As with many areas of the equestrian world, having the space and facilities to hone your skills are a necessary part of your success. We have found that polo is no exception and seemingly finding that perfect polo set-up can be a tricky task.
As we know, the market at the top end remains strong due to the lack of stock and the appetite from buyers. Over the last few years, in key locations, prices have remained incredibly robust for land and, with already established polo set-ups.
Polo as a sport continues to grow in popularity. This is seen not only in the larger clubs such as Guards, Cirencester Park and Cowdray but also in the smaller clubs. As an example, Beaufort near Tetbury is a well-established smaller club that has seen both playing and social memberships jump on average 22% since 2020. We also see this across the tournaments with the Archie David at Guards Polo Club having over 30 teams last year which is an all-time record. We also saw very strong entry numbers for two major tournaments in the UK, the Queens Cup and the Gold Cup. Early signs are that 2023 will continue with the same strength which just goes to show how healthy the sport is at the moment.
So, what does this mean for the individuals who want to dedicate more to the sport? For many this can be a daunting time. As we saw from the 2022 season, the gap between the established polo organisations and the newcomers has widened to such an extent that many new to the sport are spending considerable time preparing in the background. Part of this is getting their property set-up established enough to compete at the top level.
Stabling for circa 75 horses and at least one but ideally two, state of the art, laser levelled, and fully irrigated pitches are almost becoming the norm. Considering this, there is a real appetite amongst new individuals to build their organisations to the sufficient levels. The problem facing them is purchasing a suitable patch of land for it to be created and many are having to compromise and base themselves closer to a club rather than create what they want at home. We have certainly seen country houses close to some of the more established clubs in the country benefiting from the popularity of polo in its current form.
The spring market looks hopeful for potential new stock, however whether it will be enough to quench the thirst of buyers will yet to be discovered. As always inevitably stock will be key.