It is already January, and I have hit the ground running. I am off to Thailand for the start of the 15th season of the RMPA International League next week. It starts with the B Grimm ~ BMW Thai Polo Open 2019 from 10th to 19th January at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, one of my favorite clubs in the world.
I first played at Thai Polo in 2005 when they launched the club, winning the inaugural match for Thai Polo against Royal Pahang. Since then, every team I have played for in the Thai Polo Open, whether it has been a full tournament or just one match, has won it. I won it playing with Dato’ Mohamed Moiz, Edham Shaharuddin and Shaik Reismann for BRDB in 2008. I also played a game for BRDB-Elevation in 2009 when they went on to win it. I consider the Thai Polo Open to be my lucky tournament.
This year there are only four teams in the Thai Polo Open, with only La Familia representing Malaysia. Defending champions Royal Pahang have not been able to travel there, the first time they will not contest the Thai Polo Open. La Sarita has not played at Thai Polo since 2016 and won’t be back this year. They last won it playing as La Sarita – Jogo Polo in 2012. It is quite disappointing to see only four teams in what is probably the best tournament in South East Asia.
Axus and 22 BR are regulars at the Thai Polo Open. Chinese patron Brian Xu’s Axus were finalists in 2018, while 22 BR won it in 2016. So it should be a very competitive tournament, though 22 BR will worry about ‘Flaco’ Garcia Grossi’s fitness, as he broke fingers in his right hand only a few months ago. Axus’s Dario Musso broke his ankle in the summer, but he has been playing since, so it should be much less of a worry for them.
Thai Polo will be without the services of Raul Laplacette, who is playing in Dubai. Facundo Fernandez Llorente steps into the team, playing with patron Dato’ Harald Link, Thai Polo stalwart Carlos Pando, and teenage sensation Juan Manuel Garcia Grossi.
La Familia plays with Agustin Andrada again this Thai Polo Open, as they did last year. Agustin was a late call-up, when regular pro Gine Bargallo suffered a broken ankle in early December. With World Cup winner Matias Vial Peres and Shaik Reismann, patron Dato’ Mohamed Moiz has a strong team, ready to contest for the Thai Polo Open crown.
I shall be going there for the start of the tournament and again for the finals. I am at Thai Polo & Equestrian Club quite a lot as I also have been course designing CSI-W world cup jumping there, in addition to overseeing the International League tournaments. I founded the South East Asian World Cup Jumping League back in 1997, and course designing World Cups as an FEI Level 3 course designer is something I do for pleasure. Nothing is more pleasurable than going to Thai Polo to build them, as I have done for the last five years.
This time I shall be looking forward to some exciting polo. For those who are interested, here is the schedule.