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Interview: Rachel Wakefield catches up with polo champion Ebe Sievwright

Interview: Rachel Wakefield catches up with polo champion Ebe Sievwright

Rachel Wakefield

Interview: Rachel Wakefield catches up with polo champion Ebe Sievwright

This summer, Windsor Great Park is an extremely busy place to be, not just because of the many millions of tourists that come to enjoy the open space.

A small part on the Surrey side, known as Smith’s Lawn, is currently the glamorous destination point for stars from stage, screen, literature and eager polo sport followers.

This patch of green is home to The Guards Polo Club, where the world’s finest world-class players and ponies, at the peak of their performance, are bidding to win a priceless silver trophy nearly every day of every week during the summer’s very social season.

For example, this week the fixtures include the Indian Empire Shield, The Social Cup and, new to this year, The Roberts Cup.

Next week fixtures will include the Coworth Park Challenge.

Argentinean polo champion Ebe Sievwright and polo instructor Philip Meadows manage The Guards Polo Club Academy, which is hosted at Coworth Park, Ascot.

During this current busy period, Ebe took time out to answer a few questions about the allure of this game.

Tell me, as a youngster, was it the thrill of horse riding or the heat of competition that drew you to the sport of polo?

Probably a combination of the two. I grew up in the Pony Club, Argentina, which was fun but I was attracted to the thrill and skill that you require for the sport of polo. Once I gave it go, I was hooked.

I have played polo for more than 25 years, it has taken me all over the world and I’ve played professionally for many teams including The Black Bears - a renowned, high-goal, group of players.

How would you describe your style of playing?

I am naturally a defender - a back. I like to play for my team and have strong backhanders and a long forehand.

Who is currently at the top of their game in this sport?

The Duke of Cambridge is a strong player but his schedule doesn't permit dedicated practice.

At the top of their game this season would be two brothers from Argentina called Gonzalo and Facundo Pieres who play for a team called Kingpower. They just won the Queen’s Cup and are now heading towards the final of the Gold Cup, which is the British Open.

Tell me about your involvement with polo today?

I teach and run The Guards Polo Academy. Here I use a unique coaching programme aimed at teaching everyone, including beginners, to ride and play with a view to eventually participating in all levels of polo both amateur and professional.

It takes place at Coworth Park, which is the only UK hotel to have its own polo training field in the grounds.

I also speak at events and tournaments about the sport as well as commentate on live games.

Tell me what skills are needed before learning to play polo?

Riding a horse is important. It can be learned at any age but it constitutes the most important part of the game.

What is the difference between playing polo in England and playing it in America?

The main difference between American and English polo, apart from the weather, is the quality of the grass.

England has very strong natural irrigation thanks to all the rain and therefore beautiful green fields, but the grass itself does not stand up well. This means the ball doesn't travel as easily and players prioritise possession over passing, which is slower, but involves more skill.

In America the grass type is sturdier and the ball sits better on top of it so the game is quicker, but the lack of rainfall, at least in California, means that the fields are not as picturesque as they are here and deteriorate faster.

Tell me about snow polo in St Moritz?

I have commentated on the Polo on Snow in St. Moritz for the past 14 years. It is a wonderful spectacle cradled in the epic beauty of the Alps. Many of the world's best players go there, primarily to have fun, but also to compete for a Cartier watch.

The polo is good and handling the different sized ball on the snow requires a different set of skills.

Where’s the best place in the world to watch polo and why?

The Argentine Open in Palermo, Buenos Aires, is the ultimate competition featuring all of the world's best professional players.

It lasts longer; it is faster and played on bigger fields. It is an awesome spectacle to behold.

When travelling between polo events, during the season, what music do you listen to on your device?

I was a DJ for many years so I have many diverse tastes, but if I listen on a device it is usually electronica. Royksopp and Jungle are my favourite bands at the moment.

Tell me the name of your favourite horse?

My favourite horse was Raffi. When I first met her she was wasn’t rideable and it took me a long time to get to know her without her freaking out.

I worked hard to win her trust but once I did she was so sensitive, fast and agile. She changed my game.

Now you are based in Coworth Park, Ascot, where’s your favourite place to visit in this area?

Windsor Great Park is my favourite place to visit; it is so beautiful and lovingly cared for.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Ascot, or the surrounding area, and what’s your favourite meal there?

I love The Barn at Coworth Park and their signature ale battered fish and chips is a firm favourite of mine. It has a great atmosphere and the food is lovely…and polo is a few hundred yards away.

What indulgence can you not do without?

M&S bitesize flapjacks.

You’re also famous for being an actor. Sleepover LA is the last film you’ve starred in, but what was the last one you have seen recently?

Mad Max: Fury Road at the Arclight Dome in Hollywood.

Who is your favourite menswear designer?

For formal or evening wear I tend not to espouse any single tailor or designer over another. The only thing I can say is that a Hérmes tie does give all the others a run for their money.

On the polo field, I can’t live without my La Martina boots and kneepads!

For details of future polo events visit www.guardspoloclub.com.

Information about The Guard Polo Academy, whether for individual or group tuition, can be found here too.

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