Favourite, the horse, going into the draw for Polocrosse Cup
POLOCROSSE: Australian assistant coach Cameron Shepherd has a daily ritual in the lead-up to the Adina Polocrosse World Cup on April 22-28 - he works his cup horse Favourite.
When Warwick was chosen as the venue for the 2019 World Cup, Shepherd immediately decided he would donate horses for the use of cup players.
He has played for Australia in New Zealand and in the 2011 World Cup in England.
"I have ridden other people's horses during tournaments and I am keen to provide horses in this cup,” he said.
"I ride Favourite for half an hour each day.”
Shepherd has donated the use of 11-year-old mare Favourite to go into the cup pool of men's horses.
His wife Anita has lent her 15-year-old gelding Signature to go into the women's horse pool.
"Favourite is fast and agile and likes playing the game,” he said.
"You can tell the good ones, they are intelligent and ready to go at a carnival.”
Shepherd has predominately played Favourite in the number one and two positions and that information will be provided to the country that draws the mare.
"The teams only have the horses for five days before the cup so the more information available on each horse the better they can be matched with a rider,” he said.
One hundred and fifty horses are being lent for the cup. With less than six weeks to the event, Shepherd said he was excited rather than nervous in his role as assistant to Australian coach Arch Anderson.
"I am not nervous approaching the cup as I have confidence in our eight players,” he said.
He said the standard of polocrosse around the world had improved at successive World Cups.
"At the first World Cup, only two or three countries could have won it but now four or five countries realistically have a chance,” Shepherd said.
"Six or seven of the teams will be very competitive. The gap between the countries has narrowed.”
In the one change to the teams from the cups at Morgan Park in 2003 and 2007, Zambia is in the eight-team field rather than Canada.
"United States will be a lot stronger than in previous cups here even though they will be missing a couple of their better players,” he said.
This weekend, Shepherd and the Australian team will travel to New Zealand for two Tests against New Zealand near Auckland. Last month, Australia beat New Zealand in two games at Ballarat.