Polo tournament coming to Remuera

Professional polo player Sam Hopkinson will be competing in the Remuera polo event in February.
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Professional polo player Sam Hopkinson will be competing in the Remuera polo event in February.

Polo, the sport of kings, returns to Remuera in 2017, after an absence of more than one hundred years.

In the last documented match, in 1907, Remuera defeated Cambridge from Waikato to win the Auckland Polo Association Cup and was likely to have been played at the Dilworth Estate on Market Rd.

More than a century later, on February 25, the Heineken Urban Polo tournament is bringing the horseback sport back to Remuera's Shore Rd Reserve.

Heineken Urban Polo managing director Simon Wilson and co-director Sam Hopkinson are launching a new urban polo series in New Zealand with tournaments in Wellington and Auckland.

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The Remuera tournament includes two polo games, followed by live entertainment. 

"The idyllic Shore Rd Reserve setting overlooks Hobson Bay and Rangitoto, providing the perfect natural backdrop to the sport and music," Wilson says.

The urban tournament format is a modern twist on traditional polo, adapting the game to a shorter, fast-paced play.

The smaller, fully enclosed field with a larger ball means less stoppages and a more intense game.

Hopkinson says urban polo showcases the skill and excitement of traditional polo to city based spectators.

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"We want to promote the sport as well as put on a great social event," he says.

"I would liken urban polo to seven-a-side rugby or big bash cricket where professional players are able to display all their skills in front of an up-close crowd," Hopkinson says.

The Remuera tournament is set to be a social affair, but for New Zealander Hopkinson, one of the world's top ranked polo players, the game is serious business.

The series includes some of the world's best polo players.

Hopkinson, a "hired assassin", as professional polo players are described, will compete in the tournament and says he is very pleased to be involved in bringing urban polo home to New Zealand.

A professional polo player for 16 years, he has played in polo tournaments all over the world.

Having chased the summers between the northern and southern hemispheres since leaving school in Canterbury he has played in some of the polo world's biggest and most prestigious tournaments.

He has captained the Rodd and Gunn team to winning the New Zealand Open three times.

While general admission tickets are still on sale, Wilson says corporate marquees and a Heineken lawn have sold out.

 - Stuff.co.nz

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