Polo in the UK

The Haydon family enjoyed a memorable trip to England in July, where HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL followed on from her impressive debut season in 2009 to firmly establish herself as one of the best polo ponies in the country, culminating in being judged Runner Up Champion Horse in the final of the 2010 Gold Cup British Open.

HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL has been an integral part of the juggernaut Dubai team that has completed the British double – winning both the Queens Cup at the Guards Polo Club and the big one, the Gold Cup British Open at Cowdray Park. She was played in both the second and final chukka of the Gold Cup to win the crown 14-12 from Victor Vargas’s team Lechuza Caracas.

The mare is played by Argentine 10 goaler Adolfo Cambiaso, described now as the best polo player ever, and the current holder of the three major world polo trophies – the Argentine Open, the US Open and now the British Open. Everyone jokes about how he should be re-handicapped above the 10 goal maximum to 12 goals!

This year saw 20 top teams competing for the title, playing four round league games, progressing to quarter and semi-finals culminating in the big finals day at Cowdray Park. A huge crowd gathered for the final, with luncheon marquees, over 80 trade stalls and the very evident presence of the main sponsor Veuve Clicquot. Long term commentator Terry Hanlon entertained the crowd and added to the experience. He continually refers to Angel as Cambiaso’s best pony, and singles her out during play, telling the crowd to ‘watch this pony’. Once he even asked the crowd for a round of applause for ‘that pony’.

During the week Adolfo Cambiaso invited Peter, Alison and Nick Haydon to visit the impressive Dubai team stables in

Berkshire, where Adolfo showed them his horses and played a few short chukkas in readiness for the big game ahead. He was very interested to get all of Angel’s details and full breeding, which traces back ten generations at Haydon Horse Stud, established in 1832 at ‘Bloomfield’ in the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales. When asked what training he did when she arrived, Adolfo replied: ‘nothing…she was perfect…I just play her,’ so no tips were forthcoming. The stables are run very professionally and they specialise in judging that fine line in horse preparation throughout such an intensive high goal season to ensure their horsepower will be the best on finals day.

Adolfo plans to take Angel to Argentina next year to play her in the Argentine Open, and will include her in his embryo program over there. Angel’s full sister is HAYDON TOURMALINE, whose first foal HAYDON VICTORIANA has also just been exported to Argentina and began playing there in February. Interestingly, HAYDON VICTORIANA is by the Haydon Stud sire MURRABONG VICTORY, whose half-sister is also making her mark in the high goal in England playing in the El Remanso team.

The final held special significance for the Haydons, as up and coming 8 goaler player Sapo Caset (just re-handicapped to 9) played HAYDON SCUD on the opposing team. HAYDON SCUD is by HAYDON DRAWN, also the sire of HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL. HAYDON DRAWN was awarded Australian Champion Three Year Old of his year on the racetrack, breaking a track record at Rosehill, and winning or placing in 13 stakes races.

HAYDON DRAWN has amassed a long list of successful progeny, who when performed at the top level just seem to take it in their stride. HAYDON ROSECUP has won awards in Western Australia. HAYDON MADONNA was Champion Horse in this year’s Scone Polo League, an award previously won by HAYDON CELESTIAL. HAYDON OLIVIA was played last year at Ellerston by 8 goaler Alejandro Mussio. HAYDON EVETTE and HAYDON DARK DRAW have played there as well.

Successful overseas horses include HAYDON MOONLIGHT and HAYDON BLUSH. In polocrosse others to be successful include HAYDON FESTINA, HAYDON DRAWLINA, HAYDON PEONY ROSE and HAYDON SIGNATURE.

Fortunately Haydon Horse Stud have retained a successor to HAYDON DRAWN – his well credentialed son HAYDON NIGHTWATCH, bred on the same successful HAYDON DRAWN/HAYDON NEVER DOUBT cross as HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL and many of those successful horses listed above. Other HAYDON DRAWN sons include HAYDON DRAWAWAY and HAYDON REDRAW.

HAYDON NIGHTWATCH’s progeny that are coming through suggests he may prove to be a more influential stallion then his sire, with the likes of HAYDON SATELLITE (AUS) being used as a sire in the United States, and HAYDON TARTAN, HAYDON APOLLO, HAYDON RAINDROP and many other talented young horses coming through the ranks.

An interesting innovation at the Gold Cup this year was the use of big television screens, not only to show the replays but also to list the names of the horses each player was playing on at that particular time. The screen controllers had radio contact with a coordinator from each team who called in as every change of horse was made. Before the final a list of all the horses and their breeding was available, so the spectators could then follow the horses as they played.

In HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL’s case she always played the second and last chukka, while HAYDON SCUD was often played in sections of three different chukkas. Spare horses are held at either ends of the field, so a quick changeover can be effected as soon as the horse is getting tired.

HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL and Adolfo Cambiaso in full flight during the final of the 2010 Gold Cup Brtish Open. Photo: Clive Bennett Adolfo Cambiaso, and HAYDON ANGEL JEWEL. Photo: Clive Bennett Allison and Peter Haydon with the Gold Cup, one of the most prestigious prizes in international polo

Article reproduced courtesy of the Australian Stock Horse Society