The Hackett Rundle Cup at Tidworth Polo Club 2017
A hot polo contest in many ways as the sun beat down on crowds and trade stands for the
annual skirmish between the Royal Navy and The British Army.
It was almost as if we had dialled up the weather for the 2017 Hackett Rundle Cup. Scorchio was
order of the day as the big yellow ball in the sky radiated over the number one ground for what was
a sensationally sizzling day of polo and entertainment!
With an estimated 4000 people attending the trade stands were busy, champagne flowing and
sponsors entertaining their special guests. The Inspire Foundation Charity match opened the day
with the Jockeys and Eventers showing their newly found skills of playing polo. Both teams invited
one polo player who has suffered a serious life changing injury with amputee Jockey Guy Disney and
Spinal Injury Dr Fran Townend showing what the funds raised for spinal medical research can
achieve. It was rather poignant that they finished the game with a 3 all draw.
The REME Parachute team then dropped in to say hello from 7000ft with 12 parachutists giving an
especially skilful display before the stars of polo future took to the pitch to put on the most exciting
display of pony club polo. The RA hunt took on the Hampshire Hunt and quite frankly they were
good! I mean seriously good! In years to come these kids are going to be in demand so watch them
closely to get booked into your future polo teams!
After crowds had indulged in the flowing champagne and sumptuous lunches the Combined Services
Polo Association (CSPA) took on the visiting team from the Republic of South Africa. From the throw
in this was a battle of warriors! End to end resistance from both teams showing grit and
determination exciting the crowds and warming them up further for what was later to come in the
afternoon. Just as it looked like the Republic of South Africa were going to run away with it the CSPA
team found the ignite button with Brigadier Piers Hankinson who hadn’t picked up a polo stick in a
year putting two goals through in the last minute leaving the final score CSPA 6 South Africa 4 ½
Brigadier Piers Hankinson Commented post-match “The SA Free state were robust and a good mix of
players with thrilling end to end fast play. The brain was playing great polo but the body was
constantly trying to keep up!”
The Hackett Rundle Cup was a heart stopping performance with Lt Hiro Suzuki showing his polo
brilliance and scoring from the first line out. From start to first goal was about 20 seconds! The
crowds pretty much held their breath from this second forward! The Army fought with low level
attack, hard and fast with Sleeman creating goals but James Lucas the Royal Navy coach who was
standing in for Cdre Adrian Aplin who is suffering with broken ribs showed why he is their coach. He
shut down hard in defence with great lofting backhands that landed on the stick of Hiro Suzuki who
was literally everywhere! Hiro by name, Hiro by game and Hiro by nature, Suzuki showed how
dangerous he is in attack with team mates clearing the way to let him run through. At half time the
only stomping was from the team coaches as the heat increased both on and off the pitch. It was
close, very close, as just ½ a goal on handicap difference stood between them!
Chukka 3 showed an imaginary force field had appeared between the goal posts. Tight play but
seriously hard ride offs and lost shots left it like their very own game of Battleships. A guessing game
to who will come off the pitch as winners of this prestigious trophy!
The Royal Navy deployed their greatest defence. They were loud, strong and bold with a synergy
between players. The army forced through with an ambush attack as it literally was coming down
From the command post of the commentary box Lt Col (Retd) Simon Ledger most likely felt he was
at a polo pantomime as the crowds followed his lead and shouted ‘ooooohhhhhhh’s’ and
Arrrggghhhhhh’s and Oh Blimey’s!
It was blood pumping, heart stopping, nail biting excitement with end to end polo warfare and it still
wasn’t clear by nearly the end of chukka 4 as both sides were so well drilled. Well other than the two
involuntary Naval dismounts! But even with the Mulholland and Sleeman show for the Army scoring
the final goal of the match, the Navy were victorious with just that ½ goal in it.
Captain Dean Bassett commented “My first Hackett Rundle Cup and it was a huge one to play in.
Thank you to Tidworth Polo Club, Tidworth Garrison, HMS Collingwood, all the sponsors and mostly
the outstanding crowd. Tough…. It was tough!”
Winston Churchill once said “The only traditions of the Royal Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash”
Winston dear boy ……. If you saw that match you would be adding polo to the list!
We would like to thank our main sponsor Hackett London.
We also would like to thank our supporting prize and team sponsors.
Gore, Paddock Power, FRA, Exton Park, Richard Griffiths & Co Solicitors, Quilter Cheviot and Baylis and
Press and Media Officer | Tidworth Polo Club