Polo enthusiasts from across the Hunter are expected to flock up the valley this weekend for one of the region’s most renowned events.
The annual Hunter Polo Challenge will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 at the Wirragulla Polo Club, based south of Dungog.
Wirragulla Polo Club has been hosting polo games for nearly 100 years, with the Hunter Polo Challenge having taken place for the past eight years.
Former director of the NSW Polo Association and president of the Wirragulla Polo Club Beau Blundell said the club looked to promote the game of polo as a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The experience for spectators is an exciting one, hearing the thundering of hooves, clashing of sticks and thud of players colliding.
“Polo requires teamwork, gamesmanship, athleticism and agile ponies with plenty of stamina and a keen sense of the game. There is no place for the faint hearted,” former Australian polo representative Blundell said, for anyone wondering what the game involved.
“The experience for spectators is an exciting one, hearing the thundering of hooves, clashing of sticks and thud of players colliding.”
Wirragulla Polo Club’s current club captain is Jock Mackay, the grandson of one of the founding members of the club and a key member of the Australian polo team.
Multiple Australian representative Mackay will out to hone his and his horse’s match readiness at the Hunter Polo Challenge in the run-up to the Polo World Championships in Sydney this October.
Mackay has been selected as a member of the Australian squad and said the competition at the Hunter Polo Challenger was ideal preparations.
He said the 2017 event was shaping to be as the biggest one yet.
“We currently have 12 teams from around NSW booked to play, which is a good indication of the anticipation of our event,” he said.
“The level of polo will be high, with some competitors very keen to win trophies and defeat previous winning opponents.”
In addition to the polo that will be played, guests can expect gourmet food vendors, an all-day barbecue, well-stocked licensed bar, plenty of outdoor space for the kids to run around.
There are plenty of activities to get the crowd involved such as the quintessential ‘stomping of the divots’, fashions on the field, and prizes in abundance.
Blundell encouraged all to come and check out the game of polo at the challenge on the weekend.
“It’s a really great day out for everyone. Bring your picnic, chairs and rugs and relax on the sidelines with a group of friends or family,” he said.
The tournament is expected to have significant spin offs for tourism in the Dungog region and wider Hunter in particular the region’s famed vineyards.