Well. Last weekend was pretty moist.
Lost all of my chukkas in my division (well, we drew the last one, but it may as well be a loss) and got injured in my first chukka. Apart from that, I am feeling fortunate that I didn’t fall off, given the state of the pitches after Day 1.
Overall, I had a fairly fulfilling time (albeit not taking part in any of the parties that took place) and all the ponies I got to ride were very well to do with no issues.
The chukkas were held at Offchurch Bury Polo Club and our horses were hired from Silver Leys Polo Club.
Day 1 – Winchester and Warwick
Not the best chukkas, with me struggling to see for a lot of it with the heavy rain and my glasses steaming up. Winchester was pretty mediocre, with the rain at its heaviest on that Friday morning. It is in this game I took a rough hooking from another player who sought to disrupt my full swing by throwing everything and the kitchen sink it.
Warwick came in the afternoon. We were expecting dirty tactics from Warwick, as they are notorious for foul play, and we were not surprised when said play emerged. Ultimately, their player at the back was very strong and we were marked aggressively which permitted him to progress, with little room or time for breakaways.
I managed to get a few touches on the ball, but nothing spectacular as my wrist was killing me by this point. A few awkward backhands and changes of direction on the ball, but not much else in the way of defensive play.
All in all, a bit of a hash.
Day 2 – Rest
I went back to London for the day once the order of play was updated as no chukkas were listed for my team. My accommodation, a lovely B&B in Leamington Spa, was conveniently situated within walking distance of the railway station, so it was quite easy for me to get home. That said, I felt pangs of disappointment when I realised that I had to leave to go back up towards Warwickshire…
Day 3 – Harper Adams and Stirling
The rain tried to come and go again, with a downpour occurring at some point in the afternoon (thankfully, well after all my chukkas were played). In the Harper Adams chukka, I had the pleasure of riding a pony called Tango, which was one of the biggest on the field and required me to play with a 53” mallet.
Stirling was a fun game, having played this particular team and line-up before back in February. I managed to breakaway towards goal, where I would’ve been able to put one away, had it not been for an illegitmate ride off. A 30 yard penalty was awarded to us however, where my teammate Yong was able to score.
Interestingly, I played without a numnah (saddle blanket), as Esperanza apparently had a weird back/spine. She did have a gel pad under my saddle for extra grip, but essentially her girth was done up as tight as it would go and I was simply warned about ensuring I was well-balanced throughout.
Anyway – that’s that for this year! Everything else that happens now will simply be club or local tournaments and next year I get to move up to play in the novice division for SUPA nationals. Whether or not I’ll still be UoLPC I don’t know, but we’ll see.
All chukka coverage photos are courtesy of the amazing Emmpix Photography: emmpix.co.uk