Major Hugh Dawnay: Acclaimed polo coach and writer - Obituaries - News - The Independent

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.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - up to £80,000

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week