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History of Polo in Australia

“I love London. I love the U.K., but if I was going to live anywhere else on Earth, it would be Australia.”

– Tom Parker Bowles

Polo reached the beautiful shores of Australia through the city of Warrnambool in the Western Districts of Victoria in 1874. After this historic day, the game of polo had peaks and plateaus of popularity over the next century. Shortly after the oldest Australian polo club, Hexham Polo Club, had their first inter-colonial match at Adelaide in 1883, the first golden age of polo began.

Unfortunately, the start of WW1 stunted the development of polo in Australia and across the globe. However, the peak of the second golden age helped the sport recover in 1925 with the first Gold Cup Tournament between the Australian states and New Zealand.

This iconic tournament had 15 teams compete for the trophy awarded by Australian polo’s governing body, the Australian Polo Federation. The beginning of the second world war would again stall polo’s growing success, but this did not stop Australia from continuing to compete until they eventually entered the Federation of International Polo (FIP) in 1984.

This indoctrination allowed Australia to later host the 2001, 2011, and 2017 FIP World Polo Championships. These incredible successes are one of many in what is considered Australia’s overseas internationals that include the prestigious Coronation Cup in England, the BMW Internationals in South Africa, and the FIP Snow Polo World Cup in China. Polo in Australia has had its ups and downs, but throughout its history new and important tournaments have sprung about to create a lasting effect on the sport.

The Coronation Cup

The Coronation Cup is a historic competition that was established in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of King George V. Since its establishment, the Coronation Cup has been played annually, and after 1971 it has been played on the Hurlingham Polo Association’s International Day. Australia’s first appearance at the cup was in 2005. That same year Australia defeated England in overtime and won the Coronation Cup in front of 25,000 fans at the Guards Polo Club.

The BMW International Polo Series

The BMW International Series is an annual tournament played in September between the South African National polo team and a touring international team. This tournament is broken down into two test matches at two different polo facilities. Australia returned to South Africa for the tour in 2011, which was the first time since 2003. Australia defeated South Africa nine to seven in 2011 at the Inanda Polo Club in front of 5,000 spectators.

FIP Snow Polo World Cup

The first snow polo game was played in 1985 on a frozen lake in Switzerland. Since that chilly day, many countries have embraced this branch of the sport, including China, where the FIP Snow Polo World Cup is held. Snow polo is played on a flat area of compacted snow that resembles the arena polo size. Other than the locational differences of the sport, snow polo’s rules are the same as traditional field polo. Australia was one of the few countries to compete in the first FIP Snow Polo World Cup in 2012, and the country has played in many of the tournaments since.

New Polo Technology

In addition to the growing success of Australia on the polo field, the country is also making strides in equine medicine and technology. Pegasus Shoeing Australia has applied 3D printing technology to the development of horse shoes. Today, the usual practice of shoeing a horse involves a metal horse shoe that is attached to the hoof with nails. However, this process becomes complicated when dealing with injured horses or horses that lose shoes often in equine sports like polo and racing. In recognition of this need, Pegasus Shoeing Australia developed an innovative nylon and carbon fiber shoe and horse shoe pads for leg disorders like laminitis. Today, the company has developed 240 shoes with 5 sets to treat sick horses. The “clogs” continue to gain popularity and are creating a whole new world of painless and efficient shoeing.

Written in collaboration with Lily Brennan

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