Polo is a raucously muscular sport. Gleaming horses straining at their bits and riders crouching low in their clinging jodhpurs manage to raise a cloud of dust on even the most generously-watered grounds. The game is played in a whirlwind of four intense chukkas (chakkars) of a brief seven minutes each. Luckily for newbies like me, the commentator at the 64th Indian British Polo Day squeezed in a crash course on the sport between rounds, so that all the chasing and whacking and shouting slowly took on some meaning. That said, it’s a naturally riveting sport, alluring in a way that only a brazenly dangerous display of physical speed and strength can be. This star-studded match ended in a fantastic victory for the away team, Mundota Fort and Palace, Jaipur, against the Jodhpur Polo Team. Captained by Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur (he prefers the more succinct ‘Pacho’), the team took home the Marwar trophy.
Gaston Devrient of the Hackett British Exiles polo team struts onto the field
For the uninitiated, British Polo Day is an organisation that hosts polo events across the world, from China to Mexico. It brings together the rich and the mighty to network over clinking glasses and canapés, in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, and finally commits the proceeds of the event to a local cause (December’s festivities alone raised $16,000 for Head Injuries Through Sport: a fitting choice). The matches themselves feature players such as former England captain Malcolm Borwick, tech entrepreneur Sam Browne and our country’s own royal sons. Major sponsors including British men’s clothier Hackett London, also lay a fertile ground for relationship-building, most of which happens at the post-match after-parties.
The rest of the Hackett British Exiles team share a moment with one of their mounts
In December 2017, Jodhpur’s royal family hosted the parties at their grandest properties: the Mehrangarh Fort and the Umaid Bhawan Palace. The glittering gatherings were punctuated by performances from local artistes, and conversations jumped from real estate to politics to fashion to history; visiting cards were exchanged every few minutes. And when the lights dimmed and the beat dropped, not one of the players was too tired to hit the dance floor.