Six super teams will contest the Thai Polo Open this year. It will be played at the picturesque Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, Thailand, from 10th to 20th January. The Thai Polo Open 2018 is the first of four RMPA International League Tournaments to be played in Malaysia and Thailand this year.
Three Chinese players will be part of an international ensemble with two teams from China, two from Thailand and two from Malaysia. Axus and Fast Fish are led by Chinese patrons Brian Xu and Winson Rao respectively. William Zhou players with Claude Haberer with the 2016 champions, 22 BR. Thai Polo and Malaysia’s La Familia shared the honours last year, while Royal Pahang is the highest rated team this season.
Last year’s joint champions Thai Polo and La Familia have been drawn in separate zones. They will not meet till the semi-finals or finals, depending on qualification results. The top two teams from each zone go through to the semi-finals.
Both will have tough jobs to qualify as the standard of teams this year seems to be very well matched. Thai Polo has been drawn in Zone 1 with Royal Pahang and Axus, while La Famila have drawn 22 BR and Fast Fish. Thai Polo take Raul Laplacette and Carlos Pando who are usually on their Malaysian roster to play with their patrons Dato’ Harald Link and his daughter, Caroline.
Tomas Fernandez Llorente was raised to 7 goals by the Argentine Polo Association after a stellar South American season that saw his team contest the final of the 30-goal Cámara de Diputados Cup. He plays with the energetic Tomas Gandara, Prince Muhammad and Prince Amir in a powerful Royal Pahang team that took Thai Polo all the way in an epic final in 2017’s RSPC Open. The game can be seen on YouTube here.
Brian Xu’s Axus has gone with a three-pro line-up, helmed by 6-goal Argentine Dario Musso. With Diego Gomez and Damian Marcos, Axus will make life difficult for the other teams in this zone which have both gone with a 2-pro line-up.
La Familia, top seeded in Zone 2 will have their work cut out for them. Dato’ Mohamed Moiz has kept the faith with his old friend Gines Bargallo and SEA Games veteran and Malaysian captain Shaik Reismann. They have drafted in Agustin Andrada, on loan from La Sarita, who will only play the Malaysian legs of the RMPA International League this season.
Agustin Garcia Grossi is the other 7-goal rated player in this year’s Thai Polo Open. He is a three time winner of the Thai Polo Open, having won it twice with Thai Polo and once again in 2015 with 22 BR. He returns to Thailand to play again with Claude Haberer and William Zhao’s 22 BR.
Fast Fish also go with a three-pro line-up. Big hitter and penalty specialist Miguel Diaz will have Rodrigo Bauzada and Nicolas Pieroni for company in Winson Rao’s Fast Fish.
Dato’ Harald Link’s Thai Polo had an amazing season in 2017, winning the RMPA International League for a fourth consecutive year and seventh time in the 13 seasons the league has been running. They shared the Thai Polo Open 2017 with La Familia and the RSPC Open with Royal Pahang, and won the Royal Pahang Classic outright, beating La Familia in the final.