Next Tuesday 13th February marks the start of the 47th NZ Polo Open tournament in Clevedon with 30 teams competing throughout the week in various grades. In the high-goal, six teams will contest in very competitive polo to secure a place in the renowned NZ Polo Open final, to be held at Auckland Polo Club on Sunday 18th.
Polo is one of the world’s oldest sports originating over 2000 years ago in Persia as a training game for cavalry before becoming a national Persian sport played by nobility. Eventually spreading to India where the modern-day game was established by British soldiers, who can be credited with advancing polo worldwide at the height of the British empire. Military officers imported the game to Britain in the 1860s and soon made its way to New Zealand. Auckland Polo Club was established in 1887, the country’s largest polo club and host to the sporting and social event of the summer, NZ Polo Open.
Founded in 1977, NZ Polo Open is cemented on the global polo circuit, attracting overseas polo professionals to play with the best of New Zealand’s polo talent.
“We have a great line-up of teams this year and the international professionals have arrived from global polo hubs, Argentina, England, Australia and South Africa,” says Lucy Ainsley, Executive Director of NZ Polo Open. “It will be by far the best and most exciting polo played this year.”
Amongst the players taking to the field, Captain of the English Polo team, James Harper will play in the Brinks team while his son Will Harper will compete in the Rodd & Gunn team.
Paco O’Dwyer in the Ecogas team returns from Argentina for his sixth NZ Polo Open and Australian Lachie Gilmore, son of polo legend Glen Gilmore will play for Kim Clifford Distillery.
Jack Spilsbury from Harrismith, South Africa who recently turned 17 is the youngest player ever to compete in NZ Polo Open. Spilsbury grew up playing with his family and plans to make it as an international polo professional.
“I am really looking forward to the Open. I’m playing some nice NZ horses and am feeling good about our team,” says Jack Spilsbury, who will play in the Cambridge Grains KHS team with Clevedon local James Worker, one of the country’s most experienced players Craig Wilson, and accomplished polo sportsman, Thomas Hunt.
Clevedon brothers Edward Elworthy-Jones and Henry Jones will compete against each other while the formidable duo of Kit Brooks and NZ’s best polo player John-Paul Clarkin, of Tiger Polo team will be defending their NZ Polo Open title.
“NZ Polo Open has never looked this good,” says Ainsley. “With plenty of action on and off the field, we can’t wait for everyone to join us next Sunday.”