Sydney Polo Club world championship hosting plans sees local tensions ride high
By Harriet Alexander
A Sydney multimillionare has won the rights to host the world’s premiere polo tournament, but has not yet obtained council approval to hold the competition on his land.
Peter Higgins, who owns the Sydney Polo Club, is seeking council approval to play the sport on his property near Richmond more than a year after he successfully bid to host the Polo World Championship.
But the impending arrival of the most prestigious event on the international polo circuit has brought neighbourhood tensions to flashpoint and a vociferous element opposed to Mr Higgins is threatening to bring down the event.
The sport of kings has been played for decades on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, though not all clubs have received formal permission from council.
Mr Higgins submitted his winning bid for the championships in partnership with Destination NSW, which hopes the event will bring 5000 visitors to the Hawkesbury and showcase the region to an international audience.
The Sydney Polo Club was a location in the filming of The Great Gatsby and has hosted numerous weddings, including that of the then federal Lindsay MP Fiona Scott.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres and local member Dominic Perottet celebrated when the Federation of International Polo announced in October last year that the Sydney Polo Club had defeated a US competitor to host the games.
“The XI FIP World Polo Championship will give this historic sport a great boost locally, and see the Hawkesbury’s incredible polo fields and scenery broadcast around the world,” Mr Ayres said.
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