The South African men’s polo team meet Kenya for the first time in a one-off Test — playing for the Prince of Wales Cup — at the Rosefield Polo Club in Centurion on Sunday (3pm).
In the recent Cell C Inanda Africa Cup, teams were playing off a six handicap, whereas the South African and Kenyan teams will be playing off an 11 handicap. In comparison, the national teams that compete at the BMW International Polo Series — though not in 2017 — play off a 23 handicap. The jumps make a huge difference.
SA, despite a weakened four-man team, are expected to come out on top in the encounter played over five chukkas.
"Although we’re at the back end of our season, the boys are fit and raring to go," said Campbell Macnab, a 25-year veteran of the game and SA’s most experienced player.
He is also one of the country’s A grade umpires.
"It’s going to be our first time against Kenya and our goal will be to entrench our status as the No1 nation in Africa.
"We don’t know much about the opposition other than them having the same combined handicap as us.
"This is a sport where horses dictate the outcome; they’re 80% of the game, the rest is up to us," said Macnab, who plays off a three handicap.
"Horse and rider must be in sync to bring out the best in one another. Obviously, this being a fast-paced game means looking after our horses at all costs, overworking them on the field is a recipe for disaster.
"This is why we each bring four horses along.
"It’s then up to us guys to combine to make for a potent unit. We have a mix of youth and experience," he said.
And I feel good about our chances against what is an unknown entity.
"While this is not our strongest line-up — many of our leading players ply their trade overseas — the players doing duty are top horsemen.
"And to represent one’s country is motivation enough to go out and thrill our fans and give them victory."
Zompie Tsotetsi (two handicap), Stephen Stewart (two handicap) and James Kane Berman (captain — four handicap) complete the SA team.
Team Kenya will be represented by Tisa Gross (two handicap), Mbungua Ngugi (two handicap), Archie Voorspuy (three handicap) and Jamie Murray (four handicap).
The Prince of Wales Polo Cup is named after Prince Edward. In 1925, after playing in a series of polo matches in Natal, he donated the cup to the South African Polo Association. From then on, future winners of the Inter-Provincial Polo Tournament, until 2014, had their names engraved on the cup.