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The All England Polo Club - Hickstead, Barbados Tour 2011

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Having just returned from with a 16 Goal Team from Mumbai, India, Club founder John Bunn headed off in April, for the All England Polo Club Hickstead's 5th annual Barbados Tour to the truly wonderful Apes Hill Polo Club, to see his great mate and partner in crime, Jack Kidd, and the many friends made over the years.
As ever the trip was memorable with great parties, brilliant polo, a Maroon 5 concert in the garden with 2000+ guests and good friends. But none of this would have been possible without the vision and drive of one man who has created the truly amasing set up at The Apes Hill Club Barbados - and we are indebted to Sir Charles Williams for his generous invitation, along with his unparalleled hospitality and that of his family - Teddy, Stephen, Linda and Oli and staff Jamie, Sara and Neil who all make the whole tour such a great experience.
The Kidd (now the Kidd/Bunn) Family Tour, reinvigorated in the last 5 years through Jack Kidd and John Bunn's AEPC Hickstead, is the oldest Polo Tour of Barbados. Polo in Barbados goes back to 1884, but it was Jack's grand mother, Janet Kidd, that generously gave the land to relocate the Barbados Club's HQ to Holders Hill from teh Garrison Savannah, creating the first purpose built polo pitch on the Island at Holders in 1965. Being fortunate enough (if that is the right way to look at it) to have Jonny Kidd as a godfather and Jack Kidd as a best friend has created a club tour that is envy of other clubs in the UK. Added to this, the team is able to base itself at the Kidd Family's world renowned Holder House.
This year the AEPC Barbados Tour was expanded to 4 matches from 3 enabling a squad of 6 to play at a variety of levels from 10 goal down to 5 goal ensuring each "patron" at least 3 games.
The 2011 squad was made up of Jack Kidd, John Bunn and Charlie Wooldridge - all of whom played in 2010 - and new invitees Bobby Dundas and Fiona Reilly as well as a guest appearance from good friend and AEPC Polo Manager Sarah Wiseman who was in Barbados for the 2nd year for the "infamous" Battle of the Sexes" ladies tour.
The first match of the series was at 10 Goal with the team of Charlie Wooldridge at 1, Bobby Dundas at 2, Jack Kidd at 3 and John Bunn at Bk. A hard fought and close affair where AEPC sadly lost 7 goals to 5. This was a brave move as an opening game as the tour came on the back of 2 of the island's biggest tournaments, including the Barbados Open, and 5 weeks of full on 10 goal. Thiswas to prove the undoing of AEPC as the team was a little slow getting up to speed and settling in, and AEPC found itself in unfamiliar territory by losing its first game of the tour!
Match 2 saw a changed line up at 6 Goals with Fiona Reilly coming in to the team in place of Charlie Wooldrige and this time the team managed a good win to level the series 1 all with a victory in another thrilling match which finished 8 goals to 5. This was a remarkable achievement considering there had been 3 inches of rain the day before and no one was expecting Teddy Williams to allow us on to the Apes Hill magic carpet, so the team had been out partying till all hours. Fortunately Jack kidd is a changed man these days and wisely went to bed at 11.30. The fact that the match was played at all is a testament to the excellent works by the Apes Hill ground staff over the past year. The pitch was foot perfect.
Match 3 saw John Bunn stepping down and Charlie Wooldrige coming back in to the fold, and a much talked about inclusion of Sarah Wiseman for Bobby who had to return home for a wedding. AEPC started strongly opening up a 4 goal lead with their new secret weapon Sarah Wiseman scoring all 4 in the first chukka. Alas, the team could not keep up the pace, and the Apes Hill Team slowly clawed themselves back into the match resulting in a fast and furious final chukka that saw AEPC pipped at the post to see the home side take a 2 to 1 lead in the series beating AEPC 8 goals to 6.
Determined not to be defeated, and with a lot of pride at stake, AEPC came out fighting for the 4th and final match of the series which saw Jack heading up a team with JB replacing Sarah with what proved to be a strong and well balanced 5 goal team with Charlie finding his best form of the trip, and every member of the team getting on the score sheet. Although the score line flattered, it was end to end action, but with Jack's penalty taking on top form once again AEPC were able to level the series with a victory 9 goals to 5.
After 5 tours, AEPC still has it nose in front by the narrowest of margins with 2 series wins, 2 draws and one loss.
For those who have never been fortunate enough to play polo in Barbados, it really is now THE place to go for all polo players of all standards. There are few places where polo players can go and play polo, golf and more importantly holiday with friends &/or family at world class facilities in a truly enviable location - this statement has to be true as there is now a direct flight from Argentina to Barbados!
Once again, thank you to all those that make for a such memorable trip! I know the team cannot wait to return in 2012!