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news Former racehorses star at Polo in King Power Gold Cup semi-finals

18th July 2019
  • Drastic Art wins Racing to Polo Challenge for second time
  • Former Challenge runner-up wins semi-final best playing pony award

One of the polo season’s big days was enhanced yesterday when British racing’s charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), held its annual ‘Racing to Polo Challenge’ on semi-finals day of the King Power Gold Cup at Cowdray Park.

The winner of the ‘Racing to Polo Challenge’ was, for a second time, the seven-year-old mare Drastic Art, ridden by George Meyrick and owned by Sally Turner. Between them the pair received the renowned Balding Trophy, a cheque for £1,000 and a winner’s rug courtesy of insurance company Lycetts.

In between two thrilling semi-final matches, seventeen former racehorses took part in the Racing to Polo Challenge, showing off their polo skills and agility in front of a panel of judges that included three professional polo players, Rod Cudmore, Ollie Tuthill and Ant Fanshawe, as well as racehorse trainer and former polo player, Martyn Meade, and David Loder, bloodstock agent and polo player.

The judges selected Drastic Art as the overall winner, with the six-year-old mare Mary Parmenter, owned and ridden by Sebastian Chialvo, as runner-up, and Sweets’N’Sheets, ridden by Ed Hitchman, in third place.

Drastic Art’s blossoming polo career follows an undistinguished racing career in which she ran just three times. On the racetrack, she ran against a total of 28 other horses, with only one horse finishing behind her in three starts.

However, highlighting the thoroughbred’s versatility, her rider George Meyrick says Drastic Art ticks all the boxes for polo: “She is playing this season but next year will be her first proper season playing matches which is exciting. Not only is she pretty, she is also very talented. She’s got everything a polo pony needs, all the right attributes.”

George added: “All of my string, in fact everything I ride, is an ex-racehorse or a thoroughbred. I love them. I think a good thoroughbred can do anything.”

RoR also gave ‘Best Playing Pony’ awards in both King Power Gold Cup semi-finals for the best performance by a former racehorse.

A total of twelve former racehorses were on the field in the second semi-final in which Dubai secured their King Power Gold Cup Final position with a 14-10 victory over the more experienced Scone Polo. The Best Playing Pony Award went to Maidana, ridden by Camilo Castagnola for Dubai. Maidana, an eight-year-old mare who was unplaced in four starts for Tim Easterby, had been runner-up in the 2018 Racing to Polo Challenge.

In the first match the Best Playing Pony Award went to the New Zealand bred Sunset Trading, ridden by Benjamin Urquiza playing for Park Place, who narrowly lost 10-11 to VS King Power to give the sponsor’s team their first King Power Gold Cup Final appearance.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, said: “It was another fantastic day. We are so grateful to Cowdray Park for allowing us to be part of this day, with the Racing to Polo Challenge taking place between two high quality semi-finals.

“I would like to thank all those who participated, in particular our judging panel, turn out judges and our commentary team.

“Polo is such an important outlet for former racehorses and has today has proven again, that it is a sport that former racehorses can go to the very top in.”

This weekend further prizes for former racehorses playing polo are on offer. At the British Ladies Championships at Cowdray Park on Saturday (20th July), once again with support from Lycetts, there are prizes to be won in two classes for best retrained racehorse. To be eligible, horses must be registered with RoR:

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