Leicester City-owned King Power Foxes just hold off Dubai to lift 2015 Queen’s Cup and underline credentials ahead of Gold Cup.
King Power Foxes defeated Dubai 11-10 to claim the Cartier Queen’s Cup at Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park after a thrilling encounter which went to the wire and into an extra seventh chukka.
King Power – with two teams in the tournament – arrived with aplomb in English polo two seasons ago, and investment and ambition have already paid off.
“It’s an amazing feeling for me, for my father, for the family, because we put two teams into this, and we won today. It is the second time for me to play (in this tournament), and to win like that in extra time was very special, for the fans, for everyone. An amazing feeling,” patron Top Srivaddhanaprabha, who plays off one, told Telegraph Sport.
“I want to get better, I will play as much as I can. I have work to do, of course. In England, I stay for three months to play on the farm, and I’m full time on polo for that period,” added the Leicester City Football Club vice-chairman.
The two King Power teams – patroned by brothers Top and Ton Srivaddhanaprabha – dominated Sunday’s finals. King Power Foxes retained their unbeaten run in this 22-goal competition, the second King Power win of the day.
Earlier, King Power had won the subsidiary Cartier Trophy, also after extra time, a golden goal and an 11-10 score line.
The victory fires the Leicester owners into a Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup campaign in 10 days’ time in the best possible manner.
Further, King Power are doing everything right with horse power and infrastructure to be a dominant force in world polo, their leading player Facundo Pieres said.
But overall, this Cartier Queen’s Cup final was a fine advert for the sport, no matter the dominance of the leading players. Dubai, shorn of Adolfo Cambiaso, are a force on any day, testament themselves to a committed set-up and long standing in the sport. From such powerhouses, polo dynasties emerge.
In the final proper, the two teams were inseparable, tied at 10 apiece after 42 minutes and six chukkas of riveting polo. It was a fitting finale to the Queen’s Cup, presented by The Queen, with Guards celebrating their jubilee year.
Notably, too, it was the final year for Arnaud Bamberger as Executive Chairman of Cartier UK, after 23 years of his involvement in polo.
Bamberger mentioned in his foreword in the matchday programme that he hoped Cartier could take some credit for helping to improve English polo.
Without question. Like so many other things is life, it is people prepared to go the extra yard, and follow their passion, who really make a difference. Bringing Cartier into English polo has done exactly that.
Another one to go the extra yard was the Telegraph’s man of the match Facundo Pieres. The distinctive purple hat of Pieres was ubiquitous throughout, the brilliant 10-goaler for King Power Foxes, whose patron Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha is the vice-chairman of Leicester City, leading the charge.
Pieres scored the final golden goal to wrap up the victory, after patron Srivaddhanaprabha had fed the ball through to the Argentinian.
WHERE THE FINAL WAS WON
– Penalty shots: KP 9, Dubai 6
– Penalty goals: KP 9, Dubai 6
– Fouls conceded: KP 15, Dubai 19
– The fifth chukka of seven proved decisive, with KP winning it 4-1
– In all, KP had 42 per cent total shot conversion, while Dubai’s was 55 per cent
Equally though, with the world’s leading player Adolfo Cambiaso, also a 10-goal player, sidelined through injury last week, Pablo McDonough, who had played for UAE Polo Team knocked out by Dubai in the semi-finals, stepped up as substitute and was equally brilliant for Dubai. Cambiaso was on the pony lines, urging his team on, but he was powerless as King Power surged in extra time.
A change of team did not seem to affect MacDonough though and he produced an outstanding performance for Dubai, scoring the majority of their goals and penalties. The young Englishman, Hugo Lewis, had another strong game for King Power Foxes too and was rewarded with a massive cheer from the crowd when he went up to receive his winner’s prize, an elegant Cartier watch.
Dubai patron Rashid Albwardy also played a great game and was instrumental on many occasions in keeping King Power Foxes at bay.
Although Dubai were up 7-5 at half-time, the game was evenly poised, goals scored neck and neck as the chukkas continued.
Facundo’s brother Gonzalito, often the quiet force, went about his work harmoniously with his 10-goal brother, slotting penalties. It could have come down to the margins.
The 19 fouls conceded by Dubai, to King Power’s 15 may have been a factor. So, too, MacDonough taking the field penalties in the absence of Cambiaso. Piers launched between thew uprights for 6; MacDonough 4. But the match was won on such margins, the spectators off their seats as the match drew to its exciting climax.
Facundo Pieres admitted afterwards that it was a game of two halves for them: “It felt exciting,” he said. “The first three chukkas did not go the way we thought they would. We were losing by two goals and we were not playing our best polo.
“And if it continued like that we were going to lose. But the second half was much better. You could feel the support. This is a team sport, we were inside the battle, but we had a lot of help.
“The patrons are very ambitious. They understand that this is a sport where it takes a couple of years to get set up properly, but they are doing everything right, buying the horses, the right people, the right organization and structure.
“In two years they have got to the final of the Gold Cup and won the Queen’s Cup in their second year, so it is amazing what they are doing. I really hope we can do some great things together. They understand it is about structure and horses, and people. And they are doing it the right.”
Now, the Pieres brothers look forward to the Gold Cup, intent on winning the British Open Championships. “For sure, but our last two or three games were very tough and the Gold Cup is not going to be easy. I hope that our horses can keep it up, and there are a couple of very strong teams, especially Dubai.”
Cartier Queen’s Cup final – Teams (goal handicap in brackets):
King Power Foxes:- Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (1), Hugo Lewis, (1), Gonzalito Pieres (10) Facundo Pieres (10)
Dubai:- Rashid Albwardy (2), Martin Valent (4), Alej Ortiz de Tarenco Stirling (6), Pablo MacDonough (10)