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What Went Down At The Australian Women’s Polo Circuit 2016

What Went Down At The Australian Women’s Polo Circuit 2016

Australian Women’s Polo Circuit

Michael Fitz-Henry coordinated the Ladies’ State of Origin Polo at Ellerston, which happened on March 4 to 5, 2016, with the support of Glen Gilmore and Ros Packer. They wanted to showcase some of the best Australian women players at one of the most recognized and reputable tournaments in the Australian polo calendar.

The tournament was called the Australian Women’s Polo Circuit 2016 at Ellerston Onassis, Women’s State of Origin. It was named as it forms part of a wider circuit where women across the country will compete and travel to different states representing their state.

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To qualify for the state selection, the ladies had to play for the first state, which they started in Australia. Secondly, it was a prerequisite to have played two seasons of polo in that state.

Here are some comments on the tournament by Michael Fitz-Henry.

“The atmosphere and setting of the tournament were simply amazing. Ellerston Onassis is the home of the Packer family as well as some of the top polo ponies and professionals in Australia. The seven fields are like golf greens and the amenities are 5-star. We were lucky to play on some of the best fields in the world.

“In the ‘80s, Ellerston Polo Fields were home to 26-goal Polo with the absolute stars of world Polo playing there including Gonzalo Tanoira and Gonzalo Pieres. 16- and 18-goal polo took over from there in the ‘90s and up to now, with other up-and-coming world stars like Juan Martin Nero and Pelon Sterling spending time at Ellerston, first seen at Ellerston on 6-goals.

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“The Women’s State of Origin was the first time an all-female event was played on the Ellerston fields. Ellerston polo manager Glen Gilmore must be applauded for his encouragement of the women’s genre. Huge thanks go to him and his enthusiastic staff.

“For this tournament, we had 4 teams compete. Please note that these are Open Handicaps as the Women’s International Handicapping system has not yet arrived here in Australia. These would be 16-goal and below:

NSW:

Catriona Murphy (0)

Shannon Booth (0)

Billie Mascart (1)

Julie Macintosh (0)

Reserve: Amanda Burns (0)

QLD:

Katie Grimmond (0)

Rona Glennie (0)

Sian Barnacle (1)

Philipa Fitz Henry (1)

Reserve: Alessia Russo (0)

VIC:

Simone Ferrie (-1)

Lilly Jaffries (-1)

Fiona Kalies (0)

Clementine Mann (1)

Reserve: Michelle Taylor (-1)

SA:

Nat Robertson (-2)

Joanne Shoesmith (-1)

Chloe Warren (0)

Whitney Warren (0)

Reserve Jaye Allen (-2)

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“The tournament was played over two days with teams winning the first day heading straight to the finals.

“Although Ellerston Onassis is situated in the country as this tournament was part of the Ellerston Onassis Autumn tournament, there were many spectators watching both days. Our finals were played on Saturday when no other polo game was being played. This was done so that everyone could watch and enjoy the game. The crowd was tremendous and very supportive of their states.

“Windsor Polo Club in Richmond NSW coordinated the first Ladies’ State of Origin tournament back in 2012. Queensland were good enough to win the event in 2014 and the expectation was they had the firepower to get the job done again in 2016.

“Victoria had not attended a Women’s State of Origin competition and it was very exciting to see a stateside being selected out of the eight. A-grade team Mingela tournament played a month before in central Victoria.

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“Not only did they hold their own in their inaugural year, but were able to overhaul the experienced South Australian team in the subsidiary final on the North Field on the finals day. Victoria should very feel very comfortable with their form at the Women’s State of Origin as a number of their more powerful players were unable to make the trip to the Hunter Valley. Those that did go put their heart and soul into their games. The finals day win must have been very special to them.

“The first day saw Queensland have a massive win over an under-strength South Australian team that was missing star players in Maddie Shoesmith and Skye MacLaughlin. The score was nine goals to one, playing on the famous school field, one of the best fields in the world. All the ladies reported having an amazing time regardless of the score. What else can you do when blessed with such an awesome playing environment?

“New South Wales then beat Victoria in a scrappy sort of game, 4 goals to 1 on the same field. It looked like it was going to be total Queensland dominance in the finals. Not just a win, but by how much?

“NSW, in the preceding week, had gotten together in Sydney to play as a team in an open competition, beating an all men’s team to make their way to the Sunday finals. As the finals played out the next day, they couldn’t get the win but left an ominous warning, only going down by a half goal in a very strong open competition.

“Their form in the preliminary at Ellerston may have told a different story but they knew what they wanted to do and their coaches knew how to get them there. Quickly after the first throw-in, they had jumped out to a two and a half goal lead with only a minute on the clock of the first chukka. This proved to be too much for the Queensland girls, who under competition and scoreboard pressure, were unable to bridge the gap. Two missed penalty attempts in the third chukka did not help the Queensland cause.

“NSW are too well-schooled, with excellent preparation, excellent coaching, and coaching staff—a huge and exciting effort from the Blues.

“It was a fantastic week at Ellerston—Mrs. Packer and Glen Gilmore were marvelous hosts. The competition will be repeated regularly as it proved to be a wonderful success. It’s a first, but with the momentum of Women’s Polo in Australia, there surely is a lot more to come.

“In the subsidiary finals, Victoria had a famous victory over South Australia in their first run at the State of Origin. The Vics played like stars and got to the line in front. The SA girls had featured in the state of Origin finals against Queensland at the last S.O.O. in Sydney in 2014 and were no easy beats. Well done to the Victorian girls!

“The results: New South Wales won the tournament beating Queensland 6.5-5 Victoria had a win over South Australia in the Subsidiary. Freeze won Champion Pony of the Tournament owned by Felicity Fraser. Billie Mascart won Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. South Australia will be challenged by Western Australia for the right to stay in the competition for the next round as South Australia were the bottom-placed team. Western Australia must do this at the convenience of South Australia.

“The presentation occurred straight after the finals, which was closely followed by a dinner and party at the clubhouse where everyone came together and celebrated.”

Special thanks go to Billie Mascart and Michael Fitz-Henry for the press release from the tournament.

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