The 12-goal Autumn Cup, the final tournament in Cowdray Park’s series of six HPA tournaments, open to all-comers, came to its conclusion on Sunday.
Seven teams entered, with Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale side keen to retain the trophy he first won in 2017. Facing up to Christian Staubach’s Bamboleo/Madams Farm side, Gardenvale’s line-up saw Finemore (-1) at No1, Will Harper (one goal) at No2, Matt Perry (five goals) at three and England captain James Beim (seven goals) at back.
With Christian Staubach (no goals) at No1, the Bamboleo/Madams Farm side also included two-goaler Nick Johnson at No2, Glenn Sherriff at three and Matias Amaya at back.
The match got off to a lively start with Beim making the opening goal for Gardenvale, two goals from Sherriff taking Bamboleo ahead befefore Beim equalised at 2-2 to end the first chukka.
Chukka two opened with a spot penalty and it wasn’t long before a nifty shot from Sherriff saw him take the lead for Bamboleo/Madams Farm.
Gardenvale won the ball from the throw-in and Perry shot wide.
An attempt at goal by Beim was blocked by Staubach but a whistle signalled a foul and Beim scored from a penalty for 3-3. Sherriff raced away from the throw-in and gave the ball to Amaya, who scored for Bamboleo/Madams Farm.
Another excellent piece of team play from Bamboleo/Madams Farm saw Johnson and Amaya combining to give Amaya the chance to score at speed and give Staubach’s side a 5-3 lead for half-time.
In the second half, calm and controlled action by Beim enabled Gardenvale to re-position and Harper to make a super goal. An infringement in front of the goal saw Gardenvale awarded a safety shot which gave Perry the opportunity to make it 5-5.
Bamboleo/Madams Farm won the throw-in but Harper set Perry on the attack. The crowd roared as one then two goalposts tumbled down, but Harper seized the chance to get the ball across the line and take Gardenvale ahead for the first time. However, they gave away the advantage with a foul and Sherriff whacked through a 60-yard penalty and level it at 6-6.
The final chukka was just as exciting with Perry stealing the ball from Amaya and chasing off towards the Bamboleo goal only to see his shot go out. But Beim showed his class, swooping on the ball from the hit-in and, with an angled shot, take Gardenvale into a 7-6 lead.
Try as they might Bamboleo/Madams Farm simply couldn’t gain enough possession and a lovely combination of effort from Harper and Beim saw another ball from Harper’s stick for his third of the match give Gardenvale victory at 8-6 and retention of the Autumn Cup.
Finemore was delighted to receive the prestigious Cup from Lila Pearson, who also presented prizes to all players. The award for best playing pony, sponsored by Polo Times, went to Bleach, owned and ridden by Beim.
The prize for most valuable player of the match, awarded by The Polo Magazine, also went to Beim.
In the subsidiary final of the Autumn Cup, the Ephson family’s Poulton team beat Simon Arber’s Four Quarters Orange 7-4.
The Farewell Cup, played for more than 50 years at Cowdray Park at six-goal level, saw a second Bamboleo/Madams Farm side reach the final, but with Maya Staubach this time taking the No1 position. She was joined by both Johnson and Sherriff playing their second final of the afternoon and young Alfie Hyde at No2.
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Also through were Louisa Watt’s Brown Rudnick side with the -2 patron joined by Charles Cooney (one goal) at two, Edward Banner-Eve (three goals) at three and Miguel Delia (four goals) at back.
Bamboleo/Madams Farm led for the first three chukkas but Brown Rudnick finally took a 5-4 lead in the fourth chukka, only for Glenn Sherriff to level at 5-5 taking the match into a sudden-death extra chukka.
Within 30 seconds, captain Sherriff saw the ball between the posts to secure a 6-5 victory for Bamboleo/Madams Farm.
George Robinson presented his family’s Cup to Maya Staubach and prizes to all players. The best playing pony award was presented by Lila Pearson to Susie, owned by Alan Kent of Madams Farm and played by Nick Johnson.
In the subsidiary final of the Farewell Cup, Ice Craft beat Los Schatzies 5-4.
In the final presentations of the season, James and Will Harper won the Large Cup for Pony Welfare, Boyd Allen won the Millenium Plate for Umpiring and Alfie Hyde deservedly won the Pimms Cup for Most Improved Young Player.
More than 450 matches had been played during the season, glorious weather having contributed to an exceptional year for the club, the undoubted highlight of which was the all-British win by El Remanso in the King Power Gold Cup.