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Polo’s Horse Power through Beauty Pageants

Rajasthan Polo Club in news again - By Harsh Vardhan

Rajasthan Polo Club has reasons to be cock a hoop.  One more cantering season has come to end. Great events. A smiling Diya Kumari, representing Jaipur House and as an MP,  moved around glitterati at the high tea served after the match. 

Interview with players is a good  addition. “It will take some time for our Club to stage matches to showcase big handicap players and organise mega games in Jaipur,” admitted Padmanabh Singh, son of Diya Kumari.  He is hailed as the present Maharaja of Jaipur. 

The commentator always announces him as the “HH”… there goes HH Jaipur chasing the  ball… and….there….. he finally canters to….. and has scored the first goal for his team. Spectators burst in to clap as he turns his pony to reach the center point.

Championship Cups named after Jaipur’s polo heroes

The Championship Cups are named after Jaipur’s polo heroes. Sawai Man Singh, Sawai Bhawani Singh (father of Diya Kumari), Padmini Devi (Diya’s mother), Sirmoor Cup (named after maternal grand father of Diya), Baria Cup, etc. The Club Secretary sends by post hard copies of invitations to its members, only 182. If not, on the spot invitations are dished out to those seated in the pavilion. Improved management is too obvious. Did you look at the ground? It is basking in memories in case the present generation has ears to listen to it.

March Past…!

Maharaja Sawai  Man Singh II had the distinguished honour to organize polo at this ground in Jaipur. His (third) wife, Gayatri Devi truly  supported him do so, through her beauty and gentle appeal. Man Singh died in 1970 playing polo at ground of Lord Vestey in Britain. Vestey told me about it while we played a cricket match at the same ground for I. Zingari Club. His son Maharaja Sawai Bhawani Singh carried the tradition wisely. He  was beset with a career in Indian Army. He had no son. Diya, his lone child, did not take to ponies. Her then husband, Narendra Singh rode well to carry forward the tradition. Their elder son, Padmanabh Singh has emerged as a swashbuckling player. He  is stealing hearts of referees and selectors by a mannered combination of riding and stick work. 

History gets abuzz at this ground

This ground has had players from all over the world including Prince Charles, Diana and many noted ones from domestic circuit. Billy Sodhi and his younger brother Pickles Sodhi left their hoof-marks here. Both had served the 61 Cavalry to give India big-name trophies. Pickles married Nafisa Ali, India’s no. 1 swimmer. Kuldeep Singh Garcha, came out of same battalion. He was lucky to receive continued  support from Gayatri Devi to carry forward polo legacy for decades.

Can nation’s polo headquarters function out of Jaipur?

Polo's Horse Power through Beauty Pageants

Jaipur Riders’ and Polo Club is Garcha’s  brain child. His son, Satinder has walked over father’s foot steps.  The club is a niche affair in rearing ponies, coaching and developing it as a tourism product. Their website is agog with videos and photos of action packed sessions they led. They curate to this day. Those who understand the game, nay horse riding admit that present day polo should not peter out after a few week long sessions. Can it not be trotted round the year? If done so, the question of handicaps of players, as pointed out by Padmanabh Singh, will hopefully be better sorted out. His aspirations and problems are well understood.  Hope one day nation’s polo headquarters can function out of Jaipur. 

Jaipur Polo can make a glorious way ahead

Polo's Horse Power through Beauty Pageants
Vasundhara Raje and Kuldeep Singh Garcha, those were the days for polo

Jaipur polo can have a glorious way ahead. It shall mean managerial capabilities more than fund support. The ground remains vacant rest of the time. It is true that many sponsors have faded away, like a liquor baron who caused both players and politicians to become tipsy at mid day. New companies are around. They desire a different hand-shake. Example: in between chukkers, now they  parade  young girls before the pavilion with sponsor’ logos flashing behind them. It is to basically derive some mileage for the sponsoring companies. Good humour: a score of females are too willing to join it. Look at young girls following Padmanabh Singh! Carysil, Shree Cements were among the big logos highlighted this time. The Club’s website can arguably be the sharp tool to draw global attention. Compare it with Garcha’s website. Mind you, both are in private hands.

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