Football is the world's most popular sport, and Formula One perhaps the most dangerous. Polo, we could claim, takes the number one spot where daring combined with style are concerned.
Waiting for play to begin
The sport claims to be the oldest team game in the world and was initiated by central Asian nomads well over 2,000 years ago, was enjoyed exclusively by the aristocracy in comparatively modern times. The origins of its name can be traced to Tibet, where it was known as ‘pulu.’ It was played by the military in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Polo’s international popularity has long seen it played in much of Europe, Spanish-speaking South America, the Caribbean, Southern Africa, the United States, India and Australia, and Winston Churchill, Britain's war-time Prime Minister and a soldier and a polo player in his younger days, once said that a polo handicap was the most important passport you could carry.
Martina, official supplier to some of the worlds most important polo teams
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However, the game went through a lean spell with the mechanisation of the armed forces. More recently, there has been an upsurge in popularity, and it is currently played in some 86 countries. Participating is costly, but for many people, the enjoyment is in spectating anyway; in admiring the equestrian skills of the riders and the conditioning of the ponies. Watching polo is also a society event, simply a fashionable occasion.
There are plenty of opportunities for doing exactly this in Madrid, where the game was first played in 1876 at the Royal Casa de Campo, one of the many residences of King Alfonso XII. Although polo was discontinued on his premature death in 1884, this was only a temporary halt and the patronage of Alfonso XIII ensured polo's revival at the Club de Madrid, later renamed Real Puerta de Hierro. Have a look at the calendar of events on the Madrid Polo Federation website.
La Martina is official supplier to some of the world's most important polo teams
There are two venues just north of the city centre, either side of the Rio Manzanares: the Club de Campo, two kilometres from the Carretera de Castilla, and Real Club de la Puerta de Hierro, on the Avendida de Miraflores.
Writing about a polo weekend event at Club de Campo, My Little Madrid said, "Polo activity is very aesthetic and an elegant sport."
Other listed clubs where you can thrill to the sound of thundering hooves, enjoy a glass of sangria and admire the style of the well-dressed and well-heeled are Postoloboso, further north of the city centre, and Cornicabral, in the stylish Salamanca district to the north east.
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