Essentials speaks with Polo World Cup Australian team captain Jack Archibald and unearths the magic within this weekend’s Portsea event.
This weekend sees the hugely successful 2018 Alfa Romeo Portsea Polo event kicking off with three polo matches that feature some of the world’s best players. Combining everything Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula has to offer – fashion, fast cars, food, wine, beer and sport – the event is also well known as a serious social gathering, and has become the season’s must-do event for the ‘in crowd’. Some of the guests in attendance last year included: Australian actress Phoebe Tonkin, Australian ‘it girl’ Supermodel and health food blogger Stephanie Claire Smith, Lauren Phillips and Shane Warne, to name just a few.
While it’s a fun day for schmoozing, swigging back the champagne, and parading in your very best, we’ve not forgotten just how amazing the game of polo is and just how sharp the horses and riders are. As the Portsea Polo aims to showcase the game in the best possible light, we felt it best to dig a little deeper, to learn more about the game; and who better to ask than 28-year-old 2017 Polo World Cup Australian team captain Jack Archibald.
While this weekend Jack is playing in one of the Portsea Polo sponsored teams (major sponsors are Alfa Romeo and Stella Artois), he says that the Portsea event is unique in that it brings polo to new audiences, and is a great way to showcase the sport.
Currently based in Australia, Jack spent the past eight years playing polo professionally, travelling to England and to Argentina, and says he’s been “extremely lucky to have been able to make a living out of it.”
“While there is good money in the sport, most of it is invested back into the horses and training, and that’s really the only way you get better at polo. I’ve grown up in Scone, NSW and live here currently. My father James played polo and my brother Rob played professionally for 13 years, so polo has been in the family for a long while.
“In Scone we have a club totalling 80 members – probably the biggest club in Australia. Back in the day the club was made up of farmers that would just play polo for fun on weekends; today the club produces the largest amount of young professional players in Australia.”
Tell us about you plans for 2018
“I now play only the Australian circuit; I’ve stopped travelling overseas, and I’m now back on the farm helping dad and woking a little for myself; so playing polo abroad is no more for me.
“We still love the game (as a family); and on the farm we breed and sell horses. I love the horse side of it, but don’t want to spend the rest of my life travelling.”
Is polo a difficult game to play?
“It can be tough. I’ve taught a lot of people to play, it’s not an easy sport: it’s one that takes time and dedication, but once you’ve learned to ride it’s a sport that can be picked up rather easily. The riding is certainly the tough part.”
What breed of horse is suitable for polo?
“In the past it was mainly stock horses that farmers used for social games, but now we’re seeing a lot more thoroughbreds involved in the game. These might be horses that have finished racing, or that are too small, or too slow for racing. We love to re-train these horses; however we generally mix a stock horse with a thoroughbred as a preferred breed. The stock horse blood line offers a toughness – more strength and stability.”
How do the horses handle the big crowds during competition?
“They’re pretty much used to it. By the time they’ve had three or four years’ training it all becomes second nature. But the Portsea Polo is looking to be a crowd of 6000 people and none of our horses have played in front of that many people!
The Sydney World cup pulled 3-4,000 people, and in comparison the Portsea Polo is looking like attracting the biggest crowd in Australia for a very long time. It’s a huge audience and therefore is also a huge compliment to the Portsea Polo club who’ve grown the event from a very small scale. In terms of spectators it’s become the most popular polo event in Australia, without a doubt.”
If people were considering buying tickets, but were a little unsure of what to expect, what would you recommend to them?
“The Portsea Polo is friendly game, designed to showcase the sport. It allows people to come out and have a good day, enjoy some great food and wine and to really get involved in he action.”
“We’ve tried to create a bit of a family atmosphere as well as offering an event where people can come and enjoy the horses, food, wine and great company.”
Can people get up close and personal with the horses?
“The best thing about the Portsea setup, is that you’re really close to the horses and really close to the game. And if you want to come and see the horses before the game that’s also easily accessible to who ever wants to do it.”
2018 Alfa Romeo Portsea Polo
The event includes three thrilling polo matches with some of the world’s best players, DJ’s, celebrities, vox pops, fashion parade, big screen, ladies’ and men’s dash, divot stomping and much more. Last year’s event was a sell-out with a crowd of over 6,000 in attendance.
Saturday 13 December, 2018 Time: 11am – 6pm
Point Nepean Quarantine Station, Portsea, Victoria
Last minute tickets for several enclosures are still available, but are selling out fast: http://www.portseapolo.com.au/hospitality-ticketing/