With polo season about to start, professional player George Meyrick, tells Exclusive why it’s no longer just a sport for the rich and royal…
Occupation: Professional Polo player
How would you explain Polo to a beginner?
The polo season in the UK runs from May to September. A polo team usually consists of four people on each side. There are four to six ‘chukkas’ in a match and each one lasts for seven minutes of play. There are no goal keepers, and the aim of the game is to get the ball through the goal. It’s similar to hockey – but played on horses!
How would someone to get into the sport?
It depends what age you are. If you are very young, I’d say the Pony Club pcuk.org and a lot of English players start their career at a young age this way. Alternatively you can learn through lessons and join your local team.
How did you get involved in Polo?
My Grandfather and my Dad played a little bit when they were growing up. I was also lucky enough to grow up on a farm and have horses, so playing polo was natural for me.
Do you have a favourite horse that you ride?
I have a couple of favourites. I have one that I don’t play anymore called Marmalade, she’s in retirement now, and I’m quite attached to her. I also have one called Boogie who plays really well.
How do you prepare on match day?
An afternoon game usually starts around 3pm. In the morning I tend to wake up naturally, you have to be rested for the afternoon so I’ll wake up around 8 or 9 o’clock and spend most of the morning with the horses, checking things and making sure they are okay and doing any last minute jobs. I will try and have something to eat between breakfast and lunch, something light and full of energy. When I arrive at the venue I’ll try and make sure I have a good hour or more to get organised and to warm up prior to the game.
When you aren’t playing Polo what do you get up to?
I do play a bit of squash, but I don’t really have a lot of time to do anything particularly seriously other than polo. Polo is full time! I love London so any time off I do like to spend my time there.
What is your favourite venue or tournament to play at?
I love to play in England- it’s where I grew up, it’s where I started watching the sport at home and it’s where I started my career. I love to play at the Guards Club in Berkshire but I also enjoy playing for the British events like Polo in the Park at Hurlingham Park and the British Polo Day at The River Ground in Henley-on-Thames.
What is your proudest moment in the sport?
Representing England is always amazing.
You must have to be physically fit to play the sport, how do you train?
I’ve been working over the last year with personal trainer Matt Roberts mattroberts.co.uk. You have to be fit and strong for polo, but you also have to be light and flexible. So I have to work out a programme that builds my fitness without putting on too much bulk, while still maintaining my weight and conditioning. I do a lot of cardio and I try to do a weight session a week.
What attracts people to watch the sport?
At the moment it’s the event and the atmosphere as a whole, rather than just the actual game. It’s a day out for families and the glamour which draws people to watch us, rather than supporting a team in the way that football fans watch their teams play.
How much has the sport grown in recent years?
I’ve started to notice the public becoming more and more interested in the sport. It’s a fun day out for all ages, especially in the summer with good weather.
What do you have coming up for the rest of the year?
I’ll be playing at Guards, you’ll also see me playing at Polo in the Park in June. I’ll then be going back to Argentina for the start of their polo season once the English season finishes.
Watch George Meyrick in action at Chestertons Polo in the Park on 5-7 June. For tickets & info visit www.polointheparklondon.com