The Royal Box of Guards Polo Club with La Martina
I absolutely love to watch polo, whether from a grandstand, lunch terrace or sitting on the back of a pick-up truck I am equally delighted as I am focused on the game. The beauty and excitement of this noble sport is mesmerizing. Although I must say this past Sunday, May 15th, was quite a majestic treat. I was invited by La Martina to an exquisite lunch in the Royal Box of Guards Polo Club, as in where the actual Queen of England enjoys watching a spot of polo herself for the final of the Cartier Queen’s Cup and the final of The Royal Windsor Polo Cup.
When the Royal Box is not being used by members of the royal family, special events are hosted in the small house by the centre of the polo field. This Sunday the occasion for the festivities was the final of the La Martina Queen Mother Centenary Tournament, sponsored by the quintessential polo clothing and equipment brand La Martina. 11 teams had battled through several weeks of 15-goal polo, resulting in team Clarita and team Black Bears making it to the final and playing a tight game of 4 chukkers on that glorious Sunday afternoon.
When entering the Windsor Great Park a winding road takes you through the woods, over bridges, passed large fields of lush green grass where families play, dogs are walked and joggers get their exercise. At the end of that winding road is the polo club, as impeccably manicured as expected, with the Royal Box prominently marking the middle of the polo field, with grandstands on either side and the Club House at the East end of the field.
Inside the Royal Box I was greeted by the La Martina in London store manager Martin Ambridge and Becky Simpson, head of the La Martina Boutique at Guards polo Club, with a welcoming glass of crisp chilled Laurent-Perrier champagne. Starting the afternoon off with some socializing on the front terrace, meeting and greeting fellow guests, including the CEO of Guards Neil Hobday, Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan al Nahyan from the Abu Dhabi Royal family and Guards Polo Academy Manager Ebe Sievwright.
When the stewards announced lunch we poured inside the little house and found our seats, each with exciting gift boxes from our hosts La Martina. We all enjoyed our delicious three-course meals, whilst getting to know each other a little better. A few of the guests near me had never attended a polo game before, so naturally I had the pleasure of sharing my passion and enthusiastically explained the basic rules of the game and how to easily understand and follow what would be going on out on the field (which you can also read here).
After lunch, it was time to head out to the terrace once more to enjoy some awesome 15-goal polo (15 is the collective handicap of the team and does not having anything to do with the amount of goals scored or expected to be scored. Read more about handicaps here). Expectations were high, and the teams did not disappoint, exhibiting polo at its best! Team Black Bears lead by patron Guy Schwarzenbach (1) with team members: James Lester (3) Max Charlton (7) and Juan Cruz Merlos (4) played against Chris Mathias’ (0) team Clarita: Freddie Horne (3), Chris Mackenzie (6) and George Meyrick (6).
Images of Polo got a nice snap of all of us cheering after a goal was made.
The field which had been dug up and re-sowed last fall was in perfect shape and completely flat, letting balls and hooves soar over them without hesitation and so they did. A very fast-paced match with both teams racing from one end to the other, scoring goals at any chance and working hard on the defense.
By half-time the teams were equal at 4 goals each and it was time for us to stretch our legs, stomp some divots and catch up with friends on the field. When the 3rd chukker started it was hard to predict who would come out the victor between the two as they were so closely matched and the game nearly went in to overtime, but a defensive play secured Black Bears the final score as 7-6 and they could proudly receive the trophy.
The only Argentine on the field that day (which is quite unusual in polo), young Juan Cruz Merlos received the Most Valuable Player by La Martina award and Chris Mackenzie received the Best Playing Pony prize sponsored by Polo Times for the lovely grey, Nebraska.
After all the excitement of the polo match it was time to warm up again with a traditional British Afternoon Tea with scrumptious scones and all.
As I got back in to my car and drove back through the winding road through the woods I felt calm and content, with a big smile on my face thinking of all the new memories and friendships I had made that day, so once again my sincere thanks to La Martina for this unforgettable and wonderful Sunday afternoon at polo.
Guards Polo Club is one of the most prestigious polo clubs in the world. It is under the patronage of the British Royal family, HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, still the President of the Club inaugurated the club and again the new clubhouse and Royal Box. The polo club is nestled inside the Windsor Great Park and found its home on Smith’s Lawn (an area inside the park supposedly named after one of the groundkeepers) just over 60 years ago, on January 25th 1955.
La Martina is an Argentinian polo lifestyle company, born from a passion for the sport and a family tradition of playing polo. The company was founded in 1984 by Lando Simonetti who states: “We don’t use the game of polo to promote our brand – we are polo.” affirming that polo is in their DNA. Read more about the La Martina Flagship store in London here and stay tuned for the next La Martina events over the summer. The next one will be Chestertons Polo in the Park, a very fun event in the heart of London in Hurlingham park.