2011 not only presents another highly popular King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, but a momentous decade of nail biting action and amazing achievements, both on and off the pitch to look back upon. This year’s tenth anniversary event takes place from September 4 -11 on grounds adjacent to Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa.
With a three thousand seat stadium being built and entrance to watch the games free of charge for everyone, this year’s event promises to be the biggest ever. New editions include Chang Noi Children’s Day, an opening parade with army brass bands, Thailand’s last elephant spirit men, and traditional dancers to entertain the crowds. To celebrate a different perspective, a worldwide search for a ‘Roving Elephant Reporter’ aged between 7 – 15 years old has also been launched. The winner of Anantara’s hunt for a ‘Roving Elephant Reporter’ will become a star of the elephant polo circuit, delivering international coverage of the captivating games from a VIP pitch-side seat.
Lastly, fifteen local and international celebrities have also been invited to paint and decorate an elephant replica which will be auctioned off for charity at the final gala dinner.
For those that don’t know too much about Elephant Polo here are ten fun facts for fun-filled years of trunk to trunk action:
1. Each elephant polo match takes a total of 14 minutes and is divided into two 7 minute “chukkas” or halves.
2. The longest polo stick used in the game is 94 inches
3. Each fully grown elephant eats 250 kilograms of bananas every day.
4. The elephants on the field are street elephants. For the duration of the tournament, the elephants are given proper food and medical care that they would not necessary receive otherwise.
5. The tournament has raised over US$300,000 primarily for the National Elephant Institute, which provides medical care, sustenance, employment and mahout training to Thailand’s elephant population.
6. The world’s first elephant assisted therapy clinic for autistic children was sponsored by the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournaments in 2009 and 2010.
7. The world record for the quickest goal to be scored in a match was in 2005 when Peter Prentice scored in the first 9 seconds of play – nobody was more surprised than Peter who was oblivious he had scored the point.
8. The New Zealand All Blacks who had a team in 2004 were almost beaten by a Thai ladyboy team. The final score was 2-1 but the Auckland Herald headline the following day read “All Black Greats nearly beaten by the Fairies of Siam’.
9. The most unusual auction piece sold at the tournament’s gala dinner was in 2005 when CEO of Minor International and owner of Anantara, Bill Heinecke was paid US$3,000 to shave off his beard. His wife won the bidding and Mr. Heinecke was clean shaven for the first time since the 1970’s.
10. During the first game of the 2004 championship, the umpire elephant – a bull named Plai Kampeang – took a liking to the star striker, Pang Dodo, and decided to indulge in a bit of mid match romance.
Dodo, being a girl of good breeding, took off at a pace closely followed by her amorous umpire. A change of rules saw umpiring of the game now done on foot.
The 2011 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament promises to be yet another memorable event.