x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emirates Palace to host City Polo Series in November

Organisers say the beautiful venue and short format will spice up interest in the sport.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak makes a gesture at the draw ceremony of the City Polo Series which was attended by Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistan president, and the four captains.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak makes a gesture at the draw ceremony of the City Polo Series which was attended by Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistan president, and the four captains.

ABU DHABI // Polo is following the lead of Twenty20 cricket competitions by introducing a shorter version of the game and it is coming to the capital in November.

The four-team competition - Coutts Polo at the Palace - will take place on November 23 and 24. It will be played on a smaller field with teams of three instead of four, and will be the first of its kind to be staged on the lawns of the Emirates Palace Hotel.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education, and General Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, conducted the draw yesterday.

Team Abu Dhabi were pitted against Team London and Team Buenos Aires will go up against Team Milano.

The winners will play in the final and the losing teams in the play-off for third.

"I am delighted to be bringing this modernised version of the game like the T20 format of cricket right to the centre of Abu Dhabi," Amir Sadr, the head of Coutts' UAE market and co-head of the Middle East office, said.

The event will be staged on the West Lawn in the Palace Gardens on a custom-built polo field. The games will last about an hour and each team will arrive with their own horses.

Rory Heron, the managing director of the organisers City Events Limited, said. "What we have realised is that not many people know the rules.

"Our rules are simple. What we have done is to create a special form of polo to make sure it is more appealing for the spectators.

"We have shrunk the field by a third. We have three horses instead of four so it becomes a more open game.

"The most important thing is it is all about the spectators.

"For us, when we were looking for the venues, we didn't want to go to the polo clubs but bring the game to the heart of the city, so it is easy for people to come and watch.

"They don't have to have the love for polo, but they can come and watch and enjoy this new exciting format of fast and exciting game on the backdrop of the Emirates Palace."

Bugra Berberoglu, the general manager of the hotel, said it was one of the quickest decisions he had made since taking up his posting 15 months ago.

"When the proposal came I said let's get on with it," he said. "We want to make the most talked about event with the finest in sport, fashion and culture converging on the grounds of the Emirates Palace."

The City Polo Series was launched in London in 2010, and after the competition in Abu Dhabi, it moves on to Singapore.

"We wanted to get the format right in London before taking it elsewhere," Heron said.

The teams will be made up of two polo professionals and an amateur while Abu Dhabi will have two amateurs and a professional.

"One of our hopes is to build an Abu Dhabi team so that they can compete globally and win globally. This is because there was a real desire from the Emirati players to do well," Heron said.

Team London will be captained by the Briton Stuart Wrigley, who owns a dozen polo ponies based in Dubai. "There are two things that excite me," he said.

"The first is to be playing at the Emirates Palace and I don't think there is a more beautiful place to play, and secondly, the new format of three horses on a smaller field."

apassela@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE