Gold Cup Polo - Behind the scenes

According the the Gold Cup's website "The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup is played to decide the British Open Polo Championship and is the premier polo tournament in the world at 22 goal (High Goal) level. With all the international stars of the game in action in the incomparable setting of Cowdray Park’s famous ‘Lawns’, the event draws in polo aficionados from all over the globe".

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For me it was my first time to see live polo in action and whilst I enjoy sitting with friends on the sidelines watching the toing and froing of the match the interest for me lay behind the scenes where the general public seemed to show no interest in going.  Whilst Champagne was being quaffed in enormous quantities at picnics all around the pitch I wandered off with camera in hand to see what was going on at the business end of the field.  Beneath trees out of sight of the pitch was the area where the ponies were to be tethered.  I arrived there shortly before they arrived and chatted in broken Spanish with one of the Argentinian grooms as he laid out all the tack belonging to Pablo MacDonough, the Argentinian 10 goaler playing for the UAE team.

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Being Argentinian meant that a flask of hot water and mate were never far away and was soon being shared - groups of grooms wandered around with the flasks under their arms sipping from the metal straws that are such a familiar part of the Argentinian male.

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The first of the horse boxes soon arrived and the ponies unloaded - with as many as a dozen ponies for each of a teams 4 players this adds up to a lot of horses.

With so many ponies each team had it's own farrier on site to deal with lost shoes - polo ponies are fitted with nut like studs on their hind shoes that enable them to accelerate and turn extremely quickly.

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All images were shot with the little Fuji x100s which I have still to make my mind up on.  Yes it shoots lovely images - yes it's discrete - yes the design is nice and it feels great in your hand but there is still something that is not quite right about the camera when using it for documentary work.  When the camera powers down it takes seconds to come back to life after reactivating it - fine if you're not in a hurry but if trying to capture a moment it can be incredibly frustrating.  Perhaps I need to try different modes for the viewfinder, maybe using optical rather than electrical in order to speed up the response time.  Time will tell.