January 13 - 19, 2019: Issue 389

 

Polo by the sea 2019 delights visitors and Pittwater residents again

Mr. McCarthy has become quite a hit with locals over the last few years - and was happy to let all little horse lovers near this girl.

Urban Polo founder Janek Gazecki is fulfilling his mission to 'bring polo to the people' with Saturday's Polo by the Sea delighting little girls and boys and bigger boys and girls alike.


Played on the field next to where those who used to have a pony club gallivanted at Careel Bay, the Urban Polo Association brought great excitement and beautiful horses within the reach. 

The Urban Polo sensation has spread from being a national round of Polo in the City events to Polo by the Sea, Polo in the Vines (in the Hunter Valley in 2017) while Rockhampton's Victoria Park hosted its first Urban Polo event in June 2018.

Janek Gazecki - umpiring a game yesterday

Urban Polo is designed with spectators in mind. The action is much closer to the crowd and the game much quicker due to being played on a smaller field. The number of players is changed for the Urban Polo series on this smaller fields with three instead of four players on each team*. Some of the best polo players in Australia travel at 60k an hour on these horses while trying to hit the ball with a mallet down the field and through the goal posts.  


With wife Natalie Decorte, editor of The Polo Project magazine that profiles players and explores equine-inspired design, Mr. Gazecki has developed a whole package for each event with great fun games between matches (and great prizes), beautiful fashions encouraged via an on-field prize for best dressed gal and guy - great summery frocks and gents in smart mode add to the appeal.

Great sponsors who are also focused on the best in Australia continue to be part of these events. This year's Polo by the Sea major sponsor was Mosman's Audi Centre with some shiny vehicles adding that vroom-vroom element. Also on course was Manly Spirit Bar who produce a brilliant range of Gins, Vodkas and Whiskies from the Northern Beaches first Artisan Distillery - G&T in Summer at Palm Beach - how could it get any better? The after party took place at The Newport, that garden idyll overlooking Pittwater where an icy cold beer may be had with your view. 

Even the team that won the match photographed below was sponsored by a great Australian winery and Australian Winemaker of the Year in 2014 and 2015 - Bird in Hand.

The Urban Polo Association also supports grassroots polo schools that teach fans how to play, and provides scholarships to emerging players.

Yesterday residents and visitors spent some time in enjoying an ancient game played by sportsmen who are becoming very popular with each revisit to Pittwater. Four matches on the smaller field so you can see what's going on, brought thoroughbreds back where they had been before and could also be said to echo back to much earlier days too when you remember Mona Vale once had a polo field at George Brock's 'The Oaks' as well as competitions and P. T. Taylor of Bayview also promoted the game locally. 

As each player brings up to six horses to a match and will play only a few minutes on each horse before swapping to the next, and many are ex-race horses, those who love everything equine, had a very good day. They are called "ponies", but that is a reference to their agile type rather than their size; almost all are horse-sized although smaller ones are sought to allow players to get closer to the ball with their mallet. These 'ponies' require considerable training and ongoing conditioning. For competition, polo ponies have their manes roached and tails braided so that there is no danger of being tangled in the mallet.In Australian the Australian Stock Horse is used.

One little girl stood spellbound; 

'Do you like horses?' 

'I love horses - they're my favourite animal.'


The 2019 Polo by the Sea celebration of the best of Australian products and businesses, backed up by getting to see some of the best Australian polo players in action, proved once again that you may take that country aspect out of Pittwater but you cannot remove that love of all things rural from our spirit. With drought conditions curtailing some polo events in rural areas in recent polo seasons, it's great to see the Urban Polo Association bringing more understanding of what is an essential element of the Australian backbone to areas where a new generation can be inspired to find out more about where they came from.

Find out more at: polobythesea.com and polointhecity.com and www.nswpolo.com.au and www.sydneypolo.com

Album here for some of this year's action - a few examples below.

* A polo team consists of four mounted players and their mounts.

The four players on each team are assigned positions, designated by the numbers from 1 to 4 and worn on their team jerseys.

The Number 1 – is a forward, and attacking offensive player. The Number 1 is responsible for scoring goals; they are also expected to “ride-off” the opposing defensive player allowing a trailing teammate the opportunity to score.  The Number 1 should be an accurate hitter and concentrate on scoring opportunities.

The Number 2 – has an important role in offence, either running through and scoring, or passing to the Number 1 and getting in behind them.  Defensively they will cover the opposing team’s Number 3.  It is not uncommon for the best player on the team to play Number 2.

The Number 3 – is a tactical player and must be a long powerful hitter to feed balls to Number 2 and Number 1 as well as maintaining a solid defense.  The best player on the team is usually the Number 3 player, usually wielding the highest handicap.

The Number 4 – is the primary defense player.  They can move anywhere on the field, but they usually try to prevent scoring.  The emphasis on defense by the Number 4 allows the Number 3 to attempt more offensive plays since they know they will be covered if they lose the ball.

Half-Time

Report and photos by A. J. Guesdon, 2019