Polo: Organisers buoyed by Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup entries

Cowdray Park Polo Club has announced an impressive entry of 17 teams for the 2013 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, the world’s premier polo tournament at 22-goal level.

The Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship was launched at Cowdray Park in 1956 and ranks alongside the Argentine and US opens in world significance. It has been sponsored by leading champagne house Veuve Clicquot since 1995.

The sport’s leading players, including seven ten-goal players – the highest ranking a polo player can achieve – will be seen in action at Cowdray from June 25, leading to quarter-finals over the weekend of July 13 and 14, semi-finals on July 18 and the prestigious final of the most coveted trophy in polo on Sunday, July 21.

Adrian Kirby brings a new line-up to defend the British open title, having won the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup in 2012 at his sixth attempt.

In his team is nine-goal player Eduardo Novillo Astrada, an ambassador for the iconic watchmakers Jaeger-LeCoultre, and the team will bear the new name Cortium Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Co-finalists in the 2012 Final, El Remanso return with a new line-up, having lost Charlie Hanbury to Jerome Wirth’s Enigma team because of handicap changes.

Zacara, winners of the Gold Cup in 2011, return with a strong team which includes ten-goal player Facundo Pieres. His ten-goal brother, Gonzalito Pieres, remains in the La Bamba de Areco side of Jean-Francois Decaux playing alongside Polito Pieres (eight goals) and young English player Ollie Cudmore.

England captain Luke Tomlinson, at seven goals one of England’s highest handicapped players, joins Spencer McCarthy’s Emlor side, Spencer entering the Gold Cup for the first time.

James Beim, also a seven-goal England player, plays a third season with Nick Clarke’s Salkeld team, whose new line-up also includes Miguel Novillo Astrada and English player Max Routledge.

Always a front-runner, the Dubai team returns with the patron’s son, Rashid Albwardy, a competent two goal player, playing alongside Adolfo Cambiaso, arguably the world’s greatest player, Nico Pieres (seven goals) and Australian player Alec White, (three goals).

Black Bears, winners in 1992, 2002 and 2006, make a welcome return with their young patron Guy Schwarzenbach forming a strong and balanced team with Patrick O’Dwyer (four goals), Nachi du Plessis (eight goals) and New Zealand captain John Paul Clarkin (eight goals).

Also in the frame are Les Lions, Sumaya, Talandracas and Thai Polo, while EFG Aravali re-enter with a new patron, John Muse. Patron Stefano Marsaglia has meanwhile re-named his team Twelve Oaks.

Two brand-new teams enter the competition – HB Polo with French brothers Ludovic and Sebastien Pailloncy playing alongside Ignacio Toccolino and Pite Merlos, and UAE Polo Team is brought into the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the first time by HH Sheika Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

The draw for the Gold Cup takes place on June 10 when patrons, players and team managers gather to take part in an open draw which decides matchplay in the league phase of the tournament.

LIZ HIGGINS