Food, Wine, Fashion and World Class Polo

The glamour of world class polo to hit All Saints Estate. Photo credit: Bared Footwear

Palm Beach, Deauville, Buenos Aries… and now Wahgunyah.

Thanks to the recent trend of ‘pop-up’ polo fields, the list of glamorous locations that host polo tournaments now includes the Rutherglen wine region.

Following the overwhelming success of a polo tournament at All Saints Estate in 2016, Victoria Polo Club has booked its final matches of the season to be held at the popular winery on Saturday April 14.

Polo in action. Photo credit: Georgie James Photographer

Polo players included in the tournament line up include globetrotting professionals Ruki Baillieu and Greg Keyte, along with young gun, Ed Mandie.

Ed Mandie in action.

“The huge support for the second All Saints Estate Polo really confirms our region’s thirst for great sporting events, wine, food and a high quality fashionable experience,” said Angela Brown, Sales and Marketing Director of All Saints Estate.

The winery’s expansive turf area – the ‘green’ used for the recent ‘Day On The Green’ outdoor concert – will be given a quick makeover for the event adding polo goals and low-level arena boards.

Photo credit: Bared Footwear

For spectators new to the sport, polo is a fast and easy-to-follow sport with adrenaline-charged horses and riders galloping back and forth and clashing like warriors to score goals.

Polo also lays claim to having the largest playing field of all organised sports (keep that up your sleeve for quiz night), which means there is plenty of standing and sitting room on the sidelines for everyone.

On the down side, the off-field hospitality and fashion at polo matches often means that even die-hard sports fans can become a little distracted. Border Cafe has the following polo-insights to help spectators to stay focused:

Socialising in style is a major focus at the polo. Photo credit: Georgie James Photographer
  1. There are four players in each team, numbered one to four on their shirts. Number one serves as a kind of ‘forward’ to get goals (although any player can score) and four is the defending ‘back’. Number three is generally the strongest player on the team and usually the captain.
  2. The stick used by players is called a mallet and the ball is called a ball. The mallet looks like a stretched-out croquet mallet but, unlike croquet, the ball is struck on the long side of the mallet head.
  3. In this tournament there are four chukkas – or sections – per game, each running for 7 minutes. Players can only ride one horse for two chukkas each game so you will often seen horse changeovers between and during a game and this is also why there are so many horses required to play a game.
  4. The team that scores the most goals at the end of a game wins, and ends are swapped after every goal. Each player has an individual handicap rating measured in ‘goals’ from -2 to a maximum of 10. If one team has a higher accumulative tally than the other then the difference is given to the scoreboard of the lesser team to even things out (think Ambrose golf)
  5. When a player hits or deflects the ball, an imaginary line is drawn on the field from the player to the ball’s likely destination. If another player cuts in front of this line at an unsafe distance then a foul is incurred. This is most common reason the umpire blows their whistle and the game stops and starts for no apparent reason.
  6. You often hear the term ‘man-up’ shouted out by players. Despite the aggression, it is not a dig at anyone’s lack of masculinity, rather a reminder to buddy-up with an opponent to stop them breaking away and getting the ball.
  7. Horses of any size are called ponies in polo, it’s a historical thing. Ponies work pretty hard on a polo field for their players but they are kept incredibly fit and get more than half the year off to hang out with their equine buddies.
  8. The reason that polo horses have their manes clipped and their tails tied-up is so that players don’t get mallets tangled in horse hair, causing all sorts of problems. Bandages and boots are also worn by horses as protection, while players often have knee guards and face guards.
  9. As part of their sports uniform, polo players wear white polo trousers that always get incredibly scuffed and stained during a game. So remember, for every glittering polo performance you see there is someone at home who does a great deal of scrubbing over a laundry sink.
  10. Spectators are often asked half-way through a tournament to help ‘stomp’ back grass divots that have been cut by galloping hooves. It helps repair of bit of turf damage, sure, but it is also a nifty way for those in high heels with a wine in hand to show off their extreme balancing skills on uneven ground.

Various ticket and hospitality options are available on top of general admission, including the All Saints Estate Marquee, private marquees and car boot sites. Gates open at 11am.

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