Cup finals keep the polo thrills coming at Cowdray Park

Golden Falcons (green) v Dell Park (blue) in the Jaeger Le Coultre Challenge Cup final at Cowdray Park   Picture by Clive Bennett
Golden Falcons (green) v Dell Park (blue) in the Jaeger Le Coultre Challenge Cup final at Cowdray Park Picture by Clive Bennett
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A truly exciting Final of the 18 goal Jaeger-LeCoultre Cowdray Park Challenge Cup between Amir Badr-El-Din’s Golden Falcons and the Dell Park side of Nicolai Bahlsen, saw plenty of hard-fought action and an amazing result.

Dell Park played a tough and fast game through the first three chukkas with the team’s two talented 6 goal players, South African Jean du Plessis and Englishman Max Charlton placing seven goals on the scoreboard by the close of the third chukka against the two goals scored by Juan Zavaleta for Golden Flacons.

An extraordinary reversal of fortunes saw the goals completely dry up for Dell Park in the second half while for Golden Falcons Zaveleta and James Harper each scored from penalties and Manuel Plaza de Ayala scored a good field goal to close the fourth chukka just two goals short of Dell Park’s tally of 7.

Golden Falcons continued to hold their nerve through the fifth chukka with a field goal from James Harper and a mighty 60 yard penalty shot from Zaveleta levelling the scores as the bell went. The match went into a sixth chukka and when Harper was fouled, the green shirts of the Falcons were awarded a spot hit.

Zavaleta tapped the ball forward with Ayala waiting for the pass. Again Dell Park fouled and a spot hit was given a few yards from the goal. Zavaleta had no difficulty pushing the ball between the posts to win the Jaeger-LeCoultre Challenge Cup 8-7 in the most remarkable come-back to have been seen all season.

The prestigious Cowdray Park Challenge Cup, which dates back to 1911, was presented on behalf of Jaeger-LeCoultre by Clare Milford Haven to Amin Badr-El Din. She also presented prizes to both teams sponsored by Casablanca Polo.

The Final of the 15 goal Jaeger-Le Coultre Harrison Cup on Saturday 3rd August saw Charlie McCowen’s Lamrei side defending the trophy in a repeat of the 2012 Final against George Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings. A significant change to the teams, however, saw Santiago Gaztambide, a long-time member of the Lamrei side switching to the Cowdray Vikings team, where he was joined by Dirk Gould (5 goals) and William White (3 goals), and where his experience counted heavily.

Lamrei forged ahead from the first chukka, with the combination of 7 goaler Michel Del Carril and new recruit George Meyrick (5 goals) proving to be a useful partnership. Both contributed goals in the first chukka. In the third a lovely back-hand save by Del Carril saw McCowen collect the ball and take it all the way down the field, fending off Gould for Cowdray Vikings on the way, to score a splendid goal. Two further goals from Meyrick saw Lamrei in the lead 7-4 by the end of the third chukka.

After the tread-in, Lamrei seemed to lose their sparkle. A lengthy ball from Gaztambide was intercepted by Lamrei but suddenly young George Pearson was on it and sent off a brilliant long shot to pull one back for the Vikings. Meyrick passed a good ball to Del Carril who ensured goal number 8 for Lamrei. Cowdray Vikings benefitted from a 30 yard penalty which was zipped through by Gaztambide, and then his run from beyond the centre line, ducking around McCowen on the way, saw Gaztambide score a great field goal and bring his side to within a goal of their opponents. Cowdray Vikings made an all-out effort and were again in front of Lamrei’s goal where Pearson was able to pounce on the ball and find the space to send the ball through the posts. With the scores even at 8-8, the match went into a sixth chukka. Lamrei clearly had a game plan. Del Carill swooped on the ball from the line-out and in a flash was away across the goal mouth to send an under-the-neck shot straight through and victory for Lamrei at 9-8, completing a hat-trick of wins in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Harrison Cup was presented by Clare Milford Haven and team prizes were presented by Jamie Gordon of Casablanca Polo. The Brooke Joynson Cup for Best Playing Pony was won by Santiaguena, owned by Santiago Gaztambide.

Final of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Holden White Cup 4th August

The popular 8 goal Jaeger-LeCoultre Holden White Cup was entered by 23 teams in 2013. In one of the UK’s most hotly contested HPA tournaments, John Gunn’s Inspirit team faced Paul Knight’s Windmill Farm in the Final. Once again 6 goal player Max Charlton distinguished himself at Back, but it was the sheer strength and tenacity of Peter Webb at Back for Inspirit which ultimately saw victory for the red shirted side.

Inspirit gave away two penalties in the first chukka enabling Windmill Farm to take an early lead with two mighty 60 yard shots lofted between the posts by Max Charlton. The Inspirit team settled down and achieved two good field goals from Tom Brodie at the front door and Anthony Fanshawe at number 3 to close the second chukka ahead at 3-2.

The battle of the Backs continued into the second half but only one goal resulted from the non-stop action in the third chukka when Inspirit’s Tom Brodie closed down the opposition to enable Peter Webb to tap through and take his side ahead 4-2. The final chukka had the crowd enthralled as Charlton was awarded a 60 yard penalty from which he scored, he then thundered down the field in the opposite direction to secure the next goal and equal the scores on 4-4. At the first opportunity Peter Webb gained possession of the ball and tapped it forward, Fanshawe moved it on to be collected by Brodie who sent it through the posts and re-took the lead for Inspirit. Charlton entered the fray again and sent a good ball to Tim Bown but suddenly Brodie was part of the action again and the ball was moving in the opposite direction for Inspirit. As he headed for the goal posts, the ball was left on the doorstep but Peter Webb was on hand to send it forward the final few feet needed to take Inspirit on to 6-4.

A 60 yard penalty was lofted high and hard by Max Charlton and the one goal gap suddenly made the crowd wonder if there might be an extra chukka on the cards when a 60 yard penalty was again awarded to Windmill Farm. A little over-exuberance on the part of Inspirit stimulated the umpires to move the ball forward to 40 yards. With not a sound to be heard Charlton hit the ball but missed. The bell went and Inspirit ran out the winners on 6-5.

Clare Milford Haven presented the Jaeger-LeCoultre Holden White Cup to John Gunn of Inspirit. She also presented individual prizes sponsored by Casablanca Polo. The award for Best Playing Pony went to Anthony Fanshawe’s ‘Legend’.

LIZ HIGGINS