For sports fans who might only be familiar with polo, rather than having watched it in person, the game can be cast off as a pastime purely for the rich and famous, played primarily on country manors amongst the privileged classes. While in some respects that might be true, polo is a game played in countries as far afield as Pakistan, USA and Argentina, and by people whose interests extend way beyond the social scene.
The players and administrators involved in the sport can also not be easily pigeon holed. Sure, there are many people with money who like to play polo. After all, you need a pound or two to keep horses and learn how to ride them. But the polo set is also packed full of interesting people who do not necessarily fit the mould of ‘your typical polo enthusiast’.
Marquess of Milford Haven, a polo’s consumer champion
Take the Marquess of Milford Haven, for instance. On the face of it, the man responsible for the creation of Trippetts Farm – known as the ‘mecca’ of polo in the UK – as a polo venue, is cut from the same cloth as your stereotypical polo person. But look a little deeper into his background, and this cousin of the Queen and descendant of Catherine the Great has a very interesting history.
The Marquess of Milford Haven became known as a UK consumer champion in the post Millennium era, after coming up with a formula to make money every time he saved somebody money. That’s right; uSwitch, a price comparison website for gas and electricity, allowed people to cut down their energy bills by offering the chance to switch contracts with ease, after checking out the best deals on the market.
When uSwitch was sold in 2006 to the American media giant EW Scripps in a multi-million-pound deal, the Marquess of Milford Haven was able to turn his attention to his passion – polo. He took on Trippetts and after buying the 1,000-acre cattle farm in 2005, built it into a world class facility from the ground up. It now provides a training base for several high goal teams, and stables for 350 ponies under the care of 70 grooms.
Looking after grooms
The Marquess of Milford Haven says that it isn’t important how much has been spent on Trippetts, but it seems safe to say that this is the fruit of a multi-million pound investment. The venue also has stables for dressage horses, and there are a range of behind the scenes resources, such as vast equipment stores, and a polo administrative office manned by the Marquess of Milford Haven’s friend, Charles Beresford. Some other impressive Trippetts statistics are the three grounds, 26 paddocks and two exercise tracks, of both 400m and 800m.
Grooms staying at Trippetts hail from far and wide, and it is known to host them in an unsurpassed level of luxury, in deluxe cabins with no shortage of options for their ‘downtime’. There is an on site cantina and lounge with a pool table, big TV screen and even table football, allowing the polo professionals to keep their competitive spirits up away from the polo ground.
Look out for the bus!
If you have ever been to Trippetts to watch the polo, you might have marvelled at one of the most quirky spectator set ups at any sports ground. A bright blue double decker bus which could have easily driven down straight from London acts as a grand stand which gives fans a higher vantage point when watching proceedings. Below it are grass banks which are just perfect for lying back and watching the action unfold on an idyllic summer’s day.
So for casual sports fans who haven’t been to see polo – why not come down to Trippetts and give it a whirl? As you can see from the ‘consumer champion’ behind the venue, the Marquess of Milford Haven, polo people are an interesting bunch.