The story of KPPS back in 1993 was an idea cooked up between Melissa Wadley and the late David Heaton-Ellis in between coverts on the hunting field. David had taken up the post of Polo Manager at Kirtlington Park Polo Club, but only on the proviso that he and Melissa could open a polo school.
Kirtlington Park Polo School began the following year, winning a Young Entrepreneur of the Year Competition with the expertly chosen motto: ‘Beginners to Winners’. The school’s goal was to make polo more accessible, especially for newcomers to the game; as a result the school has a very strong following of university, schools and pony club teams as well as individuals and groups of friends.
Many familiar polo names that have passed through the office and tack rooms at KPPS over the years, from to the late Paul Castle, Roy Prisk, Jamie Peel, Tony Pidgley, John Martin, Sam Gairdner, Corinn Gibbs, Chris Crawford and even Ten Years Younger surgeon, Jan Stanek. Visitors to the school have also included Rowan Atkinson’s son.
There are a string of affluent schools on the weekly pony lists, from the smallest of avid polo learners from The Dragon School in Oxford and Summer fields, who have been coming for the last 10 years, to the longest standing Kirtlington schools partnership – with Stowe for the last two decades. Bruern Abbey School, just down the road in the village of Chesterton, are the latest addition to KPPS’s pupils. They specialise in children with learning difficulties and it has been hugely rewarding seeing the progress and enjoyment the children make when they come to their lessons.
Polo never really shuts down at KPPS at the end of the season. Since Heathfield Polo Club formed down the road under the Asker family, the late summer tournaments have always been a great place for all Melissa’s clients to have-a-go at competitive polo, after a summer of instructional chukkas and lessons. Handily, the Club also has a covered indoor arena, in which the schools have been able to continue their weekly lessons in preparation for all the fixtures and SUPA tournaments for the past decade. At Kirtlington there will always be post-chukka asados, hunt balls, trips to the HPA International Day and forays abroad to pretty much anywhere to play polo in the sun or to buy your first four-legged polo accessory as part of the service. When you book your first polo lesson at KPPS, you will also find yourself on the Wadley family guest list for the next Halloween Party or Kirtlington Park Polo Ball. KPPS is a nurturing family environment where anyone can turn up and become immersed in joys of grass roots polo.
We owe our success to this quite simple formula; our ponies are always matched to the player’s level of skill – ‘from beginners to winners’, our instructors are chosen because they are excellent at their job and charges are kept as low as practicable. Our instructors are all Hurlingham Polo Association qualified and play professionally.
With over twenty five years experience of horses and ponies including breeding, training and competition in most disciplines, we also give clients unbiased advice on equestrian matters as well as undertaking the purchase and schooling of ponies or horses as required.