Exciting action marks start of King's Cup on river bank
published : 9 Mar 2018 at 04:00
newspaper section: Sports
The 2018 King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament kicked off today on the banks of Bangkok's mighty Chao Phraya River.
The early morning proceedings began with a traditional ceremony blessed by monks who placed sacred garlands over the necks of the stars of the event, the ex-street elephants. Thailand's last elephant spirit men (Kru Ba Yai), who possess spiritual control over all of Thailand's elephants, also presided over the early morning rituals.
The opening day was attended by players from all over the world along with over 600 school children who were treated to a day of educational activities relating to Thailand's national animal. The children were almost as delighted as the elephants during the much loved elephant breakfast buffet and many hands fed them bananas, sugar cane and pumpkin ahead of the first game.
The opening match saw an Anantara all-star team consisting of India's national polo team players, the Kalaan brothers Uday and Angad, and Thailand's own celebrity professional polo player Ploy Bhinsaeng pitted against the traditional elephant mahout team consisting of Tao, Mui and Sompotch.
It was an exciting match with the traditional mahouts showing impressive natural flair due to their close relationships with their elephants before losing 2-0.
The match of the day was between Johnnie Walker Blue Label, captained by Thailand's Elephant Polo president Christopher Stafford, and King's Cup debutants Challenge Everything from New York captained by David Partridge.
The first chukka ended with Challenge Everything ahead 3-0 but by the end of the second chukka, seasoned veterans Johnnie Walker Blue Label made a stunning comeback due to the outstanding prowess of Bjorn Richardson, scoring five goals in a row to secure a victory of 5-3.
A total of 25 unemployed ex-street elephants are taking part in this year's event, during which they receive full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand.
For more information on the event, please visit www.anantaraelephantpolo.com.