen by The Daily Telegraph, the club writes: ‘Polo played on private grounds is not within the remit of the HPA unless it brings the game into disrepute.

‘It is considered to be very unhelpful that some have been and are playing chukkas and putting the whole sport at risk.’

The sport, popular among royals and the super-rich, involves a combination of professionals and amateurs at club level, with two teams of four or more players taking part in a chukka.

Players have physical contact during ‘ride-offs’ many times over the course of a chukka, where they attempt to push opponents and their horses out of the way. 

They can hook sticks with another player in an attempt to spoil their shot.

HPA chief executive David Wood said he has been receiving phone calls claiming players have started matches at ‘various grounds, but ‘not at any of our clubs’.

He added that he could not identify the teams involved. 

The sport has been hit by the withdrawal of several teams from its main summer competitions schedule, including the dominating King Power team, owned by Leicester City Football Club’s billionaire owners the Srivaddhanaprabhas.

Earlier this month it was exclusively revealed by the Mail that The Cartier Queen’s Cup — the Champions League of the polo world — would be played after Mr Wood decided to push ahead with plans for the competition as well as the Gold Cup next month.

The tournament, which is played at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park, is traditionally held in June.

But the first chukka has now been rescheduled for the end of July. ‘We’re all determined to go ahead,’ a source told the Mail.

The announcement is a delightful prospect for the Queen, who is a passionate follower of the sport and traditionally presents the trophy.

She presented the Queen’s Cup — as it then was — in its inaugural year, 1960.

Prince Philip twice reached subsequent finals, while Prince Charles went one better, winning the cup in 1986.

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