World elephant polo association championship 2005
The 24 th World Elephant Polo Championship, hosted by Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Nepal, came to a close this week with Chivas Regal Scotland winning their second World Championship in a row as they clinched the Tiger Tops WEPA Trophy by 7 goals to 6 from their arch rivals the National Parks team of Nepal.
Player manager Peter Prentice, who clocked up 25 goals in the tournament, was the star player of the team led by Captain the Duke of Argyll who said, "To win the World Championship is a mammoth task and one made more special by the amazing surroundings. This was another humdinger of a final, but to do it for Scotland again is an amazing experience and one I hope will inspire others. It doesn't get much better, or bigger, than this!"
The victory makes it three tournaments in a row for the Scotland team following the Chivas team’s victories in the 2004 World Championship and the King’s Cup in Thailand in September 2005.
Played Before The Mighty Himalayas
The tournament saw eight teams and players from 11 countries taking part in one of the most stunning locations for a sporting event, with the mighty Himalayas providing the backdrop and the Bengal tiger never far away.
One of the most colourful scenes in sport was set on finals day by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas who paraded the gladiators of elephant polo on to the field before the guests of honour, HE British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield, HE French Ambassador Michael Jolivet and the wife of the American Ambassador Lorean Moriarty. The National anthems of both finalists were also performed before the final commenced.
Final Seconds Crucial In Tight Final
The scores were 4-4 at half time after a half where the Nepal National Parks team won the toss and took the faster elephants. However Chivas Regal Scotland leapt to an aggressive start by scoring the first goal after just 18 seconds seizing the initiative. The rest of the half was a hard fought battle with the Chivas team breaking four sticks in the fray keeping the 5 th team member and stickman for the final Jim Long sprinting up and down the pitch after the Prentice elephant. However great play from both sides and dogged defence from the Chivas Scotland goalie Geoffrey Dobbs left the teams level at the interval
The second half was yet another example of how elephant polo is the most exciting, colourful, and certainly the biggest, game in the world. National Parks quickly levelled the score and took another goal to make the scores 5-4.
An intense battle ensued with Chivas Regal Scotland levelling the scores at 5-5 with just 2 minutes to run on the clock. However the final two minutes summed up the exciting and competitive nature of the tournament played on the edge of Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal, one of the most densely populated areas in the world for Bengal tigers.
Chivas Regal Scotland's Peter Prentice, who was playing on the lead elephant fought hard in the centre of the field, however couldn't break free from the expert stickmanship of the Nepal team many of whom work with elephants for their day jobs. With time slipping away he changed tactics and opted for a long shot from thirty yards scoring a spectacular and crucial goal to take the lead 6-5.
The tussle continued with Chivas again occupying the opposition half when Raj Kalaan broke free from his midfield position to sneak his first goal of the match to open up a crucial two goal lead. With just 14 seconds left the National Parks star player, Chandra Tamang, surged forward to score and narrow the deficit to one with enough time to draw level.
However in the longest 14 seconds in elephant polo history, a jubilant Chivas Regal Scotland team eventually raised their sticks to the sky in celebration at the final whistle and another World Championship.
Ireland Clinch Amateur World Championship On Debut
For the first time in elephant polo history, an all-Ireland team entered and won the Chivas Regal WEPA Olympic Quaich, the amateur world title of the sport.
Their victory came as they entered the final as underdogs against the experienced international entry, the International Tigresses & Dom’s Dragon team, captained by Celia Temple from Scotland, with Caroline Hahn from America, Carolyn Syangbo from Nepal and Lars Lofgren from Sweden. However their spirits were roused before the final by a rendition of ‘Danny Boy’ by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas in a tribute to George Best.
The Irish squad of captain Graham Little (a sports presenter on UTV), brother Warren Little, Justin 'The Scoop' Woods, Michael Loughman, Colin Carroll and Graham 'Slippy' Smith started the final with a 4 goal advantage due to the handicapping system and set out to doggedly defend it.
However striker Warren Little turned defence into attack as he surged forward to sneak a goal against the run of play taking the score to 5-0 after 3 minutes 43 seconds of play. The rest of the first half was goalless but keenly fought in what was Ireland's best chukka of the tournament, clearly rallying to the challenge.
The second half saw a come back from the International Tigresses with goals from Lars Lofgren from Sweden and a spectacular volley from Celia Temple as she met a powerful Lofgren cross on the full leaving Ireland's defence no chance. However Ireland's lead was enough as the final whistle went with the scores 6-2 And Ireland becoming the world amateur champions for the year.
Bronze Medal Deciders Complete Memorable Finals Day
In the play-offs for the Tiger Tops Challenge Trophy, St Andrew's House team captained by elephant polo co-founder James Manclark and backed up by Charlie Betz, Lavinia Black and John Nash, drew the experienced Tiger Tops Tuskers captained by Iceland’s Kristjan Edwards with Matt Idiens, Stine Heiselberg and France's Olivier Rives-George. But Manclark, who had a masterful tournament, was too strong for the 2003 champions beating them 5-3.
In the Olympic Quaich play-off, The British Gurkhas took on UK rivals Trunk and Disorderly who fielded all their squad of Alex Davies, Edward Collins, Mark Briant- Evans, Fergus Wells, Katie Ratner and Izzy Crossley in the game. In the battle for the bronze in the amateur stakes, the ladies came to the fore with Izzy Crossley playing a fantastic two handed game against the Gurkha squad of David Ronaldson, Tika Rai, Stuart Buechel, Steve Byrne and Dex Dextern, neutralising the Gurkha attack and contributing to 5 goals throughout the game for a sparkling 5-0 victory.
All Nepal Challenge
In the traditional finale to the championships, the All Nepal Challenge played by just mahouts who both drive their elephant and play, was won by Tiger Tops 2-0 against the National Parks. As usual the action was fast and furious as mahouts wielded their polo sticks with passion and flair to the admiration of all players.
For further information contact:
Jim Long (Chivas Regal Scotland/World Elephant Polo Association)
+ 44 (0) 208 250 1641 / + 44 (0) 7799 075072