A mix of Old and New at Ellerston

The late Kerry Packer had a passion for polo that was all consuming — it stemmed from a decision he took back in the 1980s to get fit and, at the
age of 47, he chose the sport of polo as the vehicle to achieve this goal.

In 1987 he started building his polo estate at Ellerston in the Hunter Valley, NSW, which opened in February 1989 with players from all parts of the world
competing in the first tournament.

To maintain the turf he needed a reliable mower capable of mowing the seven polo fields at Ellerston, so in 1988 Packer and then polo manager Jim Gilmore
visited their local Jacobsen dealer, Deveson-Jahn in Sydney, and purchased the original Jacobsen HF 15 wide-area mower.

This original machine, now some 25 years old and with over 18,000 hours on the clock, is still used regularly in the growing season. Ellerston have supplemented
this with three second-hand HF 15s over the past 15 years to share the load of manicuring the 50-plus hectares of couch grass, which are cut three
times a week.

Ben Foley, Polo fields manager at Ellerston Polo said the fields are rated the best in the world by international players and patrons and the mowers have
been a big part of that.

“In 2007 we renovated a HF 15 from top to bottom and sent it to Stedham in the UK where the Packer family had established a polo complex in 1989. I went
over to the UK to help train the ground staff in the operation and maintenance of the mower. 

“That particular HF 15 even prepared the polo field for the 2007 Veuve Clicquot British Open Gold Cup final. It is one of the largest polo tournaments
in the world and takes place at Cowdray Park in England and that particular year was watched by a crowd of over 12,000,” Mr Foley said.

Late in 2011 Ben Foley and his team took delivery of a new Jacobsen LF4677, the latest seven unit gang mower produced by the US-based manufacture from
local dealer Chris Stig and his ProTurf team at Moorebank, NSW. He added another machine earlier this year.

Commenting on the improvements in the mower’s design over the past 25 years, Mr Foley said the technology in the cutting units has progressed over time
and the quality of cut has improved considerably.

“The cutting units deliver a superb cut on the toughest warm or cold season grasses and with a cutting width of over 3.5 metres we can get the job done
quicker. I’m hoping these will be lasting as long as the HF 15s!” he concluded.

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