Interview with Ed Olver, founder of British Polo Day

Friendly competition


I live in London, but I might as well not live in London because I live on an aeroplane. We have a different event in every country every month. We even received an invite from Prince Albert in Monaco, which is kind of exciting.

British Polo Day specialises in experiences. If you joined us in India in December, you’d be hosted by the royal families in Jaipur and Jodhpur, which haven’t hosted anyone since (Lord) Mountbatten. And you’d be driving across Rajasthan in Range Rovers.

I was an expatriate child and as such tend to have a rose-tinted view of my home country. One of my ambitions is to build a fund that invests in British luxury heritage and work together with my global relationships to bring British brands to a wider audience.

I’m particularly fond of Horace Batten, which makes riding boots. These are still made in a shed in Northamptonshire by the same family, which has been making them for eight generations. They’ve made boots for the Prince of Wales and many more amazing people and yet they’re still a bespoke family business. I love Jeremy Hackett’s style. We’ve got a great Savile Row tradition in the UK. I’m very fond of Dege & Skinner, which made my British army uniform. Holland & Holland is a great craft business, it’s been making shotguns in the UK since 1835.

I prefer thoughtful gifts rather than expensive ones, such as a Hackett handkerchief that my team gave me in China, which they had embroidered with a special message. A very good friend of mine is a sheik in the Middle East. I’ve loved buying him presents over the years. He joined the military so I gave him a military swagger stick from the British army. When he passed out I gave him a wonderfully carved traditional page-turner, which he could use when he read his Koran.

I tend to shop in bulk
. When I get to the end of my wardrobe (when it’s clearly not fit for purpose), I tend to buy things using a kind of ‘shotgun’ approach. I suspect at least twothirds of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me. I should learn to shop online – I’ve never done it.

I’ve got a pair of high-top trainers which I’ve never worn. I’ve got very big feet so I look like a penguin when I wear them. But I kind of like them because they represent a moment in my life when I thought I might wear high-top trainers.

My favourite drink is the Negroni and the place to drink it is in Robin Birley’s club, 5 Hertford Street. Best hangover cure? Eggs and exercise – it’s good for endorphins and a sense of well-being.

My last memorable meal was at the Corner House in the Botanic Gardens in Singapore – Iberico pork cheek with nasturtium flowers. It was so good.

Amal Clooney is my style icon. I love that she’s 38 years old, beautiful, intelligent, a professional. You can imagine the societal pressures she must have faced, with everyone going, “Oh poor Amal, she didn’t get married.” Then George Clooney is in her life and she’s marrying him in Venice. Also my aunt, who’s amazing. She’s over 75 but still comes to many British polo days. She’s really up-to-date on technology: she’s got her iPad, her iPhone. She’s got the same energy, positivity and appetite for life as she did when she was 16. In fact, she was accepted into Cambridge when she was 16. Her mother thought she was too young so she sent her to work for Christian Dior in Paris, without her speaking a word of French!

I had my first holiday in Turkey last summer. It blew my mind – it was amazing being able to walk into a deserted Roman amphitheatre, where there wasn’t a single other soul. And every year I’m lucky enough to stay in Nihiwatu (the Sumba islands). I think it’s the greatest place on earth.

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