Polo-playing gentlemen don't mind being told they have a handicap

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am

The Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club's meet-and-greet at Cipriani was the picture of gentlemanly aspiration. Amid the ascots and classic cocktails, a quote attributed to wartime British leader Winston Churchill circulated like a mantra.

'A polo handicap is a passport to the world,' the club's director of polo operations, Derek Reid (pictured below, left), said. 'It's said often enough because it is true. You play for a club and gain friends around the world.'

In Hong Kong to promote the Tianjin club's upcoming international snow polo challenge - a five-day event starting on February 15 and the first of its kind on the mainland - Reid certainly looked at home among the national team managers from Australia, Argentina, England, France and New Zealand, all peers from his competitive years with the Australian team.

Reid will manage Hong Kong's Goldin Team, made up of Chilean polo champion Jose Donoso, Malaysian-Chinese banker Chevy Beh, who has a handicap of three, and Englishman John Fisher (pictured far right), who is also the director of stable operations at the club.

'I'm really enjoying my time with the Tianjin Goldin project,' Fisher said, referring to the two-million-square-metre mixed-use property within which the international-standard polo club operates. 'It is a pleasure to work with the 60 polo ponies they have in the stable.'

Fisher and Reid are hoping that the event will pique the curiosity of would-be polo players and draw more members from the horse-loving set in Hong Kong.

'There's a bit of hand-eye co-ordination involved, yes,' said Fisher, who picked up the sport when he was 12 years old. 'But as far as getting on the horse for the first time goes, as soon as first-timers forget their fear, riding is the most natural thing.'