Rovinj Beach Polo Cup Goes Down a Storm

By 13 June 2018

Rovinj's Beach Polo Cup gathers crowds for the third time.

Last weekend, Rovinj played host to the third and now firmly established annual Rovinj beach Polo Cup. The setting and location of the event is magnificent.

The arena is built directly on the shore line of Porton Biondi beach and has a backdrop of the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic. The Church of St. Euphemia, dominating the skyline, looks down majestically from the old town of Rovinj. Over the three day event, there was a huge variety of entertainment as well as some great games of polo being played. Six international teams took part from twelve nations, including the Maharaja of Jaipur, Narendra Singh, who played well and with determination in all three games for Team Franck Dubarry.

On Friday night, a huge storm gathered over Rovinj. The concert and the first of the night games were, at one point, in jeopardy as lightning, rain and thunder filled the sky. The sponsors included Adris, Bentley Wien, Caprice, Mevisto, Veuve Clicoquot, Franck Dubarry, Miller as well as the corporate sponsors La Martina. They outdid themselves this year with many significant improvements, the first of which was very impressive - the new purpose built VIP marquee. As the storm gathered, we were all feeling the benefit of it. I felt safer and drier inside than at home! As the storm eased, the stage crew raced to get the stage playable again and the Croatian pop singer Franka Batelić, who represented Croatia at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, commenced the entertainment.

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As the concert took place, the stablehands readied the ponies and riders for the first of three games. Over the three days, 60 Argentinian polo ponies would be used. For each game the two opposing teams are led out by Bentley cars and paraded around the sand-covered playing arena before being introduced to the crowd. It was the first time that Polo had been played at night in Rovinj and, under the spotlights, it offered up a great spectacle and added a new dimension.


Each game is divided into quarters called chukkers. There are three team members per game and a team can use a fourth player, but pick up a penalty score of half or one goal if they do. The rider has a long-handled wooden mallet. After three great games it was time for another concert, this time by the British dance and pop singer Kelli-Leigh who included her new single "Do You Wanna Be Loved Like This?"


After the traditional and popular Saturday morning parade through the streets of Rovinj, the riders and teams were escorted back to the arena for the afternoons games. The three games were fast and exciting and all were good to watch. The second of the semi final games saw two undefeated teams going head to head in what was arguably the game of the tournament.

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The game got off to a bizarre start when, within one minute, Johnny Good, the professional British player, scored an own goal for team Bentley. Adris were rallied by the early gift and by the end of the first chukker were 3 – 1 up thanks to two goals from Bruce Colley. Bruce had a great tournament and seemed to score whenever he got the chance to do so.

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The second chukker saw Adris extend the lead to 4- 1 much to the frustration of the Bentley team. It was time for a change of ponies and a very quick team chat and change of tactics.

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With the third chukker, Bentley started to fight back when they were awarded a penalty. Johnny carefully lined up his shot on the sand and the shot just about had the legs to make it over the line, and he scored. At 4 – 2. Adris started to wobble and after a mix up and mistake in their defence, Bentley brought the score to 4 – 3 just before the bell sounded and the third chukker ended.

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By the time the fourth chukker rolled around all was to play for. Bentley were relentless; attack after attack was thwarted by a now very resilient Adris defence. Despite Bentley shooting on site and controlling the last chukker, they were having no luck whatsoever. Uwe Zimmermann, the president of the Rovinj Polo Cup tried desperately to make the scores level, and with a few minutes to go, he had an attempt on the goal, but it was agonisingly just past the post. He got in a great position again, but his shot ricocheted off a pony. Adris got the ball and tried to keep it, but Uwe stole it and was through on goal. Surely he would score, but no, frantic defending by Adris saw his shot miss and the goal post came crashing down as ponies and riders fought desperately to either score or to defend. The umpires whistle sounded and the game was stopped with less than a minute to play in order for the post to be re-assembled.

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Was there time for one last attack? Bentley somehow took possession. Upon entrance into the final twenty seconds, Uwe again lined up for a shot, but it was not to be. As he went to strike the ball, for what was sure to be the equaliser, his stick snapped in two. The bell rang and the last chance of the game had gone. Adris won 4 – 3.

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After a few well earned beers discussing what sould have been and more of the fantastic cuisine, the teams and the guests retuned on Saturday evening for a concert by the British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The evening’s dress code was ;;Sparkle'' and that she certainly did.

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As she took to the stage, it was a slightly unusual setting for the English singer. The main VIP marque was to her left, and the spectators gallery was at the far end of the sand playing arena. Despite that, within one song, she encouraged the crowd on to the sand and by the second song, they were all dancing barefoot on the sandy dance floor.

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She played many of her classic tracks including “Take me Home” and "Murder on the Dance floor" from her debut album “Read My Lips”. She also gave a great and enjoyable performance of “13 Little Dolls” from her fifth album “Wanderlust”.

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The final day saw more great weather and a growing crowd gathered to watch the final three games of the competition. The event was a huge success, with everybody having a great and enjoyable time. The catering, hospitality and facilities were superb and each year it attracts more visitors and more people discover the sport of polo. The last game of this year's tournament was the final between Adris and Miller. After a close match, the home team of Adris won and rode out as the champions with a score of 6 to 4.5. They will definitely be back next year to defend their title. As with all the sponsors, they did a great job and the Adris group, of which Maistra is a member, continue to invest in Rovinj. By 2021, they will have invested around 5 billion kuna with their biggest investment being the Grand Park Hotel which will open next season, and hopefully in time for the 2019 Rovinj Beach Polo Cup.

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More concerts and festivals

For more images of any of the bands in concert then you are welcome to view the music photography magazine site of Total Croatia News photographer David Gasson.

There are plenty of concerts and festivals coming up in and around Pula and Istria that Total Croatia News will be covering and bring you exclusive pictures of:

GoatHell Metal Fest 21st of June - 24th of June, 2018

Pula Jazz Season & Backstage Live

Seasplash Festival in Pula - 19th of July - 22nd of July, 2018

Dimensions festival in Pula - 29th of August - 2nd of September, 2018 

Outlook Festival in Pula - 5th of September - 9th of September, 2018

Lado in Pula - 6th of July, 2018

Iron Maiden in Zagreb - 24th of July, 2018

Total Croatia News will cover and photograph the following at the Rocks & Stars Festival:

Maksim Mrvica - 28th of June, 2018

Stefan Milenkovich - 31st of July, 2018

Bond - 9th of August, 2018

Ricchi e Poveri - 15th of August, 2018