KING POWER DUTY FREE was crowned winner of the 13th annual King’s Cup Elephant Tournament in Bangkok, beating out Audemars Piquet in a penalty shootout in “sudden death” overtime.
Third and fourth spots were taken by teams fielded by PriceWaterhouseCooper New Zealand All blacks and The Peninsula. Sixteen teams took part is this year’s championship.
The final day’s events were president over by the King of Thailand’s royal representative, Privy Councilor Real Admiral Mom Luang Usni Pramoj.
The tournament took place at the Siam Polo Park at VR Sports Club in Bangkok, with lead sponsors Audemars Piguet, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas. It was the first time the tournament was held in Bangkok.
This year’s players included the New Zealand All Blacks’ Mark “Cowboy” Shaw, Olo Brown and Charlie Riechelmann, Thai supermodels and many leading international horse polo players.
A total of 50 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.
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.
Friday night’s gala dinner at Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, which played host to a gathering of top dignitaries, players, media and well known celebrities, with the night’s auction raising 4.5 million Thai Baht, taking the total raised to date by the tournament to an impressive US$900,000 (THB 28.7 million). .
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. Friday night’s gala dinner at Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa hosted a gathering of top dignitaries, players, media and well known celebrities, with the night’s auction raising 4.5 million Thai Baht, taking the total raised to date by the tournament to an impressive US$900,000 (THB 28.7 million).
With free admission, the event has something for everyone, kicking off with a spectacular opening parade, with the opening ceremony overseen by Thailand’s last ‘elephant spirit men’ (Kru Ba Yai), traditional dancers, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the pitch.
The tournament wasd host to 2,000 children from schools all over Bangkok. Known as Chang Noi Day (Little Elephant Day), the children were invited to get up close with the elephants and learn more about their national animal. A range of educational walks, games and activities all teaching the benefits of elephant conservation and well-being were put on by the organizers.
Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’ or the new ‘Ascot’ of Bangkok. Women from all walks of life dressed to impress – with the best dressed winning a week’s holiday at NIYAMA in the Maldives.
The day also saw a ‘High Tea-Off’ competition with three Bangkok hotels competing to be voted the best high tea.
On pitch entertainment included Thai bands and a specially choreographed show by Tiffany Show Pattaya, Thailand’s most famous trans-gender cabaret.
The tournament attracted players and media came from all corners of the globe, including USA and Canada, New Zealand, India, Europe, the UAE, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and many local visitors from Bangkok and around Thailand.
Projects to benefit from the 2014 tournament are currently being completed, and will include an extension of the on-going Thai Elephant Therapy Project undertaken since 2009 in conjunction with Chiang Mai University Department of Occupational Therapy, with future clinics to include children with Down syndrome and other conditions.
Other significant benefits from money raised by the tournament include: building the first elephant hospital in Krabi in the southern part of Thailand; a THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand, donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC); 4,000 trees planted in Hua Hin to shelter elephant corridors from electric fencing in the area; funding the first educational computer application for children to teach them the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand; and funding Asia’s first workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for domesticated elephants.