Alejandro Novillo Astrada & Lucas Monteverde share thoughts on the final.
By Alejandra Ocampo
Mahra and UAE will play the final of the Julius Baer Gold Cup, the most important polo tournament in the Middle East, at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, on Friday, March 11 at 4pm; the match will be streamed live on PoloLine TV , with help from PoloCam.
The final is sure to be a great challenge for both teams, who will give everything they’ve got to claim the prestigious title.
The road to the final has not been easy; in the semifinals Mahra faced Bin Drai, one of the strongest teams in the tournament. Thanks to the skills of top scorer Alejandro Novillo Astrada and great teamwork from Isidro Strada and Jota Chavanne, Mahra defeated their opponents; they are now strong contenders for the Julius Baer Gold Cup title.
“I don’t know if we expected to get to the Gold Cup final, but the aim is always to get as far as possible and win as much as possible,” tells Alejandro Novillo Astrada.” We are through to the final and we now have to face UAE, a great team that has been playing very well. They are very organised in terms of horses. Even though things got tough for them in the semifinal, they proved that they work well as a team. We are going to have to stay completely focused if we want to beat them. We’ll see how we get on come Friday.”
Not only is this the first time Mahra have made it to the final of the Gold Cup, but this is also Novillo Astrada’s first time playing in Dubai; he has certainly been one of the stand out players of the season. “The season in Dubai has turned out to be a lot of fun,” says Novillo Astrada. “The polo here is growing a lot and the teams are competitive, the results show that – every game has been even and unpredictable. Note that to get to where we are now, we have beaten teams that had beaten us previously…”
UAE is taking part in its third Gold Cup series. They are undoubtedly one of the strongest teams in the Middle East. Led by Sheikha Maitha, they beat defending champions Zedan in the semifinals. The match started well for UAE, but Zedan fought back and took the game to extra chukker. Lucas Monteverde, the most experienced player on the team, sealed UAE’s win by converting a spot penalty.
“It was great to win that semifinal; we started winning but it got pretty tricky for us at one point,” explains Monteverde. “We’ve been playing together for three years: I broke my shoulder the first year and we lost the semis to Zedan last year… We’ve had some bad luck but now we’ve finally made it to the final. We are in good shape, the horses are fit, and we are looking forward to taking that trophy home.”
In terms of his rival and the expectations of the final, Lucas adds: “Mahra is an amazing team. They beat the best team of the season in the semis. It’s going to be a tight final, but we believe we can do it.”
Mahra and UAE – two teams fighting for one objective: The Julius Baer Gold Cup.
Julius Baer Team by Habtoor and Abu Dhabi to play Bentley Cup
Action at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club will kick off with the Subsidiary Bentley Cup at 1,30pm for the final between Julius Baer Team by Habtoor and Abu Dhabi.