Rashid Al Habtoor DUBAI GOLD CUP

Santiago Sports May 6, 2015

How did you become a rider?

All of us learned to ride in childhood. Personally,  I started playing polo after I finished college. That means I’ve now been playing Polo for almost twenty-four years.

How did you start to play polo? Did your parents play?

My parents were not players.  My inspiration came from Ali Al Bawardi. He owns supermarkets in Dubai and he also owns Desert Palm Polo Club. He has always been a very good close friend of our family.

One day, he saw me and told me: “Listen, you have to learn to play polo.” So that very afternoon I went out riding. From that time on, for the last 24 years, I’ve been living and breathing the world of polo.   

Your brother also plays polo, doesn’t he?

My brother; my two sons,  the two sons of my brothers all do. So in total that makes six of us in the family who play polo.

The name of your Polo team is Mahra. That’s also the name you’ve given your daughter. Is there any other meaning behind the name?

My daughter’s name in Arabic means baby horse. My brother also owns a team which he has named after our family name, Habtoor. So we have two teams.

How did you choose players for your team?

It depends on the tournament, because in polo you decided the composition of a team on the basis of the size of handicap.

Depending on where you are in the world, you go from either minus 2 to ten, or zero to 10. Now for example the president Cup, Silver Cup, Gold Cup in Dubai is 18 goals.

For my team I choose one 7 goal, 6 goal and 5 goal.

As a patron, my goal is zero.

My brother team has the combination 6,6,6.

Another team may field players whose combined scores are 10, 4,4. Another maybe 9, 4, 5 and so on. 

Basically that’s the way it works.

This year handicap level is 18 goals, which is pretty high. Does this mean that interest for this sport is growing in U.A.E.

In Dubai, January, February, March are the months when the biggest polo tournaments are held. The interest in Polo is becoming very important. Now we are bigger than Desert Palm and our handicap is going to be increased to 22.

The problem in Dubai is that we simply don’t have enough fields. We have only 5 fields and out of these 2 are private and therefore can’t be used for tournaments. 

In Ghantoot Abu Dhabi they have 8 fields all of which happen to be private. However, next year we are going to have 3 more fields, since we’re building new areas next to Dubai polo club and St. Regis Hotel.

Is your lifestyle affected by the fact that you play polo?

Of course, my lifestyle is affected by polo. We have a lot of friends from polo. Because of polo I know friends from Brunei to Buenos Aires, to London, to Paris to Benign, to Singapore to Malaise.

May it be called a luxury lifestyle?

It’s a costly lifestyle. For me polo is a passion. For example I don’t like yachts, but some people love yachts. So you spend money on yachts or you spend money on polo.

Do you like art?

Yes, I have a small collection and I’ve started looking for more Middle East Islamic Art, Arabic art, Iranian art, Turkish art. I’ll soon be going to London for Christies  Auction because of this interest of mine.

Will you come for polo to England this year? What are your plans?

No, there’s too much rain in England. I will play in Spain in Sottogrande. I have a house nearby, in Marbella, so I’m going to spend couple of months this summer there.

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