A bright sunny day signalled the end of Cowdray Park’s Polo season on Sunday 18th September when a large crowd turned out for the traditional BBQ lunch, subsidiaryFinals and Finals of the 12 goal HPA Autumn Cup and the 6 goal Farewell Cup, and the highly popular Dog Show.
The 2016 Autumn Cup had 9 entries with Emma McCarthy’s Emlor C and Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale making it to the Final. Emma took the number 1 position for Emlor C with Ed Morris-Lowe at 2, Henry Fisher at 3 and Manolo Fernandez-Llorente at Back. Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale included the Patron at the front door, Ollie Cork at number 2, Matt Perry at 3 and England captain James Beim at Back.
In an entertaining match with few whistles, Henry Fisher was first to score, soon answered by an equalizer by Matt Perry for Gardenvale. Playing strongly, Matt Perry continued Gardenvale’s assault with two more goals in the second chukka which finished with Finemore’s side ahead at 3-1.
An action filled third chukka saw a smart goal by Henry Fisher pull one back for Emlor C. A penalty sent through by Fernandez-Llorente from 30 yards levelled the scores on 3-3. Matt Perry soared away for his fourth goal of the match giving Gardenvale the lead once again. An amazingly tenacious effort by Fernandez-Llorente brought the scores level once more on 4-4. Matt Perry raced away from the throw-in but his shot at goal went wide. Fernandez-Llorente brought the ball in, but suddenly Beim latched onto it and steered the ball round for a quick shot at goal taking Gardenvale ahead once more to close the third chukka 5-4.
Early in the fourth chukka, a super run by Beim to Emlor C’s goal and a nifty pass to Perry resulted in another goal for Gardenvale. Both teams fought for every ball, but finally Fernandez-Llorente pounced on a loose ball and passed it to an ideally positioned Ed Morris-Lowe who zipped it between the posts but Gardenvale managed to hold onto their lead and won the 2016 Autumn Cup 6-5.
A delighted Shane Finemore accepted the Autumn Cup from Clare Milford-Haven who also presented prizes of quality polo kit on behalf of sponsors Casablanca. Matt Perry was awarded The Polo Magazine prize for Most Valuable Player, his horse Vasca Irlandes also picking up the Polo Times award for Best Playing Pony. The subsidiary Final was won by BHC beating E Rosario 8-7.
The Farewell Cup is a historic trophy over 50 years old and this year received a bumper entry of 11 teams, Andrew Swaffield’s Alcedo team meeting Parke Bradley’s Silver Fox in the Final.
For Silver Fox, Parke Bradley at number 1 played alongside William Penfold at 2, Andrew Blake-Thomas at 3 and Henry Fisher at Back. With Andrew Swaffield playing at number 1, Alcedo also included Will Harper at 2, Nick Clague at 3, and Bauti Sorzana at Back, the 5 goal side receiving a half goal on the scoreboard to start the match.
A lively first chukka closed with Alcedo ahead 3½-1, but the side failed to score in chukka 2 Henry Fisher’s second goal of the match meanwhile brought Silver Fox up to 2-3½ at half time.
A 30 yard penalty sent through by Sorzana took Alcedo further ahead in chukka 3. Sorzana then created a great piece of play enabling Clague to drive the ball forward, finally leaving it for young Will Harper to send through and take Alcedo on to 5½-2. Harper won the ball from the throw-in, Sorzana moved it on towards the goal mouth and Clague sent it through for 6½-2.
In the final chukka there was good defensive play from Sorzana, but Fisher twice managed to break through and score, his second goal a lovely under-the-neck shot to pull Silver Fox up to 4-6½ . However, it was too late and the final bell sounded for yet another win for Alcedo who finished the season with a fifth trophy. Mr George Robinson was delighted to present his family’s Cup to Andrew Swaffield and prizes to all players. Will Harper’s Exquisite was judged to be Best Playing Pony, the rug being presented by The Hon Mrs Lila Pearson. Gracious in defeat, Parke Bradley nonetheless said that getting to the Final was a great end to his polo playing career and that he will be returning to Cowdray Park as a non-playing member from 2017. The subsidiary Final was won 6½-5 by Emma McRae’s Ice Craft.
In the final presentations of the season, the Millenium Plate for Umpiring Services was presented by Chris Bethell, Polo Manager, to Adrian Wade and the Pimms Cup for Most Improved Junior Player went to 14 year old Will Harper whose skill and confidence make him certain of a handicap change. The Large Cup for Pony Welfare was presented by Mr. Tam Large to Nick Clague.
In Cowdray’s ‘alternative’ Dog Show, from a variety of fun classes, the Best in Show winner was Pippin, a Border Collie owned by Max Appleby who was delighted to receive the Hanlon Rosebowl from Mr Terry Hanlon.