Visitor hits saddle for Bay polo tourney

VANESSA WRAIGHT ENGLISHMAN George Fox was eager to mount up at Elwood Park this morning as part of the County Hotel Dewar Cup Hawke’s Bay Open polo tournament which began today in Hastings. Mr Fox represents the Morrinsville Polo Club and came to New Zealand specifically to play polo.
He said he enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the polo circuit in New Zealand. It was a real social event, with people camping out together for days at a time during tournaments.
It was an early start for Mr Fox and other polo players. The first match was played at 10am between Hawke’s Bay and Rangitikei, and horses needed to be prepared well in advance of that.
Some top New Zealand and international riders are taking part, a team will be selected to represent New Zealand at the world championships in Malaysia.
Hawke’s Bay Polo Club president Mark McKelvie said preparations for the tournament took months.
Dry weather last year meant the grounds had to be watered while rugby was still being played on them.
Twenty-two teams from throughout New Zealand were taking part in the tournament, which equated to 120 players. With each player bringing up to six horses with them, that meant the Hawke’s Bay club had to find accommodation for more than 700 horses.
“That’s a big logistical operation,’ he said. The team to beat this year, according to the experts, is a mixed side from the New Zealand Federation of International polo players.
Mr McKelvie encouraged people to attend the international fixture between New Zealand and Malaysia on Friday at 5pm.

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