Having played at clubs across the UK and abroad Andy decided to set up South West Polo to allow people to experience the ‘King of Sports’ for themselves. Over the past few years interest in Polo has grown dramatically with new clubs opening yearly. Watergate Bay Hotel and Andy Burgess got together back in 2007 to introduce the sport of polo to an new audience and seven years on we have certainly helped it become more well known in Cornwall and the South West.
Andy is integral to the organisation of Polo on the Beach at Watergate Bay, he was in fact the umpire in the first year.
Andy will be racing against Dreya Bennett in the Kitesurfer vs Polo Pony challenge. We managed to catch up with Andy to ask him about his career as a polo player and how he feels he will fare against Dreya.
How many years have you been playing polo?
I have been playing polo for approximately 20 years but riding horses since I was three.
What are some of your career highlights?
I have had many highlights over my career as a polo player but these are three that really stand out for me:
– Winning the Hamburg Open in 2001 as the only English player in an all German team.
– Playing for Belmont Polo Team in the Royal Berkshire Festival in 2000.
– Qualifying as a Hurlingham Polo Association Accredited Professional Coach.
Who can play polo?
Anyone really. I have taught people of all ages over the years and even had one client who started lessons in his sixties as a way to keep fit!
There are a growing number of Universities with polo societies inviting novice and seasoned riders to try out the sport.
What do you enjoy most about playing polo?
For me it is the speed and competitive nature of the sport along with the interaction with such amazing horses. You also get to meet some really great people along the way.
What do you like about riding/playing polo at Watergate Bay?
I love playing Polo at Watergate Bay and it has become very much the highlight of my Polo season. The sand at Watergate Bay gives us, and more importantly the horses, an amazing surface to play on. Although there are other beach polo matches in the UK and around the world I feel this event is unique due to the spectacular location set below the towering cliffs and the Hotel.
Which horse will you be riding during the Kitesurfer vs Polo Pony challenge?
I will be riding Shrivar, an ex race horse. He is 15 years old from Irish decent. Shrivar a.k.a ‘Lofty’, can reach speeds up to 40mph and won ‘Best Player Pony’ at last years Royal Cornwall Show.
What conditions are you looking for on the day?
Dry would be nice! Ideally, I think Dreya would like a Westerly wind but but shouldn’t make too much difference to Shrivar and myself although we’d prefer not to have a head wind!
How do you think you’re going to fare against Dreya?
I don’t know for sure, Shrivar was a very good racehorse during his racing career, but this is the first time I’ve ever raced against a Kitesurfer! I have done a bit of research on Dreya though and it looks like I may have my work cut out!