An international Test-Match between New Zealand and Argentina is set to take place on Saturday, February 9, as part of the Kihikihi International Day, hosted by Kihikihi Polo Club, located 160 km south of Auckland, in New Zealand.
“This event for New Zealand Polo is the biggest single day of the season with about 3500 people coming to watch. It is hosted and organised by the Kihikihi Polo Club on behalf of the NZ Polo Association. This event has been going since 2000 and in the past teams from Brasil, England, Australia, South Africa and Argentina have participated,” shared the organisation.
It is worth noting that the same event had been planned for last year, but unfortunately the weather prevented the match from being played. The Argentine team had already travelled to New Zealand, but the rain stopped the event in its tracks.
That is why Argentine coach Diego Braun decided to select the same players for the Argentine squad, with the exception of Juan Martin Zubia, who is unable to travel for the event due to other playing commitments.
The youngsters who have been chosen to represent Argentina in New Zealand are: Genaro Ringa, Santiago Loza, Paco O’Dwyer and Matías Torres Zavaleta, who takes Zubía’s place.
“Whenever Argentina plays, be it anywhere in the world, it is an opportunity to promote polo as a whole,” shares Diego Braun. “And if we want other teams to come to Argentina, we also have to travel over to them. We chose the same team as we had in 2018, when the match was suspended due to rain, to give the boys the chance to play and represent their country. It is also an advantage going to New Zealand with the same players, they already know some of the horses and they know the place.”
The local team is yet to be confirmed, but the players will be announced towards the end of the month. In 2018, Kit Brooks, Craig Wilson, Tom Hunt and John Paul Clarkin were confirmed to play, with Glenn Sherriff as a reserve.
After the International Polo Day, the country will host the New Zealand Open, one of the most prestigious tournament of the season. The competition final is scheduled to be played on February 23. Women’s polo will also take the stage, with the New Zealand Women’s Open, played at Mystery Creek Polo Club in March. The tournament is for teams between 14 and 16 goals (ladies handicap).
Lastly, it is key to highlight that New Zealand has an outstanding history of genetics when it comes to breeding first class polo horses. “The horses here are as good as anywhere; including Argentina and many have been exported to play all round the world. Many of the Ellerston (Australia) pony family lines have a strong NZ influence.”