Partners playing together in the same polo team ... it has the potential for disaster on the domestic front.

But not in the case of Hawke's Bay's former New Zealand representative Johnny Coddington and his English partner and fellow professional, Lucy Taylor, who will play for Hawke's Bay in the Dewar Cup division of the Bayleys Hawke's Bay Open at Ellwood Park, Hastings this weekend.

"We've played together in teams before and get on really well," four handicapper Coddington said.

"It's worse when we are opponents. There's usually two days of sulking for one of us," one handicapper Taylor joked.


An England representative since she was 18, Taylor, 39, will be playing in her fourth Dewar Cup tournament and for the first time in the top grade. It will be her final outing before playing for England against New Zealand in a women's international at Kihikihi on February 7.

"I got kicked by a horse in September and had to have part of my intestine removed. I'm unfit and really need this weekend's play before the test," Taylor said.

Despite No1 Taylor's lack of game time No3 Coddington, 33, is talking up their new-look Bayleys Hawke's Bay team's chances of winning the Dewar Cup for the first time for the host club since 1994. The team also includes the Bay club's club captain Jarrod Thompson at No 2 and his uncle Phil Thompson at No4.

"All four teams in the open grade are strong but we've got a good chance," Coddington said.

It will be his eighth Dewar Cup tournament and while he was a member of the winning Wanstead team four years ago, Coddington has yet to taste Dewar Cup glory with a Hawke's Bay team. In 2008 he played No1 for New Zealand in an 8-3 win against Malaysia in Hastings.

Another highlight of his 15-year career playing the code which has been nicknamed "The Sport of Kings" for centuries is winning the Savile Cup, the country's most prestigious polo trophy with an Auckland team which included Kiwi legend Cody Forsyth.

Coddington and Taylor, who is in her 10th English winter of playing in New Zealand and won the award for the top women's player at last month's Beach Polo tournament at Porangahau, will play in Barbados on their way to England in March.

A Wanstead team, featuring former New Zealand rep David Miller, and two Rangitikei teams with several members of the talented McKelvie clan will complete the top division of the 14-team tournament. Four teams will play in the McKenzie Cup intermediate section and six in the Nelson Cup low goal division.


Two of Coddington's brothers, Nick and Dan, will play for Hawke's Bay B in the McKenzie Cup section. This pair along with Ollie Jones and Laura Harris-Malone were in the Bay team which won the plate division of the recent Savile Cup tournament in Tangimoana.

Jarrod Thompson pointed out his club is experiencing an increase in membership.

"There has been a noticeable increase in the number of women players. It is not just a male-dominated sport," he said.

Should Hawke's Bay toast Dewar Cup glory after Sunday's 2pm final it will no doubt be because of a significant contribution from their sole female Taylor. Needless to say, Hawke's Bay fans among the Kiwi supporters the following week won't be encouraging her as much.

And is Coddington and Taylor's daughter displaying an early interest in the code?

"More so back in England than here," her mother replied.


Expect this youngster to play in a Hawke's Bay Open tournament within the next two decades.