Thundering hooves, switch-back turns, the satisfying thwack of mallet against ball… Whatever it is about polo that makes your heart race or appeals to your deep desire to move in the “right circles”, sooner or later, you’ll mull over the possibility of owning your own polo ponies.
Perhaps you won’t ever slip into a pair of tight, white jodhs or put in the sweat equity that’s needed to play a good game, but you could take on the role of patron. Buy, fund, watch, gloat. There’s nothing like a glass of good bubbly and, in a sweeping arm gesture, claiming you own half the field. But a little cautionary footnote — you might consider tailoring your pants to accommodate deep pockets.
Straight off the race track, a half decent thoroughbred will set you back between R10k and R18k. Or R30k for a superb steed with fabulous potential. You’ll need four to six of ’em, so start calculating. The real trick here is in the eye of the expert.
What you’re looking for, says Tom de Bruin, seven-goal polo player and South African polo captain, “is an athlete”. de Bruin’s identikit lists “low gait, soft mouth, good eye, ‘correct’ back legs, roughly 15 hands high, crest muscles in the right place, good balance, and a low centre of gravity”. But miss these fine points as a rank amateur and you’ll end up, even after two years of training, with a perfect pony… for your 10-year-old daughter. “Success is 80% the horse in polo,” de Bruin says.
Before you get to test its mettle in the game — at least two years after your initial buy — you’re in for substantial pocket money: R1 000 a month in feed; R650 upwards per horse for your groom, R2 000 per vet’s visit, a per kilometre charge for your horse box, and R12k and up for the saddle. Did we mention you need to calculate this for all four to six of the lovely beasties? If you’re kitting yourself out, then add R15k for boots, or, if you lust after custom-made designer beauties, R85k. Mallets are R1 500 each — you’ll need a handful of those — and put a little aside for affiliation fees.
This aside, if you’re Argentinian professional Adolfo Cambiaso, you could simply short cut the folly and clone six ponies from your champion stock at R1.5-million. Each.
It might be a good time to get off your high horse and settle for being an enthusiastic spectator. And we know just the place to do that …
THE VEUVE CLICQUOT MASTERS POLO
Date: Saturday 2 March 2019
Time: 2pm to 7pm
Venue: Val de Vie Estate (Paarl-Franschhoek Valley)
Tickets available at Computicket, or, for lounge bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- From the February edition of Wanted 2019.