Ten teams have entered the 2019 King Power Gold Cup, played to decide the British Open Polo Championship, with one brand new side joining the competition.
It is the first time for many years Adolfo Cambiaso will not be seen in the high goal at Cowdray Park, the world’s number one player for almost two decades having decided to retire from UK polo.
However, several exceptional young players will be aiming to make their mark.
New to the Gold Cup is ‘Scone’, the team of Australian patron David Paradice, which sees Nico Pieres (nine goals) taking up the No2 position and England captain James Beim (seven goals) and James Harper (six goals) at No3 and back respectively.
Beim and Harper were team-mates in the winning El Remanso side of 2018, which disbanded following the 2019 Gold Cup. Scone have reached the final of the Cartier Queen’s Cup.
Seven teams return from the 2018 King Power Gold Cup. Among them are finalists La Bamba de Areco, the team of Jean Francois Decaux, who bring in young Englishman Kian Hall, three goals, to play alongside David ‘Pelon’ Stirling and ten-goaler Juan Martin Nero.
La Indiana, semi-finalists from 2018, sees patron Michael Bickford introduce young English player Jimbo Fewster to his team, playing alongside Rodrigo Andrade who has taken over from Nic Roldan, and ten-goaler Facundo Pieres.
Corinne Ricard brings back Murus Sanctus with Facundo Sola and Gonzalito Pieres, the final team member to be confirmed.
Park Place return with patron Andrey Borodin playing at No1, Juan Britos at two and ten-goaler Hillario Ulloa at three, the final team member to be confirmed.
Park Place have also reached the final of the Cartier Queen’s Cup. Spencer McCarthy retains ‘Tincho’ Merlos in his Emlor side but brings in Alfredo Bigtatti and Fred Mannix jnr, both playing off seven goals.
Alessandro Bezzoni is joined in his Monterosso side by Juan Gris Zavaleta, Ignacio Toccalino and Joaquin Pittaluga. Edouard Carmignac brings back an unchanged Talandracas team with Fran Elizalde, Ale Muzzio and Julian de Lusarreta.
Returning after a year’s absence is King Power, with ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha at the front door, Juan Martin Zubia at two, Polito Pieres at three and Marcos di Paola at back.
Returning after an absence of several years is the Albwardy family’s Dubai side with Rashid Albwardy joined by the young talent of Camilo and Bartolomé Castagnola, and a former popular young player at Cowdray, South African Nachi du Plessis, now an eight-goal player after being based in North and South America for a number of years.
Chris Bethell, polo manager at Cowdray, said there would be two leagues in the competition with the finalists of the Cartier Queens Cup semi-finals, Scone Polo, King Power, La Indiana and Park Place, seeded into each league, the remaining teams having drawn for places in either league at the recent King Power Gold Cup draw at Cowdray House.
The tournament gets under way on June 25 with quarter-finals over July 13 and 14, semi-finals on July 17 and the final taking place on Sunday, July 21.
Three tournaments reached their conclusion with the finals of the Bryan Bethell, Petworth and Jersey Lilies Cups taking place in the continuing unseasonal weather.
On Saturday, Sally Turner, with Ollie Cork, Henry Brett and George Meyrick in her CPG Nightingale team beat Andre Fatal’s River, with Will Harper, Glenn Sherriff and Bautista Sorzana, 6-4 in the 12 goal Petworth Cup.
Sunday saw Jella Herzer and Mauricio Bolana’s Los Schatzies team with Harry Muddle and Santiago Stirling, narrowly beat Louisa Watt and the Brown Rudnick team of Evan Power, Edward Banner-Eve and Henry Brett 6-5 in the historic Jersey Lilies Cup.
The highest ranked final of the weekend was the 15-goal Bryan Bethell Cup, entered by nine teams, with David Turner’s DJ Cats and Jean Paul Luksic’s Gaston making it through.
On the field for David Turner were Glenn Sheriff (four goals) playing at number two, Jake Daniels (four goals) at No3 and John Paul Clarkin (seven goals) at back. For Gaston, Jean Paul Luksic was joined by Ollie Cork (three goals) at No2, Pepe Heguy (six goals) at three and Ollie Cudmore (six goals) at back.
In a very close contest, Clarkin raced away to put the first mark on the scoreboard for DJ Cats within seconds of the start. A spot penalty awarded to Gaston enabled Cudmore to equalise and an easy stick and ball between the posts gave him his second goal.
At the start of chukka two, Clarkin equalised for DJ Cats from a 30-yard penalty. Cudmore answered with a lofty 40-yard penalty shot for 3-2 but by the end of the chukka Clarkin received a big pass from Daniels and obliged with a neat field goal to even the scores once more, chukka two closing at 3-3. By half-time it was 5-5.
In chukka four, a good team effort enabled a super goal from Turner to restore the lead for DJ Cats. Clarkin scored from a 30-yard penalty and extended the lead to 7-5.
DJ Cats won the ball from the throw-in but Heguy stole it and passed to Cudmore. Daniels tried to snatch it back but Cudmore was fouled and the whistle blew. Cudmore lost no time in taking the 40-yard penalty awarded and pulling a goal back for Gaston to make it 7-6 in their favour.
A throw-in started the fifth and Daniels steered the ball down the boards, but Cudmore was soon on to him and with Cork’s help turned the ball and shot at goal. His shot went wide. In came the ball again and a huge shot at goal from Sherriff for DJ Cats went wide.
With Heguy’s support, Cork sent a big shot forward, caught up with it and made a super goal to level the scores at 7-7.
Cudmore raced away from the throw-in to be stopped by Clarkin. In the ensuing play, the whistle blew and DJ Cats were awarded a free hit taken by Clarkin. Sherriff moved it on but Clarkin’s shot at goal went wide.
Heguy brought the ball in, Clarkin intercepted and tried again. This time a free hit in front of the goal saw Glenn Sherriff put 8-7 on the scoreboard in DJ Cats’ favour.
With a minute to go, Cudmore backed the ball away from Clarkin and sent it to Heguy who shot a super ball between the posts for 8-8. The hooter sounded and an extra chukka was needed.
A great team effort from Gaston ended with patron Jean Paul Luksic sending the ball between the posts for the winning goal.
Annette Bethell presented the Bryan Bethell Cup in memory of her late husband, father of the club’s polo manager Chris Bethell.
Bounty, owned and played by Ollie Cudmore, won the best playing pony prize sponsored by Stephen’s Polo Division. Luksic picked up the MVP award.