This year the tournament will not only be played off an increased team handicap, it will also include ten goaler Gonzalo Pieres playing in Thailand for the first time ever.
On Tuesday 20th January 2015 the inaugural match of the highest handicapped polo tournament in Asia, featuring the most number of teams (six in total: King Power, Tang Polo Club, Brunei Polo Team, BP Healthcare, Global Port and Ahmibah Brunei) will begin at Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s VR Sports Club, Bangkok, Thailand. Played as a biannual tournament, the Thailand Polo King’s Cup, which has been organised by the Thailand Polo Association (TPA) since 2003, alternates every two years with the All Asia Cup and has a special significance in the Thai Polo fixtures list as one of the most prestigious annual polo tournaments in the region. With a royal representative in attendance at the opening and closing ceremonies, spectator numbers will be high in anticipation of some highly competitive on-pitch action with the six teams competing for a trophy bestowed to the tournament by His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.
Play will take place at the VR Sports Club (the only polo club in Bangkok) on its two pitches - the fully flood lit VR Ground (the main ground) and SPP Field. Owned by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (also owner of King Power Duty Free and Leicester City Football Club) the VR Sports Club has previously held matches featuring Adolfo Cambiaso, Lolo Castagnola and Marcos Di Paola, now in 2015 other top players who will be seen on the pitches include: Nachi Heguy (9), Ignacio Novillo Astrada (9), Joaquim Pittaluga (7), Temi Willington (7) and Manuel Crespo (7).
Thailand Polo King’s Cup tournament is hosted by the Thailand Polo Association with King Power Duty Free as the official sponsors, who having just celebrated their 25th anniversary intend the tournament to celebrate polo in Asia and the Middle East, bringing the highest quality of polo to the pitches of Bangkok reflecting the style of other high profile tournaments held in Europe and North America. Popularizing polo within Thailand is something Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has been passionate about since founding the Thailand Polo Association in August 1998 (it was officially recognised by the Sports Authority of Thailand in 2004, with its 10th anniversary year in 2014) with the intention ‘to develop the skills of players in the country in order to compete successfully internationally with the leading polo playing nations.’
The on-pitch action will certainly have an international feel with HRH Prince Jefri Bolkiah returning for a second year with his ‘Ahmibah Brunei’ team to play against another team from his country, HRH Princess Azemah’s ‘Brunei Polo’, who will play for the first time in this tournament. Alongside the teams from Brunei will be Shailai Liu’s ‘Tang Polo’ team from China, Michael Romero’s ‘Global Port’ from the Philippines and Malaysian Joevy Beh’s ‘BP Healthcare’. The home team from Thailand, ‘King Power’ will be headed up by Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha, playing once again alongside teammates from Argentina, Gonzalo Pieres and Marcos Di Paola, who in their inaugural English high goal season dominated all but one of their games in the 2014 Verve Clicquot Gold Cup season on the Lawns at Cowdray, only narrowly missing out in the Final to Dubai Polo Team.
The Thailand Polo King’s Cup Trophy Final will be played on Saturday 24th January at 17:30 (local time) on the VR Field, with VIP guests invited to a Vintage Victorian themed party featuring performances from French Equestrian Stunt Master Mario Luraschi & his stunt riders, with a Grand Opening Ceremony by The Royal Thai Navy accompanied by the celebrity Ladies Troop in the presence of His Excellency Air Chief Marshal Kamthon Sindhvananda, Privy Councillor and Thai Polo Association President Kanoksakdi Bhinsaeng.
Matches will start daily at 16:00 and 17:30 (local time)
Day 1 - Tuesday 20th January
16:00 King Power vs Tang Polo (VR Field)
17:30 BP Healthcare vs Ahmibah Brunei (VR Field)
Day 2 – Wednesday 21st January
1600 BP Healthcare vs Global Port (SSP Field)
17:30 King Power vs Brunei Polo (VR Field)
Day 3 – Thursday 22nd January
16:00 Tang Polo vs Brunei Polo (SPP Field)
17:30 Global Port vs Ahmibah Brunei (VR Field)
Day 4 – Friday 23rd January – Thailand Polo King’s Cup Sub-Finals
16:00 5th vs 6th (SPP Field)
17:30 3rd 10 vs 4th (VR Field)
Day 5 – Saturday 24th January – Thailand Polo King’s Cup Final
17:30 2nd vs 1st (VR Field)
Thanks a lot: Victoria Elsbury-Legg Press
Prof. Paola A Maldonado Maquin