SPORTS - Queen's Cup St. Regis Pink Polo



by The Commander

OK, so you’re a big time sports nut and you think you’ve done everything—right? 

You’ve done Super Bowl (football), World Series (baseball), Stanley Cup (hockey), Masters (golf), Wimbledon (tennis), and World Cup (soccer), right? WRONG! If you haven’t been to a Polo event, you’re missing out on THE ‘A’-List event of the world over. It is probably the most prestigious event ever created, bringing out not only celebrities, but also Royalty (I’m talking REAL Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses). What is this event, you may ask? Why, it’s POLO! (Hey, if you don’t believe me, just ask Prince William and Prince Harry—they both play on world teams. It’s a very difficult game, traveling up to 40-mph on a horse, while attempting to hit a ball with a 6-foot croquet-style stick. (Hey, I can barely hit a golf ball with a golf club—and we’re both standing still!) And for all you NASCAR fans: Yes, there are collisions, pileups and wrecks! So get off your coach, put on your best threads, and go attend a polo match. You’ll love it!

Recently I had the honor of attending such an event: The “Queen’s Cup St. Regis Pink Polo” at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, Thailand. Co-organized by Harald Link, Chairman of B.Grimm Group and Nunthinee Tanner, Managing Director of B.Grimm Company and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, the Pink Polo event is a fundraiser for the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer. It was such a top-level event, Princess Siriwanwaree Nareerat of Thailand attended, along with 200 of her elite army unit (for protection of course… and to walk her numerous silky Terriers). She took time out of her busy schedule (she’s been attending five different Fashion Show Events in Paris) to make a personal appearance (over 3 hours) for one of her mother’s favorite charities (to support breast cancer research at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital’s Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer). Let’s see that at a Super Bowl game! Thailand’s ultra elite were in full force, donned in beautiful dresses and flamboyant hats that sat even higher than seen at the Kentucky Derby. Everyone was dressed in something pink, including the major sponsors, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, B.Grimm, and BMW, who even provided pink automobiles for the event.

Ms. Nunthinee Tanner, the Chairman of organizing committee for the Queen’s Cup St. Regis Pink Polo 2014, said: “It is the 6th annual ladies polo tournament. The polo ladies’ tournament is a showcase of the prowess of women polo players who come together annually, not only in a bid to display their skills, but also to raise funds for the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer. We are thrilled to organize this kind of activity for life changing and to save lives, as we have been aware of the dangers of breast cancer. We aim that there will be an increasing awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection and to learn how to obtain proper treatment.”

The match of the day was the game among three ladies teams, including St. Regis Team, Maple Leaf Team and Paisano Dragons Team. Surrounded by nature’s beauty, fresh air, inspired sights and lovable pink decorations throughout the clubhouse and booths, the festive sporting event brought an enjoyable moment with family and friends at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club. Guests relaxed and sipped their drinks, while some enjoyed the fun-filled games at the many booths throughout the grounds.

Highlights at the event included the Fashion Show on Horseback by such renowned brands as Michael Kors, La Martina, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Burberry, Fly Now and Mind Millinery Hats, just to name a few. Let’s not forget the social tradition of divot stomping. Guests walked all over the field, stomping down the torn up turf, to meet and greet people or to even say hello to the polo players who walked divots to keep limber. The event was wrapped up by the Queen’s Cup presentation ceremony, a nice cocktail party, fireworks and BBQ seafood dinner with lobster, shrimp, lamb, steak and more! Everything was top-shelf.

Here’s a quick rundown of the game. Unlike hockey and soccer, there is no goalie!

There are four players in a polo team.
Player #1: The Forward, this is the player who is responsible for scoring goals.
Player #2: Drives the ball into enemy territory.
Player #3: Works in the center of the field.
Player #4: Takes charge of defense.

Matches are divided into 4 or 6 seven-minute periods, called “chukkas”. A warning bell is rung at seven minutes, after which the chukka continues for an additional 30 seconds, or until the ball goes out of play, or until a foul is committed.

There is a three-minute interval between each chukka, as well as a half-time interval of five minutes.

Each player’s performance is assessed annually by a national commission composed of representatives of local clubs and members of the national polo association. Handicaps range from -2 to 10 goals. Ten-goal handicaps are awarded only to the very best players. The handicap of each team is the sum of the handicaps of its individual members. Handicaps become important when tournaments are organized, as matches are only played between teams with similar ratings.

Each game is controlled by two mounted umpires and a referee.

A ball driven between the goal posts or their lines projected upward is a goal. To ensure both teams enjoy the same field conditions, teams change ends after every goal is scored. If the score is tied at the end of the last chukka, a sudden death overtime period may be played.

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