THE Pink Polo Kuala Lumpur and the tournament’s trophy, the Sunny Hale Cup, both hold personal meaning to Datin Nurul Husna Mohd Noorajala.
She has been involved in organising the women’s tournament since taking over as co-chairman in 2016.
The cup is dedicated to her friend, the late Sunset “Sunny” Hale, widely considered the world’s greatest women’s polo player who passed away from breast cancer last year.
Pink Polo Kuala Lumpur is an annual charity event held at the Royal Selangor Polo Club (RSPC) to benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation.
“Sunny was a good friend and mentor for the polo community, and she was one of the loudest advocates for women’s participation in polo,” she said.
Nurul Husna said polo is a team sport that requires strategy, good horses and a trained organisation.
“Polo is also a family- and community-oriented sport, as well as one where women can play alongside men,” she said.
“You need to have good riding skills and good horsemanship to pick up polo. You also need to have a lot of practice, time and dedication to get to a level whereby you trust yourself on any horse.”
The polo event is held to raise the bar for women’s polo and empower more participation in the male-dominated sport.
It is also held to increase awareness of breast cancer (as it is timed in conjunction with Pink October month) and to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
The proceeds will be channelled to help the foundation’s efforts in raising awareness of early detection of breast cancer, providing financial aid, support group and counselling to those in need, as well as organising activities for survivors and their families.
The organisers managed to raise RM70,000 this year, through a polo clinic, charity cycle sessions, raffle ticket sales and individual donations.
Pink Polo Kuala Lumpur 2018 saw three teams competing for the Sunny Hale Cup.
The players included Princess Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah, the daughter of the Sultan of Brunei, as well as top women’s polo athletes such as Argentina’s Lia Salvo and England’s Sarah Wiseman.
The Le Tu Polo Team took home the top prize, while the St Regis and Windhorse AT6 teams won second and third place, respectively.
Pink Polo Kuala Lumpur royal patron Puteri Suraiya Afzan, the grandchild of the Sultan of Pahang, and St Regis Kuala Lumpur general manager Renato De Oliveira presented prizes to the winners.
St Regis Hotels and Resorts marked its first sponsorship of a polo event in Kuala Lumpur by partnering with RSPC as official hotel sponsor for the Pink Polo Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s a good platform to bring awareness to the brand, as well as an opportunity for partnership and philanthropy,” said St Regis Asia Pacific senior director Fay-Linn Yeoh.
“St Regis has long been associated with polo, dating back to when John Jacob Astor IV built and opened the first St Regis in New York. Members of the Astor family were renowned patrons of polo on both sides of the Atlantic.
“At the turn of the 20th century, polo matches were played on Governors Island in the heart of New York Harbour and were the highlight of the city’s summer social calendar.”
Yeoh said St Regis continued to celebrate its passion for polo by participating in high-profile events around the world, including in Argentina, China, England, India, Mexico, Singapore and Thailand.
“We also collaborate with St Regis connoisseur and renowned polo player Nacho Figueras, who continues to elevate the sport to a global stage,” she said.
“Figueras has been a part of the St Regis International Cup at Cowdray Park Polo Club in Southwest London since 2010.”
Yeoh said polo, dubbed the sport of kings, offered a platform for the hospitality group to speak to existing and potential customers worldwide.
“Whether they are travelling for a polo event, business or leisure, customers will know that there is a St Regis property they can refer to,” she said.