Telegraph Sport rounds up the action and behind-the-scenes news as the 2016 UK polo season kicks off with the Cartier Queen’s Cup.
Apes Hill continue to make noises
The Cartier Queen’s Cup is underway with a dozen strong teams in 2016. It is about quality, not quantity, this season, and it will be very competitive for the eight teams who eventually get through to the semi-finals.
La Indiana, Michael Bickford’s outfit, fresh from their victory in defeating El Remanso to win the Jaeger-LeCoultre Trippetts Challenge at Cowdray Park, are playing in the Queen”s Cup for the first time, having grown steadily as a unit over the last few years.
Apes Hill, winners of the Queen’s Cup at Smith’s Lawn in 2009, are back in this year, having had a superb run in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup last season, reaching the semi-finals and performing beyond expectation for non-playing patron Sir Charles Williams. They duly won their opener 9-6 against Jean Francois Decaux’s La Bamba de Areco.
Elsewhere, an Adolfo Cambiaso-inspired Dubai defeated Valiente/Dubai 12-8 at Highfield Farm, played in drizzly rain, featuring the two Dubai teams taking part in this year’s Cup.
King Power set to unveil ‘secret weapon’
King Power Foxes begin their defence of the Queen’s Cup against La Indiana at Billingbear Park on Thursday, with Argentine 10-goal brothers Gonzalito and Facundo Pieres once again a powerful mounted unit.
But King Power Foxes, adept it seems at making a silk purse from a sow’s ear, as they showed in the Premier League football season with Leicester City, may have a secret weapon in new recruit 1-goaler Harry Revel, plucked out of low goal to represent last year’s ‘double’ winners.
“‘Shrimp’ has a real appetite for the game and has a great physicality about him,” explained team manager Pete McCormack to The Telegraph.
Every game in this year’s Cartier Queen’s Cup is being streamed live at guardspoloclub.com
Guard’s Polo Club looking to expand
Writing in the Guards Polo Club 2016 yearbook, Neil Hobday, chief executive of Guards, believes that (we are) “probably living in the most uncertain of times since Guards Polo Cub first opened its doors to polo” and has stressed that the club in Windsor Great Park will seek to strengthen its commercial prowess in the sport in a time of unpredictability.
Hobby sees “a litany of unpredicted (global) events has had a big impact on our own sport” and with major scandals in sport over doping and betting, the businessman at the forefront of the drive at Guard’s to be commercially savvy believes a period of expansion which includes six grounds being brought up to world class level by 2020 will increase the standing of one of the most powerful polo clubs in world polo.
La Indiana win Trippetts Challenge
La Indiana lifted the 22-goal Jaeger-LeCoultre Trippetts Challenge, beating El Remanso 14-9 at Cowdray Park Polo Club as the high-goal season got underway in Midhurst.
La Indiana won the James Wentworth-Stanley Cup, which commemorates James, the oldest son of Clare Milford Haven, who tragically took his own life ten years ago, at the age of 21.
Five sides entered the 2016 tournament with American patron Michael Bickford’s team facing Charlie Hanbury’s all-British Brittania El Remanso in the final. Bickford’s team included American 7 goal player Nic Roldan and Argentine players Agustin Merlos (8 goals) and Julian de Lusarreta (6 goals).
Merlos scored from a massive hit at the beginning of the sixth and produced his final goal of the match from a 60 yard penalty shot. Roldan then contributed two further goals to nail a conclusive victory.