Cirencester, which is just outside the Cotswold country, is famous for being one of the most important English Roman towns, then known as Corinium. Now it is well known for Polo.
Not the round sweets Polo’s which are advertised as “the mint with the hole” but Polo, that mad game played on ponies.
Like most things associated with horses, Polo really does put a hole in your mint, eating away your money faster than anything. Despite being the sport of Princes and millionaires (who are the only ones that can afford it), it is remarkably accessible to us ordinary folk. You just turn up, pay to get in and watch.
Croquet at full gallop is the best way to describe the game, which is played by two teams of four players. The rules are rather complicated and I will leave you to look those up elsewhere.
So we found ourselves at Cirencester Park, on the edge of town, eating our picnic lunch on the warmest day for ages, hoping that we wouldn’t get trampled on when the ball came our way – which it seemed to do quite frequently.
Swarms of spectators running onto the playing area is an eccentricity of Polo. Carrying out the important task of divoting, or pushing the damaged turf back into the ground is part of the fun and a good way for all to participate. Toddlers and dogs, elderly ladies in twinsets and pearls as well as the rest of us hoi-polloi mix in frenzy of activity. Quite mad!
What Barney would make of it all, I cannot imagine. He is my Irish Draught hunter, a huge 17 hands 3″ unlike the polo ponies that are small and sure footed. Barney’s picture has joined the family portraits on the right hand side of the page. More about him another time….