By Wallace Ashton
If you are a polo person then the playing of the 2017 World Cup is critical. We have the opportunity to present Australian polo to the world with what could be described as a Trade Fair
*Hawkesbury council has not yet granted permission for Peter Higgins to hold the event. Fellow polo player and neighbour John Marshal is opposing the World Cup and there is an 80% that he will be successful.
*NSWPA and APF have indicated that they will make no financial contribution and have washed their hands of the Event.
*I am unaware of FIP’s position as this failure to deliver is also of huge embarrassment to FIP.
FACT:- The cheapest thing in polo is moving the player.
WE MUST HAVE A PLAN B
The tried and true method of mounting visiting teams is to play with a club. Engage with that club. Create a connection between the person borrowing the horse and the owner/groom. At the end of a week to 10 days of practice matches step off your horse. Observe it being played by a quality rider. If this is done with care you will get an improved horse and be proud. Many horses that are offered will not be up to such fast polo but there are a lot of wonderful horses in Australia and that is what I am promoting. By the end people will be wanting their horse selected for the event. The aim of this event is to promote our polo. At the semi-finals we rejig with quality horses from eliminated teams. This is promotion.
We the clubs take control of our polo. We have the assets and practical knowledge.
Play the competition as a knock out. If it is good enough for Wimbledon then surely that is good enough for what is a Level 2 polo competition. It is handicap and the team is 14 goal and no player over 5 goals.
Send 2 teams to Queensland. The teams are hosted by two separate clubs. Mix and match polo is played by the two groupings. This gives pleasure and involvement to the players. It also gives a polo connection between countries and cultures. It gives us the player a reason to want to be involved. Playing polo with better players is what we all want to do and it improves our play. If you selectively mount the players it will improve the horses. Most of the players are quality riders but they must get the feel of the horse till they push it to the limit or they will break the horse. Play FIP rules for 6 Chukka. Play the horses for the best result with owners involvement. Must have 7 days’ minimum to familiarise with horses.
Do the same with Scone and Ellerston.
In the basin I am sure we could get four Clubs. Under my scenario Muddy Flatts mounts a team; I am sure Sam Gardiner would mount a team with help; I believe that Timor is interested in team with assistance encouraged by Jose Donoso; I am sure that Bruno Muscat would be very enthusiastic in engaging with Windsors friends to mount a team. This is just off the top of my head because having your polo string compete makes it all very interesting. Give us a reason and we will give you our horses.
The semi-finals and finals are played in Sydney.
Same formula but pools. This puts much more pressure on infrastructure and thus costs. No moving horses is an advantage. Must retain the club connection.
This would be run by the head of the polo clubs. Fairness and disclosure is essential.
The event would be run with minimum fan fair. Admission free and ensuring we were solely a sporting competition which we are.
I believe I could put this together for a base of A$300,000 that would ultimately blow out.
Why you should listen to me:-
*We must engage with other polo nations or we are forgotten. They say we are so far away.
*This is a Trade Fair for polo in Australia. Sales, travel, year round employment and so on.
*Brexit is Brexit. A channel closed.
I am so concerned about the direction and administration of Polo in this country that I am putting a proposal to sub contract the horse delivery to the tournament.
Basis of my proposal
*Games will be of 6 chukkas with golden goal
*Horses are played as owner/player decide. Some three minutes some full chukka
*Horse preparation sub contracted to individual clubs. Financial enforceable agreement with club along with personal undertakings from club organisers
*The delivery of horses can’t be done cheaper than this.FIP will have to alter its rules.
*This format gives a reason to mount a visiting team. We are hosts, not servants!
*I will provide my field boarded and mown free of charge for games. No cars or hospitality areas on my field. Viewing on foot. Perhaps a venue may be lent by WPC or whoever free to promote their field.
*I need till end of July to lock in clubs and generate $400,000 in funds to comfortably fund the horses.
*I would be very interested in connecting with FIP. There are a number of spin offs that could promote our game and perhaps even provide income.
*It must remain primarily a sporting event to avoid any requirements for traffic approvals ect. Viewing will be for the polo community. I believe we will have visits from Adam Snow; Jose Donoso and many other leaders of polo over the last 30 years.
*All Club organisers on committee with equal rights. Frame work of the mounting is as laid out by me and I will administer with assistance of polo persons of credibility.
The purpose of the above is to encourage discussion at a controlling level of our sport. The World Cup is a huge undertaking and unless action is taken it will be too late. My brother, James ran the World Cup in Melbourne and they had timing, community support and Packer providing and entire work force along with us and our grooms and vehicles. There was plenty of stress and worry about the horses till the end. As currently, proposed I don’t believe the World Cup can be done. No one has spoken to me and I have a field, paddocks and 40 horses that will be fit and played 16 goal. The USPA 14 goal squad of 8 visited me in April and I mounted 2 teams and they were impressed with the horses. As you can see I too have a vested interest. We have been given an opportunity that we never should have got. Use it.