Last weekend, July 13-14, the Dorset coastline welcomed 10,000 people at the largest beach polo event in the world. Now in its 11th year, the British Beach Polo Championship 2018 is a potent combination of fast action, gladiatorial horse polo, beach rugby, glamour, and decadent parties on the platinum beaches of the south coast.
Spectators watched the professionals up close and personal as they maneuvered their athletic polo ponies with agility and power. There were four competitive polo teams playing while simultaneously demonstrating spectacular horsemanship on the sand as they competed for the title of British Beach Polo Champion 2018.
The winning team, Koh Thai Team, made up of John Cooper and brothers Alec Banner-Eve and Ed Banner-Eve. Runner ups were the Centtrip Wales Team with Ricky Cooper, Roddy Matthews, and Richard Blake-Thomas.
This year also brought a new fearless action into the arena in the form of ‘SandScrum,’ an exciting clash of exhibition five-a-side beach rugby with teams thrashing it out in the sand.
Event Director Johnny Wheeler said, “Another thing we managed to do, because of the great conditions, is we had a super-fast Corba Rib boat racing against the polo ponies… we normally do this with a car, but we thought we’d do it with the best thoroughbred ponies racing against each other on the beach - and managed to throw in the Rib, which was hilarious.” One of the ponies won, with the Rib coming in second ahead of the other pony.
In addition to those events, there was also an ‘Ibiza Fashion Festival’ and two nights of entertainment in the festival marquee. Friday welcomed top club DJs to get the revelry started, while Saturday night’s closing party saw a sophisticated party crowd dance the night away against the backdrop of the beautiful Jurassic coast.
A major part of this year’s championships, was the involvement of the Household Cavalry Foundation (HCF). The HCF, the Household Cavalry’s official charity, supports operational casualties, serving soldiers, veterans and their families.
Wheeler said, “We have raised an awful lot of money for our chosen charity, which is why Tobias Ellwood is particularly keen to come along and present the prize to the winners in the charity race. This year has been superb, we were blessed with perfect weather and a magnificent beach and appreciate the close co-operation with the local Council. Year after year, we attract the finest polo players, wonderful sponsors and partners and a full house of supporters.”
Edited for publication by Ana Hernandez