Running through the players in a typical top end polo tournament can sometimes be like viewing a ‘who’s who’ of big business and aristocracy. George Milford Haven, the 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, who is a cousin of the Queen and a descendent of Catherine the Great, certainly fits into that category – both, in fact.
As well as having royal lineage, he was also one of the founders of uSwitch.com, the price comparison website which went on to become a market leader in the UK, before being sold to the US media giant EW Scripps for £210 million in 2006.
George Milford Haven has since been involved in spreading the uSwitch formula across borders, to Turkey in the form of EnCazip, and Brazil through MoneyGuru. Considering all his business interests, it seems almost a miracle that George Milford Haven would have time to put his heart and soul into the development of Trippetts; arguably one of the world’s leading facilities in the sport of polo.
A passion from playing
Unlike some owners of Premier League football clubs, who are very unlikely to have ever kicked a ball in a competitive match, it is clear that George Milford Haven’s affection for polo stems from his exploits on the field. Driven by a vision to create a polo match venue and training facility which raised the bar, he bought Trippetts Farm in an idyllic setting in the county of Sussex, and set about planning a quite remarkable transformation. It is now home to four high goal teams which play on the ground, including Broncos, which is the team George Milford Haven himself played for.
Venture off the country road through the unassuming entrance of Trippetts, and you will find a quite magnificent set up. This is an unmatched location which possesses a total of 26 paddocks, with 350 ponies and accommodation for no less than 70 grooms.
Exhibiting world class standards
While it may be seen as quintessentially British, polo actually has a presence in some far flung corners of the world. You will find the grooms at Trippetts come from nations as far flung as Chile and Argentina, and while they are a long way from home, they can have peace of mind that they are being housed in comfortable facilities. Deluxe cabins make up the grooms’ quarters, and in their down time, they can relax in a lounge which has a wide screen TV and pool table. There is the feeling at Trippetts that George Milford Haven has taken the best of what he has encountered in his polo playing trips across the world, and incorporated the ideas into the venue.
Starting from scratch
The 1,000 acre site was originally a dairy farm when George Milford Haven purchased the land in 2005, and one of the first tasks involved moving the cows out. Drainage was a huge issue, and due to the mass of ground water underneath the turf, a complex drain system had to be installed to make the pitch surfaces playable.
Of all the events held at Trippetts, one of the most notable and commendable is the Trippetts Challenge – a competition set up in honour of George Milford Haven’s wife’s son, James Wentworth-Stanley, who passed away in 2006. The tournament remembers James, a talented polo player, and raises money for a charity set up to increase awareness of suicides in the UK, and the underlying issues which often lead to them.
Trippetts is a second home to the streams of overseas professionals who head over to the UK from polo hotbeds around the world.
George Milford Haven’s whole immediate family is involved in polo in one way or another, and this total devotion to the sport is represented by Trippetts.