Thundering hooves the soundtrack of polo tourney

By AMY SHANKS


One of New Zealand's oldest polo tournaments - the Hawke's Bay Open - got off to a flying start yesterday with fine weather and fierce competition.

In all, 16 teams from around the North Island descended on Hawke's Bay Polo Grounds at Elwood Park to compete in the four-day tournament.

Each team has four players on the field at a time - two backs and two forwards.

The aim of the game is to gain ground lengthwise, with forward players hoping for long hits from behind, which they can pick up in front and carry towards the goal.

Each goal counts as one point and the team with the most points wins.

The game begins with both teams centre-field, lined up facing each other, and the umpire bowling between them.

Games are made up of four chukkas, each seven minutes and 30 seconds long, with three minutes between so players can switch to fresh horses.

Competition is fast-paced and good horsemanship is a must, Hawke's Bay Polo Club Captain Jared Thompson said.

"It's a great sport. It's fast and it can be quite aggressive - they sometimes call it rugby on horseback."

The Hawke's Bay Open is one of the more popular events and has been running for more than 100 years. The first day of play opened with seven preliminary games in two categories: the Farmlands Open Medium Goal Section and the Forbes & Co. Junior Low Goal Section Open.

Results from the Open Medium Goal Section put Rangitikei A, B and C in the lead beating Wanstead Duke of Edinburgh 9 to 4, Kihi Kihi A 8 to 6 and Wanstead Flight Centre A 8 to 5 respectively.

Results in the Low Goal section were mixed with Wanstead Hatuma winning against Rangitikei D 4 to 3, Witchwood RAF beating Wanstead Farmlands 4 to 3, Poverty Bay leading against Wanstead Davmet 5 to 2 and Wanstead Balance Agr beating Central Districts 5 to 1.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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