|Kathmandu, Nepal||17th December, 2000|
For immediate release.
Local team Tiger Tops Tuskers, captained by Kristjan Bahadur Edwards, made a triumphant comeback at the 19th Annual World Elephant Polo Championships (WEPA), which were held at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge from 10th to 16th December 2000. Following last year's disappointing performance, the Tuskers drafted a new player, Angad Kalaan, a 4-goal horse polo player from Delhi, whose skillful play contributed to his team reaching the final. They clinched the coveted Tiger Tops WEPA Trophy by beating the Swissair Jumbos, captained by Jim Edwards, Chairman and Managing Director of the Tiger Mountain Group and Kristjan's father, 8-4 in an exciting final on Friday. The other local team, National Parks, captained by Ram Pritt Yadav, whilst unsuccessful in their attempt to defend the WEPA crown, were successful in the Tiger Mountain All Nepal Challenge, a match which is played by mahouts on their own elephants, beating the Tiger Tops team 4 - 2.
These two finals were the culmination of a fascinating week's polo, which also resulted in Chivas Regal India, captained by Peter Prentice, securing 3rd place after beating the National Parks, 8-6 after a play off. Peter, a 15-year veteran of Elephant Polo, played brilliantly in this match so that the WEPA Committee was delighted to award him the Coca Cola Shield for Best Player. As always, the two semi-final matches were both excellent spectator games with Tiger Tops Tuskers beating Chivas Regal 8 - 6 in the first and Swissair Jumbos beating the National Parks 7 - 6 in the second. This second match was an extremely close game with Jim Edwards being awarded the Chivas Regal Golden Moment Award for his crucial goal, which resulted in Swissair reaching the final for the first time. The International Tigresses, captained by Margie McDougal, had a disappointing year only managing to reach 6th place with British Gurkha Gladiators claiming the 5th spot.
In line with the two-league system at WEPA, the remaining four teams competed for the WEPA Amateur Chivas Regal Quaiche Cup. This Cup was won 4 - 3 by the Eldorado USA team, a new team from Palm Springs captained by Richard Caleel, in a closely contested final against the Screwy Tuskers, an American team captained by Alf Erickson. The Eldorado team consisted of four experienced horse polo players who at first found the transition from horses to elephants hard but by the end of the tournament were all showing great potential. The play off for 3rd position in the WEPA Amateur Chivas Regal Quaiche Cup was won 5-4 by the Harry Winston Rough Cuts Japan, another first time team captained by Chad Sullivan. Claiming the bottom slot was the Cresta Poonanhi team from South Africa, captained by Ray Botha, who, despite losing, did not go away empty handed as his team was awarded the Best Dressed trophy, donated by the British Gurkha Gladiators, for their smart yellow and maroon polo uniforms.
This year the participants of the WEPA Championships were treated to a week of great polo as well as excellent wildlife viewing. Many of the players sighted deer, rhino, leopard and even the Royal Bengal tiger during the daily drive through Royal Chitwan National Park from Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge to the polo ground. As in previous years, WEPA operated very successful fundraising campaigns, this year focusing on two local charities, the Tiger Tops Swissair Pre School and the Gurkha Welfare Scheme.
The World Elephant Polo Association Championships are an annual invitation event arranged by Tiger Tops. It is played on the polo field adjacent to Meghauly airport on the edge of Royal Chitwan National Park. Each game consists of two chukkas of ten minutes playing time using elongated sticks over two metres in length and a regular polo ball. The World Championships, as always, attracted international media, including an NBC Today Show film crew and journalists and photographers from Newsweek/UK, Brandeins Magazine/Germany and BMW Magazine/Germany.
For further details please contact Carolyn Syangbo.
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