Polo 2017: Unbridled Excellence

Gillian Davies reviews the Polo Tournament.

One of the most anticipated events in St Andrews is the yearly Charity Polo Tournament at Errol Park Estate, which took place this past Saturday. As students gathered in their daytime best, sporting linen suits and sundresses and in true St Andrews fashion the classic Barbours and wellies, we waited for the long line of coaches to open their doors and take us on the journey to Perth on the rare escape from the Bubble.

Despite the hype, this year’s Tournament was massively tainted by transportation issues. Unexpected circumstances left many guests walking along the roadside from their coaches until different busses came to pick them up outside Errol Park on the way to the event, extending the trip to a two-hour journey from St Andrews. This lengthy trip meant many guests only arrived at the Polo when a most-looked forward to part of the day, the stomping of the divots, was already in full swing. While this may have spoiled the day for a number of guests, spirits remained high as people poured off the coaches and headed for the pitch, or to find solace at the bar.

Upon arrival, guests found their way to one of the many bars, which boasted surprisingly fair prices for a St Andrews event, with champagne going for as little as £20. The massive selection of food stands catered to everyone’s needs, from pizza to crab-topped chips, the traditional hog roast, and, of course, the ever-sought after Blackhorn truck that had a queue all day long filled with eager guests.  The three tiers of tickets offered different amenities to guests: Standard had a coveted spot close to the food, and plenty of access to the bar and pitch-side views, VIP had a separate bar, great views and proximity to music, and an ample supply of champagne, and VVIP guests were able to help themselves to 12 bottles of champagne per table, afternoon tea and hors d’oeuvres, and access to the Champagne Garden. This year’s tournament also benefitted from more seating options and the addition of outdoor space heaters to keep off the chill of the Scottish wind.

Throughout the afternoon, some guests enjoyed croquet, some were too busy tasting the immense variety of amazing food stands available, and others opted for watching the polo matches (shocking, I know). However, the vast majority of the crowd seemed quite keen to spend the afternoon posing with a Tesla or the customary tank provided, or brave the large (and stationary) white wooden horse that was apparently more difficult to mount and balance on than a mechanical bull. As guests milled about with seemingly endless bottles of champagne and mimosas, the event stayed busy from start to finish.

Much like the issues en route to the event, guests were again plagued by faulty transportation when a bus was forced to pull over and de-board, its occupants having to wait for a lengthy stay on the road until a new bus arrived to take them back to St Andrews. Regardless of the transportation hiccups and shortened event time that many guests faced before this year’s event, the St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament remains one of the most notable afternoons in the idyllic countryside of Scotland. With beautiful weather and plenty of champagne, guests remained in high spirits and enjoyed the quintessential St Andrews event that gives our university its overtly posh reputation.

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