Both teams included star international polo players but it was King Power’s Nattapong Praumlee, Thanasin Chuawangkham and Captain Tom Claytor who took the title at the final whistle. The final match was presided over by a representative of the King of Thailand’s Privy Council.
The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and has grown to become one of the biggest charitable events in Thailand, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population.
Saturday night’s gala dinner at the Anantara Hua Hin was host to a gathering of top dignitaries and well known celebrities, with the night’s auction raising 3.3 million THB, taking the total raised to date by the tournament to US$600,000.
A total of 42 street elephants took part in this year’s tournament, during which they were well fed, received essential vitamin supplements, full veterinary checks and care for the duration of the event.
Lead sponsors were Audemars Piguet, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.
This year’s tournament saw the New Zealand All Blacks’ Robin Brooke, Olo Brown and Charlie Riechelmann go head-to-head with European royals Prince Carl-Eugen Oettingen-Wallerstein and his wife, Princess Anna and daughter, Princess Joanna. Thailand’s most famous trans-gender cabaret, Miss Tiffany Thailand, added some fun and a lot of color when they played an exhibition match against the All Blacks on Saturday.
The event kicked off with a parade through the centre of Hua Hin, the opening ceremony overseen by Thailand’s last elephant spirit men, Kru Ba Yai,and featured traditional dancers and a baby elephant camp.
Spectators and players came from Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Canada, all over Europe, India, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan and Thailand.
Anantara’s competition to find a Junior Elephant Reporter was won by 13-year-old Jonny Gray from Ontario, Canada, who was flown in for the tournament with his mum and had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity both to meet and film the players, other guests and the elephants.
Projects receiving funding from last year’s event include helping build the first elephant hospital in Krabi in the southern part of Thailand, a THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand has been donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), and 4,000 trees have been planted in Hua Hin to shelter elephant corridors from electric fencing in the area.
Here’s now the top 12 teams finished from first to 12th: