Ham Polo Club’s most prestigious and historic tournament is non other than the Roehampton Cup. First played for in 1902, the Roehampton is also one of the UK’s oldest polo trophies making it a much coveted prize for many polo teams playing the English season.
The competition started out as the premier tournament at the newly formed Roehampton Club on the other side of Richmond Park from Ham. The stunning trophy, adorned with players wearing winged polo hats, was donated by Mrs Alison Cunninghame for the first edition of the tournament in 1902.
In its first years the names etched onto the base included some of the world’s most successful and famous players. Olympic gold medalists and 10 goalers made up the teams entering to play and crowds of up to 30,000 spectators were not uncommon at important matches.
Fast forward to the 1950s and polo at the Roehampton was gradually giving way to the more popular sport of golf. Just one last polo field remained at the club’s grounds and when that was removed to extend the golf course the Roehampton Cup’s future looked bleak. After a brief spell as a golf trophy one of Ham’s members Edward Tauchert arranged for the Cup to be rescued and reinstated as a polo competition at Ham.
Today the Roehampton is played at a 6 goal level and plans are afoot for it to become a stage in the national Victor Ludorum 6 goal circuit in 2015. That, of course, means that plenty of teams are going to be trying to get their names on its base before it becomes even more difficult to win.
This year’s competition will once again be run with the format of all league stage matches being played on private high goal grounds in Windsor. These are donated by Ali Albwardy (patron of Dubai Polo Team) and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (patron of King Power) and mean that the tournament is played on some of the best grounds in the country if not the world. The finals are then played on the number one ground at Ham Polo Club (Sunday, August 24th) and are without a doubt one of the best occasions to visit the club.
Last year’s final went into a nail biting period of extra time before a winner could be decided. Eventually it was Tchogan who got the winning goal defeating the 2012 champions Rosario Polo Team (Argentina). Once again this year there will be a team captained by experienced competitor Sebastian Dawnay (winner 2007 and 2013) whose grandfather won the cup in 1937 and 1938, definitely one to watch again this year.
Sunday, August 24th is the date of this year’s final. Spectators are very welcome at Ham Polo Club and picnic tickets are just £5 per person (under 13s free). If you want to catch some great polo as well as enjoying a fantastic family day out then this will be a tremendous opportunity to do so. For further information and tickets go to the Ham Polo Club website.
by Benjie Davis
www.hampoloclub.com – 020 8334 0000
Ham Polo Club