Henley-on-Thames - June 2017

Chelsea Barracks at British Polo Day

 

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Historically, a version of polo was played as part of training for war, often with as many as 100 men on each side. Nomads who trained in the sport then migrated to Persia around 600 B.C. were it became popular with the nobility and the military.

Played from Constantinople to Japan, the link between the military and polo has meant the game has firmly established itself as the pastime of the nobility. From polo sticks featuring in many a royal coat of arms to centuries old tournaments held in court, the message on the stone of Gilgit, Pakistan, rings as true today as the day it was carved: “Let others play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings.” 

For a sport that originated in the Far East and Persia, today, when one thinks of modern polo, one thinks of England as the quintessential home of the sport.

The British made the game their own after army officers first witnessed it at a horsemanship exhibition in Manipur, India. The sport was introduced to England in 1869 and within a year, became one of the most popular team sports in the country. However, with no firm understanding of exactly how the game was meant to be played, it was all a bit hodgepodge. It was only in 1874 when the Hurlingham Club, the undisputed home of modern polo, established a set of rules that are still adhered to this day. Armed with the new laws of the game, the British took the game round the world, introducing it to the United States and Argentina, undoubtedly the greatest polo playing country in the world.

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