Polo: Gold Cup takes shape ... three trophies won on busy weekend

Gold Cup thrills at Cowdray Park / Picture by Clive Bennett
Gold Cup thrills at Cowdray Park / Picture by Clive Bennett

The draw for the King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship was held in the historic surrounds of Cowdray House.

The recent signing of Spencer McCarthy’s Emlor team brings the number of entries to 12.

Last year’s finalists El Remanso return with the same all-English player line-up of Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper.

Michael Bickford’s La Indiana are back with the addition of Facundo Pieres, and with Alec White also a newcomer to the side. Nic Roldan continues as the team’s No3.

Past winner Jean-Francois Decaux has a completely new team with Pelon Stirling, Juan Martin Nero and Byron Watson joining his La Bamba de Areco side. Ben Soleimani retains Rodrigo de Andrade and adds Sapo Caset and Min Podesta to his RH team.

Talandracas returns with Hugues Carmignac replacing his father Edouardo and a new line-up comprising Fran Elizalde, Julian de Lusaretta and Alejandro Muzzio.

The King Power Gold Cup opens on Tuesday (June 26) with quarter-finals on July 14 and 15, semi-finals on July 18 and the final on July 22.

Alessandro Bazzoni’s Monterosso is back with Ignacio and Santiago Tocccalino and the addition of Juan Martin Zubia. Harald Link brings back Thai Polo with Guillermo Terrera, Joaquin Pittaluga and Jaime Huidobro.

Playing alongside Spencer McCarthy in the Emlor team will be Agustin Merlos, Diego Cavanagh and team regular Nacho Gonzales.

Park Place are the team of Andrey Borodin, who enters the Gold Cup for the first time with Hilario Ulloa, Juan Britos and Tommy Beresford.

Three other teams feature young English players.

The Alfi Investments polo team of Alshair Fiyaz, entering the Gold Cup for the first time, sees Jack Hyde playing alongside cousins Polito Pieres and Nico Pieres. Adolfo Cambiaso features in Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente side along with Christian Laprida and Englishman Hugo Lewis.

The Murus Sanctus team sees Corinne Ricard, the only woman playing in the Gold Cup, joined by Facundo Sola, Gonzalito Pieres and English player Ed Hitchman.

The draw saw the four semi-finalists in the Queens Cup drawn and placed at the head of Leagues A, B, C and D. A representative of each team entered in the King Power Gold Cup then came forward to draw a place within the Leagues.

The King Power Gold Cup opens on Tuesday (June 26) with quarter-finals on July 14 and 15, semi-finals on July 18 and the final on July 22.

LIZ HIGGINS

An extremely busy weekend of polo at Cowdray saw the conclusion of three tournaments, the Petworth 12-goal Cup, the six-goal Jersey Lilies and the 15-goal Bryan Bethell Cup.

The Petworth 12-goal final was between Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale and John Bunn’s Hickstead teams. Joining FInemore were Boyd Allen (one goal) playing at two, five-goaler Matt Perry at three and England captain James Beim (seven goals) at back.

For Hickstead, Ollie Cork (two goals) played at two, Niall Donnelly (four goals) at three and Glenn Sherriff (five goals) at back making an 11-goal side and a half-goal on the scoreboard for Hickstead.

Gardenvale made the early impact and went two goals up in two minutes. By the close of the first chukka Finemore’s side were 3-1½ ahead. Their domination continued into the second chukka with a great steal by Perry enabling a super goal by Beim, closely followed by Perry running the length of the field to score his second.

Within a minute, off he went again and the half-time score was 6-1½ in Gardenvale’s favour. Chukka three saw a neat goal from Cork.

The final chukka saw Hickstead pull back two but Gardenvale remained ahead to win 6-4½. Hannah Johnson presented the cup to Finemore and prizes to both teams. The best playing pony prize, sponsored by Lila Pearson, went to Cincuenta, owned and played by Matt Perry.

Six teams entered the six-goal Jersey Lilies Cup and Sunday’s final was a fast-paced open game between Zoe Bucknell’s JP Daeschler Gunmakers and Jella Herzer’s Los Schatzies.

Playing for JP Daeschler Gunmakers was two-goal player Terence Lent at two, young French player Dorian Bulteau (two goals) at three and Nick Clague (three goals) at back.

Los Schatzies (German for The Sweethearts) saw Dylan Jones (no goals) at one, with the patron at two, Harry Muddle (two goals) at three and Santiago Stirling (five goals) at back.

Los Schatzies went ahead 2-0 during the first chukka and by half-time had drawn 3-1 ahead. Nice work on the part of Terence Lent and Dorian Bulteau saw J P Daeschler Gunmakers pull up to 4-3 during the third chukka, but determined play by the five-goal Uruguyan Santi Stirling dominated much of the action.

Harry Muddle scored his second goal for Los Shatzies in the fourth chukka and the final score remained in their favour at 5-4. Mrs Sallie-Anne Lent presented the Cup and prizes.

The final of the 15-goal Bryan Bethell Cup was played on the River Ground bewtween El Remanso/El Pariaiso and DJ Cats.

Jean Paul Luksic (one goal) played at one for El Remanso, Cruz Heguy (one goal) at two, Ollie Cudmore (six goals) at three and Eduardo Heguy (seven goals) at back.

On David Turner’s DJ Cats side were Charlie Hanbury (four goals) at two, with Jake Daniels (four goals) at three and James Harper (seven goals) at back.

Cudmore opened the account for El Remanso/El Paraiso, Daniels answering for DJ Cats with two goals in the first chukka.

Good defence prevented any goals for El Remanso/El Pariaiso in the second chukka while the patron made a superb run to goal to take his side ahead 3-1.

The tables turned in the third with Heguy scoring for El Remanso/El Pariaiso and Cudmore plucking the ball out of the air and scoring a super goal to equalise on 3-3 by half-time.

Harper made the first goal of the second half and was answered by Cudmore to make it 4-4, but once again the patron found a space, took off and scored to take DJ Cats ahead 5-4.

In the final chukka, DJ Cats gave away a penalty to enable Cudmore to equalise from 30 yards. Harper retaliated with a super goal to make it 6-5.

A 50-yard penalty awarded to El Remanso/El Pariaiso went wide. The ball came in, Hanbury swooped on it and took it all the way to increase DJ Cats’ lead to 7-5.

Once more a penalty was given away enabling El Remanso to pull back a goal but too late to prevent victory for DJ Cats on a final score of 7-6. Turner said: “The tournament started slowly for us, but we moved Harps to back and everything fell into place and we started winning. It’s my first season at 15 goal and I’ve loved every second.”

Annette Bethell presented the trophy in memory of her husband Bryan Bethell to a delighted Turner and prizes to all the players. The best playing pony award, sponsored by Saracen Horse Feeds, went to Twitter, played by Daniels and owned by Jim Gilmore.

LIZ HIGGINS