Brunei brings in 45 polo horses
Rep. Mikee Romero and Prince Harry, both polo enthusiasts.
Brunei brings in 45 polo horses
Joaquin Henson (Agence France-Presse) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It appears that Brunei, fielding an all-royalty team, is dead serious in sweeping the two events in polo at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here late this year as 45 horses were flown in to familiarize with the world-class playing conditions of the Miguel Romero field in Calatagan, Batangas way ahead of the tournament.

Polo competition manager Camilla Lastrilla confirmed the other day that Brunei’s horses are now in town. Four countries are participating in the 0-2 low goal and 4-6 high goal events with matches scheduled on Nov. 24-Dec. 1. Malaysia and Indonesia will not bring their own horses. Malaysia will choose horses from Inigo Zobel’s stable while Indonesia will pick from Philippine rider Rep. Mikee Romero’s stable. Each country is allowed to nominate 24 horses for either event, subject to inspection by supervising officials.

Playing rules will be according to the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) which has a cooperative arrangement with the Federation of International Polo, the Asociacion Argentina de Polo and the United States Polo Association (USPA). The HPA was founded in 1875 and is the governing body for the sport in the UK, Ireland, United Arab Emirates and several other countries.

Polo has been played twice in the SEA Games. The first was in 2007 when the Philippines finished out of the podium with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand placing 1-2-3 in that order. In 2017, it was back in the SEA Games calendar and Malaysia took the sole gold medal with Thailand claiming the silver and Brunei, the bronze. Singapore was the fourth participant. The Philippines did not compete that year.

The entries will submit seven players for each event with four to be named in the morning of every match. A match will be played in four seven-minute chukkers with a 10-15 minute halftime. 

Among the players for the Philippine team are Romero, Gus Aguirre, Tommy Bitong, Jay de Jesus, Jam Eusebio, Anthony Filamor, Coco Garcia, Santi Juban, Ed Lopez, Marty Romualdez, Tonio Veloso and Noel Vecinal. Lastrilla said the final lineup is a work in progress with the handicap levels under review because of the transition from the USPA to HPA formats.

In the final preparation for the SEA Games, the Philippine team will compete in a high-level tournament on Oct. 31-Nov. 13 in what Romero calls “the mecca of polo,” Argentina. Romero was recently in Chicago for training. Another polo standout Aguirre trained in Australia.

Last Friday, PHISGOC chief operating officer Tats Suzara motored to Calatagan to inspect the polo facilities. “The playing conditions are perfect and world-class,” said Lastrilla. “Rep. Romero is making sure everything is in place for a wonderful experience. A bamboo pavilion for VIPs and guests will be an exclusive feature.” Romero named the polo field after his late son whom he said loved the game so much.

Lastrilla said in the polo rules, the umpire stops the match if a horse or rider falls and the match is resumed depending on the type of fall. A horse or rider may be substituted. A horse may be changed at any time, injured or not while a player may only be substituted due to injury.

The top officials of the United Polo Players Association (UPPA) are Romero as chairman, Garcia and Jun Juban with Bobby Aguirre, Zobel and Greggy Araneta among the founding members.

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