SEPTEMBER 17TH – 22ND – 2002 (Press Release)


Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin together with the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (Forest Industry Organisation), is proud to announce the return of the “King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament” to Thailand.

Under the auspices of the World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin will host the second annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament to be played at Hua Hin, Thailand from September 17th to 22nd , 2002.

Last year’s event was won by the Chivas Regal Nepal Team captained by James Mann-Clark in an action packed final in overtime against first timers Thailand.  Thailand Team Captain Oliver Winter is keen to bring the King’s Cup back to Thailand and is busy making preparations with his colleagues. Christopher E.Stafford, Resort General Manager and Tournament Organiser said  “The spirit of this event is to raise awareness of Elephant Polo as a safe, enjoyable sport and at the same time to raise funds to support the difficult plight faced by these magnificent animals.  The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre received Baht 381,000 (US$8700 approx) last year and it is hoped we can increase the proceeds this year.”

Forest Industry Organisation (FIO) Managing Director, Mr Chanatt Lauhawattan, stated "Elephant Polo is a great opportunity to highlight the work of the Elephant Conservation Centre and raises awareness and funds, both of which are desperately needed."

An FIO team including Richard Lair, Advisor and Foreign Affairs Officer at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre will attend the event. Major conservation projects undertaken by the Center include the Mahout Training School, two mobile veterinary clinics, an elephant hospital, the Elephant Art Project, where elephants actually paint, and the Thai Elephant Orchestra – a world first!

 "Thailand’s 2500 domesticated Asian elephants are the only survivors from around 100,000 last century. The biggest problem is to find suitable work that will enable their owners to continue keeping them," said Mr Lair. Mr. Prasob Thipprasert adds, "Elephants are intelligent creatures and enjoy interacting with humans.  They are quick to pick up polo playing skills and in some cases have outwitted the players!"

Elephant Polo was first played by Mogul Indian Kings but was reinvented in 1982 by an Englishman (Jim Edwards) and a Scotsman ( James Mann-Clark) in a bar in Switzerland. Both passionate polo players, they decided that Polo on elephants would be more interesting and adventurous. The rest is history!  Since then the tournament has been played in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Current preparations are underway for the second King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament hosted by Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin. Intense interest has been shown already from ten teams including two from Thailand, the Singapore Polo Club, The Tickle & the Ivories from Sydney, Australia, Chivas Regal, Sri Lanka and an elite team from Perth, Australia led by Peter Prendiville (Australia’s Ambassador for Polo). Ladies are also represented with the famous Screwy Tuskers team making a welcome reappearance on the Elephant Polo scene. Alf Erikson of Screwy Tuskers fame is also introducing a new team during the tournament.

Colonel Raj Kalaan aka the Silver Fox will return to train the Mahouts (elephant riders) and Elephants in the lead up to this year’s tournament.   Tiger Tops and World Elephant Polo Members and Co-Founders Mr Jim Edwards and James Manclark will also be here representing last years’ champions Nepal.

The tournament in Thailand will be played with two teams of three Elephants with two chukkas of 10 minutes playing time each. 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 regular 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 (bench type seat) on the back of the largest elephant.

The height of the elephants ranges from 2 to 2.5 meters, and they weight between 2 to 2.8 tones each. They usually eat in excess of 200 kilograms of food each day. The largest Elephants are used in defense while the smaller ones with greater speed are used in attack.

The tournament will be held over five days on a specially prepared Elephant Polo Field at the Som Dej Phra Suriyothai (the 16th Infantry Division) in Hua Hin. Hua Hin is steeped in history with a bounty of natural attractions, located 238 kilometers south of Bangkok, in the Gulf of Siam. It is a sanctuary frequented by the Thai Royal Family and high society.  King Rama VII built a summer palace there in the 1920s and in 1928; the King completed a magnificent ocean hideaway as a gift to Queen Rambaibarni, naming it “Klai Klangwol” which translates to “Far from worries”.   There are six championship golf courses in Hua Hin, easily accessible from the resort.

The luxurious Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin is beautifully situated on the sunrise side of the Gulf of Thailand. Master Landscape Architect, Bill Bensley, created the resort’s stunning landscape gardens. The Mandara Spa offers a haven for guests to relax and unwind.  Guests at the Elephant Polo will experience an exquisite highlight in the Annual Elephant Charity Polo Gala. This year’s theme is “The Silk Road” which will also include culinary delights from celebrated Executive Chef David Bedinghaus.

The weeklong celebration includes the Grand Parade of Elephants in Hua Hin to the accompaniment of the Royal Navy Marching Band and the Blessing of the Elephants at the famous Hua Hin Railway Station on the 17th September. The Elephant Orchestra and Elephant Painting will take place each day at the Elephant Polo grounds. Polo Sticks, Team shirts, Elephant Paintings and Elephant Polo Memorabilia will be auctioned to raise funds for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang, Northern Thailand.


For further information please contact:

Christopher E.Stafford
General Manager
Anantara Resort & Spa Hua Hin

also see

For information on Elephant Conservation Center:

For information on Elephant Polo:


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