The Carrick Ambassador’s Cup 2018 at Bushman Rock

Mention polo and one immediately thinks of royalty, champagne, horses and the international jet-setter lifestyles.  Most people would not associate Zimbabwe or the little town of Ruwa with “The Sport of Kings” nor would they imagine a spectacle of horsemanship and glitz and glamour.  The Carrick Ambassador’s Cup has gone a long way to changing this perception. 

At its inception in 2015 the Ambassador’s Cup concept was to bring members of Zimbabwe business, diplomatic corps, NGOS and general Zimbabweans together to mingle, network and enjoy an event of global quality, whilst giving back to the community through the support of a registered charity.  Since the inaugural event held in 2016, it has grown in stature and is now one of ‘the premier social and networking events’ of the year, with VIP tickets being only available via pre-booking one year in advance. 

The 2018 version, with the theme “Pretty Posh – Oh my Gosh” promised to bring the best of Zimbabwean polo, wine, food and fashion together at the magnificent Bushman Rock in Ruwa.  Bushman Rock, known primarily for its hosting of society weddings and the production of the much touted Moscato wine has been the venue since the tournament’s inception.  The Polo Pavilion, overlooking the polo field out over the vineyards and onto the msasa covered granite kopjies beyond, is touted as one of the most picturesque grounds in the world and the organisers have worked tirelessly to get the grounds and surrounds into top shape.  Tables were beautifully laid on the terrace and a sumptuous German inspired al fresco menu was produced by the talented and unflappable Pomegranate Catering Company. 

With the “Red Carpet” entry being filmed for online and satellite distribution, huge interest was shown by traditional media in the fashion and lifestyle angle of the event. The hype surrounding the fashion element at the Carrick Ambassador’s Cup 2018 was in danger of outshining the polo.  This year’s best dressed prize, presented by RwandAir, of two return business class tickets to Cape Town raised the competition and hype event further. 

As Burns wrote, “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” and the weather threatened to cause havoc with the event.  With unseasonal arctic temperatures in the single digits, the organisers had to hire in extra heaters, riders had to ensure horses stayed hydrated and were well warmed up prior to playing and the tea and coffee suppliers rubbed their hands with glee.  Guests who had planned much anticipated award winning ensembles had to go through last minute wardrobe changes to combat the chill.  Despite natures attempts to cool proceedings down, the on field polo and the off field best dressed competition (to say nothing of the free bar) managed to add heat to the proceedings.

The polo had started on a chilly Friday afternoon with the preliminary knock out stages of the tournament being played.  As the other players and spectators huddled in the AMG Global Club House with the fire roaring and tea in hand, the first match began in the B Division.  Premier Auto B and Manokore B teams battled it out in what was to be an incredibly hard division with the match having to go into a sudden death extra chukka when the Manokore team managed to convert their opportunity to progress through to the finals.  The much fancied Rift Valley B team, captained by current South African test player Gareth Evans, had been dominating throughout the year but did not manage to reach top gear on day one going down in a thrilling match by one goal to the Ecocash Team.  The A division teams took to the field with the Premier Auto A team taking on the Manokore A.  In some thrilling polo the Premier Auto team managed to pull through with some great interplay between Umzari Club veteran Chris Aitchison and Harare Club stalwarts Barry Browne, Richard Brown and Richard Taylor.  The fancied Rift Valley team with the mercurial David Meikle at the helm were expected to push the Econet Platinum team comprising David’s brothers Gareth and Corey Meikle, father Robbie Meikle and the ever improving Tari Mudawarara.   The Econet Platinum team proved too strong and the final was set for Saturday between Econet Platinum and Premier Auto.

As guests sipped their champagne, nibbled on hors d’oeuvre and mingled with the host, His Excellency, The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Thorsten Hutter, the B Division third and fourth play-off between the Rift Valley and Premier Auto teams provided some great entertainment. 

The finals of the B Division were a hotly contested affair and kept guests’ attention away from the competition unfolding on the red carpet.  With Ecocash players Nathan Stockil (15yrs) and Pat Aitchison, being on opposite sides of the age spectrum, their blend of youth and experience and ably assisted by Chris Aitchison and Pascal Gambeau managed to pull them through against the Manokore team.

As guests enjoyed the sumptuous lunch and made use of the complimentary bar, the Rift Valley and Manokore A teams competed in a great third and fourth play-off.  Once guests were fully refreshed and with satiated hungers, the finals of the Carrick Ambassador’s Cup 2018 went underway with the throwing-in of the ball by His Excellency, Ambassador Hutter.  In a fast moving and high scoring match the spectators were kept enthralled by the horsemanship and ball skill on show.  As the lead was swapped between the two teams Tari Mundawarara showed commitment and broke the deadlock with an amazing goal but in the process displayed an elegant forced dismount, leading with his shoulder.  The goal proved to be the opening of the lead and after this the Econet Platinum team never looked back.  Although the Premier Auto side showed some of the grit that had pushed them through the Friday matches, the interplay between Meikle family members and the ability to link up with goal scoring machine Mundawarara, led to a 2 goal win by the Econet Platinum team. 

Despite polo being one of the oldest organised sports in our country (Harare Polo Club was established in 1896) it remains relatively unknown to most Zimbabweans.  The Carrick Ambassador’s Cup 2018 definitely went some way to changing this and in so doing, raised over $5 800 for St Josephs 18+ House for Boys.  With sponsors already committing to the 2019 version, the event promises to continue its trajectory and is certain to cement its place as “the social event of 2019”. 

For more information on being involved contact

Bushman Rock is situated 42km outside of Harare and is a working winery, wedding venue and wildlife reserve.  With lodges and day trip options, Bushman Rock Safaris is an ideal location to enjoy a short break, conference or getaway. 

Visit for more information.   

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