Cowdray Park’s annual polo match against Ham Polo Club took place on a warm and sunny August Bank Holiday Monday – and very rarely have I written those words! A lively match resulted in a 6-2 win for the home side and Polo Manager Chris Bethell was on hand to present prizes.
In the Final of the 6 goal West Sussex Cup, from an entry of eight teams Todham Polo and Alcedo made it through to the Final. For Todham Polo, talented young Alfie Hyde, who has recently won the Telegraph Award for Most Promising Player in the Under 14/15 Sections of the Pony Club Polo Championships, played at number 1, brothers Boyd Allen at 2 and Leon Allen at 3 and Juan Pablo Villela at Back. Andrew Swaffield was joined by Jamie Scott at number 2 in his Alcedo team, with Nick Clague at 3 and Bautista Sorzana at Back.
Alcedo made a good start with a classy swing from Bauti Sorzana sending the ball through the posts from way back. Todham Polo’s Villela made a rapid response to level the scores at 1-1 but, by the end of the first chukka, lovely team play had given Swaffield’s side the lead on 2-1.
Early in chukka 2, bold play by Alfie Hyde impressed the spectators but Sorzana’s wealth of experience soon brought another goal from a lovely solo run down the pitch and 3-1 in Alcedo’s favour. Alcedo won the ball from the next throw-in and a pass from Sorzana to Clague resulted in a super under-the neck shot for the team’s fourth goal. A whistle gave Todham Polo the chance to score from a 60 yard penalty. Villela’s ball was stopped on the goal line but a smart little flick by Boyd Allen brought Todham Polo up to 2-4.
In chukka 3 Jamie Scott was on hand when Clague lost the ball near Todham Polo’s goal mouth. Scott’s neat finish took Alcedo further into the lead on 5-2. Alfie Hyde’s enthusiastic defence while Sorzana was making an attempt at goal unfortunately landed him in the goal post, but after ten minutes he was able to re-mount and continue to play. The chukka ended with no further addition to the scoreline.
It was a nail-biting final chukka for Alcedo’s supporters. A foul on Villela gave him the chance to send through a 30 yard penalty to pull Todham Polo up to 3-5. Alcedo weren’t so lucky when they were awarded a 30 yard penalty moments later and Sorzana mis-hit the ball. The action raced on and with two minutes to go the whistle blew again and Todham Polo were awarded another 30 yard penalty. Villela wasted no time in putting the ball between the goal posts and Todham Polo were within a goal of Alcedo. Todham Polo won the throw-in but an unlucky bounce saw Villela lose the ball. The final bell sounded and Alcedo, having led through the match, deservedly ran out the winners.
A delighted Andrew Swaffield accepted the West Sussex Cup from Richard Billett, Managing Director of Louis Roederer, Cowdray Park’s Official Champagne Partner. Prizes included Gel-Eze saddle pads for all players. The Best Paying Pony was judged to be Storm ridden by Bauti Sorzana.
The subsidiary Final was won by Emma MacRae’s Ice Craft beating Jon Forsyth’s Home Farm 7½-6.