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Tianjin VIP Member Polo Weekend in China

Dr. Cinderella von Dungern, 19. October 2021

Tianjin is a second tier, coastal municipality in Northern China, around one hour car drive east from Beijing on the shore of the Bohai Sea. With a population of around 15 million inhabitants, it is one of the nine national central cities in China and has a long history as major seaport and gateway for trade. Western influence has also played an important role in this city, as it emerged from the concessional history and global trade city in the 19th century into a modern business hub for many western companies and expatriates today. So, it is not surprising to find there since 2010 also a polo ground according to international standards. Before COVID started, the club hosted large international medium and high goal polo events with an international participation and recognition. Due to the external travel restrictions, this and last season they organized a range of national low goal events.

In mid-October, the “Tianjin Metropolitan Polo Club” hosted a low goal-tournament as part of the “Metropolitan & Nine Dragon Hill Polo Summit Score Tournament 2021”. The event was co-organized by “Polo Summit” and “Shanghai Nine Dragon Hill Polo Club” and was supported by Mixc and China Jockey Club. Shao Wenyao, chief editor of China Jockey Club National Equine Media, and Xu Zhaoyu, director of the International Department of Chinese Jockey Club visited the event. 

In the impressive premises and facilities of the Tianjin polo club and after a solemn open ceremony with Maserati cars and line-up of all teams, the players fought hard and with lots of passion and enthusiasm. As temperatures were chilly for horses and players and season’s end is approaching, playing safe and healthy was most important for the enthusiastic polo crowd the match. The polo professional Cesar Hugo Palacios from Argentina Corrientes (hcp +3) joined the match and his presence on the field then made the game very high quality and fast. Hugo came to China in 2015 and is the leading coach in Tianjin. Being an active polo since more than 20 years his idea for his time in China is on the one hand to promote beginners and on the other hand, train the domestic players & horses according to international standards. Prior to his arrival in China, he has also been playing in England, Nigeria, and Ireland. Three teams played in a ‘round robin’-competition with various players from Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin. Team “Nine Dragons Hill Polo Club” won both games and became first, second prize went to the team “Polo Summit” and third place was awarded to the team “Metropolitan Polo Club”. 

Polo culture in China has a long history and is an important part of Chinese horse culture. Modern polo in China began in 2005 when the first club in the country was founded by Xia Yang (Beijing Sunnytimes Polo Club). In 2019, China’s first professional standard on polo was issued, in September 2021 the first polo rulebook, the green book of modern Chinese polo rules, was published in China. With great personal efforts of a few polo pioneers many exciting national and international tournaments of various kinds took place all over the country. But still, considering its size and population, China is a country where very little polo is played. Hence, getting more polo to be played, is the challenge for its polo community. Since many years national clubs also promote the development of China’s national polo league, thus the exchange and cooperation of domestic polo clubs play a major role in offering various platforms for new Chinese polo riders to learn and compete on the field. 

Muniain (Mucho) Chen is one of those early movers and he established “Polo Summit” to increase opportunities for competition between national players of all levels, so that more people will get attracted by this sport in China. To his observation, Polo is becoming more and more popular, but it requires constant efforts to enhance and keep the level and develop a professional polo culture. So, for him as the tournament’s organizer it was very important to also integrate five female polo players which is quite unique for Chinese Polo Cups. Among them, Ms. Wa Wa was also actively playing. She is the first woman polo player in China and a pioneer in her generation.

Tianjin Metropolitan Polo Club 

Tianjin Metropolitan Polo Club was founded in 2010 by Goldin Group, but is now operating on its own. The club has one international standard high- goal and one training polo field as well as a sand and indoor arena. With 150 polo ponies imported from New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and Europe it is also a leading training center in China for learning polo. Many people in Northern China start their polo career here, as they can benefit from good quality horses, facilities, and an elaborated training program. 

Shanghai Nine Dragons Hill Polo Club 

Shanghai Nine Dragon Hill Polo Club was founded in 2008 and has a British and Argentinean background. It is one of the three leading polo clubs in China. The club takes its’ name from a beautiful coastal parkland of Nine Dragons Hill resort and is an exclusive, private members club. The club is one hour drive from Shanghai and offers excellent facilities, two full-size polo fields and around 100 polo ponies.

Team “Metropolitan Polo Club” Michael Xu (hcp 0) Henry Tang (hcp -1) Xu (Alex) Xing (hcp -1) Man (Fatin) Li (hcp -2)

Team “Nine Dragons Hill Polo Club” Yan Kangliang (-2 hcp) Sun Kai (-2 hcp) Dr. Cinderella von Dungern (-1 hcp) Cesar Hugo Palacios (+3 hcp)

Team „Polo Summit” Hao (Wa Wa) Xinyu (-1 hcp) / Liu Yiyi (-1 hcp) Feng Laoxian (-2 hcp) / Yuan Jian (- 2hcp) Ye Yang (-1 hcp) Muniain (Mucho) Chen (0 hcp) 

Umpires (in alternate order) Michael Xu, Cesar Hugo Palacios, Muniain Chen

Photos: ©Polo Summit / MPC
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