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Coutts Polo at the Palace

Overwhelming luxury, modern technologies and Arabian hospitality: Theres is hardly any other hotel in the world, that is more impressive than the 5-star-hotel Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. On 23rd and 24th of November 2012 the Coutts Polo at the Palace will be hosted by the most luxurios and magnificent hotel. Four international teams including three players rated with +10 handicaps will compete against each other on the purpose built polo fields located in the gardens of Emirates Palace. Faris Al Yabhouni (Coutts Team Abu Dhabi), Mohammed Al Habtoor (Team Buenos Aires), Amr Zedan (Maserati Team Milan) and Stuart Wrigley (Team London) will be the teamcaptains in the tournament.
POLO+10 talked to Rory Heron, CEO of City Events, the organisers of Coutts Polo at the Palace:
How the idea was born to organize a polo tournament at the Emirates Palace?
City Events first developed the City Polo series in London, which takes the traditional game of polo and makes it an even more exciting sport to watch. After our success in London, we wanted to take the concept further afield to a new global destination. Abu Dhabi was the perfect fit. There is nowhere else in the world like it, with both dazzling desert land and ultra-modern towering skyscrapers.
We approached Emirates Palace after a visit to Abu Dhabi in 2010. Instantly we knew that if we were going to stage a polo match anywhere, it had to be Emirates Palace. Luckily, Emirates Palace shared our vision to stage a unique and exclusive sporting and society event in the capital.
What makes the Emirates Palace interesting as a venue for a polo tournament?
Emirates Palace is, quite simply, the most breathtaking venue in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Emirates Palace hosts many events, but Coutts Polo at the Palace will be the first time that they have hosted an outdoor sporting and society event. It is a landmark destination in itself in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament will take place on a specially designed field on the front lawns, against the breathtaking backdrop of Emirates Palace. Groundsmen have spent weeks preparing the grass to ensure the best possible playing surface for our ponies. There is no other polo field in the world like it.
In bringing our event to Abu Dhabi it was essential that we made Coutts Polo at the Palace an event to remember. That is why we decided to stage it somewhere other than a polo club. We wanted to take the sport straight into the heart of Abu Dhabi.
What is the purpose of the Coutts Polo at the Palace?
Coutts Polo at the Palace seeks to offer residents and visitors to Abu Dhabi a totally unique experience-to-remember. It will bring together anybody who is anybody for two afternoons of thrilling sport, faultless hospitality and enjoyment for all.
Coutts Polo at the Palace sets itself apart from other polo events on the UAE‘s sporting calendar by being Abu Dhabi’s first, biggest and best tournament ever.
Staged over two days, the City Polo version of the game is spectator-friendly. A reduced pitch size means all spectators are close to the action throughout the game, for example. Three players per team (instead of the traditional four) keeps the pressure up and increases the need for team work, skill, speed and tactics which altogether makes for a more visually exciting game also.
Teams now change ends only after each quarter, not after each chukka and the ‘Palace dash’ gives it the most exciting kick-off in any sport. This is where two opponents race at full speed from opposite ends of the polo field to get to the ball first. A clearly marked scoring line beyond which the score doubles means that players are encouraged to take stunning long-shots, delighting even those viewers furthest from the field.
Who are the organizers?
City Events Limited is the organisation behind Coutts Polo at the Palace. The team originally worked for sports marketing giant IMG, before setting up their own business. We developed the City Polo series, with the idea of bringing polo to iconic venues in City centres, enabling city dwellers to enjoy the fantastic sport of polo.
City Events Limited worked closely with some of the world’s best polo players to develop new rules and a new way of playing which would make the game accessible and exciting to a much wider audience. We are bringing it to Abu Dhabi for the first time in 2012, and hope to make Coutts Polo at the Palace an annual event.

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