International polo returns to Hickstead as England face USA

England vs USA at the 2012 polo test match at Hickstead, near Crawley

England vs USA at the 2012 polo test match at Hickstead, near Crawley

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International polo will return to Hickstead next month, with two of the world’s best players starring as England host the USA.

England toppled their American opponents at the last International Arena Polo Test Match at Hickstead, in 2012, and also won on away soil last year.

But at this year’s contest, taking place on Saturday March 1, they will have their hands full against Tommy Biddle, who has a ten-goal handicap rating - the highest level a player can reach.

Chairman of the All England Polo Club, John Bunn, said: “This is going to be an incredible game of arena polo.

“USA not only want to chalk up their first win at Hickstead, they also want revenge for England’s win in USA in January 2013, and have rolled out their number one big gun – ten-goaler Tommy Biddle.”

Biddle will be joined on the American side by Patrick Uretz (five-goals) and Will Tankard (four-goals). England can boast their own superstar in captain Chris Hyde, who at nine-goals is Britain’s highest rated arena polo player.

His team-mates for the match are yet to be confirmed.

England have never been defeated on home turf, dating back to the first international match in 2008.

They have also enjoyed wins against South Africa, Scotland, Argentina and a team from the rest of the British Isles in that time.

On the day, the action will kick off with the Hickstead 12-Goal Challenge, where Black Eagles will take on the Wales Polo Team.

Tickets to watch the two games of polo are £5 each.

There is also a three-course lunch following the match, held in the Beethoven Suite overlooking Hickstead’s famous International Showjumping Arena, with tickets costing £45.

Although synonymous with showjumping, Hickstead has played host to arena polo since 2006.

Unlike summer polo, there are only three members per team instead of four, and the game is played with a larger and softer ball.

The arena is also boarded throughout so shots and angles can be played off the sides of the arena, which is much smaller than in the summer version of the game.

The All England Polo Club has fixtures nearly every weekend from November to March, and most are free of charge to spectators.

Players can also come for lessons – whether they are experienced players or completely new to riding.

Livery and pony hire is also available.

Tickets for the arena test match at Hickstead can be bought online at http://www.hickstead.co.uk/polo/the-arena-polo-test-match.aspx and will also be available to purchase on the gate on the day of the match.