Polo in Britain

A History

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About the Book

Ever since British soldiers returning from India in the mid-nineteenth century introduced their homeland to a fast-paced ball game on horseback, polo has remained the quintessential British sport. Although its origins lie in Asia, British pioneers are credited with both modernizing the game and spurring its spread worldwide. This volume chronicles the history of polo in the British Isles from its beginnings in the 1860s through the summer of 2011. It recounts the development of polo clubs, including the rise and fall of once mighty citadels of the game; describes the major competitions and many of the lesser tournaments in England and Ireland; and gives particular attention to international contests. Biographical sketches of top players, from early innovators to current superstars, and reflections on current issues affecting the game, including the rise of commercialism and the decrease of civility and sportsmanship, complete this vivid panorama of British polo.

About the Author(s)

A polo player and surgeon, Horace A. Laffaye is on the board of directors of the Museum of Polo and is chairman of the Polo Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. His writings on the game include several books and many articles in magazines in North America, Argentina and England. He divides his time between Connecticut and Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Horace A. Laffaye
Format: hardcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 384
Bibliographic Info: 79 (20 in color), appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6511-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8980-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Foreword by Nicholas J.A. Colquhoun- Denvers      1

Preface      3

Part I. Pioneering Soldiers, 1860–1914      5

1. The Beginning of Polo in Britain      7

2. The Expansion of Provincial Polo      15

3. Testing the Waters: The Early Internationals      32

4. Initial Tournaments: The Hurlingham Champion Cup, the Inter-Regimental Tournament and the County Cup      39

5. The Great Clubs and Polo Clubs Near London      47

6. Polo in Ireland      59

7. Spreading the Gospel Round the World      64

8. The Climb to the Summit: The Westchester Cup      81

Interlude I: 1914–1918      93

Part II. Gifted Amateurs, 1919–1939      95

9. A Time for Recovery      97

10. The Olympic Games      107

11. Struggles for the Internationals      116

12. The Lean Years of the Depression      126

13. British Polo Sculptors and Painters      145

Interlude II: 1939–1945      156

Between pages 156 and 157 are 8 color plates containing 20 photographs

Part III. Gentlemen and Players, 1947–1985      157

14. Lord Cowdray Saves the Day for England      159

15. The Royal Family Lends a Hand      180

16. Colonials and Foreigners Change the Landscape      185

17. Renewal of the Coronation Cup      190

18. The Game Grows Unabated      194

19. Polo Tours Overseas      204

Part IV. Patrons and Professionals, 1986–2011      211

20. The Growth of the Professional Player      213

21. Women in Polo      225

22. An Uneasy Alliance: HPA and FIP      232

23. Literature of British Polo      241

24. Polo in Britain in the Twenty- First Century      250

25. Some Current Issues in British Polo      274

Appendix 1: Letter to The Field, 20 March 1869      285

Appendix 2: Polo Player Recipients of the Victoria Cross      287

Appendix 3: Results of Major Championships      289

Chapter Notes      323

Bibliography      337

Index      341

Book Reviews & Awards

“a must-read for all British polo enthusiasts. Laffaye yet again thrills us with another informative book…an enlightening, entertaining history of polo in Britain…well worth a read. Fascinating…invaluable”—Polo Times.