The season comes to an end in Sotogrande

sotoGold Cup Finals for low, medium and high goal at Santa Maria Polo Club

It’s been an exciting couple of days at Santa Maria Polo Club as all three levels of the 44th Land Rover International Polo Tournament Gold Cups culminated in exciting Finals this Friday 28 August and Saturday 29 August.

Starting with the low goal on Friday 28 August and the hopes were high for British team La Clarita going in to their third Final of the tournament, having won both the Bronze Cup and the Silver Cup over the last few weeks. La Clarita have been playing excellently all season, suffering very few defeats and gliding easily in to the Finals, but this time they faced an opponent who, despite there only being six teams in the tournament, they had not played before. Spanish based team Valdeparras – Lynx were up to the challenge, no doubt having watched La Clarita’s victories from afar. The La Clarita boys, Freddie Horne and Juan Cruz Merlos, normally responsible for opening up the plays and allowing patrons Clare and Chris Mathias to play their game, were closed down from the off and as such the match was sticky with many fouls. The score remained close throughout, no sooner had Valdeparras – Lynx scored but a foul would be blown, nearly always converted beautifully by Juan Cruz. The game finally opened up with just a couple of minutes to go and after a lovely under the neck shot by Clare that allowed Freddie to shoot down the field and score, Juan Cruz plucked the ball out of the line-out scoring again to huge roars from the pony lines but it was only enough to bring them back to 7-7 and Valdeparras – Lynx answered back with two goals in quick succession that meant a win to them with 9 goals to 7.

The medium goal Final between Golden Goose Deluxe Brand and Sainte Mesme, and played at the same time as the low goal Final, was just as close and even more exciting, going to an extra chukka as Sainte Mesme just couldn’t shake Golden Goose loose. The first two chukkas saw alternate goals from each team, with Sainte Mesme leading the way but come the third chukka and Golden Goose just couldn’t keep up, allowing Sainte Mesme to grab each opportunity that was offered to them and leaving them to enter the fourth chukka 4-8 up. Closing them down effectively and allowing only one goal against them in the next two chukkas Golden Goose clawed their way back, led by MVP Christian Bernal, and the last chukka ended with ten goals apiece. The extra chukka had the audience on the edge of their seats and the match was anyone’s, but as a foul was called in favour of Sainte Mesme, it was all over for Golden Goose as Pelayo Berazadi scored the golden goal, finishing the game 11-10 to the French team.

And so to the high goal Final, which took place the next day, Saturday 29 August. The atmosphere was electric as a huge crowd gathered at Santa Maria Polo Club to watch the long awaited Final. It was a repeat of the Silver Cup Final with Victor Vargas’ Lechuza Caracas team out for revenge against Albwardy’s Dubai Polo Team. Yet again the game was very closely fought. The Lechuza side, playing hard to keep on top of Dubai, managed to stay in the game all the way through, pressuring the boys in green and never letting them get too far ahead despite incredible plays from Cambiaso. It was once again Argentine teammates Nero and Cambiaso who battled it out throughout the game, often going head to head, but it was Julian Lusaretta who kept Lechuza Caracas equal on the scoreboard right up until the start of the last chukka. It was in the last seven minutes that the hard working Lechuza side started to feel the pressure, and two missed penalties from Lusaretta, meant that Dubai’s lead became definite. A foul and a successful penalty for Dubai with just two minutes to go effectively ended the game despite the Lechuza team fighting right to the end with a last minute goal from Lusaretta. It wasn’t enough though and it was yet another victory to Dubai, securing them the double win in Sotogrande and Cambiaso’s fifth consecutive title in the Spanish season.

The low goal Valecuatro Gold Cup Final teams:

Results: Valdeparras – Lynx beat La Clarita, 9-7

Valdeparras – Lynx (6): Fernando P. de Rivera 1; Gaston Bardengo 2; Yago Espinosa de los Monteros 2; Jaimie Espinosa de los Monteros 1

La Clarita (6): Clare Mathias 0; Chris Mathias 0; Juan Cruz Merlos 3; Freddie Horne 3

The medium goal Gold Cup Final teams:

Results: Sainte Mesme beat Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, 11-10

Sainte Mesme (14): Robert Strom 3; Pelayo Berazadi 4; Clemente Zavaleta 6; Birger Strom 1

Golden Goose Deluxe Brand (14): Ian Galiene 1; Christian Bernal 5; Kevin Korst 2; Frankie Menendez 6

Most Valuable Player: Christian Bernal

Best Playing Pony: Manuela (Owned and played by Christian Bernal in the fourth and extra chukka)

The high goal Bulgari Gold Cup Final teams:

Results: Dubai Polo Team beat Lechuza Caracas, 12-10

Dubai Polo Team (22): Rashid Albwardy 2; Martín Valent 4; Alejo Taranco 6; Adolfo Cambiaso 10

Lechuza Caracas (22): Victor Vargas 1; José Donoso 5; Julian de Lusarreta 6; Juan Martín Nero 10

Most Valuable Player: Juan Martín Nero

Best Playing Pony: Yun Yun (Owned and played by Cambiaso in the third and sixth chukka)

Photograph: Cambiaso and Albwardy relax after a tough victory. By Katie Vickery

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