Behind the scenes at Cheshire Polo Club
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 May 2014 | UPDATED: 19:28 18 April 2016
Horses, the polo club and a family of handsome sons. Melissa Porter went along to meet the Smiths in Tarporley
I arrive at a luxurious chocolate box thatched Tarporley home, occupied by the five strong Kidd/Smith family and smartly walk slapbang into a half naked chap.
Henry, aged 19, the eldest of the three model sons of Rachel Smith, 44, is featuring in today’s photo shoot at their home for the Santa Monica polo club.
Sporting a bronzed six-pack atop his polo perfect white jeans he randomly explains: ‘You can judge how well someone’s played by how dirty they are.’ Assuming Henry’s sharing his view on jeans I continue to listen to details of his already diverse international career. ‘I was 16, and walking through the Trafford centre when an Elite model agency scouted me.’ It’s hardly surprising as Henry epitomises archetypal physical perfection, possessing a chiselled exterior most of us would only achieve via intensive and incredibly creative photo shopping. It transpires that, with his family’s encouragement, Henry chose to wave farewell to school aged 16. ‘I love modelling and travel extensively with work and am also obsessed with playing polo. Luckily I’m able to do both.’
Henry continues chirpily: ‘I’ve got modelling agents around the world from Paris and Milan to New York and Tokyo and pay for my polo with the extra money I make from a logging business I started.’ Both his brothers William, aged 15, and George, 10, are also in the modelling industry and work it around their school schedule.
Clearly life in this family is hectic and I notice Rachel’s rather adept at multi-tasking while admitting: ‘Two years ago I was a housewife and life wasn’t always so busy.’ While I’m interviewing her clan she expertly hosts a photo-shoot, seamlessly moving and shuffling numerous individuals around her grounds like a master chess player. She adds: ‘This morning I’ve already mucked out and groomed our eight horses, cared for and fed all the pigs, three dogs, six chickens, Henry, George, William and Martin.’ Gosh. I feel a headache coming on.
So I’m interested to hear how this photogenic family became so involved with polo and notice that at the back of their home, is an elegant stable block: ‘Martin built that,’ Rachel mentions breezily, referring to her soon to be husband.
This quintessentially English perfect scene is made complete with neddies nodding away and accompanied by Katy, the groom, beavering away. I see their grounds are adjacent to those of their beloved Cheshire Polo Club.
Rachel begins to explain how the club was only recently the catalyst of all things horse inspired for this family.
‘Two years ago we lived with just a Shetland pony on the land. I hadn’t sat on a horse for 27 years and none of the family were involved with the sport. Fast forward two years and now we have eight polo ponies.’ This family move fast and it turns out angelic George was the first of the bunch to be bitten by the polo bug.
Rachel continues: ‘We found out he’d hopped over the gate into the grounds and when he came home he literally begged us to let him play.’ Henry (-2 goaler) was next to follow suit. ‘About two years ago, I sat on one of Charlie’s 19 (Henry’s best friend and member of the local equestrian Taylor family) horses and now I’m obsessed.
‘ I bought my first polo pony for £1,000.’
This passion for horses consumes most of the family. While Rachel is responsible for ‘horse welfare’, Martin who owns a freight forwarding company, K&L Freight Ltd, is chairman of the social committee at the club.
His company sponsors one of the club’s most prestigious tournaments which this year is scheduled for July 4-6, The national six goal. In fact the only defector is William, who by his own volition, ‘doesn’t like horses and loves football.’ There’s a sincere charm in his honest rebellion.
After meeting this warm, hands-on and welcoming family I feel encouraged to pay the club a visit and to pop out a cheeky picnic with my son Pierce, a deux.
The season at Cheshire polo club starts in May and goes through to September and it’s free to drive your car into the grounds on the weekend and simply let the day unfold for you as you wish. Games begin at noon and finish by 4pm when the lively evening parties start.
If you happen to spot Rachel, do ask her about her pigs. She recently arranged for them to be married (yes, honestly) and should you look anything like Michelle Keegan, Henry will likely appreciate a chat. I need to caution you to watch out for Martin, particularly during speech time when he’s sitting atop a horse named Stan. Suddenly polo seems a whole lot less polarising as a sport.
Cheshire Polo Club, Tarporley, CW6 9EE.