TOP FORM: Argentinian number one Lucio Fernandez Ocampo and Milo on their way to scoring the winning goal in the final of the polo championship.
TOP FORM: Argentinian number one Lucio Fernandez Ocampo and Milo on their way to scoring the winning goal in the final of the polo championship. Joe McInally Photography

Aussie pony shines on world stage

IT WAS the stuff dreams are made of for Clifton polo player Jack Mantova when his gelding Milo stepped up to the plate at the recent World Polo Championship held in Sydney.

Milo was named Best Playing Pony of the World Cup final after an exciting week of polo from October 21-29 at the Sydney Polo Club.

Jack and his father Steve, of Clifton, on the Darling Downs, loaned their nine-year-old gelding, Milo, to the Polo World Cup committee, along with 279 other horses from the Australian polo community for the event.

Milo was one of 30 horses in the pool drawn by Argentina and was played by Argentinian number one player, Lucio Fernandez Ocampo, in each game over the nine days.

Argentina won all their pool matches against the United States, Spain and Australia, while a second pool consisted of teams from India, New Zealand, Chile and England.

"Milo got better and better each game,” Lucio said.

So much so that when the Argentinians made the final against World Cup title holders Chile, Milo was in their starting line-up.

The closely fought final played on Sunday, October 29, was seven goals apiece after the sixth and final chukka, and went into extra time, with Lucio scoring the winning goal of the World Cup on Milo.

Milo was then awarded the Best Playing Pony of the final.

As well as being a horse lender, Jack also took part in the World Polo Championship as a horse steward.

Jack said he and his father bought Milo as a raw five year old, primarily for the sport of polocrosse, but when Jack started playing polo for the Downs Polo Club last year, that all changed.

"Many hours of riding went into making Milo the horse he is today, as he had a mind of his own and wasn't always easy to get along with,” Jack said.

"Dad and I put a lot of time into training him,” he said.

Only new to the sport, Jack won his first pony prize on Milo at the Downs Shield at Clifton in June last year, where Jack's team, Scanlan, won the A-grade, with Milo winning the prize for Best Novice First Year Pony.

Jack then worked and played for a year at Ellerston, east of Scone in the Hunter Valley, before returning home to Clifton to play again for the Downs Polo Club in the 2017 season.

Polo World Cup horse director Anto White said the horse lenders had done something that could not be repeated anywhere in the world.

"The quality of the horses that were gifted to this World Cup, I feel will never be equalled,” Mr White said.

"It has been an outstanding team effort that has put Australian polo in a place I don't think it has been before. I think that the Australian XI FIP (Federation of International Polo) World Polo Championship will be talked about for many years to come.”