The Equestrio Best Playing Elephant Award was inaugurated in 2011 to reward the elephant and mahout combination who combine to become a ‘game changing’ influence upon the tournament.
Elephant polo is, and always has been, all about the elephants. In 2014 the skill and tenacity of the elephants made the difference between victory and defeat at WEPA as it always does. However, notably this year the elephants were more evenly matched. As previous superstars and winners of the BPF mature and grow bigger their skills alone don’t necessarily dictate the outcome of matches which allows the larger elephants to play more important roles.
Typically a ‘game changing’ elephant will be a small, fast elephant playing in the center. But this year that was not the case. Defense elephant Sona Kali, playing only her second season of the elephant polo at 25 years old, and her mahout Hitlal Mahato, who has cared for her for 22 years, became the first defence elephant winner of this year’s award for their accomplished prefomances in both defence and attack.
When interviewed Sona Kali said through her Mahout Hitlal that for her the “best thing about elephant polo is that she gets to hang out with her friends all week.” Hitlal confirms that she adores playing polo and that, although not fast, understands almost instinctively where she needs to be in relation to the ball. She is a very deserved winner.