King Power Foxes strike polo gold
King Power Foxes deservedly retained the title of British open champions in the final of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup.
In the 2016 King Power Foxes team, 2015 winner Top Srivaddhanaprabha had given up his place at No1 to his brother Tal Srivaddhanaprabha.
The remaining team members formed the same line-up as 2015, with Hugo Lewis, now playing off two goals, alongside the ten-goal Pieres brothers, Gonzalito at No3 and Facundo at back.
American patron Michael Bickford’s La Indiana team thrilled the crowd throughout the tournament with blistering performances from all three professionals, USA team captain Nic Roldan (seven goals) playing at No2, eight-goaler Agustin ‘Tincho’ Merlos at three and Julian de Lusarreta (six goals) at back.
King Power made the first mark on the scoreboard with a 40-yard penalty put through by Facundo Pieres, swiftly followed by goals from Hugo Lewis and Gonzalo Pieres.
The pacy action of chukka one continued with goals from Agustin Merlos and Julian de Lusaretta for La Indiana and the chukka ended with the Foxes 3-2 ahead.
There were missed attempts at goal by both teams and just five more goals on the scoreboard through chukkas two and three so that by half-time the score was poised at 5-5.
After the treading-in, there was a tough, defensive chukka with no goals scored. A jittery fifth chukka saw Facundo Pieres miss his first attempt at goal. Awarded a 40-yard penalty he missed again.
There was a horse race down the boards, the ball went out but Hugo Lewis won it from the roll-in and sent a huge lofted shot towards La Indiana’s goal.
There was a scrum as the white shirts tried to defend their goal but a mistake saw de Lusarreta push the ball over the line giving a goal away to King Power Foxes and the score moved to 6-5.
King Power had the lift they needed and Facundo and Gonzalito Pieres between them made short work of the next goal, Gonzalito carrying the ball through the posts at speed for 7-5.
It became apparent that the former brilliant attacking team play that La Indiana had shown through the tournament was beginning to unravel as they tried desperately to put up a defence against the Pieres’ onslaught. Chukka six opened with the play fast and determined as Facundo sought every opportunity to find a way through the La Indiana defence.
A great piece of play saw him escape from Roldan and Merlos while Gonzalito waited behind for the ball. A smart goal resulted and King Power Foxes went 8-5 up.
The umpires blew for the re-start with a throw-in which inexplicably saw all four La Indiana players off changing horses. King Power charged away and Gonzalito scored the goal which sealed La Indiana’s fate and sealed King Power’s second successive victory in the championship.
The best playing pony award presented by Lila Pearson went to Sarmiento, owned by Marcos de Paola and ridden by Facundo Pieres.
Most valuable player, presented by Zahra Kassim Lakha, Jaeger-LeCoultre UK, went to Facundo Pieres.
The La Indiana players, led by Michael Bickford, accepted prizes from Zahra Kassim-Lakha and Daniel Riedo, chief executive of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
All four members of the King Power side received an engraved Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch from Daniel Riedo. Richard Billett, MD of Louis Roederer UK, presented a Salmanazar of Louis Roederer champagne to the King Power Foxes patron.
Riedo presented the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup to a delighted Tal Srivaddhanaprabha to enormous cheers from the Foxes entourage.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was thrilled that two of his sons had now had won the title of British Open Champions.
Six teams entered the 2016 British ladies’ polo championship, sponsored for the first year by City & Country.
Cowdray Vikings made it to the final to face 2015 winners Huntington House/Apes Hill, and with Lila Pearson’s Vikings side on a handicap of 17 to Huntington House/Apes Hill’s 16, Camilla Williams’ side gained a half point advantage on the scoreboard.
For Vikings, Katie Vickery played at No1, Lila Pearson at two, Hazel Jackson at three and Sarah Wiseman at back. For Huntington House/Apes Hill, Camilla Williams was number-one, with Emma Boers and Tamara Fox in the centre and Lucy Taylor at back.
Vickery made the first mark on the scoreboard for Vikings, answered by a goal from Boers. ikings won the ball from the throw-in, Jackson swooped on to it and carried it all the way to give them the lead 2-1½ by the end of the chukka.
There were no goals in the second chukka before a spot hit awarded to Huntington House/Apes Hill started the second half and soon Boers made an opportunistic grab for the ball which resulted in a neat goal to take her side ahead by half a goal.
Jackson’s shot at goal from a 60-yard penalty was stopped by Huntington House/Apes Hill, but the Vikings attacked and scored a goal from Vickery to give the orange shirts the lead again.
A super backhand shot from Wiseman took Vikings 4-2½ up and Jackson sent a mighty shot between the posts to make it 5-2½.
From the throw-in which started chukka four, Vikings were on the move again despite plenty of hassle by Fox and Taylor for Huntington House/Apes Hill.
Jackson sent the ball to Vickery, it passed to Wiseman who left it for Jackson to put through another fine ball to make the final score 6-2½ to Vikings.
Helen Moore, MD of City & Country, presented the silver salver to Lila Pearson. A stunning array of prizes including handbags and silk scarves was sponsored by Aspinal of London, the luxury leather goods company based at Fernhurst.
Jackson won the award for most valuable player of the match and received an Aspinal of London leather jewellery box. The award for best playing pony went to Peewee, owned by Hazel Jackson.
Reports by LIZ HIGGINS
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