Planes & Horses: Gilgil town hosts the most fiercely contested Polo tournament

Riding a horse, holding onto it with one hand while swinging a mallet (a long wooden stick) with the other hand, hitting a small white ball, and moving at an almost lightning speed, is an adrenaline rush that is not only fast and furious, and challenging, but exciting and it feels like flying.

Last weekend, Manyatta Polo Club played host to Mugs Mug Cup tournament, one of the oldest and most competitive polo tournaments in Kenya. The two-day weekend affair saw some of Kenya’s leading high profile polo players and the polo fraternity descend on the small town of Gilgil for an action-packed tournament. Mugs Mug is part of the 2021 tournament schedule by Kenya Polo Association. Some of the equestrian enthusiasts and players arrived in style: private charter planes on the field.

According to The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), leasing/ private ownership of planes has doubled over the recent years. Besides convenience, wealthy individuals acquire aircrafts for reliable and personalized travel. 

It is said that a horse is one of the world’s fastest land animals and on record, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the fastest speed of a racehorse ever reported was approximately 70.76 kilometers (43.97 miles) per hour. Fascinating right? Polo is said to be one of the oldest recorded team sports in known history, with many historians recording the first matches being played in Persia over 2500 years ago. Today, it is an active sport in over 77 countries worldwide.

The Kenya Polo Association Calendar is one of the longest in the world with tournaments throughout the year except between February and April.

Fun fact. Polo is the only international contact sport that is a mix-sexed sport. Around 25% of professional polo plays are women with many women captaining the teams. Polo is equally appealing to both genders.  

(Pictures by Photographer Vincent Chepkwony, @VincePicturesKe )

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