Cowdray Park’s polo season came to an end with the Finals of the 12 goal Autumn Cup and 6 goal Farewell Cup on 24th September.
The Autumn Cup is the last of Cowdray’s six HPA tournaments played annually and there was a good entry of seven teams. Making it through to the Final were Sally Turner’s CPG team and Shane FInemore’s Gardenvale, his 11 goal side receiving a half goal advantage on the scoreboard to start the match.
Playing alongside Sally Turner for CPG were 4 goaler Tommy Beresford at number 2, George Meyrick (6 goals) at 3 and Roddy Williams (3 goals) at Back. Lining up for Gardenvale were Jimbo Fewster (1 goal) at 2, Matt Perry (5 goals) at 3, and James Beim (6 goals) at Back with the patron at the front door.
Gardenvale took a swift lead with an early 30 yard penalty put through by Perry, soon followed by a 40 yard penalty by England Captain Beim. Meyrick for CPG raced away from the throw-in to score the first field goal of the match but Gardenvale were able to move further ahead from another 40 yard penalty scored by Beim and the first chukka ended with Finemore’s team leading 3½-1. Gardenvale piled on the pressure in chukka 2 with excellent goals from Perry and Beim taking the score on to 5½-1 before a good piece of play between Tommy Beresford and George Meyrick saw Beresford score for CPG. Perry saved another attempt at goal by Beresford but a foul by Fewster brought a whistle and Beresford scored from a 30 yard penalty, the chukka ending with Gardenvale still ahead at 5½-3.
Good end to end polo saw Gardenvale continue their attacking play in chukka 3, but CPG made some excellent clearances before the red shirts of Gardenvale closed ranks and the ball finally went over the line, Fewster responsible for taking their score on to 6½-3. CPG won the ball from the throw in, their attack was impeded and the whistle blew. Beresford sent through the 30 yard penalty shot awarded and the third chukka closed at 6½-4 in Gardenvale’s favour.
Chukka 4 brought some pleasing goals. Meyrick and Beresford combined well, cutting Perry out and allowing Beresford to send through a lovely shot for his fourth goal. Beim failed to score from a 60 yard penalty, the ball just going wide. The ball came in from the back line, Beresford tapped it forward, but suddenly Perry swooped onto it and raced forward to shoot a huge long ball accurately through CPG’s goal and Gardenvale moved on to 7½-5. The red shirts won the next throw-in but lost the ball to Beresford, who turned and galloped off to score again. Beim backed the ball away from the throw-in and passed to Fewster, good teamwork ensuring that a well-placed Perry could race away again to score a brilliant goal and secure the final result of 8½-6 for Gardenvale.
Lady Beresford presented the Autumn Cup to a delighted Shane FInemore and individual prizes to all players. Matt Perry won the Most Valuable Player award presented by The Polo Magazine and his pony Vasca Irlandase won the Polo Times Best Playing Pony prize.
Eight teams entered the 6 goal Farewell Cup with Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce and Rhys Cole’s Gales reaching the Final. A visibly improving Millie Cooper played at 1, with Matt Pitts (2 goals) at 2 and 3 goalers Jack Berner and Derreck Bratley at 3 and Back. For Gales, Will Emerson (5 goals) took the number 1 position, Segundo Darritchon (0 goals) playing at 2, Rhys Cole (1 goal) at 3 and Will Harper at Back.
A fantastic opening goal from an on-fire Will Harper secured the first mark on the scoreboard for Gales. Good team play saw a goal from Emerson helping Gales to a 2-0 lead at the close of the first chukka. Maiz Dulce started the second chukka with all guns blazing. A super goal from Matt Pitts was swiftly followed by another and the scores were equal. Bratley shot a massive ball forwards hoping to take Maiz Dulce ahead but good defence by Gales prevented his shot from going over the line. Suddenly Coles was off with the ball with Harper ready to receive it. Pitts challenged but Harper eluded him and scored a super goal to take Gales ahead once more. Bratley worked like a terrier to take the action back to Maiz Dulce and was finally rewarded with a goal which equalized the scores on 3-3 to close chukka 2.
Chukka 3 saw Emerson working all over the field, ably supported by young Harper, who was not afraid to take on his opposing Back – thereby causing Bratley a few problems. Gales were awarded a 40 yard penalty which Emerson saw through the posts with a lovely swing and his team went ahead once more. It wasn’t long before Emerson found the space to race away for his third goal of the match and 5-3 on the scoreboard for Gales. Some scrappy play in the fourth chukka, a yellow card for Pitts, and missed penalties on both sides saw the score remain unchanged and Cowdray’s final match of the season ended with a win for Gales.
Rosemary Robinson presented the Farewell Cup to Rhys Cole and individual prizes to players. Bringing the season’s prize-giving to a close, Chairman Peter Barfoot presented the Pimms Cup for the Most Improved Young Player to Will Harper for a second year, and the Millenium Plate for Umpiring Services to Adrian Wade. The Large Cup which rewards excellent pony management went to James Beim and his delighted crew.