Olympic Three-Day Event Silver Medal winners Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt and Tina Cook will add to the glamour of the annual Rundle Cup Polo Day in Tidworth, Wiltshire, on Saturday 13th July 2013 when they take part in a fun charity match against well known jockeys and celebrities during a day of top class military polo.
The Rundle Cup match is the hotly contested polo competition played every year in the grounds of Tedworth House, Tidworth, between players from the Army and Royal Navy. The day combines the dramatic speed and skill of two exciting polo matches with the light-hearted good humour of the charity match. The stunning setting of Tedworth House and grounds is an ideal backdrop for the day, which has steadily grown in popularity over the years and now attracts over 4,000 spectators.
The day will start at noon with a fun Event Riders v Jockeys and Celebrities polo match, on both ponies and bicycles, in aid of The INSPIRE Foundation, the Salisbury-based charity which fights the effects of spinal cord injury by researching the latest medical and mechanical technology.
The Olympic Event team will take on jockeys Sam Waley-Cohen, (first amateur Cheltenham Gold Cup winner) Andrew Thornton, (National Hunt jockey) and Andrew Tinkler, who will all be using their considerable riding talents to win the Gerald Benney Cup. Also adding to the celebrity glitz will be actor Tom Ward, formerly from the BBC’s ‘Silent Witness’. This will be followed by a wheel chair race and a two-furlong dash horse race.
The main event will be the Rundle Cup polo match at 4.30 pm, the traditionally hard-fought contest between The Royal Navy and Army, sponsored by Hackett. Before HRH The Prince of Wales retired from polo he captained the Royal Navy team for many years, and both The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have played for the Rundle Cup’s Army team. The teams are picked from Armed Forces polo players who are available and not on operations. The Army team has everything to play for this year having lost last year’s match by just 1 ½ goals.
The Indian Cavalry Officers Polo Trophy, sponsored by Steria, will take place at 2.30 pm between The Combined Services and a visiting team from the USA.
Adding to the day’s entertainment will be a Pony Club Polo exhibition match, a free-fall parachute display from the Royal Navy and the Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Parachute Teams, and music from HM Royal Marines HMS Collingwood.
Tidworth Polo Club was founded in 1907, when cavalry regiments based on and around Salisbury Plain needed somewhere to develop their polo playing skills picked up during postings to India. In those days the grounds were rough and uneven, but fifteen years later the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Bertie Fisher, built the main polo ground – now called the Fisher Ground – which is where the Rundle Cup is held today.
With the help of officers and men in the Garrison, Brigadier Fisher organised tons of soil to be dug and wheeled over the road to the grounds of Tedworth House. The polo playing fields constructed then provided the basis for the immaculate lawns Tidworth has now.