Incorporating Darmanin Stables and Darmanin Equine consultants
During the 1960's, Salvo became the top player in Malta, with a
handicap of 5 goals. He took part in various polo matches and the
Malta Horse Show, winning Best Trained Horse and Best Polo
Pony three years running. He also became a judge at the show for
various other classes. He became too heavy for Flat racing and
turned to trotting, as well as training polo ponies, and even 'made'
a polo pony out of a trotter called Kinnie Annie.
He also met and married Ann, who was in Malta at the time
serving in the WRNS. He met her whilst recovering from a polo
accident in which a pony had fallen on top of him, cracking his
pelvis - an injury which never fully healed.
It was also at this time that Salvo consolidated his friendship with
Lord Mountbatten, who on his return to Britain ordered a black
Tunisian Barb for his grandchildren. Due to this continuing
friendship Lord Mountbatten encouraged HRH Prince Charles to
play in Malta on several occasions, while the prince was on duty with the Mediterranean fleet and was accompanied by Princess Anne on at least one occasion. Prince Charles was on Salvo's team, winning the Keyes Cup, playing on Darmanin horses.
Salvo's racing career was also at a high point during this decade, after discovering a Trotter called "Gebel", which proved to be a difficult and frustrating horse to train, under Salvo's hands however, he won 16 races in one season, including the Champion Trotter Cup, only to be disqualified on a technicality. In 1970, Salvo captained a Maltese team to Ham Polo Club, Richmond and played against Jimmy Edwards team "The Whacko's". Edwards had visited Malta on an earlier occasion (left). Salvo was also mentioned in the book Chakkar, which listed the top players of the world.
The 1970's saw Salvo turn professional, sponsored by multi-millionaire Galen Weston to boost the game in Ireland. Teaching Mr Weston and friends, and training polo ponies for 8 hours a day, Salvo restocked the Weston stables with Argentine horses - considered to be the best in the world. He also started a ladies team and played various tournament in the UK making flying visits from his base in County Wicklow.
It was during this time he discovered
"Henry", a palomino Argentine pony,
who was difficult to train and handle.
Mr Paul Withers, a top player and
Judge in Britain had maintained that
the horse was untrainable and
unplayable, but later ate his words
when placing Salvo and Henry first at
the Polo Pony championships in
Mr Withers said that 'Horsemanship
and superb skill had trained this
difficult horse into a superb Polo Pony'.
Nicknamed "The Tank" by all who
knew him, Salvo asked for the horse
to be retired to pasture, after Mr
Weston gave him Henry as a gift.
Salvo and brother Alfredo, who joined him for a short time in Ireland.
Three shots of Salvo with Henry
Lord Mountbatten (left) and Hrh Prince Philip (right) with Capt. W Abela of the Mounted Police (centre) after winning the Cawnpore Cup in 1951.(Photo kindly donated by Mrs Diana Abela)