Are You Rich & Can You Ride a Horse?

Polo. Please help me to understand.

From where I’m sitting, polo is a horse picnic. It’s a day at the races without the bogans.

So why does it have hoity-toity connotations? People have ridden horses for eons. Dozens of civilizations around the world play a version of polo. Head to the high steppes of Central Asia and you can watch a far more skilful game of polo played by maniacs on Arabian steeds, belting the shrunken skulls of their enemies around a dirt pitch. Wow. Now that’s worth rolling out of the beanbag for.

Instead, polo in the West is played by ‘athletes’ who possess a very rare combination of attributes: rich/can ride horse.

And for those polo apologists prancing up and down, towing the line about ‘unparalleled skill’ and fitness… or the beauty of man and horse working as one… I have two words for you:

Prince Charles.

Actually, I have another two words for you.

Kerry Packer.

And unless you’re going to suggest that these men are/were supreme athletes and best exemplify man and horse’s unique and primal connection, I think we can all agree that polo tournaments are to athletic contests what the Moomba Birdman is to aviation or the Alice Springs boat race is to rowing regattas. It’s a joke.

Not to say that I could do any better. Polo looks impossibly tough. No wonder most of the game involves lots of galloping about, windmill swinging and fresh-air missing. It’s like trying to play golf from a moving golf buggy. “And here comes Tiger as he approaches his second shot, his caddy has slowed the buggy down to 20, he has a 9 iron, there’s the backswing… and oh dear, he’s missed.”

I’m all for dressing up, sipping on champers or a Euro beer but let’s stop kidding ourselves, polo isn’t the best reason to frock up and frolic. You’re better off watching a Little Athletics meeting.

Still unconvinced? Okay then, answer me this: why isn’t polo an Olympic event? Curling is. So is some bizarre event that involves shooting, fencing, boxing and knitting… so why not polo? Easy. Rich people with nothing to do run the Olympics, they don’t compete in them.

So why do companies that should know better, fall over themselves to throw money at polo ‘tournaments’? Excellent question and we all know the answer.

Polo oozes money.

One prominent Australian tournament last year managed to attract royalty, no less. Actually, upon further examination, the ‘royal’ in question was Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. No, I didn’t make that up. Although, one wonders who will be on this year’s guest list… Grand Duke Barry of Cheezel-Tooheys-Jatz?

The Klims will turn up, but that goes without saying. I had to turn Michael and Lindy away from a backyard barbeque last Sunday… “sorry mate, but you can’t just rock up unannounced like this”.

I know all this is sounding like acid words dripping from the poison pen of a man with jumbo-sized chip on his shoulder. Well, perhaps. Would I attend a polo tournament if invited? Perhaps… out of curiosity. Am I a miserable bastard? Maybe just a bit. – CH.

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