Official Timekeeper of the Domaine de Chantilly Polo Club near Paris, France, Richard Mille timed the 16th edition of The French Open Paprec polo tournament — one of the most prestigious of the season — from September 3 – 18, culminating with the men’s and women’s finals on Sunday, September 18.
Contrasting with the calm country setting of the Club’s grounds at the Ferme d’Apremont – Chantilly, the games at the finals were fast and fiercely disputed.
Polo is as glamorous and exciting to watch as it is to play, and spectators of all ages followed every move of the polo ponies and their riders as they raced along the “line of the ball” that changes each time the ball changes direction. The “line” is not the only thing that changes; the ponies get changed too between each of the (on average) five chukkers of 7 ½ minutes of playing time — a rule to allow the ponies to recuperate. Each player has at least 3 to 4 horses, as no pony may play 2 chukkers in a row.
Some specialists say that a well-trained horse, called a polo pony even if it sometimes plays until the age of 12 to 15 years or more, can account for 60 to 75% of a player’s skill. Chosen for speed, stamina and agility, while remaining calm at heated moments, the pony should also know how to stop and change direction in a matter of seconds, often anticipating the rider’s intentions. With their lower legs wrapped to protect them from mallets and balls that travel at 100 and even up to 150 km per hour according to a former umpire at the final, ponies are often the stars at a polo match.
The Swiss team of Tommy Rinderknecht, Marquard Media, won its second and consecutive title in the men’s final, after an epic game against France’s Mochi Chic Polo Team, with Argentinian Martin Aguerre Jr. receiving the “Best Player” award and one of his mares, Machitos Garganta by Espacial and Garita, bred by his famous uncle Mariano Aguerre, named “Best Pony”.
For the ladies, it was Great Britain Huntington, led by brilliant Tamara Fox, that won the French Open against France Maryland.
Richard Mille has signed with the Domaine de Chantilly Polo Club – the largest in Europe – for the next two seasons. The watch brand has been supporting polo since 2011, when Argentinian polo player Pablo Mac Donough joined the brand’s family of ambassadors with the creation of the RM 053, designed with optimal shock protection to protect the tourbillon movement from mallet swings, and recognizable by its microblasted titanium carbide case with 2 windows inclined at 30° to read the time while riding.
Photos: Alex Teuscher Haute Time