Dubai and La Indiana Through to Final After Shock Semi Finals
Wednesday 8 June held some big surprises for the crowds gathered at Guards Polo Club for the Semi Finals of The Cartier Queen’s Cup. While Rashid Alwardy’s Dubai triumphed over Lyndon Lea’s Zacara, the second match saw an unexpected win from Queen’s Cup first timers La Indiana against last year’s champions King Power Foxes.
In the first Semi Final, Dubai stormed to a 16-12 victory in a game that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. They had a comprehensive win over Lyndon Lea’s Zacara and received the Hubert Perrodo Trophy plus their place in Saturday’s Final. Not only were Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero on top form – what we expect from high handicapped players – Kian Hall and Albwardy were hugely impressive too. Both players did a fantastic job in defence, often keeping Pablo MacDonough and Lucas Monteverde out of the game. Cambiaso has won The Queen’s Cup a record eight times and is clearly keen to have the chance to extend his honour. He scored 12 of his team’s 16 goals and was able to make space around him, which was used it to devastating effect.
It should be stressed that Zacara were already at a disadvantage before the first whistle. They were without their young English star, Jack Hyde, who injured his hand in a practice game last week. Juan Jose (JJ) de Alba, who had played for Zacara for the first time in their Quarter Final game, played well and with confidence as the game progressed and nerves abated, but Hyde’s familiarity with the Zacara team could have added a goal or two to the scoreboard. There was plenty of tension, with the umpires awarding five yellow cards – McDonough, Cambiaso and Nero all received one, but Monteverde received two and so was sent off the field for two minutes in the fifth chukka. He is the first player in this tournament to receive two yellows.
It was in the second Semi Final that the surprise came. On entering the Semis, King Power Foxes were one of only two teams with a perfect record, La Indiana having lost to them 12-9 in their first match of the tournament, yet a stunning turn of events saw Michael Bickford’s La Indiana polo team dash any hopes King Power had of defending their 2015 title with a 13-12 last chukka win. Nic Roldan and Agustin ‘Tincho’ Merlos were especially impressive and Julian de Lusarreta, making his Guards Polo Club debut this year, was always in the right place at the right time. Their patron Michael Bickford was strong too and this team, which has played well for the past three weeks, deserved their Final ticket.
King Power Foxes started strongly with the Pieres boys scoring four in the first. Incredibly this team, which was unbeaten up to this point failed to score at all in the second, whilst Merlos and Roldan kept firing goals through. The sudden downpour didn’t help King Power’s game, but Tincho seemed to be inspired in the rain and led his team to a 7-5 lead at half-time.
The majority of the spectators expected King Power Foxes to come out in top gear in the second half and they did not disappoint. Gonzalito Pieres converted two penalties, to add to the field goals from both him and his brother Facundo. With only Merlos finding the flags in this chukka, King Power were now ahead 9-8. La Indiana had not read the form book though and dominated the fifth chukka. Such was their dominance that King Power Foxes failed to score at all, ensuring La Indiana had that all-important 12-9 lead going into the sixth chukka. So who was going to cope with the pressure in these final seven minutes? Gonzalito converted two penalties and patron, Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivadhanaprabha scored a goal, but this was not enough. With Merlos converting a penalty, La Indiana triumphed and now head towards their first Cartier Queen’s Cup Final.
So, Saturday’s 3pm game has all the ingredients of a thrilling final. With the allure of a Cartier watch and the chance to add a team’s name to the trophy – maybe for the first time in the case of La Indiana or for the sixth time for Dubai – we are clearly in for a treat. The day will start with the Subsidiary Final between HB Polo Team (who defeated RH Polo team 10-8 on Wednesday 8 June) and Sifani (winners of the second Subsidiary Semi Final over La Bamba de Areco, 11-10)
For a full list of the teams and results in this year’s Cartier Queen’s Cup click here.
The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final teams:
Dubai (22): Rashid Albwardy (2), Kian Hall (1), Adolfo Cambiaso (10) & Juan Martin Nero (9)
La Indiana (22): Michael Bickford (1), Nic Roldan (7), Agustin Merlos (8) & Julian de Lusarreta (6)
Photograph: The La Indiana boys celebrate after a hard earned win to earn their place in the Final. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com