British Polo Day was first conceived in 2009, when Ed Olver (CEO and co-founder) was asked by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to bring 50 of the Queen’s horses to his celebration of equine heritage.
The very same year, Ed and his good friend Tom Hudson co-founded an event for the Eton College, Harrow School and Oxbridge polo teams in Dubai.
Riding high on the success of these two projects, the ambitious pair seized an opportunity… not just to create a business based on polo, but to establish a global platform – with polo as the linchpin – from which to connect with the global elite in emerging and growth markets. In other words, Ed and Tom fully realised the appetite for ‘Britishness’ and served it up on a British silverware platter. All of a sudden British brands were granted intravenous access to the world’s movers and shakers and a wealth of commercial opportunities.
The third dynamic piece in the British Polo Day triptych is Ben Vestey, who joined the management team shortly after launch as managing director and partner. Fondly referred to by Ed as ‘one of the finest human beings you could ever meet’, he positively exudes old-school integrity, as well as bringing decades of polo heritage to the table. Not only has he played to a high level himself, but his uncle (Lord Vestey) serves as Master of the Horse to the royal household, his father (The Hon Mark Vestey) was chairman of the Hurlingham Polo Association and his sister (Nina Clarkin) is currently the best female polo player in the world.
Beyond his polo connections is his inherent ability to align influential groups, which has propelled the business on. Ed explains,
His solid business compass is never ignored. The business moves forward only when Ben is comfortable.
Always one a step ahead of the zeitgeist, Ed asserts that the future of business transactions – certainly for high-net-worth individuals – exists in trusted relationships, developed through an accumulation of positive shared experiences. As the only global polo events network of its kind, British Polo Day is ideally placed to nourish this desire and finds itself in an unprecedented position;
it has no rivals.
Its driving philosophy transcends the worlds of polo, luxury, travel and philanthropy by capitalising on the simple fact that there are some things in life with the power to bridge cultures, to bring people together on a global scale and to promote ties with partner countries. In this case: ‘the international language of the horse’.
Each British Polo Day event features British polo players from leading British institutions, such as Eton, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge and the British Army, all of whom compete with the very best teams in the host countries. So, it seems that Sir Winston Churchill was on to something when he quipped,
A polo handicap is a passport to the world.
To date, British Polo Day has held 42 events in 15 countries, and its global series has grown to encapsulate ten annual events, spanning Abu Dhabi, Australia, China, Dubai, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Sumba Island (Indonesia), Thailand and the US (with South Africa, Monaco, Nigeria and South Korea next on the agenda).
They’ve entertained upwards of 20,000 guests, 12 royal families, 100 independent billionaires and a number of eminent entrepreneurs, including Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk. Equally they’ve been careful to align themselves with only the very best brands, all of which have a leading role on either the British or the polo stage.
Take Royal Salute Whiskey, for example; named after the traditional 21-gun salute and made by the Chivas brothers to honour Queen Elizabeth’s inauguration. Or Jaeger-LeCoultre, who presented Her Majesty with a Calibre 101 diamond bracelet watch in celebration of the diamond jubilee and as a tribute to the one she wore and loved on Coronation Day.
Of course Jaeger Le-Coultre is also closely associated with polo – their celebrated Reverso watch was originally conceived as a polo watch, featuring a unique reversible case design that allows the wearer to protect the dial from shocks while on the field.
Then there’s Harrods, the home of British luxury goods; Hackett, Britain’s beloved apparel retailer, and a number of other strategic partnerships: Land Rover, Justerini & Brooks, Charles Russell Speechlys, Holland & Holland and Champagne Taittinger, the list goes on.
British Polo Day has also caught the attention of business heavyweights, RJI Capital – an international strategic advisory and merchant-banking firm. ‘The world is changing faster than any time in history and the handrails of trust, integrity and relationships are more important than ever,’ says Ed. This significant partnership has opened global doors, granting direct access to pivotal players in governments and leading multinationals – spanning the oil and gas, mining, financial services, technology, defence and aerospace industries.
An iron fist within the velvet glove of British Polo Day, RJI’s role is clear: ‘to anticipate emerging opportunities and head off potential roadblocks’.
True to form, even the wider British Polo Day team defies conventional business protocol, with an average age of just 26: ‘Young people are full of hope. They aren’t afraid of recognising an opportunity,’ says Ed.
It’s an honour to introduce these effervescent entrepreneurs to the world. The up swell that Generation Y creates is phenomenal.
So, it seems that integrity, fraternity and kinship are the cornerstones of British Polo Day. Not forgetting philanthropy of course, with current charitable giving charted at nearly $2m. Add to that a good helping of youthful optimism, underpinned by sophisticated strategic thinking and you begin to understand what makes this refreshing business so special.
The downside for most of us is that tickets are ‘by invitation-only’, which just goes to show that, in the end, it really does come down to who you know. They don’t even advertise, so the success of the business depends entirely on word-of-mouth.
What is ultimately clear is that this shrewd global enterprise has spotted the changing dynamics of business connections and nimbly positioned itself as the leading light. Through a series of consummate experiences, the development of compelling content and deftly targeted amplification, British Polo Day serves up the future, and it’s one private feast we all want to attend.
BRITISH POLO DAY CHELSEA WHARF, 15 LOTS ROAD, London SW10 0QJ +44 (0)20 7352 0340