Fabulous Ferne Park enjoy Sutherland success at Cowdray

Presentations after the Duke of Sutherland final / Picture by Clive Bennett Photography
Presentations after the Duke of Sutherland final / Picture by Clive Bennett Photography

Fifteen teams entered the 2018 Duke of Sutherland Cup, one of six HPA competitions played at Cowdray Park as part of the UK’s Victor Ludorum prize.

The Duke of Sutherland Cup – supported by Stephen’s Polo Division – was first presented at Cowdray Park in 1953, and this season’s spectators enjoyed thrilling play throughout the tournament.

For the third time, Jonathan Rothermere’s Ferne Park side made it to the Final where they faced Ali Albwardi’s Desert Palm team.

Playing for Ferne Park were the patron’s son, Vere Harmsworth (no goals) at No1, Rodrigo Rueda (six goals) at No2, seven-goaler Joaquin Pittaluga at three and Jacinto Crotto (five goals) at back.

For Desert Palm, Camilo Castagnola played at one, Henry Porter at two, Bartolomé Castagnola at three, and Martin Valent at back. Camilo, 15 years old and already playing off five goals, and Bartolomé, 17 years old and a six-goal player, are the sons of well-known Argentine player ‘Lolo’ Castagnola, who many in the Cowdray crowd remember from his days playing in the high goal.

The match opened with a swift goal from Camilo Castagnola. Pittaluga responded with an accurate 40-yard penalty. At the close of the first chukka the score was level at 2-2.

Sponsor Stephen Biddlecombe presented the historic trophy to Vere Harmsworth and innovative prizes from his Stephen’s Polo Division to all the players.

Chukka two opened with a throw-in and the ball taken away by Ferne Park. Pittaluga swiftly shot a fantastic angled ball through the posts to take the lead again for Ferne Park but it wasn’t long before Camilo Castagnola equalised for Desert Palm. Despite several shots to goal, neither side produced another goal by the chukka’s close.

Within a minute of the opening of chukka three, Ferne Park were driving towards goal again, with Desert Palm mounting a strong defence.

Suddenly Harmsworth escaped from the melée and sent a lovely shot through to take his side ahead 4-3. Pittaluga was in the driving seat and made a succession of goals to send Ferne Park ahead 7-3 by half-time.

Chukka four opened with Desert Palm trying to defend their goalmouth but Ferne Park marked the scoreboard again with two fine goals from Rodrigo Rueda and a lead of 9-3 at chukka’s end.

Chukka five opened with a throw-in, Porter stealing the ball from Harmsworth and sending it to Bartolomé Castagnola. Following behind were Valent and Camilo Castagnola and the team effort enabled Bartolomé to score.

Desert Palm won the throw-in but Pittaluga snatched the ball and went racing off. Porter tried to stop him but the ball went through the posts and Ferne Park were 10-4 ahead. Valent seized the ball from Crotto at the next throw-in, passed to Camilo Castagnola who pulled a much-needed goal back for Desert Palm.

In the next play, Valent seized the ball and set up another goal from the stick of the 15-year-old Castagnola. But the match ended with a convincing win for Ferne Park on 10-6.

Sponsor Stephen Biddlecombe presented the historic trophy to Vere Harmsworth and innovative prizes from his Stephen’s Polo Division to all the players.

Most valuable player was Joaquin Pittaluga, who won a Stephen’s Polo Division saddle. by The Polo Magazine.

The prize for best playing pony went to Martin Valent’s Violantera. A rug was presented on behalf of Polo Times magazine and Stephen Biddlecombe presented a bridle to owner Valent and prizes to his groom.

In the subsidiary final, Bardon beat VPS Healthcare Sifani 8-6.

In the weekend’s other final, the eight-goal Easebourne Cup, Christian Staubach’s Bamboleo/Madams Farm beat Lila Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings 4-2.

LIZ HIGGINS