King Power Foxes devour VPS Sifani; Zacara destroy Talandracas; Dubai defeat Thai Polo


Polito Pieres for Talandracas and Juan Martin Nero for Zacara, at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship 2015 / Photo by Images of Polo

King Power Foxes – 19
Top Srivaddhanaprabha (1), Hugo Lewis (1),
Gonzalito Pieres (10), Facundo Pieres (10)

VPS Sifani – 8
Hilali Noordeen (0), Max Charlton (7),
Agustin Merlos (9), Malcolm Borwick (6)

A Berkshire based league match started play on Day 5 of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup as King Power Foxes took to their home ground at Billingbear to face VPS Healthcare Sifani. With King Power Foxes having won their first match of the tournament on Thursday (11-10, La Indiana) and VPS Healthcare Sifani having lost theirs (15-12, El Remanso) earlier on that day, it was a determined VPS Healthcare Sifani who put the first two goals up on the scoreboard from penalties. They were not however to remain in the lead for long, as it was a first half of field goals from Facu and subsequently a score of King Power Foxes – 9 vs. 4 – VPS Healthcare Sifani as both teams headed back on to a rather damp pitch after half time.

Soon double figures loomed over the four goals on the VPS Healthcare Sifani side of the board, with the team in orange only managing to find one further goal – heading into the fifth it was 13-5. Three goals in almost three minutes were powered through the posts at either end off the stick of the Pieres in the purple hat, and with a further score from each team there seemed to be little that VPS Healthcare Sifani could do to come back from a King Power Foxes 17 vs. 6 lead.

Opening the final chukka of the somewhat rain-drenched match patron Hilali Noordeen put the seventh goal through for his side – VPS Healthcare Sifani, however, even though they found one more goal at the end of the sixth they remained in single figures at 8 goals to King Power Foxes 19 at the final bell. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg

Zacara – 21
Juan Martin Nero (10), Lyndon Lea (1),
Rodrigo Andrade (9), Jack Hyde (2)

Talandracas – 11
Edouard Carmignac (0), Zac Hagedoorn (4),
Polito Pieres (9), Guillermo Caset (9)

A trail of cars and trucks sporting a variety of polo club passes then headed south down the M3 to the lawns of Cowdray for a match between two teams both keen to win (having lost both of their opening matches in the 2015 tournament to date). It was however to be another dramatic game in which Zacara were playing, despite the first goal being scored by the only ten goaler on the pitch – Juan Martin Nero, great play then followed from Sapo Caset and Polito Pieres who took both the teams into the second chukka with Talandracas leading by three goals to Zacara’s one.

With goals being scored at either end, at four minutes into the second chukka, play by Ali Paterson on Lyndon Lea (who ended up on the ground and requiring medical assistance for almost fifteen minutes) was deemed so dangerous by the umpires that Paterson had to sit out the remainder of the match – meaning three Talandracas players (Edouard Carmignac, Polito Pieres & Sapo Caset) now faced a full Zacara team (Lyndon Lea, Juan Martin Nero, Rodrigo Andrade and Jack Hyde) for four and a half chukkas. Ending the second chukka, in front of the grandstands Juan Martin broke a stick, whilst Jack Hyde put his third goal through for his side, meaning the second ended at Zacara – 3 vs. 6 – Talandracas.

What followed in the remaining four chukkas of the match was probably best described as some of the most unique polo any present must have ever witnessed (and certainly the youngest player on the pitch – Jack Hyde – will remember the afternoon of the day that he turned 18 years old). With the morning rain now replaced by blue skies to start chukka three, the blue helmet of Sapo Caset didn’t leave the Talandracas tent as only Polito joined the Zacara team on the pitch, whilst the umpires dismounted, blue books came out – and discussions began about whether a four goal substitute could be made for Eduardo Carmignac – the result being a no. With goals from Rodrigo and the equaliser put through by Lyndon Lea bringing the teams level at 6 all, Jack Hyde ran the length of the pitch putting Zacara in the lead (8-7) going into the second half.

A penalty in the fourth brought with it an equalising goal (8-all) and a horse race between Polito and Juanma taking the game into a fifth chukka – with a goal from the end of Juanma’s stick only missing after bouncing off the goal post. Another Zacara goal (from Rodrigo Andrade) opened the penultimate chukka, then, with a scoreboard reading Zacara – 15 vs. 10 – Talandracas it suddenly seemed that only young Jack Hyde was playing as he ran the length of the pitch (whilst the other players appeared to be deep in discussion) scoring goal number sixteen for Zacara.

Chukka six came with a delayed start and eventually three Talandracas teammates back on Lawns 1, as the most tranquil of play took place for the remaining minutes of the game. With little marking Zacara scored field goal after goal until at 20 – 10 Eduardo Carmignac was on the ball – scoring number 11 for the team in grey and pink. Finishing the game, Jack Hyde tapped goal number twenty-one through for his team, and eight players headed up to the presentation for Lyndon Lea and team Zacara to receive The Midhurst Town Cup with a scoreboard reading Zacara – 21 vs. 11 – Talandracas. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg

Dubai – 12
Rashid Albwardy (2), Tom Brodie (2),
Diego Cavanagh (8), Adolfo Cambiaso (10)

Thai Polo – 8
Harald Link (0), Matias Torres Zavaleta (7),
Nic Roldan (8), Tomas Garcia del Rio (7)

Despite a delayed start to the final match of the day it seemed both teams were out to enjoy their polo, with patron Harald Link taking an undefended penalty 2 for his team to take them into half time – Thai Polo – 4 vs. 8 – Dubai. A goal from Tomas Garcia Del Rio and a field goal from Harald Link then saw the teams heading into chukka five at Thai Polo – 6 vs. 9 – Dubai. Another penalty taken and converted by Harald Link helped his team to close the gap on Dubai (7 vs. 9), but it was still to be Dubai who were in double figures as they headed into the final chukka of the day (7 vs. 11).

Riding onto the pitch on one of his favourite ponies – Vodka – Martin Valent joined his teammates for chukka number six, where a penalty taken by Nic Roldan brought Thai Polo within three goals of Dubai (8 vs. 11), but the team in orange could find no more goals as the match drew to a close – finally ending Thai Polo – 8 vs. 12 – Dubai. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg