The Albury Holbrook Polocrosse Club has leapt back into the saddle and is poised to score a goal on hosting one of the largest equestrian events in Australia since the outbreak of COVID-19.
More than 700 horses and riders have converged on the Albury Wodonga Equestrian Centre at Thurgoona for five days of action including junior training followed by top-class competition that kicked of Friday with a thunder of hooves.
The pace is expected to be fast and furious as the best of Australia's polocrosse talent takes to the fields including local stars Lucy Grills, Jim Grills and Abbott Grills, who were instrumental in leading Australia to victory in the 2019 World Cup.
On Wednesday and Thursday, about 200 young players were champing at the bit to hone their skills under the expert eyes of these elite players.
Event secretary Elissa Koch said the coaching sessions and subsequent competitions were part of a targeted effort to kick-start junior sport.
Over the weekend 16 teams of under-17 players will compete in their state teams as part of the COVID CUP 2021, with finals on Sunday.
Ms Koch said Western Australia had sent an under-17 team and Tasmania also sent a truckload of horses and junior players to sharpen their skills, joining competitors from Queensland, Victoria and NSW.
"During the uncertain times that COVID-19 has brought us, the Albury Holbrook Polocrosse Club remained quietly optimistic and moved forward with plans to host one of the largest equestrian events since the pandemic put a sudden halt to Australia's sporting activities," she said.
"It was a huge gamble in anyone's estimation!"
Polocrosse, described as a game "no one would cheerfully want to miss", was one of Albury's top money spinners in 2016 with the nationals injecting $8 million into the Border economy.
The carnival, which started on Friday, will see 16 elite teams compete in the Silver Stirrup Women's, Bronze Bit Women's and the Silver Spur Men's with finals on Sunday.
The Border's dream team will be in good company against fellow World Cup key player Will Weston from Jugiong, who will play in the men's competition.
Spectators are welcome (entry is free); games start from 9am each day.
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