PUTRAJAYA: It's ready, steady go for the Putrajaya Equestrian Park as the RM2 million upgrading works on its polo field for the SEA Games 2017 is now complete.
According to the Equestrian Park head Azimin Ibrahim, a local field expert from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) took six months to re-turf the sprawling field, which will be the venue for the polo matches featuring the royal families of Brunei, Pahang as well as Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin.
"Our field consultant is very experienced. He's done the equestrian parks in Japan and US," Azimin told reporters during the PULSE Group's Hari Raya open house in the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) this evening.
Expectations are high as Malaysia is the defending champion for polo, having won the gold medal in the last SEA Games in Bangkok.
"We have four teams this time around – from Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand. They will play 10 matches," said Azimin.
Each team is allowed to bring in a maximum of 24 horses. Each horse requires a minimum maintenance fees of RM45,000.
"The horses are expensive. Some of them have arrived from overseas and are now being quarantined in KLIA," he added.
The Putrajaya equestrian centre boasts world-class facilities and 100 stables.
Entrance to the polo matches are free – as an incentive for more Malaysians to embrace the horse-riding sports.
"It's not true that polo is the sports for the royal families and the rich," explained Azimin. "Our national polo players who are doing well outside the country are from ordinary families."
The Putrajaya Equestrian Park is expecting between 3,000 to 4000 spectators for the matches daily.
"We've decided not to sell tickets as to encourage more Malaysians to take up polo and love the sports," he said.