Groom to Bad Boys Polo Team
Often referred to as the real ‘stars of the polo world’, the polo ponies played each season at Cowdray Park require expert care. To understand the time and commitment that happens off the field, we sat down with groom Kellie Leach to discuss her job, passion and what it takes to maintain a top pony.
Kellie grew up around polo, her father (a founding member of the Royal Berkshire Polo Club) was patron of Brockhill Polo Team, named after their family farm in Berkshire. Kellie is a keen polo player herself, “I always wanted to be involved in the sport, especially with the horses”. She believes one of the major perks of being a groom
she believes is the ability to travel. “I groomed in the Open at Palermo – not many girls have the opportunity to do this”, explains Kellie. Although the role of a groom is physically demanding, the chance to be a part of a winning team, as Kellie was at the British Open for the Cowdray Gold Cup in 2018 with El Remanso, is amply rewarding. “I was young when I started getting involved with grooming, I travelled abroad a lot and was lucky to be supported by some great polo organisations” she recalls.
Becoming a groom
Kelly worked closely with more experienced grooms and managers to cut her teeth and soon grew confident to tackle all the challenges a professional groom
for a professional team faces. “You have to make sure the horses are fit and well cared for, communicate with managers, vets and farriers, but also with the players and patrons. It’s a lot of work to make sure things run smoothly and everyone is happy.” Being a groom takes dedication, it’s a twenty-four-seven job which Kellie clearly loves. “You have to have passion for the sport, and the horses, of course”. Currently caring for 15 horses, Kellie rarely has a moment to rest during the season. Even in the winter, many grooms travel overseas for a season with the rest working at wintering the horses in the UK.
Looking back on the season
As she reflects on the 2023 season, Kellie feels thankful to have worked with so many great horses both this year and in previous seasons. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many amazing horses, namely the Lovelocks breed. I’m currently looking after a couple of mares for the Bad Boys Polo Team, Vasca Marioneta and Vasca Nutella from Eduardo Heguy’s breed who are beautiful and a joy to care for. I have enjoyed watching Jeta Castagnola’s mare Pacua Olivia and a black mare from Jim Gilmore’s breed, Casita, that Jake Daniels has been playing at Cowdray”. As we look towards 2024 and the season to come, Kellie is most excited for the Gold Cup and the equine talent that she enjoys watching at Cowdray Park Polo Club.