Record Crowd Witness Dubai defeat Scone for The Midhurst Town Cup
Crowds flocked to Cowdray Park Polo Club’s prestigious Lawns grounds to experience the perfect family polo day out on the opening Sunday of the British Open Polo Championship for the Cowdray Gold Cup. A record number of visitors enjoyed a range of activities prior to the 3pm match, including tractor rides through the pony lines, laser clay shooting, face painting, fun fair rides and mini rugby. The Cowdray Estate team were also at the grounds showcasing an impressive selection of farm machinery including their combine harvester. Prior to the match, award winning gundog trainer, Jason Mayhew, took to the pitch to demonstrate the skills of his canine pupils, which included the charismatic cocker spaniel, Cooper, owned by celebrity chef, James Martin. With picnic rugs down of the edge of the field and baskets full of food, drinks and gallons of ice cream, everyone settled in to watch the match which featured world number one, Adolfo Cambiaso and his son, playing for Scone Polo Team, taking on Rashid’s Albwardy’s Dubai in an intense first half.
Scoring 17 goals in their opening game earlier in the week, Dubai Polo Team’s leading scorer picked up where he left off as Camilo ‘Jeta’ Castagnola scored his first of nine goals to set an early tone from the field. Scone’s Adolfo Cambiaso matched Castagnola’s early field goal, while teammate Rosendo Torreguitar found the posts on back-to-back drives to account for a three-goal Scone run. However, the momentum swung back in favour of Dubai Polo Team, initiating an unanswered three-goal response of their own that included two more conversions from Castagnola. After the early exchange of goals, offense continued to come via the penalty line as Dubai Polo Team edged ahead on two more penalty conversions to take a 6-4 lead into the halftime break. The crowd descended onto the field to help tread in the divots and were delighted to be able to meet the Cowdray Park Polo Club Academy ponies, ridden by some of the youngest members of the Cowdray Hunt Pony Club.
With spectators safely back to the sidelines, the second half of the game got underway. Erasing their two-goal deficit quickly in the fourth, back-to-back goals from Adolfo Cambiaso tied the match at 6-all, showcasing an evenly matched contest with neither team able to hold off the response. Quickly answering the run, Castagnola and Jeronimo de Carril found the mark to put Dubai Polo Team up by one once more but with two chukkas remaining, it was uncertain which team held the upper hand. A second three-goal offensive blitz from Scone saw Rosendo Torreguitar find the posts for the second time in the match, as father-duo of Adolfo and Poroto Cambiaso each converted from the penalty line to bring the game even once more. Finishing with a game-high nine goals, Castagnola stepped into the spotlight in the final chukka, scoring consecutive field goals to hold off the late push from Scone and capture the crucial 12-10 win.
Following a brief rest in their team tents, the players headed over to the presentation podium. Glamorous Mariya Dykalo, Creative Director at Aspinal of London, gave beautiful prizes to each of the players, including the Most Valuable Player prize which was awarded to 18-year-old Camilo ‘Jeta’ Castagnola. Nick Ferrier of presenting partner, Jackson-Stops, presented the historic trophy, dating back to 1953, to a delighted Rashid Albwardy. The Best Playing Pony rug was awarded to stunning bay mare ‘Calloway’, played by Jeta Castagnola and owned by Bardon Polo Team. After the prize giving, children headed back onto the field, footballs and bicycles in tow, to make the most of the late afternoon sunshine.
Earlier in the day over on Lawns 2, Talandracas faced Murus Sanctus. Looking to rebound from a first-round loss, Murus Sanctus established an early lead with back-to-back goals from Facundo Sola, including Sola’s first of two penalty conversions on the day. Responding for Talandracas, Pablo Pieres found the goal three times with two coming from the penalty line to get his team on the board as they began to apply pressure on Murus Sanctus’ defense. Moving forward from the back, a goal from Cappella provided an answer for Murus Sanctus. Trading three goals apiece in the third chukka, the two teams utilized different methods with Murus Sanctus driving from the field to score on perfect 3 for 3 shooting, while Talandracas’ Pieres continued to find success at the penalty line. Despite conceding four penalty goals, strong attacking from Murus Sanctus gave them a slim 8-6 advantage at the half.
Igniting their second half comeback, Talandracas relied on strong defensive play to hold their opponents off the scoreboard for the first time in the match and received a key goal from Pieres to tie the match at 8-all. Trading goals once more, the two evenly matched teams saw Strada hit his second penalty conversion, while Murus Sanctus’ Sola struck once more from the field for his impressive seventh goal of the match. Going into the final chukka of regulation deadlocked at nine, each team had the opportunity to take the lead but a final stand-up defensive effort from Talandracas held Murus Sanctus scoreless while Talandracas’ leading scorer scored the winning goal on a strike from the field to complete the 10-9 comeback victory.
Pip Hitchman, Cowdray Park Polo Club