A British female sporting team are celebrating international victory as they take home the World Cup for Elephant polo .
Samantha Prentice, 45, from Haddington, East Lothian scored all 27 goals and secured a triumph for her team, the Tigresses Polo, at the annual tournament in Nepal last week.
The unusual game involves two teams of up to four players sitting on top of the enormous animals, and is played in a similar manner to regular polo.
To keep the sport fair, teams swap elephants at half time to ensure victory does not come down to who has the better elephant.
Eco-tourism travel consultant Samantha has already made a name for herself in the sport after she came third in 2013 and second in 2012.
However, Samantha had not yet made it to championship status and said that she was over the moon to finally have triumphed.
‘I’ve been playing for 15 years now and I’m just ecstatic. I had no idea how good it felt to be a champion until I became one. I have to keep pinching myself.
‘We had gotten so close in recent years and it’s great to finally win a tournament. We’re very competitive but are very nice about it.
‘I was very fortunate to play with such a good bunch of ladies that would get the ball to me as often as they could.’
Samantha added that living in Scotland provided some logistical issues when it came to getting practice in for matches.
‘Unfortunately, we don’t have an elephant at home so it is quite difficult to train in the gaps between playing but I’d say it’s important to keep fit.
‘I play quite a lot of tennis and golf and find that the skills in those sports are very transferable.
‘It’s kind of like riding a bike, once you know how to ride an elephant that never leaves you.’
Samantha had already made a name for herself in the sport after she had come third in 2013 and second in 2012
Samantha first discovered the game around thirty years ago in Nepal and has since developed it into a full time hobby.
‘I first heard of the sport in the 80s when I was working in Nepal on a gap year but didn’t really get into it until the turn of the century.
‘My husband Peter has played and won in the past so it’s particularly sweet to have bragging rights over him this time around.’
Scottish players have been dominant since the sport was invented in 1983 as teams have been successful 11 times with a Scot on their side and being Scottish herself Samantha does not break the tradition.
Nepal has registered elephant polo as an Olympic sport which means that if Kathmandu were to ever host the Olympics then elephant polo would be played on an exhibition basis.
Samantha’s husband Peter, 53, is the Chairman of the World Elephant Polo Association and a former world champion.
He had also played in the championships and said although he had not been met by the same victory as his wife he was very pleased for her.
‘Of course I’m disappointed to have lost but once my team were knocked out I wanted Samantha to win.’
Peter added that the Scottish penchant for another club-based game might explain their success in the exotic sport.
‘I think Scotland is actually quite well placed to produce great elephant polo players as the home of golf since a lot of the skills are transferable.
‘Experience counts for a lot in this sport and I’ve been playing for 28 years now and don’t really practice until I’m back on an elephant.
‘Another reason that Scots might be so good at it is that during the day you play hard then at night party harder.’
The sport has raised over £600,000 for elephant welfare charities and the elephants competing in the world cup remain in their natural environment.
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