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Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK

UK: Wales

Polo set for Welsh revival

Ruperra Castle is the setting for the sport's revival

The sport of polo is set to return to Wales after a gap of nearly a century.

South Wales businessman Ashraf Barakat is developing playing facilities at the 1,000-acre Ruperra Castle, near Cardiff, and he hopes to eventually stage major competitions at the venue.

BBC Wales's Nick Palit tries out the sport of kings
A practice field is already in place and work is under way to develop a full international-size playing field.

The revival has received the blessing of The Hurlingham Polo Association, the sport's governing body.

Mr Barakat said he was keen to break down old stereotypes of the sport, which is regularly played by Prince Charles.

[ image: Ashraf Barakat:
Ashraf Barakat: "People have this impression polo is for the rich"

"People have this impression that polo is only for the rich and famous," he said.

"Unfortunately, nobody has the full picture, once you have that, you will change your mind. We are giving everyone the opportunity."

Wales was the home of the first polo club in Britain.

Monmouthshire Polo Club, established in 1872 in Abergavenny, was the first of its kind and held a reputation for top-quality polo.

BBC Wales's Nick Palit reports
The club won the championship in 1896 and there are high hopes that silverware could find its way back to Wales once again.

Mr Barakat said he wanted to compete against the leading clubs in the UK and said he wanted to bid to stage the world championships in Wales.

The grade II listed setting of Ruperra Castle, where Charles I once stayed, is a grand location for the sport's re-launch.

"I am going for cups," said Mr Barakat. "I have to try for one before I go."

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