Photo gallery: Norfolk Polo Festival takes centre stage on glorious weekend
- Credit: Archant
An historic estate in a quiet corner of Norfolk was the fitting setting for the game of kings.
Hundreds of people flocked to enjoy a quintessential English day out as international polo took centre stage on the Langley Abbey estate, near Loddon.
While the British and Irish Lions were roaring to a series win over the Wallabies at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, and Nottingham prepares to host England's first Ashes Test match against Australia, sporting rivalries were renewed between the Aussies and England in Norfolk over the weekend.
Norfolk Polo Club hosted an inaugural international as some of the best U21 players in England and Australia produced a feast of high-class polo. Now in it's third year, and going from strength to strength, the Coutts Norfolk Polo Festival was enjoyed by hundreds of people in glorious sunshine.
With a tranquil setting, and the backdrop of stunning sunshine, people flocked to see some exhilarating sport, which is rarely seen outside of London and the Home Counties.
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And settling down in Norfolk for a weekend of entertainment, many people basked in the sunshine as they enjoyed picnics and sipped on Pimms, wine and champagne while watching the fast-flowing action.
The crowds were treated to four matches on both days, as local teams competed for coveted prizes on the same arena as their international counterparts.
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With an international match held on both days, there were cries of 'Come on England' from the expectant crowds as an England 21 and under side set out to avenge defeat 'Down Under' earlier this year, as they narrowly lost against an Australian Colts side in the test match.
The England side of Harold Hodges, Charlie Scott, Ed Winterton and Oscar Mathies lined up against their Australian rivals Richard Curran, Bingham Fitz-Henry, Scott Tonkin and Luke Reid. And with hopes high that the English youngsters could triumph on home soil in battling for the Coutts Cup, the fervent home following were soon willing them on to glory – after Celia Potter had the honour of throwing the ball into play to get proceedings under way.
Charlie Scott gave England a 1-0 lead in the opening chukka and the home nation didn't look back as they raced into a three to one-and-a-half goal lead after the first seven minutes of action. But after dominating the early proceedings, and quickly increasing their advantage at the start of the second chukka, it was Australia who hit back and reduced the lead to 4-3½.
It was that man Scott who increased England's lead at the start of the third chukka, and they never looked back as they left the Australians trailing in their hooves after racing into a nine goals to four-and-a-half lead.
The Aussies battled back in the final seven minutes of play, reducing the arrears, and after a fiercely-fought first four chukkas on the opening day, the young England side led by nine goals to six-and-a-half.
But the international match was not the only polo battle taking place as teams from across the country competed against each other for a series of prizes, including the Smithfield Sausage, Winsor Bishop Cup and Warwick Townsend Trophy, which is for the beginners' teams.
Chris Townsend, the owner of Langley Abbey Estate, was delighted with the weekend's entertainment – and his side Feedmark, which contained his two sons Charlie and Thomas, reached the Winsor Bishop Cup final.
He said: 'It has all gone very, very well. Everyone has had a great time, the sun shone and the polo was fantastic – we are very pleased. How lucky are we to have an international match – it is great for Norfolk.'
The festival was sponsored by Coutts & Co, with the EDP returning as media partners, and Mr Townsend said they 'were very pleased' to be partnering with Brasteds over the weekend.
Along with fast and furious polo, there were numerous other attractions including children's entertainment, a shopping arcade and refreshments. And delighted to be part of the international action, England's Ed Winterton said they were 'really pleased' to be entertaining the crowds. 'It's been great weather and it is a big occasion,' he said. 'It is the first time I have played here and we're all really excited. The turn-out has been great, lots of people have been here – it is an amazing venue, with a great ground.
'They have done a great job and yes, it is a coup for Norfolk to have international polo being played – I hope it does continue,' he said. 'It is great for the sport to get it to the masses. It's good people can come and watch a great spectacle and see horses moving at 30mph as the players hit a tiny ball.'
Equally pleased with how the international had gone, England's Charlie Scott said: 'On the whole we're pleased with the performance. We have not played together as a team before, so I thought our play was much better in the second half.'
Admitting he was also 'impressed' with the surroundings on his first visit, he added: 'I'm very impressed with the set-up and the facilities here.'