Asian Beach Polo Championship 2011
Thai Polo Claims Princess Paâ€™s Cup
Sponsored by B. Grimm Group and InterContinental Hua Hin, the second Asian Beach Polo Championship was a great success as teams from Macao, Singapore and Thailand battled for bragging rights on the sun-bathed sands of Hua Hin beach on April 9. As host to the only beach polo tournament in Asia, Hua Hin was chosen to help celebrate its centennial as royal resort and its historical link to horses, while its spectacular wide, flat beach is the only one in Thailand affording room for a polo arena.
However, this year it was very much a royal event as HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha, daughter of the Crown Prince and popularly known as Princess Pa, graciously agreed to present a trophy in her name, the Princess Pa Cup, to the winning team. The charming Princess further delighted spectators by her wholehearted involvement in the tournament â€“ leading the teams out on horseback, throwing in the ball for the opening match and presiding over a charity lunch in her honour at the InterContinental. The Princess is an outstanding rider in her own right, having represented Thailand in international equestrian events, and is now learning to play polo.
Harald Link and Nunthinee Tanner, patrons of Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, organize the Asian Beach Polo Championship as very much a festive and social event, with lots of activities, a tented city for sponsors on the beach in front of the InterContinental, and attended by numerous socialites, celebrities and spectators dressed in blue and white. The royal presence at the tournament enabled over Â£100,000 (one hundred thousand pounds) to be raised during the day for Princess Paâ€™s â€œInspireâ€ project, which helps to improve the lives of female prisoners during detention and after their release, particularly through vocation skills training.
The afternoon started off with a colorful parade of every horse in Hua Hin led by a school marching band along the beach to the delight of the crowd of socialites decked out in their finery in the spectator stands as well as numerous tourists. A fashion parade on horseback with stunning models wearing the latest from Escada, Burberry and La Perla was followed by a race of local horses, with money raised to benefit Princess Paâ€™s charity.
The 4-goal tournament itself was played as a round robin over two chukkas, with lots of water remaining on the arena to make each match somewhat tricky. The players all knew each other well, but there were bragging rights at stake. In the end, the Thai Polo trio of Harald and Caroline Link, plus Augustin Martinez prevailed, claiming the trophy presented by Princess Pa.
The day ended with a live band serenading players and guests as cocktails were served under the setting sun.
Macau Polo Team
1. Rodrigo Castro (-1)
2. Pedro Bettencourt (-1)
3. Martin Urbina (5)
4. Goncalo Cabral (-1) reserve
Team Handicap = 3
Singapore Polo Team
1. Claudia Zeisberger (0)
2. Peter Abisheganaden (1)
3. Manuel Cereceda (3)
Team Handicap = 4
Thai Polo Team
1. Harald Link (0)
2. Caroline Link (0)
3. Agustin Martinez (4)
Team Handicap = 4
Thai Polo 7 bt Macau Polo 3
Thai Polo 5 bt Singapore Polo 3
Macau Polo 3 bt Singapore Polo 2