Spectators were treated to an action-packed thriller in the final of the 12-goal Dollar Cup, the first in Cowdray Park Polo Club’s series of six annual HPA tournaments open to all-comers.
Seventeen teams had competed for the trophy, with BHC taking on 2015 winners Poulton Balvanera in the final.
With two pairs of English brothers competing on each side, Momin Sheikh’s BHC team saw the patron at No1, Ralph Richardson (two goals) at two, South African Dirkie Van Reenen at three and 6-goal player Jack Richardson at back.
The Ephson family’s Poulton Balvanera side included Patrick Ephson (one goal) at the front door, Ludo Ephson (two goals) at No2, Juan Jose De Alba (three goals) at three and Tomas Iriate (five goals) at back.
With Poulton Balvanera making up an 11-goal side they received a half-goal advantage to start.
Poulton Balvanera were first on the ball but BHC soon gained possession and headed for goal. Ludo Ephson saved the ball from the line but his side gave away a penalty.
Jack Richardson’s 60-yard shot went wide and the resulting hit in from the back-line by Iriate enabled Poulton Balvanera to battle forward to BHC’s end and finally score the first goal.
However, Poulton Balvanera soon gave away another penalty and this time Richardson didn’t miss.
Just as the chukka was drawing to a close, Van Reenan ran the ball down the pitch for a lovely goal which gave BHC a lead of 2-1½.
The action tore along in the second chukka although Poulton Balvanera could not find the form of earlier matches. A 60-yard penalty by Richardson saw BHC’s lead increase. Iriate and De Alba combined well to make Poulton Balvanera’s second, but two splendid field goals from Dirkie Van Reenan and a brilliant run to the goal by Mo Sheikh saw BHC well ahead at the close of the chukka by 6½-2.
Back and forward went the action in chukka three with good defensive play by Ralph and Richardson keeping Iriarte at bay. There was simply no luck running for Poulton Balvanera as Ludo Ephson had a couple of good chances but sent the ball wide of the goal posts.
A 30-yard penalty finally gave De Alba the chance to pull one back for Poulton Balvanera and the chukka ended at 6-3½ in BHC’s favour.
Hope stirred for Poulton Balvanera when Patrick Ephson seized a chance and made a super shot at goal for 6-4½. But soon a 60-yard penalty saw Jack Richardson move BHC’s score on to 7-4½.
A hit awarded to BHC saw Jack Richardson tap the ball and then send a long shot to Van Reenan who raced all the way to score his third goal giving BHC an 8-4½ lead.
Another field goal came from Richardson and yet another terrific run ahead of the whole field saw him send through his fifth goal of the match and achieve an impressive victory for BHC on a score of 10-4½.
Clare Milford Haven presented the Dollar Cup to a delighted Mo Sheikh and individual prizes to the players, sponsored by polo suppliers Casablanca.
The award for best playing pony, sponsored by PoloSplice, went to Princess, owned and played by Richardson, who also picked up the award for most valuable player, sponsored by The Polo magazine.
In the subsidiary final, Sally Dawson’s CPG Nightingale team beat Snake Bite to win the Robert Fraser Cup.
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