Polo cup finals coming thick and fast at Cowdray

The Challenge Cup winners / Picture by Clive Bennett - see more at www.polopictures.co.uk
The Challenge Cup winners / Picture by Clive Bennett - see more at www.polopictures.co.uk

The Harrison Cup, Holden White Cup and Cowdray’s oldest trophy, the Challenge Cup, are three tournaments which for more than half a century have coincided with the racing festival at nearby Goodwood.

The finals of all three tournaments, played as part of the Cowdray’s HPA’s series, reached their thrilling conclusions over the weekend.

First up was the final of the 15-goal Harrison Cup, entered by eight teams, with Cowdray Vikings and Apes Hill reaching the final.

Playing at No1 for Cowdray Vikings was two-goal player George Pearson with Will Emerson at No3 and brothers Ralph and Jack Richardson at two and back.

Luke Wiles took the No1 position for Apes Hill, with Tommy Severn at two, Isidro Strada at No3 and Mark Tomlinson at back. A hard fought match was interrupted by thunder, lightning and hailstones forcing a stop to play halfway through.

Apes Hill took the lead in the second chukka and by half time remained a goal ahead on 5-4. Two fine field goals from Jack Richardson and another from Pearson in the fourth chukka saw fortunes reverse with Cowdray Vikings ahead 7-6 at chukka’s end.

The 18-goal Challenge Cup is Cowdray Park’s oldest trophy.

Strada for Apes Hill raced away from the throw-in which started the final chukka making a swift field goal to equalise on 7-7, but the team’s gift of a 30-yard penalty to Cowdray Vikings saw Jack Richardson swiftly regain the lead for his team.

A messy piece of play close to the Apes Hill goal saw another penalty awarded and Jack Richardson’s second 30-yard penalty of the afternoon secured the win for Cowdray Vikings at 9-7.

Jo Richardson presented the cup and prizes to all players. The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times went to Bugsy, owned by Phil Baker and played by Tomlinson. Ralph Richardson was voted MVP, his prize sponsored by The Polo magazine.

The 18-goal Challenge Cup is Cowdray Park’s oldest trophy. Andrey Borodin’s Park Place made it to the final to meet Lord Rothermere’s Ferne Park.

Will Harper, just 15, substituted for the Park Place patron with a trio of six-goalers - Alfredi Bigatti, Juan Britos and Chris Mackenzie completing the team. For Ferne Park, Jonathan Rothermere took the No1 position with Dirk Gould at two, Joaquin Pittaluga at three and Ignacio Negri at back.

An early goal came from Pittaluga for Ferne Park but from then on Park Place began to mark the scoreboard to take a lead of 8-1 by half-time, four of the goals coming from Britos. The score belied the fact that it was a fast and very entertaining match, full of excellent play.

Bigatti scored his third of the match in chukka four to take Park Place on to 9-1 before Negri finally pulled one back for Ferne Park.

A rally in the final chukka saw Pittaluga score twice for Ferne Park but it was too late as Park Place won 9-4.

Lila Pearson presented the trophy and prizes to Park Place, a relatively new team coached by former England captain Andrew Hine.

The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times went to Aguada Distinta, owned by Park Place and played by Britos. The Polo Magazine’s MVP award went to Britos.

The eight-goal Holden White Cup, a perennial favourite at Cowdray, attracted 18 entries, with Andrew Swaffield’s Alcedo meeting Momin Sheikh’s BHC in the final.

Playing alongside Swaffield were promising young no-goal player Angus Rowan Hamilton and team regulars Nick Clague and James Harper. Sheikh’s BHC featured 16-year-old Milly Hine and brothers Ralph and Jack Richardson.

In fast end-to-end polo, Ralph Richardson opened the scoring for BHC with a goal in the first chukka. Chukka two saw Harper wrestle the ball from Jack Richardson and carry it away to level the scores on 1-1, swiftly followed by a 40-yard penalty to take Alcedo on to 2-1.

Excellent combining of skills by the Richardson brothers saw Ralph deservedly achieve his second of the match to even the scores. However, Swaffield was well placed to pick up a ball from Clague and dribble it between the posts for a 3-2 lead for Alcedo.

After the half-time tread-in, Jack Richardson evened the score then took BHC ahead following an accurate 60-yard penalty and a fine piece of play resulting in a good field goal.

BHC won the throw-in but Harper and Rowan Hamilton were soon after Ralph Richardson when suddenly Clague grabbed the ball and steamed off for a great goal – 4-4.

Despite pressure from Harper, Ralph Richardson answered with a super run to goal to take BHC ahead once more and chukka three closed at 5-4 in BHC’s favour.

A close-fought final chukka saw BHC race further ahead, a powerful shot from Jack Richardson taking the score to 6-4 and a marvellous gallop from his younger brother seeing the ball through the posts with his fourth field goal of the match for 7-4.

Alcedo won the throw-in, Rowan Hamilton picked up the ball from Harper and attempted a shot at goal but Swaffield was in perfect position to send the ball through and closed the gap to 7-5.

A huge lofted ball from Harper added another to Alcedo’s scoreline but it was too late to deny BHC a win, 7-6. Amy Gatehouse presented the Holden White Cup and prizes. Ralph Richardson’s Zorro gained the award for Best Playing Pony sponsored by Polo Times and his two-goal status is surely in doubt following his second MVP award of the weekend, again sponsored by The Polo Magazine.

LIZ HIGGINS

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