Norfolk Polo Festival proves a success

There was spectacular action on the pitch and in the sky this weekend as the Norfolk Polo Festival took place.

Polo players from across the globe did battle, while a team of parachutists provided further entertainment as they dropped in with champagne for the winners of the exhibition match.

It was a successful weekend for the second EDP-backed festival at the historic Langley Abbey Estate, near Loddon.

Thousands visited the estate across the yesterday and today to enjoy 10 matches of polo as well as a range of off-pitch entertainment.

Festival organiser and Norfolk Polo Club founder Chris Townsend said that it had been a fantastic weekend helped by great weather on the Saturday.

'We are so pleased to have so many people supporting us here in Norfolk and we look forward to doing it all again next year,' he said.

All eyes turned to the sky late on Saturday afternoon as six parachutists from UK Parachute, part of Ellough Extreme, landed on the field, with their final team member grasping a bottle of Angel Champagne for the winners of the exhibition match.

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The exhibition match pitched the competition's top players against each other as they represented sponsors Coutts & Co and the EDP to win the Bentley Bowl.

This year it was Coutts & Co who claimed the trophy, after the EDP won last year.

Mark Noble, Coutts & Co director, said he was proud to be supporting the Norfolk Polo Club event for the second year, and thought the event had captured the imagination.

'It has been a fantastic weekend. The weather on Saturday was great and the event has been very well supported. It is even better than last year, with a growth in popularity,' he said.

Caroline Culot, EDP property editor, said: 'What a fabulous success this year has been.

'There are more people than last year, with great weather on Saturday and some fantastic polo action.

'The EDP is very much delighted to be an intrinsic partner in the event over the two days and we very much look forward to take the festival on to next year.'

Paul Bussey was one of the riders on the EDP team.

He said that he would encourage others to try their hand at the sport.

'It is a massive adrenaline rush,' he said.

'It keeps me fit and helps get my work-life balance sorted out.'

The other trophies being competed for this year were the Dunn & Co Cup the Smithfield Sausage, and the Warwick Townsend Trophy.

Sarah Blyth, director of Dunn & Co Residential said that the weekend had been 'exceptional'.

Miss Blyth said that she enjoyed playing the game herself and found it a 'compulsive, addictive and exhilarating sport'.

Competing for the Warwick Townsend Trophy were two teams from the Norfolk Polo Club.

Jonathan Butcher said he was was delighted to be a part of the Norfolk Black team competing for that trophy.

'Last year I looked on in awe thinking it is amazing,' he said. 'I'd had a few lessons and wanted to do it, and one year later here I am playing.'

Among the watching crowd was former Norwich City footballer Darren Eadie.

Mr Eadie said it was his first time at a polo match and found it quite intimidating to watch.

'I had a couple of lessons a month or so ago and really enjoyed it although my main problem was that you have to play right handed,' he said.

'It is very hard to try to do, but the horses are unbelievably talented.'

The event was also raising money for Help for Heroes, with an evening auction on Saturday, as well as a contribution from the sale of programmes.

Sporting action from the festival will also be screened on Sky Sports from September 7-10.

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