Polo's elite to show their class
The country's best polo players will be in action in an exhibition game at the Kaipaki ground tonight.
Local identity and polo enthusiast David Fullerton, whose 14-year-old son is coached at the Mystery Creek club by top New Zealand players Simon Keyte and John-Paul Clarkin, will also be celebrating his 50th birthday at the event.
"What really started off as a birthday do sort of blossomed out into this," Fullerton said.
"It's very, very rare these days that you can get eight real top professionals out there going at each other hammer and tongs," he said.
"Really it's down to Simon Keyte and John-Paul Clarkin for bringing the players together for a one-off match where they just really want to have a good game of polo."
Keyte and Clarkin are cousins and bought the Kaipaki property in 2007, before opening it three years later with a similarly star-studded match.
Six of the eight players taking the field tonight have played for New Zealand, while Clarkin's wife, Nina Clarkin, represents England and is the world's highest-ranked woman player.
She recently captained the England women's side to big wins over the United States, Mexico and Argentina on a tour of the US.
Nina will play at No 2 in the Fullerton Agricultural team, with John-Paul at three, Keyte at four and Dean Geddes, who has consistently been the South Island's best player, at No 1.
They will face off with the Mystery Creek team, who will have Thomas Hunt - another relation of Keyte's and Clarkin's - at No 1.
Former Waikato rugby representative Craig Wilson is at No 2, with his brother Tommy Wilson, who has been playing in Britain for 20 years and is always well mounted and lightning quick on the field, at No 3.
Cody Forsyth, who is well known for his sales of polo ponies around the world, is at No 4.
"The players are itching to get going on the grounds and it's a beautiful venue for polo, so they know that the horses are going to run well and the players can show off their skills," Fullerton said.
The match, at 419 Kaipaki Rd, starts at 6.15pm.
A curtain-raiser game featuring Waikato's best up and coming players will start at 5.30pm.
Entry for the event is $10 for adults and $5 for children, while a car load can enter for $30.