This past Sunday I had the chance to be present at the Diamong Missbach Polo Cup Tournament organized by the newly inaugurated Monte-Carlo Polo Club (MCPC), under the High Patronage of HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, in the complex of Devens in Beausoleil, a truly Franco-Monegasque project. The four-day paddock polo extravaganza that included an intense social program, was the fruit of the hard preparation work of Francesco Mitrano, President of the MCPC and Marina Missbach of Missbach Jewellery. Among the distinguished noble guests who were present it is important to mention Her Imperial and Royal Highness the Archduchess of Austria Camile D’Habsburg, Lothringen Toscana, Princess of Hungary and Florence, and from Spain the honourable Susana de Rovira de Benaiges an international press authority, Ramon Baiget Viale de Montebello, Polo player Peter Lyden esq., Director of the Natural History Museum of New York and many more. Commentator Chris Carr, who is an ex polo player himself, guided the public through the exciting games never biased towards one team. In between matches there was a Ladies Hats Contest with many interesting entries and three winners selected by a jury composed of businessman Risvan Babayev of Azerbaijan who is a supporter of the MCPC, Gerard Spinelli Mayor of Beausoleil, and no other than famous English fashion designer David Schilling known for creating extravagant hats made to order.
And finally well into the early evening the Awards Ceremony took place with all the finalists receiving a trophy with the main prize going to the Missbach team made up of Monegasque resident Francesco Mitrano, Bryan Lynam from Ireland and the experienced Argentine player Francisco Menendez who had the highest handicap of 7.
The Festivities culminated with a gala dinner at the Monte-Carlo Beach Club in the presence of Jacques Boisson, Secretary of State of the Prince of Monaco and his wife Carmen who joined the other personalities from Monaco and abroad. The acclaimed and versatile Welsh tenor Stephen Mullan delighted the guests signing Opera excerpts. Proceeds from the live auction and raffle benefited the Monegasque association Ecoute Cancer Reconfort that provides moral and financial support to suffering patients and their families. The MCPC plans to hold other exciting Polo matches in the future.
Difference between traditional and paddock Polo: Traditional polo is played with four players in each team, with the game divided in 4 to 8 “chukkers”, periods of 7 minutes each. Between chukkers, the players change horses to let them rest. Indeed, accelerations, stops and turns are very intense. Two horses minimum are required for one polo player player four chukkers, so that a player would need 6 hourses (or even 8) for high goal matches. The grass field is huge: 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. The ball is made of wood or resin and it has a diameter of 8.5cm. Polo is played during the summer se ason and horses rest during winter. In Paddock Polo there are 3 players in each team, the game is played in two periods of ten minutes and the players do not change horse during the match. The ball is made of leather and measures 12.5cm.