Major Hugh Dawnay: Acclaimed polo coach and writer

 

Major Hugh Dawnay was a passionate horseman who followed family tradition by serving in the army and then devoting himself to polo, becoming an internationally recognised expert.

Devoted to horses in general and polo in particular, he promoted the sport by establishing a coaching school in Ireland, as well as conducting classes in Florida and Mexico.

The author of two books which became standard texts, he achieved fame with his coaching all over the world. A successful amateur jockey in his youth, he rode with success at courses such as Cheltenham and Aintree. He also followed a family tradition when he became Master of Foxhounds with the Waterford Hunt in 1975.

He was born in 1932 at Lucknow in India, where his father was stationed, General Sir David Dawnay of the 10th Hussars regiment, an Olympic polo player who won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympics. His mother was Lady Katharine Nora de la Poer Beresford. Sir David had a distinguished military career which included three years as commandant of Sandhurst. He went on to become clerk of the course at Ascot, which gave Hugh the opportunity to use the stabling there.

Hugh Dawnay was educated at Stonehouse School, which was evacuated to Yorkshire during the Second World War, then at Eton and Sandhurst. He served for 21 years in the 10th Hussars which through amalgamation had become the Royal Hussars by the time he retired as major in 1971. He served in Germany, Jordan and Aden during a career in which he held a number of commands.

He had begun his polo career at Sandhurst, reaching a three-goal handicap which he maintained until he was over 60. He went on to captain his regimental team and the army polo team. He was about to leave the army when he was offered command of an armoured-car squadron with the Army of Occupation of the Rhine. He accepted: "You don't decline a command to pursue your polo," he explained. "But in hindsight it was all for the best." This was because in Germany he discovered a gift for coaching, harnessing army instruction techniques first with the fledgling Dusseldorf Polo Club, then with Hamburg.

After leaving the army he returned to his 500-acre dairy farm near Waterford in the Irish Republic. He had inherited the estate from his grandmother, a sister of the former Marquis of Waterford, who returned to Ireland when her husband was killed in 1914 at the Battle of Ypres.

At Waterford, Dawnay established the first formal polo school, based on a coaching system he had developed in the army. For 30 years he staged individual and group clinics on tactics, practice and pony schooling, supplying mounts for his pupils. For many years he also coached at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in Florida, and at a Mexican resort, Costa Careyes. Over the years he provided coaching in more than 30 countries.

He once recalled: "When I started there was virtually no coaching in polo, though it was there in other equestrian sports. Today it is widely available but sadly a large proportion of players don't take advantage of it. In my experience most patrons believe a good player will make a good coach. Obviously certain players bear this out, but on the whole someone watching from the sidelines can see much more than anyone playing with a team.

"Even very good players make mistakes without realising it so it's to a team's advantage if they are identified. Equally, when praise is merited, a good player should be told so by someone whose judgment he respects."

He wrote two definitive books, Polo Vision and Playmaker Polo. The latter, containing 350 pages on the finer points of the game, was described as the best structured and most complete book written on the sport.

In 1971 he married Maria Ines Cermesoni, whom he met in Buenos Aires while playing polo in Argentina in 1970. He is survived by her and by their two sons, David and Sebastian as well as his brother Peter, his grandchildren Lucia and Nicholas, his daughters-in-law Aisha and Louisa and other relatives.

Hugh Dawnay, polo player and coach: born 17 December 1932; married 1971 Maria Ines Cermesoni (two sons); died 28 May 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015