Watergate Bay is more used to water polo than equestrian polo, but on the first weekend in July it hosts the award-winning Veuve Clicquot Polo on the Beach weekend. This free event incorporates speed and skill with the excitement of seeing some of the country's top professional polo players on horseback.
All you need to know about polo on the beach
Polo on the Beach started back in 2007 as a one-day event. It has since expanded to cover both Saturday and Sunday so bring your sleeping bag (or maybe your VW camper van if you really want to blend in!) originally the event took place in May but has moved forward this year to early July.
The highlight of the weekend is an exhibition polo match on Sunday afternoon between two top international teams. In 2014 this will be between the Joules and First Great Western Polo teams with some of Britain's finest polo players.
The organisers promise horsey spectacles on the beach as a warm-up to the two polo matches which will be played during the afternoon. Enjoy demonstrations of Segway Polo, Polo Pony Relay, Horse Stunt Show and live music.
On the Saturday there will be the first ever Ladies Match at Watergate Bay's Polo on the Beach. This will precede the main Men's Trophy event. On Sunday the polo match will be Cornwall vs. Rest of the World, sponsored by Cornwall Farmers Patch and Acre.
The fast game consists of four to eight chukkas, each lasting 7 minutes when players can change mounts. Teams of four compete and riders must hit the ball between the goal posts using a long-handled mallet. Play is continuous except for penalties, broken tack or injury.
The Polo on the Beach weekend at Newquay has plenty more activities for horseless visitors. There will of course be a champagne bar by sponsors Veuve Clicquot, a barbecue and bar providing food, entertainment and live music on the beach during the polo event.
A brief history of polo
Known as the “Sport of Kings”, polo dates back to the 5th century BC, when Persian cavalry units invented the game as a training exercise in speed, accuracy and horsemanship. The first recorded game was between the Turkomans and the Persians. The Moguls took the idea of the game from Persia to the East and by the 16th century it was established in India, thanks to Emperor Babur.
In the 1850s British tea planters discovered the game in Manipur and founded the first polo club in the world at Silchar, and many more followed. The oldest surviving polo club is the Calcutta Polo Club, founded in 1862. In 1869, Edward Hartopp of the 10th Hussars organized the first British game of “hockey on horseback” on Hounslow Heath, making up the rules as they went along.
The first polo club in the UK was Monmouthshire, founded in 1872 by Captain Francis Herbert of the 7th Lancers at his brother's estate near Abergavenny. Since then polo has continued to expand to 77 countries, becoming an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1939, and reintroduced in 1998.
Gorgeous Watergate Bay, Newquay
Located two miles north of Newquay, Watergate Bay & Mawgan Porth is clearly a place that appeals to adrenalin sports enthusiasts. The two mile stretch of sand and exposed northwesterly sea makes it popular for surfing, kitesurfing and sand art. It is more familiar for hosting the English Nationals Surfing Championships, but is equally at home accommodating the annual Polo on the Beach.
Overlooking the beach is the Extreme Academy sports school, so if you tire of equestrian action you can try your hand at surfing, wave skiing, paddle surfing, kitesurfing and more. However, you will have quite an audience watching your amateur efforts! The bay is also the location of Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, started by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to give promising apprentice chefs a chance to shine.
Did you know about the Polo on the Beach event or have you attended a previous polo match day? We'd love to hear your comments about this unusual event, or perhaps you can suggest other horsey events for horse lovers to enjoy in Cornwall.