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Brazil takes World Polo Cup

Story Chris Ashton
Photos David Everdell and Lynn McColl

ImageSix years ago the Swiss Alps above St Moritz were the backdrop to the 4th World Polo Cup. Three years later US marching bands gave the world championship at Santa Barbara its dash and colour.

At Melbourne's Werribee Park Equestrian Centre in late March and early April, the 6th World Polo Cup will be remembered for the quantity and quality of the horseflesh. Veterans of other World Cups - coaches, team managers and polo officials - were unanimous: no previous contest came close for generosity of its polo community.

Three hundred horses were trucked, at their owners' expense, from all over Australia (from as far as Perth), to mount eight teams - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, US, UK, Italy, India and Australia, finalists after preliminaries in other parts of the world involving 24 countries.

ImageKerry Packer's polo manager Jim Gilmore graded every horse, which were then "packaged" into "strings" of equivalent strength so that no team was disadvantaged. It produced the closest, fastest polo ever seen in the championship that limits each team to a maximum 14-goal handicap and five goals for any one player.

Most matches were decided by a goal or two, many in the final minutes. Argentina, the world's leading polo nation and victor in three previous World Polo Cups, fell before the semi-finals. Like the highly rated UK team, injury took its toll.

The Australian team, named only days before, and ranked early among the also-rans, reached the grand final, beaten by the favourite, Brazil, by a single goal. Story end

Full story and photos: Issue 17, June/July 2001

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