A truly unique sporting event
If you want to go to a truly unique sporting event with international celebrities, royalty and sporting superstars then put Kings Cup Elephant Polo Tournament on your bucket list! This year is the twelfth time this five-day event has come to resort town Hua Hin – and it was better than ever. Started by Anantara Hotels this has become one of the countries biggest charitable events – raising funds for Thailand’s elephants. The free event has something for everyone – a grand opening ceremony with Thailand’s ‘elephant spirit men’, Children’s Day complete with a baby elephant camp, and the glamorous Ladies Day. Not to mention the tough polo battles waged on the pitch! The game itself features teams of three and there is two 7-minute ‘chukkas’ or halves. And the competition is fierce. We found out that some players even practice by sitting on top of a jeep and swinging at a polo ball!
This year 16 teams fought it out – with Bangkok Bank team taking the top spot. Polo players have included German and Thai royals and the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team. And every animal is micro chipped, must be under 20 and only play for half an hour each day to ensure elephant welfare. The whole event is electric with excitement. Imagine the thrill of watching such enormous animals helping the tiny polo ball find the goal! Amazing. The unbeatable highlight of the whole tournament has to be the famous Gala Dinner. This is when players and international dignitaries get dressed up and party the night away under the stars in a lavish black-tie evening event where only the ‘who’s who’ are invited! The night’s theme was Moulin Rouge and over 400 guests were welcomed in their finery with a cocktail reception overlooking the Anatara’s grounds. They were then lead to a huge marquee area to be treated to Thailand’s most famous trans-gender cabaret Tiffanys specially themed show. Guests enjoyed a decadent buffet dinner, followed by an impressive auction where luxury items such as one-of-a-kind vodkas and artworks were put under the hammer as attendees threw their Moulin Rouge inspired gowns aside to outbid their friends. T
his year the auction alone raised 4 million thai baht which will go towards an extension of the Thai Elephant Therapy Project – with future clinics to include children with Down syndrome and other conditions. Since 2009 donations have gone to the funding of the world’s first ever elephant therapy programme to research the rehabilitation benefits for autistic children. The Elephant Polo Tournament has also been able to build the first elephant hospital in Krabi, a gantry to help lame elephants stand, extensive tree planting to create elephant corridors to protect farms and funding for the first educational computer application to teach children the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand. To date the occasion has raised over 750,000 USD and next year organizers have promised a spectacular that will top any previous year. And, believe me, we can’t wait!