SEPTEMBER 16 – 21, 2003
Venue: The Elephant Polo Field at the Som Dej Phra Suriyothai (the 16th Infantry Division) in Hua Hin
Spectator entrance is free of charge.

The "King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament", the popular sport of kings, returns to the Royal Paradise of Hua Hin.
A game of two-ton mounts, two metre-long mallets and one small white ball, the third annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be played on a specially prepared Elephant Polo Field at the Som Dej Phra Suriyothai (the 16th Infantry Division) in Hua Hin from September 16 – 21, 2003.

This year’s tournament, organised by the Anantara Resort and Spa and supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, is the biggest yet. Twelve international teams will be taking part, fielding a range of polo prowess - from international horse polo players and elephant polo champions to Q-Bar mixologists and have-a-go novices. Spectator admission to all the games is free of charge.

In 2002 it was Mercedes Benz Thailand’s German team, an unstoppable trio of horse polo playing brothers, who took the King’s Cup home to Hamburg. This year the Mercedes Benz team are coming back to defend their title, playing against a line up which includes past champions Chivas Regal, American Express Thailand, PricewaterhouseCoopers WEPA Nepal, Nokia Thailand, Britain’s King’s Royal Hussars, Tickle and the Ivories, Q-Bar, Mullis Capital, Sandalford Winery Australia, the Screwless Tuskers and the Jewels - a team of the world’s top women elephant polo players.

Played according to World Elephant Polo Association rules, the tournament in Thailand will be played with three elephants per team on a pitch that is one-third the size of a horse polo field. A game is comprised of two 7-minute chukkas. The players will use specially made elongated polo sticks that are 78 to 110 inches in length, depending on the height of the elephant, using standard size polo balls.

Each elephant carries a polo player and a mahout. The mahout directs the elephant using his voice, hands, feet or a goad. The umpire of the game oversees the play from a wooden howdah on the back of the largest elephant.

The height of the elephants range from 2 to 2.5m, and they weigh between 2 to 2.8 tonnes each. They usually eat in excess of 200 kg of food each day. The largest elephants are used in defence while the smaller ones with greater speed are used in attack.

Elephant Polo was first played by Mogul Indian Kings and was reintroduced with a new twist in 1982 by an Englishman (Jim Edwards) and a Scotsman (James Mann-Clark) -- Polo on elephants. Since then the tournament has been played in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Kingdom of Thailand.

As in previous years, the event will raise money for the National Elephant Institute – an indispensable and dedicated organisation under the auspices of the Thai government, which provides welfare, sustenance, medical care and employment for Thailand’s elephants and mahouts. The 2002 tournament raised a record one million Baht for the institute. This year the goal is to raise 1.5 million Baht, says William Heinecke, CEO of Royal Garden Resorts, owner of the Anantara Resort and Spa.

The third annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament tournament will be launched on Saturday 13th September with two ‘fun’ matches – The Bangkok Post vs The Nation followed by The Celebrity Cup when two teams of celebrities will battle it out to claim the trophy. The tournament proper starts on Tuesday 16th September with an elephant parade of all the teams and an exhibition match.

The Charity Gala Dinner will be held on Saturday 20th September at the Anantara Resort and Spa with the theme of ‘A Day at the Races’.

For the fundraising auction, the organisers got extra creative. This year’s biddable packages include a weekend in the world’s fastest C-Class Mercedes, a weekend learning how to be a hot-air balloon pilot in Chiang Mai, a stingray-leather elephant stool from Lotus Arts de Vivre and an hour’s tennis lesson with Thai tennis superstar Paradorn Srichaphan.

Attending the tournament will be members of the National Elephant Institute’s elephant orchestra and the paintbrush-wielding elephants, whose artworks regularly sell at auction for up to US$800.

Tickets for the gala dinner cost THB 4,500++ (US$110++) per person and tickets for the Jazz Brunch THB 800++ (US$25++) per person. Tickets are available from the Anantara Resort and Spa on 0 3252 0250.