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Best Things First: Well Played

Sheila Gibson Stoodley

In at least one respect, polo is not unlike basketball. In the sport of kings, a key to success is the ability to move without the ball, or so says Maj. Hugh Dawnay (+353.51.384216), the world’s premier polo instructor. “What most people do is react to the ball, but that puts you in the wrong place,” Dawnay explains. While one player possesses the ball, his three teammates should be in motion, trying to improve their positions on the field. “That way all four of you are doing something constructive,” says the 70-year-old Waterford, Ireland, native, who has been coaching polo since the late 1960s.

In 1976, five years after retiring from the British military, where he began playing polo, Dawnay founded the world’s first residential polo academy at Whitfield Court, his family’s estate in Ireland. Later, he authored Polo Vision, one of the most successful and influential books ever published on the sport.

Dawnay’s school is now closed, but he continues to make himself available as a traveling coach, teaching clinics around the world. The Playmaker, the sequel to Polo Vision, will be published next summer.

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