Sam Hopkinson (New Zealand)
Our very own Sam Hopkinson is in the top rank of world polo players, playing for New Zealand regularly on the international stage and playing professionally for the last 15 years based predominantly in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Having chased the summers between the northern and southern hemispheres since leaving school in Canterbury, Sam has been lucky enough to play in some of the polo world’s biggest and most prestigious tournaments. Although Sam has saddled up alongside models, movie stars, and even princes William and Harry, Sam still counts New Zealand as his favourite place to play. Adding to this, he has captained the Rodd and Gunn team to winning the prestigious New Zealand Open on 3 occasions.
Sam’s love of the game has as much to do with his passion for horses and the fine art of training and preparing them to perform at the top level internationally, and he is quick to point out the importance of a good horse. Known as one of the biggest hitters in the game keep an eye out for his skills on the field.
Kell Ainsley (New Zealand)
We are pleased to announce this years inclusion across our national series of the “other half” of the Ainsley Polo powerhouse, Kel Ainsley is a man of few words..more moody distant stares and long lost lingering looks. Most likely to be found on the back of a young horse, either at the Ainsley Polo beach property or the farm on the outskirts of Pukekohe. Kel is a real life horse whisperer. A world renowned horseman in a number of disciplines, Kel is one to watch if you want to see what a polo pony is really capable of.
Sam Stott (Australia)
Sam is one of the polo world’s hottest young prospects, born and bred in country Victoria Sam has just spent the English season learning from some of the game’s top players. At just 25 years old and having only played for 2 years, Sam has already played for some big name teams including James Packers “Ellerston” and Swiss Billionaire Urs Schwarzenbach’s “Black Bears”. Sam is experienced in New Zealand polo having been a finalist of the prestigious New Zealand Open in 2016 and we are very excited to have his talents back for the Urban Polo series.
Ross Ainsley (Australia)
Aussie polo player, Ross is not only a 5 goal professional player but also a world renowned horseman and founder of Ainsley Polo. Ross has turned his passion of sourcing and producing top polo ponies into his core business and Ainsley Polo has become a sought after destination for polo holidays and lessons and is often described as the “Polo factory”. Born in country New South Wales, Ross moved to New Zealand 20 years ago to capitalise on the plentiful supply of New Zealand Thoroughbred’s and their history of becoming some of the best Polo Ponies in the world. Ross’s Polo passport has taken him to 27 different countries around the globe and he currently divides his time between the UK and New Zealand. He is proud of his global network of friends and contacts enabled by polo worldwide and is excited to introduce more people to the sport through the Heineken Urban Polo series!
Auckland born and bred, James Worker comes from a large family of polo players and horse riders. He started riding at a young age and competed to a national level in pony show jumping before making the change to Polo in the search of a more extreme sport to suit his personality. Upon finishing school at St Kentergans college James travelled overseas playing polo in Australia and the UK before coming home to make his mark in the business world. Not one to hold back or take things slowly James has achieved more in the last few years than many will in a lifetime. An fast and exciting player on and off the field who always has something to say and is bound to keep you entertained.. Keep your ears out for James at the Auckland event as you will certainly hear him coming..
Nick Pepper (Great Britain)
Nick has been playing Polo since he was 8 years old and turned Professional at 22. Standing at 6’5’’ he is hard to miss on the field, with his huge wingspan he is able to pick up balls from what seems impossible distances, making him a formidable player to be playing against, and a great team member to play with. Since turning professional, polo has taken him to many corners of the globe; including England, India, Australia, Barbados and frequently New Zealand, where he has been able to perfect his play and horsemanship skills. Nick is not only known for his playing ability, but also his relaxed natural ability when working with young horses on and off the field. Tall dark and handsome this softly spoken Englishman is one to watch.
Morgan Ruig (Australia)
Morgan was born into a family passionate about polo, with his father James playing the sport for over 30 years. Over this time playing the sport he was also breeding horses that have played in some of the world’s greatest tournaments, including the Argentine Open and the Queens Cup in England.
Morgan played his first major tournament at 14 years old, winning the BMW tournament in Brisbane, Australia. After school he spent a year in Argentina working for Lolo Castagnola as part of La Dolfina juggernaut, arguably the best team ever to play the sport. Since then, Morgan has played polo across the world, some of the top spots being Australia, New Zealand, England and Argentina.
Morgan had a stint playing rugby for University in Brisbane but fortunately he is now back to the sport he loves and we are extremely excited that he will be competing in this Heineken Urban Polo Series!