It was a match for the history books at Cowdray Park Polo Club in West Sussex, England. An overtime goal from Camilo Castagnola closed a thrilling match, with Dubai defeating King Power 13-12 in the Gold Cup Final.
The match was very close until halftime, when Dubai (Camilo Castagnola, Rashid Albwardy, Bartolome Castagnola, Nachi du Plessis) had managed to take a 6-4 lead. However, a 4-0 fourth chukker and then a 3-1 start of the fifth put King Power (Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Juan Martin Zubia, Polito Pieres, Marcos Di Paola) comfortably 11-7 ahead, which seemed to close the game with only a chukker and change to go.
Behind 11-7 midway through the fifth chukker, Dubai staged a comeback, equalizing the score 11-all after a 60-yard penalty that Bartolome Castagnola scored. Winning the next throw in, Polito Pieres quickly countered to put his team in the lead once more. With only seconds left, Dubai managed to draw the match again, with Camilo Castagnola scoring off a great backhander from his brother.
“”The last chukker we went all-in and fought for every ball. We tried to make it work.”” – Camilo Castagnola
Once in overtime, Juan Martin Zubia almost gave King Power the title, making a great run across the field that barely missed the goal. The counterattack, however, saw great play from Lolo Castagnola’s sons, and Camilo was the one who sealed the deal, making a great shot from a difficult angle. “Before scoring the golden goal, I turned around and noticed that every horse was tired,” recounted Camilo Castagnola. “I ran down the middle and the goal was there, so I shot. And it went in!”
In a short amount of time, the Castagnola brothers took control of the game, turned things around and gave Dubai the title. They scored all of their team’s goals: Camilo scored seven and Bartolome scored six. On the other side, King Power’s top scorer was Polito, also with seven.
It’s Dubai’s fifth Gold Cup for the British Open. They won it in 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2014, always including Adolfo Cambiaso. After a two-year break from English high goal, Ali Albwardy’s team returned with Rashid Albwardi (Ali’s son), who won the title for the second time (he had won it in 2010). Nachi du Plessis, the team’s South African back, also won it for the second time, after having done so in 2011 with Zacara. “We all worked to make it happen,” said du Plessis. “The guys were great on the field, but the people on the sidelines were also essential, with the lists, helping get the horses ready. Thank you very much, everyone,” he continued.
Dubai had a six-victory streak, after losing to Talandracas 8-7 in their first match. Luck wasn’t on their side, as they had to face Facundo Pieres’ La Indiana in the quarterfinals. The hero of that match was also Camilo Castagnola, who scored the winning goal seconds before the end. In the semifinals, Dubai had a solid 14-10 victory over Scone, the Queen’s Cup champion.