The Scotsman, Published on September 21
Hua Hin, September 20, 2003
PREPARE yourself for international glory in heavyweight style. Scotland are all set to meet Germany in the world cup final - for elephant polo.
The Scottish Chivas Regal squad yesterday hammered Nokia Thailand 8-2 during its semi-final match in the competition in Thailand.
Now the nation’s hopes will rest today on the men armed with six-foot mallets and the quickest elephants east of the Firth of Forth - the giant animals surprisingly run at speeds of up to 60mph - to land the big prize.
After a tough round of qualifying matches, Scotland captain, Peter Prentice, a sales director with Chivas, said: "We’ve come back from the dead. It was amazing. We’ve gone from the play-offs to the final in one day.
"I never thought an elephant could move so quickly. Now we just might take Scotland to victory."
Germany’s Mercedes Benz Thailand team won 12-4 in the other semi-final to reach the final of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo competition in Hua Hin later today.
The six-day competition has included top horse polo players, elephant polo experts and novices.
For those who don’t know, each team has three elephants and players use the mallets to strike a small white ball on a pitch about one-third the size of a horse polo field.
Each game comprises two chukkas of seven minutes long, to make sure the giant beasts do not wear themselves out under the hot sun.
A total of 10 international teams took part in this year‘s competition, which was organised by the Anantara Resort and Spa and Thailand’s Tourism Authority.
The tournament should raise more than £22,000 for the National Elephant Institute’s elephant conservation centre in the Thai city of Lampang.
Elephant polo, which was introduced by the British military, is taken very seriously in Thailand.
The animals went through a special blessing ceremony before the tournament and there are specialist trainers on hand.