Meet Jamie Morrison, internationally renowned captain of the England polo team. The sport is in his blood, stemming from his father who started the Royal Berkshire Polo Club taught Jamie how to play the game that turned into his career. In May, he will go head to head with the powerful Argentina team, lead by rival Nacho Figuras, for the HPA Gaucho International Polo. Read on for Jamie’s advice on enjoying the game, his thoughts on its reputation as an elitist sport and his favourite hidden gem in London.
LLO: I’ve never been to a polo match before. Can you tell me the top three things I will need to know to enjoy a game?
JM: Polo is incredibly exciting and thrilling to watch. Particularly in an arena you can really feel the adrenalin and be part of the action. It’s also glamorous and social – I’d recommend getting dressed up and going to watch a game with a group of friends.
LLO: Tell us about your ponies. How many do you have? Which is your favourite and why?
JM: I need about 8 ponies to play polo over the summer (the polo season begins in May and ends in September). My favourite horse is Q (like the character in James Bond films who invents gadgets). He’s a top class pony and has consistently performed well over time.
LLO: What are the biggest highlights of your career so far?
JM: My career highlights would probably be winning important tournaments, including two gold medals at the FIP European Championships and four arena gold cups.
LLO: As well as your professional life, you spend most of your free time playing polo. What do you enjoy most about the sport?
JM: I’m fascinated with how man and horse can work together to create something magical – when you play polo you need to work in harmony with your horse, so I’m completely reliant on him while also needing to get the best out of him. I also love being part of a team with the other players – we win (and lose!) together.
LLO: I hear you’ve played against both William and Harry on quite a few occasions. What are they like as competitors?
JM: They’re both great players – they take the game seriously and enjoy it.
LLO: Since your dad, Bryan Morrison, published the early music of Pink Floyd (and many other well known bands) and set up the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, how much and in which ways did he influence both your career and your taste in music?
JM: My dad was an invaluable influence both on my career and my taste in music. He gave me my first polo lesson and trained me up. Growing up in our household you were surrounded by music – we constantly had it playing loudly all over the house.
LLO: How do you feel about taking on the mighty Argentina team and Nacho Figuras for the HPA Gaucho International? What does this event mean to you?
JM: The location is fantastic – playing arena polo at The O2 is amazing. Argentina is the most successful polo nation at the moment, so I’m looking forward to going up against them. We beat them last year so I hope we’ll be able to do the same again this year!
LLO: Polo has a reputation as an elitist sport. What are your thoughts about that?
JM: Any sport can be elitist – playing polo at the top can be like F1 is to motor-racing and that wouldn’t be deemed elitist. The great thing about polo is that anybody can have a go, it’s a really accessible sport. You just need to visit your local club to try it out.
LLO: If you had to spend a full day in London and were not allowed to play polo, what would you do with your time?
JM: I’d take a walk around Hyde Park and then meet some friends for lunch – probably some sushi or pasta to stock up on carbs before my next polo game, or I’d take them to Gaucho for a steak (I’m not biased I promise, I just love steak!)
LLO: Best hidden gem in London?
JM: I like going to 2&8 at Morton’s in Berkley Square – it’s full of friendly faces. My dad used to take me there so it’s got fond memories.
Jamie Morrison goes head to head with Argentine Captain Nacho Figueras at the upcoming HPA Gaucho International Polo at The O2 on May 21st. Tickets start from £20 at www.gauchopolo.com