Polo: Foxes show power to be crowned Gold Cup kings

Action from a full-blooded Gold Cup final / Picture by Clive Bennett - www.polopictures.co.uk
Action from a full-blooded Gold Cup final / Picture by Clive Bennett - www.polopictures.co.uk

Around 14,000 spectators were at Cowdray Park on Sunday to watch King Power Foxes defeat UAE to lift the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup and clinch the title of British open polo champions.

King Power Foxes, the team of ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha, had already won the 2015 Queen’s Cup with his new line-up of ten-goal Pieres brothers Gonzalito and Facundo, and young one-goal English player Hugo Lewis.

The all pro-side of UAE consisted of ten-goaler Pablo MacDonough, the leading goalscorer of the British open, Santiago Stirling (four goals), experienced high-goal player Lucas Monteverde (eight goals) and 16-year-old Jose Ramon Araya, whose no-goal handicap will no doubt rocket after his performance in the UK this year.

MacDonough made the first mark on the scoreboard for UAE with an accurate 60-yard penalty. King Power Foxes’ able patron Srivaddhanaprabha answered with a field goal and by the end of the first chukka the score was 2-2.

The second chukka was disappointing for UAE with two missed opportunities at goal and the Pieres brothers combining well to rack up their score to 5-2.

Chukka three opened with Gonzalito Pieres finding the ball from the throw-in and masterfully tapping it all the way to the goal for 6-2.

UAE gave away a penalty, taken by Facundo, moving the score on to 14-8 and Shrivaddhanaprabha had won the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup at only his second attempt.

The Foxes gave away a penalty which MacDonough saw through the posts for 6-3. The half-time score crept up to 7-4 in King Power Foxes’ favour.

Chukka four opened with UAE winning the ball. Facundo Pieres impeded their progress but Monteverde claimed it back and raced away to score a super field goal.

MacDonough was pressured by Facundo Pieres as he made an attempt at goal and the ball went over the boards. The resulting roll-in gave Facundo the perfect chance to pass to Srivaddhanaprabha, who obliged with his second field goal. The chukka closed at 8-5 to the Foxes.

King Power Foxes’ patron was unseated in chukka five but was able to walk from the pitch, his place being taken by young one-goal player Kian Hall.

UAE were able to gain some ground and pulled up to within two goals of their opponents, the chukka closing at 10-8 in King Power’s favour. However, the final chukka belonged to the blue shirts of King Power.

Try as they might, the goals simply didn’t come for UAE, one hit going wide and a super ball from young Araya hitting the posts and deflecting.

Gonzalito picked up the ball, sent it to Facundo and he was off on his own all the way to the goal and tip, tap, through the posts for 11-8.

The line-out saw Facundo in possession once again, Monteverde saw him off and Stirling passed the ball to Araya who had another try. But suddenly the ball was with the Foxes’ Hugo Lewis, who raced down the pitch to enormous cheers to score his first Gold Cup final goal.

Again Monteverde gained the ball only to be stolen by Facundo Pieres who off-loaded it to Hugo Lewis, who brilliantly secured his second goal of the match and 13-8 for the Foxes.

UAE gave away a penalty, taken by Facundo, moving the score on to 14-8 and Shrivaddhanaprabha had won the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup at only his second attempt.

The teams were driven up to the presentation arena to huge cheers in two open-top Land Rover Defenders customised by specialists Twisted Automotive, who presented the award for best playing pony to Divina played by Pablo MacDonough.

Facundo Pieres was presented with the award for most valuable player by Zahra Kassim Lakha of Jaeger-LeCoultre UK.

Individual prizes were presented to both teams by Daniel Riedo, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Zahra Kassim Lakha. Frédéric Rouzaud, CEO of Louis Roederer, presented a Salmanazar of Louis Roederer to the King Power patron, who also received a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch from Zahra Kassim Lakha.

The Gold Cup was presented to Shrivaddhanaprabha by Daniel Riedo.

LIZ HIGGINS

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