By Victoria Elsbury-Legg
In the 2015 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup, thirty two games will be played in total, with top goal scorers to date including Pablo MacDonough, Pelon Stirling and Luke Tomlinson. Qualified into the quarter finals with four straight league match wins were teams Dubai, King Power Foxes, El Remanso, UAE and Apes Hill, joined by Zacara, RH Polo and Salkeld (following a penalty shoot-out). Now into a rather unexpected semi-final short list go UAE, Apes Hill, King Power Foxes and Zacara (who knocked out the 2014 defending champions in the quarters).
There has been some fantastic polo played out across the grounds at Cowdray and some especially notable moments in the quarter finals which highlighted the skills of many English players. Seven Englishmen faced each other in one great game when El Remanso (Charlie and George Hanbury and Ollie Cudmore, joined by the only non-Argentine ten goaler – Uruguayan Pelon Stirling) met Apes Hill (Ralph Richardson, Mark Tomlinson Eduardo Novillo Astrada (who was born in the UK) and Tom Morley). Indeed going into Wednesday’s semis will once again be seven English players out of the sixteen taking part, with an all Argentine side – UAE – facing the all English team of Apes Hill.
Amidst the wins and the losses, high goal history has also been made – in a match which culminated in three players facing four for several chukkas following a sending off (Zacara v Talandracas). Brothers have played alongside and against each other – the Pieres, Hanburys, Tomlinsons, Merlos and Srivaddhanaprahas. Team line-ups have changed (and changed back again), two yellow cards have been issued (Facundo Pieres and Sapo Caset), and three matches (all played and lost by La Indiana) have gone to a seventh chukka (King Power Foxes 11-10, Apes Hill 10-9 and Zacara 10-9).
Amongst all this five young polo stars have been shining. Argentine – Jose Ramon Araya aged sixteen, and English players nineteen year old Josh Cork and Ralph Richardson, twenty year old Hugo Lewis, and Jack Hyde – who turned eighteen during the tournament on the day Zacara played Talandracas. Playing alongside their ten goal mentors, all but one of the young stars are now heading into the 2015 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup semi-finals. With superb winning goals for two of the sides in the quarters being scored by the talented young English players – Ralph Richardson for Apes Hill, and Jack Hyde for Zacara.