Forget the State of Origin — Queensland coach Billy Slater’s real challenge will be facing Argentinian Nacho Figueras on the polo field on Sunday.
And the sledging — good natured but spicy — has already begun.
“Billy has got a new pair of polo boots,” Figueras said pointing to the gleaming new boots Slater bought when he and wife Nicole visited the polo ace and his model wife Delfina Blaquier at their home in Buenos Aires this year.
“Hopefully that will help here in the game on Sunday. But I don’t think so.”
Figueras’s own battered boots have holes worn in them from thousands of hours of practice. Despite secretly practising on polo pony Tulip on his property in Victoria ahead of the Magic Millions Polo and Showjumping day on the Gold Coast, Slater’s boots remain pristine.
“I have no comment,” Slater said with a grin. “Actions speak louder than words.”
But then he paused and added a quick disclaimer.
“They have stacked their team. Not only do they have Nacho and Delfi, they also have the Australian polo team captain Jack Archibald.”
Doug Jennings Park on The Spit is in good condition for the event that launches the annual Magic Millions yearling sales, despite the storms that have lashed other parts of the area.
Gold Coast Deputy Mayor Donna Gates said the clean-up operation was underway elsewhere but the main tourist areas were untouched and open for business.
“The city is in great shape in our tourist precincts and we are looking forward to a fantastic week of Magic Millions events,” she said.
“The theme parks are thumping and the weather has cleared. The polo field is in great shape and the ferries are arriving.”
For the first time a new ferry wharf has been built to bring people to the event.
Figueras said he had mentioned how effective ferries had been at a polo event he played at in New York to Magic Millions co-owner Katie Page.
“I didn’t think she listened but of course she did,” Figueras laughed. “What I admire about her is that she is always looking to step it up.”
He said the whole weekend was about celebrating the “love of the horse” — and of course beating the Queensland State of Origin coach in the polo.
And with that in mind, the dirty tricks may have already begun.
Figueras quickly changed into his Magic Millions top for the photo shoot but when Slater dived into the bag he pulled out a small ladies size 10 shirt that would not have covered one bicep.
“They want the Queensland coach to look nice and tight,” Figueras laughed. “Suck it up.”
Originally published as High profile polo buddies stick the boot in