ABU DHABI: The inaugural edition of the much-anticipated Sultan Bin Zayed Cup kicked off at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club on Tuesday, with Ankora, RA Noon and Abu Dhabi opening their campaigns on a winning note.
The tournament is being organised in memory of Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed, younger brother of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who served as the President’s Representative and passed away in 2019.
Taking place under the patronage of Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, the opening day saw Ankora lock horns with Ghantoot Polo A in the first match of the tournament.
Ankora dominated the proceedings from the beginning with Ricardo Garros scoring in the fifth minute to put his team ahead. He put another through the post following an impressive 30-yard centre field penalty shot. Tomas Iriarte then added another as Ankora ended the first chukker with a 3-0 lead.
Juan diaz Alberdi opened the account for Ghantoot A, but Iriarte and Garros added two apiece to their individual and team tally, while Ryyan Al Ajaji contributed another as Ankora cruised to a comfortable 8-2 win.
In the second game, RA Noon defeated Anningsley Park Farm 8.5-6. RA Noon took an early lead when Bautista Alberdi was on target in the second minute.
Anningsley Park Farm, however, were quick to erase the deficit, marching downfield from a knock-in to tie the game at 1-1 on a goal from Pablo Llorente.
RA Noon gained the upper hand, led by the efforts of two field goals from Alberdi. They stretched the lead after Tuki Ruiz and Rashid Al Falahi contributed one each.
Alberdi and Falahi combined again for two goals in the third chukker which helped RA Noon extend their lead to 7-4.
Anningsley Park Farm tried hard to bounce back and played an intense last chukker, effectively defending against RA Noon while scoring two goals, including an impressive spot penalty by Llorente, but couldn’t make up the margin.
In the last game of the day, Abu Dhabi beat Ghantoot B team 7-4. After a tense first chukker, Abu Dhabi claimed the advantage in the second chukker with Hugo Barabucci, skipper Faris Al Yabhouni and Elena Venot scoring to give them a 5-2 advantage.
Barabucci, a professional Argentine player, was on target in the next two chukkas to ensure his team’s victory. Ghantoot B’s Abdullah Bin Desmal and Noor Abu Khudra waged a lone battle.
Zayed Khalifa Zayed Al Aboudi Al Zaabi, Executive Director of Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, said: “It’s a good start to the tournament. We look forward to seeing some exciting matches during their qualification rounds.”
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council is the governing partner of the tournament in collaboration with Emirates Polo Association. Capex.com, Yas International Properties LLC, Yas International Holding and Alpine Rent A Car are the official sponsors of the Sultan Bin Zayed Cup.
Complying with UAE’s COVID-19 precautionary and preventive measures, the Sultan Bin Zayed Cup matches are being held behind closed doors, but fans can watch the action live through Ghantoot Polo and Racing Club’s youtube channel and live transmission through Abu Dhabi sports channels on the final 1st February.
The next round of matches will take place on Sunday.
For live streams and replays, please visit our Youtube Channel.
Images: © Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club