The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), organisers of the first ever international polo event to be held in the county, were celebrating this weekend after the event at Trinity Park, Ipswich, attracted a crowd of about 5000 eager to discover the appeal of the Sport of Kings.
The sun-drenched event was a real morale booster for the organisers who just a few weeks prior were forced to cancel the second day of the Suffolk show due to gale force winds.
But this time the weather was kinder – thousands lined the polo pitch to enjoy picnics as the action went on around them.
In the main game England beat Australia 10 to 8.5 after Norfolk had earlier defeated their Suffolk rivals 6.5 to 5. The Patrons team Las Marias, run by James Craven beat the Holland Cooper side by 7 goals to 4 and for the Norfolk and Suffolk juniors it was two all, but in the run off Norfolk took the prize.
A delighted Peter Over, chairman of business development at SAA, said: “It’s not only a boost for Suffolk, it’s a real coup and the first international polo game played in the county. It is wonderful for the Association, who were disappointed after losing the second day of the Suffolk Show.
“We have had to regroup. The same staff have rallied round and been so positive and today we have reaped the rewards with this beautiful weather – everyone is happy. We have some key people attending today to see how this is running and I am optimistic for their backing for 2013 and I have even marked the date for next year.”
The polo event was the brainchild of Mr Over who worked with former SAA president Lady Tollemache who presented the cup to the International winners.
He added: “I’ve been to a lot of polo games and I was impressed by them and I thought it would be great to have one in Suffolk.”
All VIP and Members hospitality and grandstand tickets had sold out prior to the event and event tradestand space was taken. Volunteer stewards from the Framlingham Rotary Club and members of the Suffolk Young Farmers’ Club guided cars across the site from early after the gates opened at 10am.
Beautiful highly bred polo ponies were gradually unloaded from shiny horse lorries and tethered behind the rows of white marquees where champagne corks popped as guests of the Bruisyard Hall VIP Hospitality Tent arrived eager for the spectacle.
Around the field families and friends settled down on picnic benches, or spread rugs on the ground with picnics, eager to get a good viewing position and be ready for the first throw in for the Bi-county cup between Suffolk and Norfolk. Tradestands greeted early shoppers and children looked delighted to see the bouncy castle and other entertainments.
It is the first time the SAA team has constructed a polo field which requires a minimum of 10 acres for the pitch alone. Using part of the site of the Suffolk Show was impossible as the permanent structures got in the way. However, the site of the Show’s Bucklesham car park roughly 100 acres of green field site was perfect. But being green field meant that all the utilities – water, electricity and gas – as well as tentage, picket fencing, hospitality tables and chairs, grandstand seating had to be brought in. More than 700 new barriers, bought for this year’s Show, have been recycled and used to mark out the car park areas.