England international Malcolm Borwick believes that polo’s inclusion at equestrian’s Hong Kong Masters is another step forward for the sport.
Malcolm Borwick, the England international, believes that polo’s inclusion at next month’s Longines Hong Kong Masters, the Asian leg of the elite equestrian series, is a “positive move” for the sport.
Polo will be returning to Hong Kong after a 30-year hiatus when leading players partake in the Shanghai Tang Polo Cup on Feb 19-21 as part of equestrian’s show jumping event, which features the world’s top 25 riders.
Eight horses will be flown over from the Chantilly Polo Club in France to take part in the indoor polo demonstration. Two players from three continents will participate in the shortened format as polo continues to make strides in making the sport more appealing and accessible to a wider audience.
The Hong Kong Masters is also another indication that the Federation of International Polo (FIP) is continuing to make strides in being recognised in elite equestrian events.
Polo is currently a demonstration sport at the World Equestrian Games, while FIP also harbours inclusion at the 2019 Pan American Games.
“It is a really positive move for polo to be able to combine with such a high profile equestrian event,” Borwick told Telegraph Sport.
“As with all city polo events, our objective is to introduce as many people to polo as possible, hopefully breaking down a few of the barriers in people’s minds, and pick up some new followers on the way.”
The Shanghai Tang Polo Cup will be made up of four, four-minute chukkas and will feature players such as Borwick, Brieux Rigaux, the French No 1, Dirk Gould, Australia’s 6 goaler, and Argentine 5 handicapper Nico Curto.
Borwick added: “Condensing polo has created a marketable format of the game. It will never replace the “real” version but it will expand the fan base, in the same way that Twenty20 cricket has done for Test Cricket.
“We have been searching for ways for polo to re-enter the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games.
“I suppose that it depends on the traction that these reduced space polo events gather, as to whether we will be successful in achieving those goals.”
Alongside the Polo Cup, introductory sessions will take place over the three-day event in Hong Kong, with wooden horses and smaller mallets.
London has staged similar polo events in the past. The HPA Gaucho International Polo was held at the capital’s O2 Arena, with the last event staged in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Triple Crown dates have been released for the culmination of the Argentine high goal season. The Tortugas Open will start on Sep 27, with the Argentine Open final taking place on Dec 10.