The La Martina Varsity Match is always played open, regardless of the teams’ handicaps. It has sometimes seemed rather unfair to one team, but this year the players looked fairly evenly matched. How wrong were we! Oxford dominated this game, winning the match 13 – 0. Oxford captain Louis Madden received the historic trophy, the oldest continually played trophy in the history of polo
Louis Madden, Oxford’s captain and later named La Martina Most Valuable Player, had fired through four goals in almost as many minutes in the first chukka. Louis also received the La Martina Best Playing Pony prize for Skittles, a 15-year-old mare whom he had played in this important chukka and also in the third. Team-mate Cristian de Koning added another before the bell, giving Oxford an impressive 5-0 advantage after just seven minutes.
The remaining chukkas told a similar story, with Heather Winsor also finding the flags in the second. Oxford’s secret to their success was that they worked well as a team, supporting their team-mates well and being ready to pick up a pass. Cambridge produced some good shots and Ed Pilkington and Prasanna Sivakumar produced some fast runs down the Dukes’ Ground but could not turn some strong play into goals.
The traditional schools match, featuring Eton (rec ½ goal) v Harrow was a much tighter affair. Harrow won the game 3-2½, but both teams delivered some fast running chukkas on the Dukes’ Ground much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered to watch this great day of sporting polo. Hugo Taylor, who had returned to the Harrow team after a year playing high-goal for King Power, captained the winning side, while team-mate Valentine Hutley, who had four good chukkas, was later named La Martina Most Valuable Player. Eric Appen was the goal-scorer for Eton, the highest handicapped Berkshire schoolboy on the field.
A new addition to the match card was a Ladies Alumni game. Honours in this inaugural match went to the Cambridge Ladies, led by the experienced Varsity player Amber Clutton Brock. The light blues may have defeated the Oxford Ladies 5-1, but all the competitors received armfuls of roses from Roses Only and the match was considered an ideal addition to the Varsity format.
The traditional Old Blues and Old Schools games opened the Varsity matches on this day. The Old Harrovians (rec ½) won their contest, defeating the Old Etonians 6½-2. It was a closer tussle in the Old Blues game, with Cambridge Old Blues salvaging some university honour by winning this match 2½-2.
With Mosimann’s creating a bespoke Varsity menu in the Clubhouse and a Cartier Queen’s Cup match in the afternoon, this was a perfect day of relaxed hospitality and competitive sport. La Martina had turned the La Martina Lawn into a perfect pitstop between matches – featuring live music and the always-popular La Martina electric horse, affectionately known as Sid. And with a DJ playing on the Clubhouse Terrace from early evening it was hard for the students to tear themselves away and grab their buses back to their respective universities.
Oxford: Heather Winsor (-1); Ben Evans (-2); Cristiaan de Koning (-2); Louis Maddison (0). Cambridge: Adrian Patenge (-2); Eleanor Neyroud (-2); Ed Pilkington (-2); Prasanna Sivakumar (-1).
Harrow: Michael Fitzgibbon (-2); Faiz Kawar (-2); Valentine Hutley (0); Hugo Taylor (2). Eton: Dolapo Ibitoye (-1); Jake Ritblat (-2); Tom Jodrell (-1); Eric Appen (1).
Cambridge Ladies: Patricia Martin (-2); Caitlin Whitby (-2); Mieke van Vlaanderen (-2); Amber Clutton Brock (0). Oxford Ladies: Natasha Pozo (-2); Lily Latimer-Smith (-2); Phoebe Toyne-Bridges (-2); Sally Schwartz (-1).
Cambridge Old Blues: Francesca Smith (0); Sam Outtridge (0); Max Kirchhof (0); Jeremy Allen (2). Oxford Old Blues: Hilali Noordeen (0); Amir Pasrich (1); Andrew Dechet (2); Alexander Piltz (0).
Old Harrovians: James Emlyn (1); George Spencer-Churchill (0); Charles Cadogan (1); D’Artagnan Giercke (2). Old Etonians: Michael Mylonas (0); Guy Schwarzenbach (2); Cameron Schick (0); Sebastian Hancock (3).