The HPA New Year National Club Championships Finals
After two weeks of competition, the HPA New Year National Club Championships 3 and 12 goal came to an end at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club on Saturday 23 January. The Finals for both the 3 and 12 goal were action packed and tense with all the teams fighting to the end. The 3 goal Final between HPA Print On Demand and FPC Tchogan was a really fantastic game with two well-matched teams, both sporting father and son combinations. First time finalists in the competition Max and Heiko Voelker lead by professional player Roy Prisk, showed great teamwork and skill. They certainly gave the Cork family trio a run for their money. The game was fun to watch with plenty of flow in the play, few whistles, and a balanced effort from all the players that the spectators didn’t experience from the 12 goal games. Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities but Marcus, Josh and their father Andy just missed one or two more than the Voelker team who led the score throughout the game. Admittedly the Hertfordshire Polo Club team were never more than a few goals behind, however it wasn’t enough to secure the trophy. FPC Tchogan finished the game on 14-13, Roy Prisk was given The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player Award and Barbie, played by Max and owned by Julia Luke was awarded the Polo Times Best Playing Pony Award.
The 12 goal Final was a completely different story; the game began with a fast and furious style of play from both sides. The play was frantic and aggressive to the point where shouting, yellow cards and even a sin bin were the only options for the umpires to keep control of the game. The crowd heckled both teams and it seemed more of a battle than a competitive game of polo. Simon Arber’s Four Quarters had taken on Gaucho and won, with a score of 21-12 in the initial round of games against Gaucho, so it was more than a little surprising to see the score line fluctuate so much for the lead in the Final. Phil Meadows played his socks off, despite a bad back and a few cracked ribs from a badly timed ride-off earlier in the week, and scored a few valuable goals for Gaucho. Nico San Roman was on fine form, working well with Richard, the Earl of Tyrone, to whip the opposition into a frenzy. The score line, much like the 3 goal Final, was close to the end. It looked for a moment that it could have gone either way and Faisil Al-Rifai had the opportunity to steal the win with a two pointer but the chukka bell stopped him almost mid-swing. Four Quarters took the trophy with a final score of 21-20. Adolfo Casabal was given The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player Award and Richard, the Earl of Tyrone’s gelding Paddy was awarded the Polo Times Best Playing Pony Award.
The Sub Finals for both sections were held in the morning with RCBPC Los Caballeros winning with a score of 14-13 against AFPC Sau Wild. In the 12 goal substitute team, Tally Ho Farm lost to RCBPC Sifani with a final score of 24-18.
Photograph: Winners Tchogan with 3 goal runners-up Print On Demand with Olly Hughes. By Lucy Wilson