The 11th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament came to a close yesterday in the royal seaside town of Hua Hin. Attended by teams from all over the world, along with royals, celebrities and many other VIP guests, the tournament was a resounding success, offering a showcase of skillful play and a new winning team for 2012.
Sunday’s final, which was presided over by a representative of the King of Thailand’s Privy Council, saw the King Power team triumph over defending champions Audemars Piguet, in an action packed game resulting in a 13-9 win for the Thailand team. Both teams included star international polo players, but it was King Power’s Nattapong Praumlee, Thanasin Chuawangkham and Captain Tom Claytor who took the title at the final whistle.
The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and has grown to become one of the biggest charitable events in Thailand, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population. Saturday night’s gala dinner at the Anantara Hua Hin hosted a gathering of top dignitaries and well known celebrities, with the night’s auction raising 3.3 million THB, taking the total raised to date by the tournament to an impressive US$ 600,000.
A total of 42 street elephants took part in this year’s tournament, during which they were well fed, received essential vitamin supplements, full veterinary checks and care for the duration of the event.
With free admission, the event has something for everyone, kicking off with a spectacular parade through the centre of Hua Hin, the opening ceremony overseen by Thailand’s last ‘elephant spirit men’ (Kru Ba Yai), traditional dancers, a baby elephant camp, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the pitch.
Spectators and players came from all corners of the globe, including Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Canada, all over Europe, India, UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan and many local visitors from Thailand.
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