Dick Lester

I feel very privileged to own Edenhope Henry.

I’m very confident that he has a lot to offer the polo and polocrosse communities, particularly in Western Australia, Australia and Internationally. His progeny also shows excellent “cow sense”.

Edenhope Henry is a fast, powerful horse, but he also has softness and handle. Polo and Polocrosse players will know what I mean by these terms. His progeny love the game. They instinctively understand “what the ball is all about”! His progeny are a pleasure to ride. They are smooth, soft and tractable. They also have speed and power!

Edenhope Henry shared principal stud duties for Daryl and Bernie Smith at Edenhope at Quinndi NSW from 2004 – 2013. I had the opportunity to purchase this horse in March 2013.

Our family already owned 3 of his progeny, which came to us “in utero”, when we purchased brood mares from Edenhope over the years – see Section – Progeny by Edenhope Henry.

I first met Daryl Smith in 1980. He was a very strong player, in a very strong NSW Men’s Open team competing in the Australian National Polocrosse Championships, held at Capel, WA in April 1980.

I was really impressed with Daryl ‘s ability and horsemanship. He rode a young chestnut mare called Eve. She wasn’t big, but she was good! Daryl is a lightly built, slender man. He sits lightly on the horse - The horse “does the work”!!

Daryl is a left hander and is virtually unbeatable “out the back”! As I recall it he picked up about 70% of the balls that came through the line-up. Daryl is fantastic on the ground on both sides of the horse. He always sets his horse up in the line-up very carefully, to give it the best chance. Of course NSW have been a consistently very strong team throughout the past 40 years and dominant in the 1970’s, 80’s and into the 1990’s.

The first section of the NSW team comprised Graham Spackman on a horse called Campari, which I much later purchased and my sons played at the top level of WA and National Polocrosse. The number 2 man was Neville Gilpin. A professional stockman and a very good horseman and first quality polocrosse player. Then there was Daryl in the number 3 position.

Daryl was the Champion Player of the carnival and his horse Eve was judged the Champion Pony.

WA played themselves into the final with a strong young team. They did very well but were no a match for the very professional and dominant NSW combination. Both NSW’s sections were strong. Both sections won well.

I was really impressed by the NSW team and observed that their horsemanship skills were at a level far above the rest. Their horses were “a cut above” also. Of all of the horses at the carnival I was most impressed with Daryl Smiths horses and his approach to the game. He was a serious professional and a champion.

His horses were young. They hadn’t been overplayed. They were sound and fit!

The NSW team led by Daryl had a great sense of “conserving their horses”. The finals at National Titles traditionally are 8 chukkas of 6 minutes each. In the 1980’s and 90’s teams comprised 6 men and 6 horses only. More recently teams have been enlarged to a 7th player and his horse. A worthy and modern development.

Daryl never “over played his horse”! They were paced throughout the match! They had to win the ball in every chukka, but Daryl was always conscious that his mount and the other horses around him needed to be full of capacity and energy in the 7th and 8th chukkas. 

He and his horse were champions. He is also a champion person! An excellent breeder and judge of horses and a great person to know and do business with. He is honest and straight forward.

His word is his bond!!

It was clear to me in 1980 that if WA was going to progress in polocrosse, we had to do well “the things that NSW were already doing!!”

The 1980 National Titles at Capel changed my approach. I made point of meeting and making strong contact with Daryl Smith and his wife Jenny. This wasn’t all that easy. Daryl is a very private person; he was the “champion of the world”! There was a lot of competition for his time and attention. In many ways he was outwardly “a reluctant champion”.

I persisted, I achieved a strong contact, aided I must say by my wife, Jan, who immediately liked Jenny Smith and they formed a warm friendship.

I arranged to purchase two young horses from Daryl – a gelding we later called Bailoff and a young chestnut mare by Cecil Bruce (ASH Registration No. 1!) we called “the Mare”.

My boys rode the Mare for many years at the highest level of polocrosse in WA and also at National Titles level. She was a great horse. Unfortunately we were unable to achieve any foals from her.

The following National Championship Carnival in 1982 was held Benalla Victoria. Daryl and his horse were awarded Champion Player and Champion Horse.

My son, Stuart, played in the WA Junior Team that won the Junior Championship beating NSW in Benalla, that year!

The Australian National Titles Championship in 1984, was held in Warwick QLD. The NSW Mens Open team were fully extended by a good and highly motivated Queensland team. Queensland won in a very tight fame. Despite being on the lossing team, Daryl was again awarded Champion Player and his horse Bo Derek – Champion Horse!

The National Titles carnival in Naracoorte SA in 1986, was possibly the high point of Daryl Smith’s career. He rode another young chestnut mare but this time with a big white blaze called Edenhope Betty Jane. Daryl won Champion Player and Betty Jane, his horse Champion Horse of the carnival. Betty Jane was only 4 years old at the time.

In the final at Naracoorte, NSW played against QLD. Many who saw the match are of the view that the performance of Betty Jane as a polocrosse horse was the best ever witnessed! I personally agree!

Daryl’s personal performance was masterful, nobody had any doubt as to who would be named Champion Player. 

Following the Naracoorte Nationals, Betty Jane was sent to stud. She had several foals. Her 2001 foal was Edenhope Henry. Henry is by Nabenabah Easy Gun – bred on “The Gun” line which is a well-credentialed line of thoroughbred style horses – bred for polo by David Archibald.

I have bought many horses including geldings, primarily from NSW, over the years, mostly from Daryl Smith, but also from Peter and Allie Haydon and from Anto White at Belltrees.

I have found that the most expensive horses to have been the best value!

In 1991 my youngest son Russell, who was doing an Economics Degree at UWA at the time, decided that he would start playing polo.

The family had been taking a break from competitive horse sports for a couple of years after a long period of intense activity.

Russell brought in the now ageing polocrosse horses and started playing polo. This started a trend. Firstly Adrian, the eldest son, and then Stuart took up polo. This wasn't difficult for us because we already had quite a group of horses, a horse truck and saddlery etc.

This move to polo rekindled our interest in polocrosse and we played both games for a couple of years. This wasn’t difficult because the seasons in WA complimented each other.

Russell and Stuart, after playing polo for several years retired from the sport and both travelled and married, leaving Adrian who continues to play a very good amateur game on a handicap of 1 goal.

James Lester, Adrian's eldest son is an accomplished horseman and rider and has played polocrosse as a junior player. James was a member of the WA Junior Polocrosse Team at the National Titles held at Ballarat Victoria in 2010. Currently James is spending his Gap Year in the United Kingdom making his way as a young professional polo player.