The C&TH Guide To The Cowdray Gold Cup

By Ellie Smith

1 month ago

Everything you need to know about the prestigious polo tournament


With just a few weeks to go until the Cowdray Gold Cup, preparations are well underway at the idyllic Sussex estate. The fields are being preened to ensure the ground is in perfect condition, the players are deep in training mode, and No. 3 Gin, the polo club’s official gin sponsor, is busy getting its cocktails ready for spectators. 

Europe’s premier polo tournament, the Gold Cup takes place at Cowdray Park each summer, and this year promises another five days of world-class polo, drawing in top players from all over the globe. Alongside watching the dynamic, high-octane sport, there’s plenty for visitors to do and see during the event – from food and drink pop-ups to shopping villages. Heading there this July? Here we bring you a guide to the Cowdray Gold Cup, in partnership with No. 3 Gin.

Cowdray Gold Cup 2024: History, Food & Drink, Dress Code

A Brief History of Polo

Polo is one of the oldest known sports in the world, thought to have originated in Persia over 2,000 years ago. The game as we know it today, though, has its roots in India. During the 1800s, British soldiers saw it being played and adapted it to create their own version, which they played as part of their training. 

It quickly spread through Europe, and eventually became more formal, with leagues and teams created. In 1872, England’s first polo club opened in Monmouthshire, soon followed by others, such as the Hurlingham. Nowadays, polo is played by more than 77 countries around the world. It remains a popular spectator sport in the UK, with the season beginning in late spring and running until September.

Polo player at Cowdray

(c) Seb Gardner

What Is The Cowdray Gold Cup?

Set within Viscount Cowdray’s sprawling 16,000 acre estate in West Sussex, Cowdray Park Polo Club has been at the forefront of the UK’s polo scene for over a century – the first tournaments took place back in 1910, after the club was founded by the Pearson family. 

Polo tournaments take place at Cowdray throughout the summer, from May through to September, but the biggest event is the Gold Cup, which returns from 17 – 21 July 2024. One of the most important events on the British social calendar, it attracts polo fans from far and wide, with over 30,000 spectators flocking to the Gold Cup each year – and 10,000 alone for the hotly-anticipated final.

‘I love Cowdray,’ says polo player Kayley Smith, who was part of last year’s Gold Cup-winning UAE team. ‘Everything is so green, it’s so beautiful, the backdrop, you’re on amazing fields, everything is always run so smoothly. You come across some of the greatest players, and I think it’s the best place to learn.’

Food & Drink

Gin lover? You’re in luck: No. 3 Gin will be on hand to fuel your day. The brand was created by London’s oldest wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, who set out to create the perfect London Dry Gin back in 2008, helped by a team of gin aficionados including Dr. David Clutton, the only person in the world to have a PhD in gin. After two years of hard work, No. 3 Gin was born – a perfect blend of juniper berries, zingy citrus peel and warming spices, distilled in a 100-year-old copper pot in Holland. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, scooping up a whole host of awards including being voted the World’s Best Gin an impressive four times at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC).

Alongside its unparalleled taste and quality, No. 3 Gin is renowned for its beautiful bottle design, the handiwork of design company Stranger & Stranger. The hexagonal shape represents each of the six botanicals in the drink, with the turquoise colour signifying refreshment.

Blue cup on white table in front of drinks bar pop-up

(c) John Wayte

The fun, vibrant nature of the brand makes it the perfect partner for events. No. 3 Gin has partnered with Cowdray Gold Cup for the past few years, serving its beloved cocktails throughout the polo season. With No. 3 Gin’s history of scooping up trophies, and Cowdray Park Polo Club’s prestigious reputation, the two luxury British companies are a fitting match. Polo player Jimmy Wood sums up this brand synergy, saying: ‘When you’re making a great polo team, you want to bring together the best players and the best horses – much like making a crisp martini, with the perfect ingredients.’

Summery and refreshing, No. 3 Gin’s cocktails are the perfect drink to enjoy while watching the polo. Spectators will be able to choose from the classic No. 3 G&T, the No. 3 Cowdray Collins, and the No. 3 Bramble.

Food-wise, guests are welcome to bring their own picnics, or you can pre-order one from the legendary Cowdray Farm Shop, a wonderland of fresh produce (which also sells No. 3 Gin, naturally). And on the day of the final, there will be a food court area with an array of stalls offering everything from sushi to pizza. 

Alternatively, you can book tickets for one of the enclosures. The Lawns Enclosure is located just off the centre line of the pitch, with its own bar and selection of locally sourced artisan food, with music from a resident DJ later in the evening. The Brooks Enclosure, meanwhile, offers a luxurious experience complete with a No. 3 Gin Aperitif, wine and a four-course lunch, overlooking the iconic Cowdray Ruins.

What Are The Dates & Times?

  • Gold Cup Quarter Final: 13 and 14 July 2024, 12pm and 3pm
  • Gold Cup Semi Final: 17 July 2024, 12pm and 3pm
  • Gold Cup Final: 21 July 2024, 12pm

What Is The Dress Code?

The dress code for the Cowdray Gold Cup is smart/casual – but comfortable shoes are recommended, due to the outdoor nature of the event. Shorts are not permitted in the Members’ Enclosure.

How To Buy Tickets

Tickets are available via the Cowdray Park Polo Club website. General entry tickets are available from £36pp. cowdraypolo.co.uk

Find out more about No. 3 Gin at no3gin.com