September's here but polo continues in fine style at Cowdray

The West Sussex Cup winners / Picture by Clive Bennett
The West Sussex Cup winners / Picture by Clive Bennett

The UK polo season is beginning to wind down but Cowdray Park Polo Club had plenty to enjoy over the weekend, with the final matches played in its successful Edburton Weekend Polo Series and the finals and sub-finals of the West Sussex and Park House Cups.

The six-goal West Sussex Cup attracted eight entries with Ojo Caliente and Brown Rudnick, both new teams to Cowdray Park, and with three women players among the line-ups, making it to the final.

Playing at number one for Ojo Caliente was Ana Escobedo (-1 goals), Georgina Brittain (0 goals) at two, Jack Berner (3 goals) at three with four-goal player Jonny Good at Back. Louisa Watt (-2 goals), an executive with Brown Rudnick, took the No1 position for the team, with Charles Cooney (1 goal) at two, Edward Banner-Eve (3 goals) at three and Henry Brett (4 goals) at back.

It was 2-2 at the close of the first chukka. With the score at 3-3 in the second, Jack Berner broke away from a tussle along the boards and scored a good field goal to take Ojo Caliente ahead. Off went Berner again, managing to trick his way around Henry Brett and score a neat goal to take Ojo Caliente ahead 5-3 into half-time.

The battle recommenced in chukka three with a goal for each side resulting from 30-yard penalties. Another whistle from the umpires gave a free hit to Brown Rudnick taken by Ed Banner-Eve. Henry Brett picked the ball up before Banner-Eve surged forward and sent it between the posts. A good team effort saw Charles Cooney make a field goal to equalise the score at 6-6.

In the final chukka, the first two goals came from 30-yard penalties, both in Ojo Caliente’s favour. A good attacking effort by Brown Rudnick was cleared on the goal-line by Berner, who was rewarded with his fourth goal taking the score to 9-6 to Ojo Caliente.

Jonny Good’s 60-yard penalty went wide. Banner-Eve scored from a 30-yard penalty. Once more Brown Rudnick were awarded a 30-yard penalty and this time Banner-Eve’s shot hit the post but failed to go in, meaning a 9-7 victory for Ojo Caliente.

Tuvi Keinan, chairman of Brown Rudnick, presented the West Sussex Cup and prizes.

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The subsidiary final resulted in a 7-5 win to Saracens over GCN Hickstead.

Sunday saw the conclusion of the historic four-goal Park House Cup, played at Cowdray Park since 1954. Seven teams entered and Wilf Fine’s Sea Breeze team, comprising himself at one, Alfie Hyde at two, Angus Rowan-Hamilton at three and Nick Pepper at back, took on a double father and son combo in the InnoVent side, comprising Duane Lent (0 goals) at one, Andy Cork (0 goals) at two, and their sons Terence Lent and Ollie Cork, both two-goal players, at three and back.

An entertaining game saw Sea Breeze make the first mark on the scoreboard with a goal from Angus Rowan-Hamilton. Terence Lent for InnoVent answered before Nick Pepper took Sea Breeze 2-1 ahead.

In the second chukka Fine was handily placed to send the ball between the posts for 3-1. Terence Lent made a good attempt which went wide. Then a whistle gave Sea Breeze a hit from the centre line.

Pepper’s shot was stopped in the air by Ollie Cork who controlled the ball brilliantly, taking it all the way to the opposite goal to pull one back for InnoVent. Soon Ollie Cork again raced the length of the field for an absolute cracker of a goal to make it 3-3. Sea Breeze won the ball from the throw and Pepper scored and Sea Breeze went ahead 4-3.

The first penalty was scored by Pepper in the third chukka. Yet another goal came from Ollie Cork but the chukka ended 5-4 to Sea Breeze. A 30-yard penalty gave Pepper another goal in the fourth taking Sea Breeze ahead 6-4. Outstanding play by Ollie Cork gave him his fourth and fifth and the scores were tied at 6-6, but solid play by Sea Breeze saw a goal apiece from Angus Rowan-Hamilton and Nick Pepper finally nail an 8-6 win.

Owners of the Park House Hotel at Bepton, Seamus and Stella O’Brien, presented the historic cup to Fine and generous prizes to all players.

The subsidiary final saw a 7-2 victory for Jo Stuart’s Los Hamblinos against James Rogerson’s Connect 44.