Guide to polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club

Things to do

Guide to polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club

Summer in the UK is filled with many traditions, from dolloping cream on your strawberries to spending sun-soaked days on the beach before turning your sandy toes towards the nearest pub garden for a sundowner. Or, if you prefer something a little more spectator-led, polo!

This popular sport has been around since the 6th century BC, when it was created in Persia (now Iran) as a great way to train cavalry units due to the reflexes and control needed. It wasn’t until the 19th century that polo finally made its way to England, where it was almost immediately taken up by the military, nobility, and royalty, before spreading through universities and beyond. 

The world-famous Cowdray Park Polo Club within the Cowdray Estate is a jewel in Sussex’s crown, drawing in thousands of visitors every season. While the 16,000-acre estate boasts much to see and do, including the fascinating ruins of Cowdray Castle, polo headlines the summer season, from daily matches to the internationally-acclaimed Cowdray Gold Cup.

Dreaming of summer days spent watching the sport of kings? Here’s everything you need to know about polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club.


History of polo at Cowdray

Looking over some tents at people playing polo at Cowdray Estate with the ruins of the castle in the background

Founded as a small country club in 1910, the Cowdray Park Polo Club in West Sussex has been at the heart of British competitive polo for more than a century, except for a brief pause during WWII when the grounds were repurposed for the Fleet Air Arm.

Arguably the most important decade for the club, the 1950s saw multiple defining events taking place, including the first Coronation Cup, which was attended by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and the first Cowdray Gold Cup in 1956.

Today, the Cowdray Gold Cup is a highlight of the UK’s summer sporting season, with teams coming from all over the world to take part.


Watching polo at Cowdray

People playing polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club with the ruins of Cowdray Castle in the background

With over 450 professional games every season (April to September), there are plenty of opportunities to don your finest attire for a day at Cowdray. You can visit polo matches at Cowdray for free on weekdays (apart from during the Cowdray Gold Cup), or for a small cost at the weekends, with all daily entry tickets bookable online. The atmosphere at the matches is electric, with everyone enjoying the vibrancy and hubbub of the grounds and games.

There are food and drink options at the estate, such as the fabulous farm shop and café, or you can opt for the full experience and enjoy a picnic while watching the polo – Cowdray even offers incredible picnic hampers so you can feast on local goodies. Bring your own blanket and lawn chairs to make things extra comfortable.

People on horseback playing a match of polo at the Cowdray Park Polo Club

Of course, the highlight of the calendar is the infamous Cowdray Gold Cup. Europe’s premier high goal tournament, this popular event draws in the largest single polo audience in the UK. This year, the Cowdray Gold Cup finals will be held on Sunday the 21st of July, with the quarter-finals on the 13th and 14th and the semi-finals on the 17th of July.

You can buy a ticket to all three events or you can pick and choose which you attend. On top of your general entry ticket, you can also purchase separate tickets to gain access to the ringside bar and garden area and the grandstand seats, the perfect way to enhance your visit.

Polo at the Cowdray Park Polo Club is a great day out for all, with free entry for children (under the age of 13) and dogs on leads welcome. 


What to wear to watch polo at Cowdray

People sat on deck chairs watching polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club

The dress code at Cowdray Park Polo Club is nice and simple, with smart/casual the outfit of the day. Sensible shoes (heels and grass don’t mix particularly well for obvious reasons) and outer layers are highly recommended too as the matches are all held outdoors.

The only thing to be aware of is that shorts are not permitted in the member’s enclosure.


Playing polo at Cowdray

Someone practicing polo on a horse at Cowdray Park Polo Club Academy with the ruins of Cowdray Castle in the background

If watching one of the many polo matches sparks your enthusiasm, you can try your hand at the popular sport through the Cowdray Academy. Welcoming people of any level, whether you’re a total beginner eager to try polo yourself or a seasoned rider looking for some professional advice, you’ll be riding your first chukka in no time!

Individuals and groups are all welcome to take part in the sessions, which run across the summer season at Madam’s Farm near Midhurst. Ponies and polo sticks are provided, and you can also request some boots and a riding hat if you need them, making it wonderfully easy to just turn up and take part.


Staying near Cowdray

The pretty red-bricked Apsley Cottage on the Cowdray Estate

We have three beautiful holiday cottages on the Cowdray Estate near Midhurst, making for the perfect accommodation when enjoying the polo. All three are dog-friendly so you can bring the whole pack to enjoy the summer season in style.

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