Get Ready to Rumble: The 2009 King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament

From March 23-29, Monday to Sunday, in Chiang Saen, a pretty little town on the Mekong River across from Laos in the northern province of Chiang Rai. See here and here.

Admission is free. There’s a nice little elephant parade through town at beginning. To date, the tournament has raised more than US$200,000 for the National Elephant Institute.

Alas! We cannot make it. I can no longer play. The old team is no more, and I have a bum mallet-swinging shoulder now. But for anyone who is interested in playing sometime, there’s a team named Tickle and the Ivories that always makes it and often advertises for players.

I guess I should try that someday… but I know nothing about polo.

No worries. As the Tickle and the Ivories website shows here, you don’t really have to:

**"Have any of you played horse polo before ?

What experience do you need with elephants ?
None. Some level of physical fitness and an eye for ball sports does help though."**

Recruitment info here. The last I heard they were full up, but that was a year or so ago. As you can see, they don’t update their website very often.

A lot of the teams and players are wealthy horse-polo players who seem to have the time and money to gallavant around the world indulging in their sport. I’ve seen at least one guy with a fancy case designed just to carry his polo boots! They love elephant polo as something different, plus it’s a good charitable cause.

But many do it just for grins. There are, I believe company teams from DHL and the like. There’s even a New Zealand rugby team that plays every year without fail, the All Blacks; they do a Maori dance during the opening ceremony.

Photo of Monday’s elephant parade in Chiang Saen here. No word yet on match results.

Is this the same event where one of the larger, gray entrants trashed the Spanish team’s Range Rover a couple of years ago?

That was in Sri Lanka, but part of the same international series, yes. Was it the Spanish team? I think the rider on said elephant was from the DC Elephants, possibly America’s only elephant-polo team, but she could have been playing with them if they needed someone in a pinch.

Someone started a thread on that incident; wasn’t it you?

Perhaps so, but I’ve slept since then. An elephant without rider trashed a Land Rover. I believe it belonged to the Spanish team. Some brave little guys were trying to chase him away with sharp sticks in the video I saw.

Saturday is Visitors Day at Riddle’s Elephant Sanctuary. We can watch the Asian calf trip over her own feet. :slight_smile:

When I was there three months ago, Mr. Riddle let the two Asian females out of their pen early. He drives a pickup over to their barn and they follow like dogs. The lady keeper I was speaking to said, “Why don’t we go over here?” and stepped back out of the way. I followed with great alacrity. As much as I like elephants, I have never had one, let alone two, walk by me within twelve feet unescorted. I swear they smirked at me.

The elephant did have a rider at first, but she may have been thrown before it attacked the Land Rover. I recall she had been dangling off it at least for a while with her foot caught in the stirrup and had to be hospitalized for minor injuries, but I don’t recall seeing her still attached in the video of the actual Land Rover attack. Her name I recognized as someone I’d talked to a few months before at the Thailand tournament, and she was with DC Elephants in that one; she said she was giving up elephant polo. :smiley:

Ah, found the story here. Courtney Zenz, that’s the girl I was thinking of; she’s not the one thrown after all, but rather it was her teammate, but she’s quoted. She’s the one I talked to in Thailand; I remember her sister would run up and down the sideline waving an American flag when the DC Elephants were on the attack.

It was, I believe, Courtney’s elephant that kicked the ball over the goal line and led to Jim Edwards’ pivotal decision that the elephant could score a goal.