King Power Foxes and La Indiana to Face Off in Final

semiBy Darlene Ricker

La Indiana defeated Zacara and defending champion King Power Foxes took the win over Valiente in the semifinals of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the 2016 British Open on Wednesday. Both contests featured fast, open polo that swept up and down the field and ended with the same one-goal spread (11-10).

The first match, between Valiente and King Power Foxes, was a showcase of technical skill, with predictable (but ever-thrilling) fancy footwork from the 10-goal contingent: Facundo Pieres and Gonzalito Pieres for King Power Foxes and Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martín Nero for Valiente. (Nero is functionally a 10-goal player with a 9-goal handicap.)

Valiente dominated the first half, for a long stretch maintaining a three- or four-goal advantage. The fourth chukka opened 7-4 but closed with King Power trailing by a single goal (8-7). Twice at the top of the fifth, Gonzalito Pieres picked up the ball from the throw-in and sailed straight into goal, advancing King Power Foxes into the lead for the first time.

With two minutes left in the chukka Facundo Pieres plowed through the middle and handed the ball off to Hugo Lewis for the goal, although Pieres clearly could have finished it off himself. It was a prime example of the confidence many team chieftains have had in their younger players this season. The same dynamic marked the second game as well, with Zacara’s Pablo MacDonough casually leaving the ball for Tom Brodie to tap into goal.

The Zacara-La Indiana game was evenly matched and particularly notable for its super-synchronized teamwork, which has become a hallmark of both teams. The plays were riveting. In the second chukka Agustín “Tincho” Merlos took his time with the ball, not sending it ahead to Nic Roldan until a space opened up. Then the two of them took off hell-bent-for-leather toward goal, both outrunning a stunned MacDonough, with Roldan scoring. They were equally slick in the fourth chukka. Roldan sent a long drive to Merlos, who made a clean break and ran a breathless two-thirds of the field directly into goal.

The game opened up like gangbusters in the fifth and stayed that way until the final bell. Roldan tied the score at 9 at the end of the fifth chukka. Julian “Negro” de Lusarreta held onto the ball until he found Roldan in space and sent it to him. Roldan shot from 40 yards out directly into goal. The final chukka was peppered with a series of “almost goals” when the ball was either plucked off the doorstep of the goal line or went a hair wide on a deeply angled shot. In the end it was a magical mix of horses and skill, with Roldan outrunning and outgunning everyone.

Robert Jornayvaz 1
Kian Hall 1
Adolfo Cambiaso 10
Juan Martín Nero 9

King Power Foxes
Tal Srivaddhanaprabha 0
Hugo Lewis 2
Gonzalito Pieres 10
Facundo Pieres 10

La Indiana
Michael Bickford 1
Julian de Lusarreta 6
Agustín Merlos 8
Nic Roldan 7

Tom Brodie 3
Lyndon Lea 1
Lucas Monteverde 8
Pablo MacDonough 10


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