The Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship opened at Cowdray Park on 19th June and the sixteen teams are well into the early rounds of the tournament – results are posted daily on Cowdray Park’s website www.cowdraypolo.co.uk. [Get better priced tickets before July 1]
The Ellerston team, back in the UK after a four year absence and always considered strong contenders, were beaten on their first outing by 2011 winners Zacara. A blistering match took place between 2011 Finalists Les Lions and 2009 winners La Bamba de Areco which resulted in a 14-13 win for La Bamba. The USA team Coca Cola, back after six years, had the misfortune to face the mighty Dubai side in their opening match, and not surprisingly lost but by the respectable margin of 9-7. Talandracas were resoundingly beaten 14-6 in their first game by Gloucestershire based El Remanso and Enigma beat Thai Polo 10-6.
Saturday 23 June saw one of the best matches ever witnessed at Cowdray Park when Jean Francois Decaux’s La Bamba de Areco took on Sumaya led by Ahmad Aboughazale. Six gruelling chukkas saw beathtaking action from La Bamba’s 10 goaler Facundo Pieres and his 7 goal brother Nico pitted against Sumaya’s new central line-up of 8 goaler Javier Novillo Astrada and Facundo Sola, 7 goals.
Spectators were treated to as dramatic a finish as they could have wished for when the six chukkas closed on 16-16. The rules of the game require a further chukka and ‘sudden death’ when a goal is scored. Despite continued attempts at goal by both sides, the 7th chukka closed with the score still at 16 all. An eighth chukka opened with the goalposts widened, as stated in the rule book. Sumaya were the first to score and won the match 17-16 with resulting elation for the Sumaya side and dejection for La Bamba de Areco. Spectators agreed it was one of the most exciting matches in living memory.
On Sunday 24 June, Thai Polo had their second match of the tournament playing for The Midhurst Town Cup as part of Cowdray Park’s South Downs Polo Day. Playing against Piaget, and despite a 1 goal advantage on the scoreboard because of fielding a 21 goal team in the 22 goal tournament, the Thai Polo side lacked the necessary staying power. At half time Piaget were ahead by just one goal but a pivotal fourth chukka saw three good field goals scored by the Piaget team taking them ahead 8-4. Although Thai Polo came back with two goals in the fifth chukka, goals from Piaget’s Joaquin Pittaluga and Alejandro Muzzion in the final chukka put Piaget further ahead to win the match 10-6.
The Midhurst Town Cup was presented by Lady Cowdray, prizes were donated and presented by Mrs Mariya Burton of the luxury leather goods company Aspinal of London, based at Fernhurst, and a rug for the Best Playing Pony of the match – Christian Laprida’s “Maggie” was presented by Vanessa Perkins of Bertrand Transport de Chevaux. An information stand from the South Downs National Park gave spectators the opportunity to learn more about Midhurst’s status at the very heart of the new park.