International female polo players head to Mystery Creek

Top international female polo players will be at Mystery Creek Polo Club this weekend to compete in the annual event.

Hosted by Nina Clarkin, (the No 1 female polo player in the world) the tournament continues to surpass expectations with record entries from Australia, South Africa, UK, Hawaii and New Zealand players.

Open to the public from February 28 to March 1 including a free family fun day on the Sunday, the Clarkin family invite the public to watch this exciting event – a great opportunity to bring a picnic, gazebo or blanket and enjoy the best female polo players in action.

“I want to see the standard of women’s polo continue to grow here in New Zealand and show that there are some of the most talented players in the world right here,” Nina said.

“This will be the fourth tournament of its kind I’ve hosted and I’d like to make this one of the best women’s tournaments in the world.

“I really want to get more people involved in this fantastic sport and watching women’s polo at the highest level.”

Nina Clarkin participates in both female and mixed tournaments around the world. Photo / Supplied
Nina Clarkin participates in both female and mixed tournaments around the world. Photo / Supplied

Clarkin spends her time equally between New Zealand and England. Based at Mystery Creek, Clarkin uses New Zealand as a breeding and training ground for the horses, taking two or three horses back to the UK each year to play there or sell them.

Clarkin participates in both female and mixed tournaments around the world. With the rise of woman’s polo and the improvement to the game, Clarkin is taking great pleasure in watching the level of woman improve and seeing the rise of woman participate in the sport.

With various winning trophies under her belt including the Argentine Women’s Open in 2017 and 2018, the British Women’s Open in 2018 and the US Women’s Open in 2019.

This UK summer was a success with 5 of the 6 major high goal women’s tournaments won including the Victrix Ladorum – a high goal league in England presented by the governing body.

At Mystery Creek, there will be three sections: high (12-16), medium (4-8) and a low goal section (0-4) with players from Australia, South Africa, UK and New Zealand.

• Where: Mystery Creek Polo Club, 419 Kaipaki Road, Ohaupo When: Feb 28 to March 1.

What is polo all about

The sport has long been established in New Zealand. The New Zealand Polo Association began back in 1890 and there are now 19 polo clubs and 300 handicapped players. Each polo club belongs to one of the regions: Northern, Central or South Island.

A polo game is played between two teams of four players on a field that measures 270 by 150 metres. Like most sports, the aim is to further your own goal tally while attempting to stop the other team from scoring. The handicap system is opposite to golf and ranges from -2 to 10.

A polo match is about one and a half hours long and is divided into seven-minute time periods called chukkas.

There are six chukkas in a high-goal match with a three-minute break between chukkas. There’s a 15-minute halftime break.

Often a player will switch horses on the breaks. Riders can use eight ponies a game.

It’s during halftime that the spectators are invited to go on to the field to participate in the polo tradition called divot-stomping.

This is to not only help replace mounds of earth torn up by the horse’s hooves, but to allow spectators the chance to walk about and socialise.

Recent polo action in Kihiki when New Zealand and South Africa met earlier this montn at Nga Rakau Polo Ground. Photos / Bodiam Photography

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