competing against the world's top elephant polo teams
The King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament has become an annual event in Thailand held in honor of His Majesty the King and to raise funds for elephant conservation. This year it was held at the VR Sports Club in Bangkok. Sixteen teams from as many as thirty countries participated in this unusual sporting event. The first day was devoted to practice and offered many old friends the opportunity to reunite since the past year.
While practicing, the handicapping committee took careful note of everyone's playing skills in order that the teams could be properly handicapped. As there are a number of seasoned elephant players as well as professional horse polo players, there is an attempt to properly seed the teams and handicap the players to offer a competitive match. For example, the top ranked teams would give up to seven goals to lesser opponents. In what is normally not a high scoring sport, the relative handicaps become quite important. Unfortunately, the weather failed to cooperate after the practice day. As the tournament was held during the rainy season and there is little drainage at the site, the pitch became unplayable. Therefore, the best weather occurred on the day that did not matter.
The first day of play opened to a well-attended elephant banquet by the thirty elephants at the tournament. The weather held until the last matches were played at the end of the afternoon. The Elephant Story or Rueang Chang as it is known in Thai, played Hendrick's Gin, a team of horse polo players from The Singapore Polo Club. The Elephant Story gave Hendrick's four goals and Hendrick's gave us two goals. After a couple minutes into the second chukka (half), the game was called due to heavy rain and lightning. We were leading Hendrick's 10 to 4 when the match was called. It was the last competitive match played on the field during the course of the tournament...
- Ed -