LAHORE-Phenomenal Raul Laplacette’s heroics helped Diamond Paints clinch the first-ever Master Paints Jinnah Gold Cup as they defeated DS Polo/ASC 8-7 in the thrilling final played here at the Jinnah Polo and Country Club (JP&CC) ground on Sunday.
Raul Laplacette, the hero of the final, not only amused the spectators with his marvelous mallet and horse work, but also contributed fantabulous five goals in his team’s thrilling triumph. Other key contributors from the winning side were Saqib Khan Khakwani, Ramiro Zaveletta and Mir Huzaifa Ahmed, who struck one goal apiece. DS Polo/ASC players also matched fire-with-fire till the last chukker, but their efforts couldn’t bear fruit for their side. Hissam Ali Hyder and Maxwell Charlton converted a hat-trick each for the losing side while Lt Col Omer Minhas scored one goal.
DS Polo/ASC began the final brilliantly and thrashed in two back-to-back goals, which provided them a 2-0 lead. In the dying moments of the first chukker, Diamond Paints also made their presence felt and opened their account by converting a goal to reduce the margin to 2-1. Diamond Paints changed their game plan and started playing aggressively, which helped them convert two goals to get 3-2 lead, which couldn’t last long as the DS Polo/ASC scored an equalizer to make it 3-all.
DS Polo also played well in the third chukker by hammering a hat-trick of goals to get back 6-3 lead but Diamond Paints also converted a brilliant brace to reduce the deficit to 6-5. The fourth and last chukker started with a beautiful goal by DS Polo to further enhance their lead to 7-5, but at this crucial time, the players of Diamond Paints once again showed their class and thrashed in three back-to-back goals to win the final 8-7.
In the subsidiary final, Master Paints beat Remounts 9-8. Matias Vial Parez was top scorer from Master Paints as he smashed in superb five goals while his teammates Mariano Raigal banged in a brace and Sufi Muhammad Haroon and Ahmed Ali Tiwana struck one goal each. For Remounts, Ignacio Negri fired in fantastic four goals while LD Imran Shahid thrashed in two and Vieri Antinori and Bilal Haye one goal apiece but their efforts were futile in the end.
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi graced the finals as chief guest and distributed prizes and shields among the winners and top performers. Other notables present on the occasion were Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Muhammad Abdul Aziz, GOC 10 Div Maj Gen M Aniq-ur-Rehman Malik, Maj Gen Muhammad Raza Aizad, Master Paints CEO Sufi M Amin, Directors Sufi M Haris, Sufi M Amir, Sufi M Faruukh, Farooq Amin Sufi, Sufi M Umair, Sufi M Haroon, Sufi M Uzair, JP&CC President Col (r) Shoaib Aftab, Secretary Maj (r) Baber Mahboob Awan, players and their families.
The best polo pony award was claimed by Daniyal Sheikh’s pony while Syed Turab Rizvi emerged as best player of 0-2 goal category, Raja Mikail Sami best player in 2-4 goal category, Marcos Panelo in 4 goal category, Mir Huzaifa Ahmed was best in patron category while man-of-the-final award went to Raul Laplacette of Diamond Paints.
Speaking on the occasion, President Dr Arif Alvi said: “Polo is a great game, being played by kings and knights since long. I still remember the Effendi brothers, who earned great name in this particular game. Polo is gaining popularity in Pakistan and under the patronage of Pakistan Army, polo has been flourishing further with each passing day.”