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Hurlingham [Ponylines]

PERPETUATING THE FINEST
 

To date, Crestview Genetics in the States has successfully foaled 20 cloned ponies through the genetic reproduction programme. These ponies are genetic duplicates of such legendary horses as Owen Rinehart’s Raptor and Adolfo Cambiaso’s Lapa, Small Person and Cuartetera. In the next few months, they’ll be joined by duplicates of Cambiaso’s world-famous stallion, Aiken Cura, who had to be euthanised after injury in the 2006 Open. Samples of his tissue were taken and preserved. All 20 foals are currently based in Texas, although the Raptor babies will soon head to South Carolina to train with Rinehart. The rest of the foals – duplicated from horses owned by Cambiaso – will be taken to Argentina to be looked after by the same trainers that broke and trained the original horses. Of those babies, one Cuartetera and perhaps one Lapa will be put up for sale in mid- November of this year. Crestview has been so overwhelmed by requests to clone horses in Argentina, that it hopes to open a lab there in the next six months. Because of import/ export protocol it is impossible to transfer tissue to or from the US, so building a cloning centre was the only option. It will be similar to the Texas centre, with the same staff overseeing the labs.

ALAN MEEKER

RETURN TO IRAN

On July 8 2010, the Young Iran polo team battled against Young Pakistan for the third annual Major Tariq Khan Tareen Memorial Cup at the Ghazr Firoozeh Polo Club in Tehran. Both teams played fiercely fought and highly commendable polo. Young Iran looked to be in the driving seat for the majority of the match, but in the last chukka Young Pakistan upped their game to score two goals. As the final bell sounded, it was Young Pakistan who clinched the Memorial Cup with a 3-2½ win. Hamzeh Ilkhanizadeh, president of the Polo Federation of Iran, together with the Australian Ambassador to Iran, presented the trophies to the young teams. The players – all of whom were under 21 years old – stood as proof of the ever increasing appeal and popularity of polo in these two countries. Despite almost dying out in its country of origin in recent years, polo is an Iranian cultural tradition, first played in the royal courts of ancient Persia over 2,500 years ago. Indeed, the dimensions for all polo grounds around the world were copied from the royal polo ground in the main square of the historic city of Isfahan.

TALANDRACAS WINS THIRD GOLD CUP

‘We improved our team interaction and our horses were less tired. That made the difference,’ explained Talandracas’ Lucas Monteverde, after a final victory score of 9-5 at Polo de Deauville’s Lucien Barrière Gold Cup in August. The young and talented French team at Polo de Deauville, lead by Alexandre Sztarkman, was unable to pull through with what would have been a miraculous victory. After a solid first period, the players were gradually overpowered by Talandracas. At the end of a long European season, Monteverde was in a hurry to return to home soil. In September he departed for Buenos Aires where he played the Jockey Club Open (the prelude to the Triple Crown). Monteverde played with Chapa Uno, Bautista Heguy, Marcelo Frayssinet and Lolo Castagnola. Could this potentially be a new lineup for 2011? La Dolfina did not put forward a team for the Jockey Club Open, but entered the Tortugas Open with their normal line-up except for superstar Adolfo Cambiaso, who was substitued by Sapo Caset.


HOOKED ON POLO

Claus Mikkelsen is a managing director in a US investment bank. Bitten by the polo bug last year, he now plays -2 to 2 level tournaments. Claus’ most memorable game was riding his pony, Tobiana, in a 6-goal event at Cadenza. All speed limits were broken on the spectacular grounds.

I first started playing polo last December. A showjumping friend of mine wanted to learn and I decided to tag along to the lessons. We started on Ascot Park Polo Club’s weekend intensive course with Robert Burke, their senior instructor. Having gone over the rules, we stood on some crates and practiced our swing, hitting balls before jumping on the ponies. Amazingly, rather than worrying about my riding – or lack thereof – I could only focus on hitting the next shot!

Over the following winter months I took weekly lessons with Daniel Muriel, a highly skilled 2-goal instructor at Ascot Park. With no prior riding experience, it took a while for me to get the hang of things. But the brilliant atmosphere at Ascot Park kept me coming back. By the time we rode out on grass I had started playing at club level and had attained a -2 goal handicap. It was at this point that I decided to invest in my own ponies. I had long admired Sophie Heaton-Ellis’ coloured prize pony, Tobiana, and as luck would have it I ended up buying her, as well as two grey mares, in quick succession. We entered four tournaments over the summer and won three.

I am planning to play my string in the arena season, and will have four or five tournaments lined up at Ascot and Ash Farm. In the meantime I’ll keep working on my riding with my video coach, the legendary John Horswell, and if I improve enough, play some games with Jamie Le Hardy. For now, my ponies have been turned out but they can look forward to a lot of polo fun in the cold months ahead.

For me, the main appeal of polo is the excitement of the game. It’s hard to imagine a more exhilarating sport – chasing a ball up the field and then managing an accurate hit at high speed is utter heaven. I also enjoy the socialising aspect, and the polo community certainly knows how to party!