Yesterday I attended my first Polo match at the Sarasota Polo Club, a little over an hour from my home in Tampa. I knew next to nothing about the sport before I went. The weather was a bit dreary to start and there was some rain up until shorty before the start of the match. You are able to park right along the sides of the field and people bring food and tail gate there before and during the game. Here are a few shots of what the area looks like.
I am told the field is not usually brown like this, not sure if it was the recent cold temperatures her in Florida or a lack of rain that made them that way but I can say that it drained very well and we were able to lay down a blanket on the grass along side the field after it stopped raining without getting wet!
The sun never did put in too much of an appearance so the light isn't as ideal as I would have liked in these photos but the even filtered light is better then a cloudless sky with the usually heat we experience here, didn't have to fuss with my settings much once I started.
I learned there are 2 teams of 4 players and they play not half's, not quarters, but 6 'chukkers' that last 7 minutes each. They take a 4 minute break between chukkers and a 10 minute break after the 3rd one when you are invited onto the field to help replace divots kicked up by the horses. Above is one of the referees.
I am happy to report dogs are welcome here as long as they are on a leash, how cute is this one? Now for some photos taken during the match. You have to stand back a good 10-12 feet from the edge of the field because as you can see in the first photo, they sometimes run outside the 'boards' that mark off the playing field. I used my 70-300 lens for these and was pretty pleased with what I was able to get from that far back though I wish of course I could have gotten closer!
This next one is different from most of the images I captured with multiple players headed my way!
This being my first time attending or photographing a match I pretty much just stayed in one spot and waited for the action to head my way. The field is huge!
At the break half way through the match there was a special treat! Polo Club member George Alexander hitches his Clydesdale horses to a wagon and gives rides to children.
Look at how beautiful they are! It started raining again for just a few minutes at this time and I wasn't able to get too many shots of them as things were moving quickly but I like this one!
The polo season is just getting started. There are matches every Sunday through April 10th, check out the schedule here. General admission is $10, matches are at 1 and gates open at 11am. You can bring a picnic but there food is also available on site as well. There is also a gift shop.
I will end this post with my favorite image of the day, I like it because the rider is expressing some emotion!
I believe he was reacting to the ball getting hit out of bounds.