ONE of Australia’s leading polo players says don’t be put off by the sport’s elitist reputation — the Magic Millions Polo is for everyone.
The polo world’s global glamour descends on the Gold Coast tomorrow, bringing international stars and Royals together with locals at The Spit.
The Magic Millions Polo, the new launch event for the annual yearling sales festival, promises an action-packed spectacle and one of the city’s social outings of the year.
Seasoned Australian pro Rob Archibald, playing alongside brother and fellow pro Jack, said the sport might have an elitist reputation but Magic Millions Polo was for all.
“With the Royal family involved polo is always going to be perceived as elitist but in Australia it couldn’t be further from it.
“A lot of the players are made up of farmers — if you went through the Australian world cup squad most would be the sons of farmers but it’s always going to have that persona.”
Members of the Australian world cup squad are joining visiting international polo stars from Argentina, brothers Alejandro and Ignacio Novillo Astrada, for the two matches throughout the afternoon.
“I am really excited to play the game,” Ignacio said.
“It is really an honour to be invited to promote polo in Australia.”
Other high-profile players include Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne plus Rob Archibald’s glamorous wife and horse industry identity Francesca Cumani.
Off the field, VIP spectators include polo-playing Royal Zara Phillips, her husband and former English rugby captain Mike Tindall plus Australian horse racing legend Gai Waterhouse.
Mr Archibald promised plenty of close-quarters action within metres of spectators and said players would be mingling throughout the afternoon.
“People are going to be just four metres away from horses going 60km/h. There are big bumps, it’s a dangerous sport,” Mr Archibald said.
As is standard at polo fixtures, the crowd would be invited onto the field during breaks for the mid-match “divot stomp” to repair the turf.
Entertainment was also planned between the two fixtures including opportunities for members of public to try their hand at whacking the polo ball.
“The only etiquette is just probably to watch some of it,” Mr Archibald said. “At a lot of polo events people tend to socialise more than they watch the game.
“We haven’t had players of this calibre out here before. Hopefully it develops into a bit of a party atmosphere.”
The 350 VIP marquee tickets, costing $350 a pop, sold out a month ago.
But plenty of $30 general sales are available, or $15 for those under 16.
Food and drink stalls will be available but Mr Archibald encouraged spectators to bring picnics, rugs and tables and chairs.
The polo horses on display, typically ex-racers, can be anywhere in value from $2000 to $50,000 but average $20,000.
Mayor Tom Tate, looking forward to attending with wife Ruth, said he was a fan of the Magic Millions’ new spectacle.
“Polo adds another dimension and will attract enthusiasts not only from within Queensland but interstate.”