Forty-seven majestic ponies will make their grand entrance into Broome in The Kimberley, Western Australia on Monday in preparation for this month’s highly-anticipated Airnorth Cable Beach Polo. The professional polo ponies will embark on a 2000km journey from Perth to compete in the spectacular two-day tournament, which will be held next weekend on May 20 and 21.
Three teams featuring some of the world’s best polo players will thrash it out and collide on the glorious sands of Cable Beach as they vie for victory. They include Tom Hunt, Matt Welsh, Jack Archibald, Robert Archibald, Hugo Fischer and Eru Barlow. Thousands of spectators are expected to attend the annual event, which promises top sporting action with three exhilarating competitions scheduled for each day. Welsh, who has been involved in Cable Beach Polo since its inception, said excitement was building for next week’s game.
“It’s the biggest thing of the year for us, something exciting that you don’t get to do very often.” He said a lot of work went into transporting the ponies all the way from Perth to Broome for the unique event. When it comes to performance and competition on the field, Welsh said it was as much about the ability of the horse as it was the player. “They have to be truly skilled ponies that are good at the game andanyone can just jump on them, that’s very important, and the players we pick are really good horseman as well,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the horse and rider become one within themselves.” Welsh said ponies selected to play for the tournament were measured onmore than just their speed, it was also about their agility andtemperament. While most of the ponies have previously played on Cable Beach, some would be making their debut on the sandy arena. “All the horses that haven’t (played on sand) before will have to adapt to it quite quickly,” Welsh said. “But with the playing surface we have in Broome…it’s the best playing surface you’ll get on the beach anywhere in the world. “It’s quite firm sand and the tide comes in and goes out so you have a new field every day when you play.”
Welsh will team up with his trusty sidekick Black Betty, a veteran of Cable Beach Polo event who has played in Broome every year. “She’s a very special horse, she loves playing in Broome,” he said. “She’s played polo all around Australia so she’s used to travelling.” Fellow competitor Jack Archibald, who was recently selected for theAustralian squad to compete in the World Polo Championship in Sydneythis year, will return to Broome to compete in his third Cable Beach Polo competition.
Archibald said it was a “huge honour” to be selected for the Australiansquad and to have the opportunity to represent his country. This time around, Archibald will compete with his striking mare Kiss, who he says is known for her big personality. “She’s extremely good on the sand, she’s been here for the last two years and she’s definitely one to watch,” he said. “She knows she’s the top horse there and she loves it.”
As well as enjoying top polo action, spectators will observe plenty ofsibling rivalry and huge competition during the 2017 tournament, withArchibald playing against his brother, Robert, as he fights to defendthe title with his team members. Players are set to descend on Gantheaume Point on Wednesday for a special training session ahead of next weekend’s spectacular tournament.