|Nationality||British United Kingdom|
|Born||1944 (age 73–74)|
|Spouse(s)||Simon Tomlinson (divorced)|
|University team||Oxford University|
|Team||England Polo Team|
|Coached by||Maharaj Prem Singh, Jorge Marín Moreno|
|Achievements and titles|
|Highest world ranking||+5, highest ranked woman world-wide|
|Updated on 4 August 2013.|
Claire Janet Tomlinson (born 1944) is an English polo player and pony breeder. She was the highest-rated female polo player, and coached the English national team she once captained.
Tomlinson is the daughter of Ethel and Arthur Lucas, who was the founder of Woolmers Park Polo Club in Hertfordshire and was instrumental in the revival of polo in England after the Second World War.
She went from Wycombe Abbey to take A-levels at Millfield, and while there she was selected for the British junior fencing team. Going on to study agricultural economics at Somerville College, Oxford, it was not long before she was awarded a squash blue and a fencing half-blue and was short-listed for the Olympic fencing team. When she was told that the Oxford University Polo team was short of players, her father's approval was obtained, and she took up polo seriously. Her participation in the Varsity Match 1964 as the first female player was a milestone in the history of the match; cautiously, the club had entered her as Mr Lucas. In 1966, she became the first female captain of OUPC. In her final year at university, she was rated at nought-goals.
Her first job for a British company brought her to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There she accompanied her brother John, who was a 6-goal player who won the Queen’s Cup and Gold Cup in 1967, to buy horses and got to know Jorge Marín Moreno with whom she started playing. Her standard of polo improved to such an extent that on her return to England she formed the Los Locos (the Mad Ones) polo team with a cavalry officer (Simon Tomlinson, whom she later married). She became one of polo’s few true masters of the number one position and the first woman in the world to rise to five goals in 1986. She swept away the rule forbidding women in British high-goal and became the first to compete on equal terms with men at the top tier. She was the first woman to win the County Cup (1972) and the Queen's Cup (1979), having fought for her participation after the Hurlingham Polo Association repeatedly denied her entry to the high-goal tournaments, although her handicap was higher than of many other male participants in the Queen's and Gold Cup. She still holds the women’s high-goal handicap record today.
Tomlinson is the Chairman of the Beaufort Polo Club, Gloucestershire, which she and Simon re-established in 1989. In 1993, with Hugh Dawnay, she instigated and set up a coaching system for the H.P.A. from scratch, which has had a profound effect on how players are taught. She also taught the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Beaufort.
She has been successfully breeding polo ponies since the 1970s and is pro-active with the modern breeding programme presently in operation, which includes Beaufort Embryo Transfer. She is one of six official H.P.A. team coaches, and regularly coaches British squads at F.I.P. championships as well as holding sessions for the H.P.A. Junior Development Squad at Down Farm.
1968 she married Simon Tomlinson, whom she got to know at university. She is the mother of Emma Tomlinson, a veterinarian and registered polo coach. Her sons Mark and Luke Tomlinson are high-goal polo players who compete internationally.
- Horace A. Laffaye: Profiles in polo: the players who changed the game. London: McFarland & Comp. 2007; ISBN 978-0-7864-3702-3
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- Terry Allen: The Pimm's Book of Polo. London: Stanley Paul 1989, p.90.
- Horace A. Laffaye: The Evolution of Polo. McFarland & Company: London 2012, p. 207.
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- "Horse hero". Retrieved 3 August 2013.
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- "Breeding horses". Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
- "Claire Tomlinson". Archived from the original on 4 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.