Polo represents the pinnacle of sport and is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in known history. Persia is where the first matches were noted, over 2,500 years originating as a training method for the King’s elite cavalry.
The sport became the most noble of pastimes by the Kings and Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs of the ancient Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols and Chinese. It was for this reason it became known across the lands as “The Game Of Kings”.
On April 9th, after a two year Covid caused hiatus, The Game Of King’s returned to Hua Hin, for the 11th running. This year the event was titled “The InterContinental-B.Grimm Beach Polo 2022.” As always, the event took place on the beach in front of the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort with proceeds from the charitable event going to the Nabha Foundation under the patronage of HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha.
As in years past, the event was organized by His Excellency Mr. Suwat Liptapanlop, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand & president of the tournament’s management adviser. One of Hua Hin’s biggest boosters, Khun Suwat said, “Aside from promoting Thai polo sport to the world stage, this tournament will help publicize Hua Hin and Thailand as a major tourist destination. One of the other objectives of the event is charity, with crafts made by inmates and the painting from The Gallery Hua Hin presented by Bangchak, painted by Ajarn Thawee Kesa-ngam, director of the Hua Hin Artist House, being auctioned.”
The other organizer of the event was Mr. Harald Link, chairman of the tournament and President of both the B.Grimm Group and the Equestrian Association of Thailand. According to Harald, “The event demonstrates the country’s potential in hosting an international-scale polo tournament.” This year saw teams from Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia competing.
“The unique challenge of the beach polo event is to calculate and monitor the tide times each year in order to determine the right time when the tide has receded to an appropriate level for the competition. “Furthermore, the polo ball has been changed so that is made from rubber similar to a soccer ball and being smaller in size instead of regular polo balls. “But rules of competition according to international standards are still applied,” Dr Link, the pioneer of beach polo in Thailand, noted.
The international sporting event has always been staged in Hua Hin because the resort city offers beautiful scenery and charm associated with horse riding along the beach, one of the important characteristics of Hua Hin. Furthermore, the beach in Hua Hin is wide enough to accommodate the tournament and polo is a popular sport among celebrities, thus making the city the only place in Thailand best suited for holding the event.
Ms. Proudputh Liptapanlop, Executive Director of Proud Group, was also in attendance and was quoted as saying, “InterContinental Hua Hin Resort is delighted to jointly host the tournament for 11 years. “The beach in front of our hotel is ample and ideal for holding the tournament and there are various 5-star facilities in place to support the event. There are more than 159 rooms in the Beach Wing, the beachfront and the Bluport Wing that can easily connect to the Bluport shopping centre. The hotel is also pet friendly, complete with eight restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool, fitness centre, kids club, spa services and conference rooms.”
For many Hua Hin residents, the Asian Beach Polo Championship has become a tradition and is one of the highlights of Hua Hin’s social scene. It is also a very popular happening for Bangkok’s High Society crowd with plenty of the rich and famous in attendance, including Khun Nunthenee Tanner, M.D. of LBG Limited, and regarded as Thailand’s first female polo player.
The day held to its normal schedule with gates opening at 12:30 to pick up gifts, enjoy welcome drinks, lunch, shopping, games, and plenty of socializing between friends, new and old. At two pm the grand parade took place with a marching band & a procession of horses mounted by flag carrying riders that ended in front of the InterContinental Hua Hin. This was followed by the opening speeches by Mr. Suwat Liptapanlop and Mr. Harald Link.
It was then time for the traditional Fashion Show on Horseback, with plenty of Thailand’s glitterati showing their good fashion sense on mounted steed. Horse racing was next with the energy of the crowd ramped up high. Two races, with approximately 12 horses in each race, galloped at full speed in front of the crowd in hopes of winning a trophy, cash and bragging rights for the year.
And then, the main event. Many of the Chukka’s, polo speak for periods, were held the previous day due to time constraints. For the final there were two Chukkas each with Singapore besting Malaysia 6 goals to 4 and Thailand besting Hong Kong, also six goals to four. For the fans in attendance, it was a lot of high speed, fast-paced, nail-biting action. The large, muscled horses displayed extreme speed and swift dexterity as their riders maneuvered the polo ball with their mallet towards the goal. Overall scoring put Thailand on top, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore & Malaysia. MVP for the InterContinental-B.Grimm Beach Polo 2022 was Claude Haberer.
After the awards ceremony it was time to leave the beach for the grounds of the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort where the tropical Havana themed Dinner Party took place. Guests were entertained by the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra who performed Broadway Hits. Rounding out the evening was an art auction.
Representing the Nabha Foundation was its Vice President, Mr. Ekaphop Detkriangkraisorn. The Nabha Foundation provides opportunities to former inmates, the underprivileged and disabled people who unfortunately comprise a relatively large number in today’s society. According to Mr. Ekaphop “We strongly believe that if they are given the opportunity to develop their skills and proving their potential, they will be able to live in the society normally and benefit the society.”
If you missed it this year, be sure to ink it into your calendar for 2023.