TCN's Dave Gasson gives us a closer look into the Rovinj Beach Polo Cup held over the weekend
One of the oldest team sports, Polo, the Sport of Kings, associated with the rich, royal and famous, was played this weekend in the picturesque town of Rovinj. It was a weekend of excitement, drama, luxury, gastronomical delights, musical diversity at the highest level and warm hospitality as the town of Rovinj showed off what it does best; it welcomes people from all over the world and creates beautiful memories.
With a backdrop of the sparkling Adriatic Sea and St Euphemia Church, a specially created arena, 70m x 40m, was constructed on the sea shore for this, the second Rovinj Polo Tournament.
The area dedicated to this prestigious event included VIP areas, marquees for sponsors and stables for the horses.
Mr Uwe Zimmermann, President of Rovinj Beach Polo, building on the success of the event last May, was delighted to welcome polo players from Brazil, Italy, Hungary, Argentina and UK who joined players from Slovenia, Germany and Switzerland, the pioneers from the inaugural competition last year.
The programme for the weekend was a little disrupted by inclement weather, but The Parade, scheduled for Saturday, went ahead at 10-30 on Sunday, to the great delight of Rovinj residents and hundreds of tourists who were drawn to the town for this spectacular event.
No expense was spared by the sponsors as they showcased the very best of Croatian hospitality. As a luxury holiday destination, Rovinj demonstrated that it can cater to the highest standards. World class service, outstanding accommodation, beautiful buildings, wonderful scenery and, for this event, catering masterminded by Austrian Chef Daniel Tschachler, who oversaw the delivery of an eclectic menu for the most discerning of diners.
The game of Polo, fast, furious and dangerous, shows the alliance between horse and rider. The horse, demonstrating speed, stamina, agility and endurance, has been described at the equine equivalent of an elite racing car. Their safety is paramount. Each of the three team riders has four horses so that they don't get too tired and their legs are wrapped with protective 'polo wraps' from below the knee to minimise pain.
Six international teams competed under Hurlingham Rules and were refereed by British Marc Holmes Comparing the event, Jan Erik Franck, the voice of Polo, entertaining and witty, kept the audience informed throughout the competition.
The three day competition concluded with a tense and exciting final between Team Miller and Team Veuve Cliquot. The Irishman, Sebastian Dawney, with 55 seconds to go, scored the winning goal for Team Miller from a 15 metre penalty, to the partisan cheers and boos from the crowd.
Players, officials and guests were also treated to a private concert by Tony Hadley, former lead singer of New Romantic band, Spandau Ballet. Tony and his band played a captivating 90 minute set for a packed audience. With his suave good looks and voice as strong and rich as ever, he performed a set of power ballads from his Spandau Ballet days as well as classics from Bowie, U2, The Killers, and Don Henley. The crowd loved it. Particularly poignant was his introduction to his cover of 'Somebody to Love' as he described Freddie Mercury as his inspiration.
His set, of course, concluded with the timeless and enduring 'Gold' and everyone, it seemed, joined in. Thanking the audience in English, Italian and Croatian, he left the stage and mingled with the guests , shaking hands and chatting to them, a consummate performance from a legend of the English New Romantics and his skilled and versatile band.
The final afternoon, on Sunday, was opened and closed by the enigmatic Croatian Cellist, Ana Rucner, who captivated her audience with her dramatically beautiful performance.
The weekend was a triumph for the organisers and the programme entertained and delighted the guests. No doubt, there will be a third ROVINJ BEACH POLO EVENT to come in 2018!