When the invitation arrived in 2012 to play ladies’ polo in Thailand, thank goodness curiosity got the better of me. It was a truly fantastic experience with great horses and fabulous food, all in an idyllic location. Five years on and the 2016 edition of the tournament was no different, with immensely good fun and, once again, fantastic memories.
This season, players from Australia, Thailand, Argentina, Malaysia, and Great Britain gathered to take part in a competitive women’s tournament. Immediately made to feel welcome, familiar faces from previous visits appeared across the luxury resort during the week as players arrived from all over the world a few days prior to the tournament to acclimatize and choose their horses, ready for the Battle of the Sexes which was the first game to take place.
Each player was mounted suitably from the 80 impeccably-looked after horses at the club and they had the chance to stick and ball and practice to make sure everyone was happy with their mounts.
As a result of evenly matched teams and good horses, all the games out on the carpet-like field were very close. The biggest scoreline gap was the 7-4 goal win by the women in the Battle of the Sexes which took place the day before the main Ladies’ International started. The men’s team totalled a 6-goal line up, while the ladies were given a 2-goal headstart as a 3-goal team. The women kept the pressure on from the start and this was enough to keep the guys from scoring too many goals and resulted in their significant victory.
The following day, the main tournament commenced in a round-robin format. Two professionals were included on each team to ensure the Polo was fast and flowing. Each team consisted of one man and three ladies. Rules prevented the male players from scoring within the 60-yard line which meant that the ladies made most of the goals on attack. But the guys took some chances and gained some impressive field goals.
After the first day of the game, the scores were incredibly close, with only a 1-goal difference between all the teams, But it was the White Orchid team that was trailing. Wild Rose had Argentina’s up-and-coming star Camila Rossi playing for them, alongside the extremely talented Diego Gomez Echavarri at the back. Strong 0-goaler British player Georgina Brittain flew around the field while Carolina Brown Zavaleta did an excellent job of marking and helping her teammates in her very first tournament — an impressive team which proved strongest on the first day. The Frangipani team had Kuala Lumpur’s Daryl Yeap and Abigail Slater, both members of the Royal Selangor Polo Club. Playing up front Yeap and Slater were backed up by the mighty British professional Sarah Wiseman at number 3 and Polo Escape’s talented Brian Orosco.
On the final day, White Orchid stepped up to the pressure and made an impressive comeback, winning both their games. Fernando Rivera played exceedingly well, scoring a goal far out from the 60-yard line while Robin Lourvanij carried the ball up the field to get another impressive goal for White Orchid.
A couple more field goals by Alice Gipps and some powerful man-marking by Fiola Rose meant that the final day was a superb display of hard-fought Polo. The White Orchid team’s effort gained them enough points overall to win the tournament. Frangipani and Wild Rose drew, joint in second. Six goaler Dario Musso umpired all the games to ensure fair play and Tom Claytor provided entertaining commentary on the sidelines for the spectators.
The resort was a delightful place to relax between games, with delicious food, the option to take a Thai massage to ease away any aches and pains, and idyllic surroundings to explore. Guests staying at Polo Escape have the opportunity to take trail rides through the rubber and coconut plantations, rides on the beach, boat trips to local islands, or simply lounge beside the pool that overlooks the Polo field.
Apart from visiting a super seafood restaurant and incredible dinners at Polo Escape organized by Susy Lourvanij, the main weekend event was the launch of the Fiola Rose Swimwear collection, an Argentine asado, and an after-party with an incredible live band.
Fiola Rose Labron Johnson, who plays for the White Orchid team, brought a selection of her stunning new Fiola Rose Swimwear range to show off to the guests. With the catwalk constructed around the edge of the infinity pool with rose petals in the water, a more impressive setting could not have been wished for. Two of the polo players, Carolina Brown Zavaleta and Camila Rossi, joined in modeling the range alongside Fiola and two Thai models, while the male professional players, also not wanting to be left out, accompanied the girls along the catwalk.
The stylish swimwear is Fiola’s first signature collection in a soft, feminine color palette, which is very much Fiola’s trademark style. All the swimwear is made in the Philippines, which is a place very familiar and special to Fiola, who spends a lot of time there. A dollar from every item sold will be used to help women in need in impoverished communities in the Philippines, which is something Fiola feels particularly compassionate about. All the pieces will soon be available online at www.fiolaroseswim.com and in selected boutiques worldwide.
Having traveled to many polo destinations worldwide, Polo Escape is still one of the most unique polo resorts I have come across that is hard to rival anywhere else in the world. All the guests have taken away fond memories of a good level, competitive, well-run women’s polo tournament.
For anyone wishing to escape the winter and experience the dazzling sunsets while situated in a Polo player’s paradise, Polo Escape welcomes foreign visitors year-round. Knepp Castle Polo Club is once again hosting a Polo Escape sponsored tournament on July 30 to 31 2016, so there is an opportunity to meet the club’s hostess Robin Lourvanij. Furthermore, the Knepp tournament winners received a trip to play some polo in this beautiful club.