Norfolk Polo Festival prepares for two days of competition

With high octane action and a real desire to win, it will be a celebration of sporting prowess.

Battling alongside each other, competitors from different nations will go head-to-head as their teams battle it out for ultimate glory.

But these sportsmen aren't competing for Olympic medals, they are fighting to put their names on the trophies at the Norfolk Polo Festival.

Today and tomorrow the family-based festival returns to the historic Langley Abbey Estate, near Loddon.

Last year's inaugural event saw 3,000 visitors enjoy a feast of polo, and this weekend's EDP-backed festival is expected to welcome even more guests with advanced ticket sales double last year's.

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Festival organiser and Norfolk Polo Club founder Chris Townsend said he was looking forward to a great weekend and hoped good weather would bring large numbers each day.

'We have sold out the VIP, have had lots of forward sales on tickets and everyone is talking about it,' he said. 'We are pleased to look forward to a full weekend of action-packed fun.

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Competitors from New Zealand and Argentina will be playing in the elite exhibition game today, while members of the polo club, ranging from age 11 upwards, will be among those competing in the Dunn & Co Cup across both days.

The exhibition match will be for the Bentley Bowl and see a team representing sponsors Coutts & Co try to win the trophy from the EDP team which won last year.

Playing for Team EDP are Paul Bussey, James Leonard, Scott Higginson and Guy Higginson.

Mr Bussey, whose family own the Busseys garages and vehicle leasing firm, said: 'I am flattered and delighted to do this. It is a fantastic opportunity.'

Mr Bussey has taken quickly to the sport, having only picked it up in the last year.

'It is a really good spectator sport that is very exciting and full of competition,' he said.

Playing for Team Coutts are Chris Townsend, Mark Holmes, Henry Brown and Fabio Lavinia.

Mark Noble, Coutts & Co director, said: 'We are proud to continue to support this new local event. It is a great initiative for the area that we are proud to be associated with.'

Last year's helped to raise �4,000 for Help for Heroes, with an auction and raffle raising money, as well as a contribution from the sale of programmes.

Caroline Culot, EDP property editor, said: 'Polo used to be a game of kings but we at the EDP are delighted to see it brought to everybody in Norfolk.

'Everybody is being given the chance to have a wonderful experience and watch a sport that used to be elitist.'

Langley Abbey Estate is signposted off the A146. General admission is �10, with under 12s free.

Gates open at 11.30am today and 10.30am tomorrow.

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