The Holy Grail of elephant polo, the WEPA world championships take place on the on the fringe of a jungle in which tigers roam, over which Himalayan peaks stand as distant sentries. It is on a grassy airstrip that doubles as a polo field that a select, if slightly eccentric, few contest the biggest tournament in the biggest sport of all under the watchful eye of elephant polo’s co-founder AV Jim Edwards. Jim Edwards met the Scottish adventurer and Olympic tobogganer James Manclark in a bar in St Moritz three decades ago. When James’ wife Patricia realised that Jim owned elephants the plan was hatched to resurrect elephant polo (previously the preserve of British officers in the days of the Raj). The first tournament took place in 1982 and the rest, as they say, is history. The World Elephant Polo Association is now celebrating its 27th anniversary and, if such a thing is possible, enjoys more renown today than at any time in the sport’s rich history. The 2008 world championship drew the attention of the BBC, CNN, Reuters, AFP, Playboy, The New York Post, Outside and, of course Equestrio.
England triumphs over ‘auld enemy’
In something of a repeat of the 2007 result, the three-time world champion Scottish squad, Chivas Scotland captained by His Grace The 13th Duke of Argyll, Torquhil Ian Campbell, ceded victory to an underdog rookie team in a thrilling final that was truly an ‘auld enemy’ encounter between England and Scotland. Robert Mackenzie’s Air Tuskers squad, comprising dressage rider Amanda Bere, Equestrio’s Daoud Assad and the ‘find of WEPA 2008’, Nepali superhitter Navin Mahato, lifted elephant polo’s most coveted trophy aloft following a defensive tactical display par excellence, the like of which has arguably never been seen before on the elephant polo field. The Chivas Olympic Quaich final produced the thriller of the tournament when a posse of New York’s best dressed bankers and journalists, New York Blue, set about relegating the home team title holders, Tiger Tops Tuskers. It was so close, and yet just two seconds too far… The New Yorkers’ bid for the silverware was thwarted in the last two seconds of a match that thrilled from the outset when top tournament scorer Kristjan Edwards produced a last gasp equalizer for Tiger Tops Tuskers that his teammate Ishwor Rana followed up with the winning golden goal in extra time.