Up and coming Australian polo player Leah Freney aims at new horizons after playing in the six-goal at the Australian Open last September. Over the past two years, this active woman and professional Agribusiness Property Valuer with an international company have made every effort to improve her game after spending a few weeks in Argentina and playing with quality polo players in Australia such as Ruki Baillieu. Leah is one of the two female polo players in the six-goal handicap and rode exceptionally well, fending off goals from professional players who had to have a “war plan” between themselves on how they were going to deal with “ride off” tactics after the first chukka.
I was able to catch up with Leah at Noosa Country Polo to ask her a few questions about her ambitions for the next season and what she likes about polo.
Leah, what are your ambitions for this coming season?
“Well, I intend to start training my horses early and am also getting together a faster string of horses so I can be more effective on the polo field. I have a busy life with my professional career as a property valuer, and I have also set up a boutique leather goods business called Stitch & Co Leather. I have been making sports bags and leather goods for a niche market. I intend to start my polo training again for next season and play in the two, four, and six-goal tournaments. My goal is to play my own string of homebred and trained Australian Stock Horses using the best available genetics. I will have two homebred horses coming through in the coming season, which is very exciting.”
What do you best like about polo?
“I came to polo about a year ago after spending a lot of my youth playing Polocrosse. That taught me a lot about training horses and being able to ride off other players after dabbling in low-goal polo for a couple of years. This year, I got the chance to play in six goals and have learned a lot about the game structure and ways to improve my skills from the professional players. I have found many families have a long line of experience throughout generations that are very willing to share their knowledge and assist rising players to better their skills and provide feedback. I also like that you can travel to foreign countries and immediately be on a polo team and enjoy social interaction with people from all over the world.”
What has been your best experience in polo?
“Last year, I went to Argentina and stayed at Polo Estancia Puesto Viejo, which is about an hour away from Buenos Aires and provides professional lessons and fantastic polo ponies. I learned many skills there and met one of the world’s most famous rawhide braiders, which was a fabulous experience. This year, I was privileged to play in the six-goal polo tournament with one of Australia’s best players, Ruki, where I was able to gain valuable experience to further my game.”
Where do you practice polo in Australia?
“I live on the Sunshine Coast, which is a beautiful part of the world. I have been training and practicing at Noosa Country Polo because they have a great field and friendly environment. We usually play chukkas every Saturday afternoon and sometimes mid-week when we get the chance. I think the best thing about polo is the people you meet who help you improve your game and become friends with. The owners of the field, Niall and Illy, are just so welcoming and really love the sport. One of the professionals at Noosa Country Polo is Simon Hill, an Australian professional and trained young horses for Kerry and Jamie Packer.”
Noosa Country Polo on the Sunshine Coast provides professional lessons and chukkas for polo players and runs clinics for people who wish to learn polo in Australia.