GHANTOOT // The 14th annual President of UAE Polo Cup, the highlight of the polo calendar, begins Tuesday at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club (GRPC), with what organisers believe to be one of the strongest groups of competitors ever assembled.
Eight teams will battle over the next 10 days in the 16-goal handicap event.
“For me this is the best tournament of the whole season,” said Ahmed Al Nuaimi, the GRPC managing director. “We do have a very strong line-up, with some of the best professional polo players from Argentina involved, players who have great experience around the world and we have seen.”
Among the strongest teams in the two groups will be ADCB and Ghantoot Al Basti; the latter is led by Nasser Al Shamsi.
“We are very excited and hope everything goes off well,” Al Shamsi said. “We’re playing the first game against Bin Drai and they will be tough. All teams are pretty evenly balanced and have their strengths. The tournament handicap is 16 so the total handicap of all of them are strong.”
Other than Bin Drai, who are the defending champions, the Zedan team will be another to watch for, having pulled into their ranks Pelon Stirling, who is the only 10 handicap in the tournament.
“It’s difficult to say who will win,” Al Shamsi said. “Zedan has some really big players, including Pelon who is one of the best around. He’s the best one and will be the star to watch here.”
The tournament will be played under the rules of the sport’s governing body, the Hurlingham Polo Association. All games will consist of four periods – or chukkers – except the final which will have five chukkers. The top two teams from each pool will play the semi-finals.
In a bid to attract more spectators, the GRPC has arranged several recreational activities for the finals day, including a military sky-dive show and a performance by the UAE National Aerobatic team.
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