Twelve of the MHF super-star horses made the trip to Rugby Polo Club last Thursday (8th February) for the SUPA University Winter Championships. Students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Kent were competing across beginner and novice levels having been training with MHF at our Epping Forest flagship arena over the past 6 months. Following an intensive day the previous weekend where the students were put through their paces in preparation for the competition, all the teams were ready for their matches, tactics in place and shots perfected.
Universally recognised as one of the coldest weekends known to man, the Winter Championships are always a chilly affair, but the weather did nothing to dampen spirits. The uni teams played some fantastic games with the ponies aiding them to victory after victory. The standard of play surpassed expectations in many cases, with old-favourite “Toli” being cited as a key factor in the staggering improvement seen in some of the students. Even in the matches that were not wins, the students and ponies excelled themselves against some tough competition from unis and clubs across the UK - the tournament hosted over 170 teams!
Friday evening there was a fantastic international match between England and the USA, MHF provided horses for some of the US team with HammerHead especially, despite her curious looks, proving to be a great asset to the visitors, zipping up and down the arena, throwing her weight around. The US team were greatly appreciative of the horses and won by 2 goals in the final minute of the last chukka - it was quite a match!
Saturday saw Ed, Alec and Harold Hodges (SAPA Docklands) put on an exhibition 15 goal match against the Knights of Middle England (Phil Baker, Huw Beavan and David Ashby) in practice for the upcoming Arena Gold Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. Crowds lined the sidelines, craning over the walls to watch the fast-paced and action-packed game. The SAPA Docklands team was victorious and all the students were gripped by the match, the chance to see their coaches and ponies really strutting their stuff was inspiring and all they could talk about was how much more polo they now want to play!
Following the infectious atmosphere at the exhibition 15 goal practice, the MHF team joined the students at the infamous SUPA party hosted by Rugby Polo Club for what was widely accepted as one of the best nights out for a long time. The excitement continued all the way through Sunday (despite tiredness starting to take its toll) and the final matches of the weekend were enjoyed as the students, inspired by watching the pros, pulled some great plays out of the bag.
Thanks go to the students from UEA and Kent, the wonderful grooms (Alex CC, Phil Seller and Holly Stewart), SUPA for organising such a monumental event and Rugby Polo Club for hosting the tournament.