Thrilling finals bring down curtain on Cowdray polo season

The Autumn Cup finalists / Picture by Clive Bennett - www.polopictures.co.uk
The Autumn Cup finalists / Picture by Clive Bennett - www.polopictures.co.uk

Cowdray Park’s polo season came to an end with the finals of the 12-goal Autumn Cup and six-goal Farewell Cup.

The Autumn Cup is the last of Cowdray’s six HPA tournaments played annually and seven teams entered. Making it to the final were Sally Turner’s CPG team and Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale, his 11-goal side receiving a half goal advantage on the scoreboard to start the match.

Playing alongside Sally Turner for CPG were four-goaler Tommy Beresford at No2, George Meyrick (six goals) at three and Roddy Williams (three goals) at back. Lining up for Gardenvale were Jimbo Fewster (one goal) at two, Matt Perry (five goals) at three, and James Beim (six goals) at back with the patron at the front door.

Gardenvale took a swift lead with an early 30-yard penalty put through by Perry, soon followed by a 40-yard penalty by England captain Beim.

Meyrick for CPG raced away from the throw-in to score the first field goal of the match but Gardenvale were able to move further ahead from another 40-yard penalty scored by Beim and the first chukka ended with Finemore’s team leading 3½-1.

Gardenvale piled on the pressure in chukka two with excellent goals from Perry and Beim taking the score to 5½-1 before a good piece of play between Tommy Beresford and George Meyrick saw Beresford score for CPG.

Bringing the season’s prize-giving to a close, chairman Peter Barfoot presented the Pimms Cup for the most improved young player to Will Harper for a second year, and the Millenium Plate for umpiring services to Adrian Wade.

Perry saved another attempt at goal by Beresford but a foul by Fewster brought a whistle and Beresford scored from a 30-yard penalty, the chukka ending with Gardenvale 5½-3 up.

Gardenvale continued their attacking play in chukka three, but CPG made some excellent clearances before the red shirts of Gardenvale closed ranks and the ball finally went over the line, Fewster taking their score on to 6½-3.

CPG won the ball from the throw-in, their attack was impeded and the whistle blew. Beresford sent through the 30-yard penalty shot and the third chukka closed at 6½-4 to Gardenvale.

Chukka four brought some pleasing goals. Meyrick and Beresford combined well, cutting Perry out and allowing Beresford to send a lovely shot through for his fourth goal. Beim failed to score from a 60-yard penalty, the ball just going wide.

The ball came in from the back line, Beresford tapped it forward, but Perry swooped on to it and raced forward to shoot a huge long ball accurately through CPG’s goal and Gardenvale had a 7½-5 lead.

Beresford galloped off to score again. Beim backed the ball away from the throw-in and passed to Fewster, good teamwork ensuring a well-placed Perry could race away again to score a brilliant goal and secure an 8½-6 win for Gardenvale.

Lady Beresford presented the Autumn Cup to a delighted Finemore and individual prizes to all players. Perry was most valuable player, his award presented by The Polo magazine, and his pony Vasca Irlandase won the Polo Times best playing pony prize.

Eight teams entered the six-goal Farewell Cup with Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce and Rhys Cole’s Gales reaching the final.

Improving Millie Cooper played at one, with Matt Pitts (two goals) at No2 and three-goalers Jack Berner and Derreck Bratley at three and back.

For Gales, Will Emerson (five goals) took the No1 position, Segundo Darritchon (no goals) playing at two, Rhys Cole (one goal) at No3 and Will Harper at back.

A fantastic opening goal from Harper secured the first mark on the scoreboard for Gales. Good team play saw a goal from Emerson helping Gales to a 2-0 lead at the close of the first chukka.

Maiz Dulce started the second chukka all guns blazing. A super goal from Pitts was swiftly followed by another and the scores were equal.

Bratley shot a massive ball forwards hoping to take Maiz Dulce ahead but good defence by Gales prevented his shot from going over the line. Suddenly Coles was off with the ball with Harper ready to receive it. Pitts challenged but Harper eluded him and scored a super goal to take Gales ahead once more.

Bratley worked like a terrier to take the action back to Maiz Dulce and was finally rewarded with a goal whichlevelled it at 3-3.

Chukka three saw Emerson working all over the field, ably supported by young Harper, who was not afraid to take on his opposing back.

Gales were awarded a 40-yard penalty which Emerson saw through the posts. It wasn’t long before Emerson found the space to race away for his third of the match to make it 5-3.

Some scrappy play in the fourth chukka, a yellow card for Pitts and missed penalties on both sides saw the score remain unchanged and Cowdray’s final match of the season ended with a win for Gales.

Rosemary Robinson presented the Farewell Cup to Cole and individual prizes to players.

Bringing the season’s prize-giving to a close, chairman Peter Barfoot presented the Pimms Cup for the most improved young player to Will Harper for a second year, and the Millenium Plate for umpiring services to Adrian Wade.

The Large Cup which rewards excellent pony management went to James Beim and his delighted crew.

LIZ HIGGINS