by Maria Paula Fernandez
Six teams made up of FIP Ambassadors and French Polo Players will play on the last weekend of April on the new field of the Chateau de Courances, located just one hour from Paris.
FIP Ambassadors from England, Argentina, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, and Thailand will compete for the coveted trophy on the idyllic grounds of Courances throughout the weekend.
The event will also feature a black-tie dinner party at the chateau, a traditional Asado, and of course, a very cheerful prize-giving ceremony with champagne courtesy of Taittinger.
The game plan for the tournament is as follows:
Thursday 27th April from 16:00 - preliminary matches at the Polo de Paris followed by an Asado
Saturday, 29th April from 14:00 - three qualifying matches
Sunday, 30th April:
12:00 - 6th place vs. 5th place
13.15 - 3rd place vs. 4th place
15.00 - Grand final 94th FIP Ambassadors’ Cup
The Chateau de Courances has passed through the hands of several illustrious families since the early 16th century, most notably the Gallard family who took on the task of embellishing the estate, giving the park its classical features, and building a new chateau in 1630. The estate was then transferred through marriage to the Nicolay family, only to be abandoned in the first half of the 19th Century for a period of 40 years.
It wasn’t until 1872 that a Swiss banker, Baron Samuel de Haber, ancestor of the current owners, bought the property and undertook extensive restauration work. He called upon the architect Destailleur who added such elements as the horseshoe staircase and the Louis XIII style red-brick facade, and the landscape architects Duchene (Father and Son) who took on the task of bringing the Park back to life as well as redesigning certain aspects of it.
The estate was to endure three occupations between 1940 to 1955. The Germans were the first, from 1940 to 1944, setting up a base for the Luftwaffe in the grounds. It was then occupied by the Americans who established a disciplinary camp. The final occupation was by the British, led by Field Marshall Montgomery, Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO, from 1949 to 1958.
Today the Chateau is still privately-owned and home to four generations of the Ganay family. It is open to the public seven months of the year during weekends. The Park boasts five hundred years of garden history with its 14 springs and 17 pools. There is a wonderful tea house, which also acts as the polo club-house, in a restored hemp mill overlooking the Japanese garden. It hosts pop-up dinners by starred Michelin chefs who use the organic produce of the reinstated walled vegetable garden. And it recently opened an Organic Farm Shop as well as Holiday Cottages.
The Ganay family has enjoyed strong ties with the world of Polo through the years and has recently chosen to reinstate it at Courances. Since its launch last year, the FFP have lent their support in making it an important venue for them on the French polo circuit.
Clearly the Chateau de Courances is likely to become an idyllic new venue for Polo in France, with the Ambassadors’ Cup being the first of many tournaments.