Polo. Posh toffs on horses. That’s what we were told. We were wrongly informed. After viewing a game first hand, with huge beasts bearing down on us and burly men swinging mallets wildly – we realised this is a seriously dangerous and exciting sport. Jack Kidd (brother of hot supermodel Jodie Kidd) is the king of the game and the man who started a night time snow game at Klosters ski resort in Switzerland for the sixth Berenberg Snow Polo tournament.
The four day event features the world's best BBQ chef, outdoor hot-tubs, stalls AND a three course sit-down meal in a luxurious heated tent for those who want it. A club section with an after party featuring world renowned DJ Dan Lynwood lets you carry the party on well into the morning. We met with him to find out more.
FHM: Hi Jack. So, men on horses makes us think of cowboys and the beast that killed Superman. Is it for tough men?
Jack: Well it certainly started that way. It was developed by the cavalry in war times. Polo kept the soldiers fit and focused, fighting on horses with sticks. It started in the hills of Afghanistan and Persia which is where the English army found the sport and have developed it since. It’s a very gladiatorial sport.
FHM: So are the British the best in the world at polo?
Jack: I wish I could say yes, but we aren’t at the moment. The Argentineans are great Polo players. Everyone seemed to pick it up worldwide at the same time, but during the great wars we were a bit busy fighting to play the sport. That’s why the Argentineans have the market lead at the moment. During those thirty years while we were fighting, they got a lead.
FHM: So the war’s our excuse then?
Jack: Haha! Yeah, we were busy saving the world, so now we’re on the catch-up.
FHM: So how has Polo jumped from a wartime training sport to games on snow?
Jack: In places like St. Moritz they’ve been playing for 25 years on a frozen lake. Pretty hardcore stuff. Snow polo has really grown in the last 10 years - they play in Aspen in America, Kitzbuhel in Austria, Machev in France, and now Closters in Switzerland. This year in Russia they’re having a tournament right on the Red Square!
FHM: Why snow? Isn’t that just showing off?
Jack: People want to be able to play wherever they happen to live – they just need special shoes to stops the horses’ feet compacting the snow too much, and then anywhere’s a pitch. In this instance at Closters we have a world first with night polo.
FHM: So we know why snow. Why now at night?
Jack: When people go skiing they want to unwind in the evening. Clubbing, you can do at home. But to be able to watch a sporting event and enjoy a few drinks – on top of a days skiing – is rare. This lets you appreciate your holiday to the full. You can really get your money’s worth. I think this is going to tour around the world’s ski resorts.
FHM: So it’s a polo piss-up?
Jack: Haha! I guess it can be. The game is broken up into six minute sections called chuckers – in between which the horses can be changed over – and the audience can take the time to get a little more lubricated.
FHM: A what? Chucker? As in they chuck away one horse and get another?
Jack: Haha! I’d never thought of that but yeah that might be where it came from.
FHM: So give us the sport basics…
Jack: Grass polo is four aside, snow polo is three aside. You have an attacker, a midfielder and a defender. All you have to do is gallop the horses hard and score goals. That’s pretty much it. The only reason a whistle is blown is because someone has created a dangerous situation.
FHM: Is it dangerous?
Jack: Yeah, it’s extreme. The horses are smashing into your legs, there’s sticks flying all over and the ball is made of a solid plastic composite – a very hard ball. Look at my lip – I lost all my front teeth from a ball in the face… and a few mallets in the mouth have left my lips a bit of a mess. You spend a lot of time in hospital when you play polo. It’s one of the top three most dangerous sports in the world.
FHM: To compare it to F1, is it more about the vehicle or the driver?
Jack: At the lower level it’s about the players but when you get to the professional level it’s more about the horses. It’s now about £70k for a good horse. Generally I will find a young horse that’s been on the racetrack and spend three years training it. It’s a better fate than glue! The old horses get put out to graze and eventually… Kitty Kat… Pedigree Chum!
FHM: Is there money to be made?
Jack: Not really. 10% of the top pros make good money. Everyone else makes just enough to maintain their horses – the costs are huge. I know when I’m old there will be loads of money in the sport, just in time for me to miss it!
FHM: What’s this sport like for ladies?
Jack: Great mate! There’s loads of totty. And the riders are famed for providing them with a good… erm… servicing, after a game!
FHM: But you’re a one woman man at the moment?
Jack Yeah, my girlfriend, who’s just out of university, got head hunted as the face of Ascot not long ago. I’m pretty happy with just her. Obviously.
FHM: So can anyone play polo?
Jack: Yeah definitely. Some of the best players are sons of horse grooms. If you can ride, come and give it a go. You’ll be addicted and the only thing to stop you will be death or bankruptcy!
Want to give it a go? Visit jackkiddpolo.com to become the next star.
Want to come to the next event? Visit klosterspolo.com