In the Sweet Spot
As the curtains closed on the unforgettable Indian Spring Polo Season, some outstanding players took to international pitches, raising the flag higher!
After a thrilling Indian Season 2021-2022, the action hasn’t stopped for many Indian players who have taken on international tournaments since April this year. The infectious high spirits have definitely taken over as many countries are only recently reverting to the pre-pandemic play, and the excitement is palpable. Among the various players, here are a few noteworthy ones that have left everyone in awe.
To start off, Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur (also known as Pacho) exhibited his knack by participating in almost all tournaments at the Jaipur, Delhi and Jodhpur season, and winning a few. Alongside proudly supporting the PDKF Ladies Open in March, he also played outstanding games internationally. Recently he played alongside Robert Storm, Jaime Serra and Gonzalo Bernal at the 10/12 goal 128 del Open de Paris, France, for Saint Mesme. From June 11 to June 26, the team exhibited exceptional horsemanship, and Pacho’s harmony with the members led them to reach the finals of the Open against Kazak.
In Singapore, the two maestros of Indian Polo who have represented the country in the World Cup as well, participated in tournaments with incredible zest. Heartened by Col. K.S. Garcha and Satinder Garcha, Col. Ravi Rathore VSM (Retd.) and Dhruvpal Godara contested the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Victor’s Cup at the Singapore Polo Club’s Spring 2022 Season. The Arjuna Awardee and Honorary Secretary of the Indian Polo Association, who also recently umpired at the Fall 2021 Season, Col. Ravi Rathore (+4) states: “The tournaments involved the participation of two Argentine pros Carlos Pando and J.J. Hambert, Waqas Khan and Sattar Khan from Singapore/Pakistan, and us from India. The rest of the team members were from the Singapore Polo Club and they allotted us our horses as soon as we got there. We had to rush into the tournaments the next day and never really got to try our hand at the horses’ skills or practice with them but it worked out well.” Both Dhruvpal Godara and Col. Rathore stayed in Singapore to participate from May 9 to June 5 and are preparing for a new roster of tournaments. Col. Rathore won the Gold, Bronze and Victor’s Cup while Dhrupal Godara won the Silver (also named MVP) and the Bronze Cup.
Col. Ravi Rathore (first from the left) and Dhruvpal Godara (fifth from the left) posing with their trophies and Col. K. S. Garcha (third from the left)
Dhruvpal Godara (+4), who has been an avid player for over two decades and won the Indian Open a record 10 times, took to training the young players at the club. On their hospitality and keen spirits, he states: “It was the first tournament in Singapore for over 2 years and so the tempo was high. Col. K.S. Garcha pushed for the event and I felt privileged to coach the younger players as they were eager to learn from me; I was able to help them out in their own way. It was a 10/12 goal tournament so alongside Col. Rathore we put our strategies together to work out the best dynamics and team spirit.” The duo left no stone unturned right from the start where Col. Rathore’s tent pegging entrance had everyone enamored. Col. Rathore adds that the goal was to get everyone’s abilities maximised. Although it took them a week to acclimatize to the weather and ground, they relied on guiding the members right before the matches. Moreover, Dhruvpal Godara notes: “In anticipation for the event there were many school courses and training sessions happening to which I added a synergetic angle to get the best out of them.”
Simultaneously, making his fiery comeback after 17 years to competitive polo, Jaisal Sujan Singh led the Sujan Indian Tigers at the 15 goal La Martina Queen Mother’s Centenary Tournament from April 29 to May 13 and the 15 goal Outsourcing Inc. Royal Windsor Cup from May 29 to June 15 back to back. Playing at the Guards Polo Club, the quartet including Juan Gris, Tommy Severn and Cruz Novillo Astrada showcased terrific fervor, reaching the semi-finals of both tournaments. After dominating at the Jaipur and Delhi Season 2022, the team remained on fire showcasing some exceptional shots against international pros and are now headed to play at the Coworth Park Challenge.
Waving the flag alongside them were the Sona Polo quartet led by Sunjay Kapur and involving Mark Tomlinson, Toby Bradshaw and Agustin Grossi Garcia. The team played wonderfully taking on the 15-goal Outsourcing Inc. Royal Windsor Cup and will now go for the 18-goal Indian Empire Shield Cup with some of the highest handicap players across the globe.
Even so, many Indian players are committed to improving their sport and are travelling worldwide to learn more about the various styles of play, competing in high-goal championships and raising the Indian flag with pride.