Marques de Riscal and Twelve Oaks Earn Narrow Victories
The British Open Polo Championship for the Cowdray Gold Cup continued on the fourth day of play beginning with Marques de Riscal against UAE on Brooks Field, followed by Twelve Oaks facing Monterosso on Ambersham 3.
Trying to become the first team to two victories in the tournament, UAE opened the scoring on a 30-yard penalty conversion from Tommy Beresford, but a foul-ridden opening chukka turned the momentum to Marques de Riscal. Scoring three unanswered goals, including two penalty conversions, Guillermo Caset guided Marques de Riscal to an early 3-1 lead. Improving their discipline, UAE was able to respond in the second chukka, relying on two field goals from Bartolome Castagnola Jnr as part of a three-goal run that helped bring them back within one. Exchanging goals in the third chukka with contributions from both Caset in the field and Beresford at the line, the two evenly matched opponents maintained the one-goal difference with Marques de Riscal leading 6-5 into the half-time break.
Limited to just three field goals throughout the entire match, UAE produced from the penalty line to offset their struggles from the field. Nine combined fouls left few opportunities for shots on goal, but Beresford and Caset traded three penalty goals each in the fourth chukka, bringing the score to 9-8. Play began to open up over the final two chukkas, but each UAE goal was met by a response from Marques de Riscal. Along with a goal from Santiago Laborde, Caset’s ninth goal allowed Marques de Riscal to cling on to their one-goal lead with one chukka remaining. Desperate to take the lead, UAE was relentless on offense, firing seven shots at goal in the final chukka, but were unable to find the mark on any attempt. Pinned in their own half, Marques de Riscal tried to withstand the UAE pressure, but sent their opponent to the penalty line on four different occasions. Unable to convert two attempts from the 40-yard line and two from the 60-yard line, UAE fell a goal short as a scoreless final chukka secured the 11-10 win for Marques de Riscal.
After a disappointing overtime loss to Scone in their opening game, Monterosso found themselves in another close match against Twelve Oaks for The Ashton Silver Cup. Striking first, Twelve Oaks’ Charlie Wooldridge opened the scoring from the field, while Joaquin Pittaluga sent a 30-yard penalty attempt through the posts for a 2-0 lead.
Despite the slow start, Monterosso mounted a strong response in the second chukka, producing a four-goal run, with three coming off the mallet of Matias Gonzalez. Shooting a perfect 4 for 4 during the stretch, Monterosso took their first lead of the match at 4-3. Using their defense effectively to slow Twelve Oaks, Monterosso inched further ahead at halftime after Pablo Mac Donough scored the lone goal of the third chukka to hold a narrow two-goal advantage.
Exiting the tent, a refocused Twelve Oaks turned to their passing to outshoot Monterosso in the fourth chukka, led by the efforts of John Paul Clarkin, who contributed a goal and an assist to bring the game even at 6-all. Monterosso made a move in the fifth chukka, hoping to secure the victory as Ignacio Toccalino moved forward in the game to score on back-to-back drives, leaving Twelve Oaks in need of a strong final chukka to claim the victory. Foul trouble for Monterosso provided the opening Twelve Oaks needed as Pittaluga sent two penalty attempts through the goal, pushing the game into overtime. Facing their second consecutive game requiring an extra chukka, Monterosso suffered a similar fate as a foul sent Pittaluga to the 40-yard line where he converted his sixth penalty goal to deliver the 11-10 victory. Charlie Wooldrige was delighted to receive the trophy after the match from the Hon. Mrs Lila Pearson.
Pip Hitchman, Cowdray Park Polo Club