Despite taking up polo later in life, Philipp Müller – known for his achievements as a successful entrepreneur and in various sports – has, thanks to his boundless enthusiasm and new ideas, brought a breath of fresh air to the sport of polo.
It didn’t take long for Philipp Müller to establish his Standing Rock team as a formidable force in polo in England. After their triumph in winning the 8-Goal Victor Ludorum Trophy last year, one of the most coveted trophies in the British polo calendar, the Standing Rock Team went on to win the 12-Goal Victor Ludorum Trophy this year. Moreover, when they competed in a 15-goal tournament for the first time, the Standing Rock team won it outright.
How did you get into polo?
Well, everyone has their dreams, don’t they? When I saw polo being played live for the first time in St. Moritz back in the 1980s, I was immediately fascinated by this sport! However, at that time, bobsleigh was my sport. As a member of the Swiss national team, I had the opportunity to travel to World Cup races in Europe and around the world. It was an exciting time! I got involved with polo about seven years ago through an acquaintance of mine. My youngest son and I first played mainly in Switzerland. Our passion for polo grew so much that three years later, we moved to England. Polo has a much bigger presence there, and it’s incredibly fun!
You changed the name of your polo team from Wascosa to Standing Rock – what was the reason behind that?
We sold our family business, Wascosa (a rail wagon leasing company), last year; the new name represents a new beginning, both professionally and personally.
The team’s new name is the Standing Rock Polo Team, and it’s generating a lot of interest. What’s the story behind the name?
It’s a cause very close to my heart! Since my youth, I’ve been fascinated by Native Americans and their history. The plight of Native Americans deeply touches me. Sitting Bull, Chief of the Lakota Sioux, must have been a wise and fascinating personality. Standing Rock is the name of a reservation in North Dakota, home to descendants of the Lakota Sioux. Standing Rock represents the courage, valor, respect for nature, and passion for horses of Native Americans. What better name could there be for a polo team!
How have the name Standing Rock and the motto “unbridled spirit” been received by your team?
It was a joy to see how much the whole team identifies with the name and the spirit of the Native Americans behind it. Camaraderie and team spirit within our organization are crucial to me. It’s always about the team, never about an individual. We are one big family. This spirit and positive energy are certainly palpable to everyone who visits our tent.
What are the sporting goals of the Standing Rock Team?
After three successful seasons in England, competing in the 8-12 Goal range, next year we plan to have a High Goal team in addition to our 12 Goal team. It’s a genuine pleasure to pour our heart and soul into building a great team, complete with everything that entails. While sporting success is certainly crucial, other values matter to me as well.
What are these values, and what makes Standing Rock such a special team?
Caring for people and horses is of utmost importance to me. This includes showing the highest regard for our grooms, who are vital to our team; without them, we wouldn’t be playing polo. Every year, we organize a celebration for all the grooms at our club, the Berkshire Polo Club. Standing Rock also strives to bring people together and share the joy of polo. Our annual White Party invites the entire polo community. Moreover, supporting charities is a given for us. Lastly, fair play and sportsmanship are integral to our ethos – areas where we aim to increase our involvement.
The logo and the team’s appearance are visually striking. Are there plans to establish yourselves as a brand in polo as well?
Who knows what else we’ll come up with? Anyway, it’s wonderful to see how well the name Standing Rock, our logo, and our spirit have been embraced. I am incredibly grateful for that.
Standing Rock – sporting successes 2023 season
• Winners of the 10 Goal Simon Holley Trophy, Berkshire Polo Club
• Winners of the 12 Goal Cheltenham Trophy, Cirencester Polo Club
• Subfinal winners of the 12 Goal Prestwich Cup, Berkshire Polo Club
• Winners of the 15 Goal Coworth Park Challenge, Guards Polo Club
• Winners of the 8 Goal Coupe de Bronze, Deauville
• Subfinal winners of the 8 Goal Coupe Internationale, Chantilly
• Winners of the 12 Goal Victor Ludorum Trophy, HPA
Both the 8 Goal and 12 Goal Victor Ludorum Trophies neither has ever been won before by a father and son team.
This year‘s 12 Goal Team from Standing Rock and winners of the Victor Ludorum Trophy:
Nacho Goncalez (BK), Paco O‘Dwyer, Pierandrea Müller, Philipp Müller
In the background, the people from Standing Rock:
Eugenio Fernandez, Team Manager, David Morley, Tactical Coach, Jaime Roberts, Equine Manager, India Parker-Smith, Fitness Trainer, Nick Dann, Mental Coach, Ann-Kristin Sandmann, Office Manager