Thai Polo NP Rise in Overtime and Dubai Polo Team Remain Undefeated
Thursday’s matchups in the British Open Championship for the Cowdray Gold Cup featured action between Thai Polo NP and King Power on Ambersham 3, followed by Park Place against Dubai Polo Team on Brooks Field.
In the opening match of the day, King Power’s Nicolas Pieres initiated the scoring in a highly contested affair against reigning Gold Cup champions Thai Polo NP. Answering each other stride-for-stride in the first two chukkas of play, three goals on nine shots from King Power’s Pieres and Mackenzie Weisz were matched by a balanced Thai Polo NP effort with contributions from Charlie Hanbury, Min Podesta, and Ned Hine at the 30-yard line. Tied at 4-all in the third chukka, Hine converted his second conversion of the half as Thai Polo NP held King Power shotless to take a 4-3 lead at the break.
Following the first goal for Jared Zenni in open play to extend Thai Polo NP’s lead to two, King Power took control of the tone on the field. Starting a five-goal unanswered run off the mallet of Weisz, Pieres took advantage of back-to-back conversions, along with James Harper’s first goal of the match to pull ahead 7-5. Briefly halting King Power’s efficient offensive attack on a drive from Podesta, a response from Pieres to convert one of his two attempts in the chukka extended King Power’s advantage 8-6. Following losses to both Great Oaks LL and Marques de Riscal and faced with the possibility of going 0-3, Thai Polo NP assembled a statement sixth chukka. Holding King Power to just one shot in the field, Hine converted his third penalty goal on the day, while Podesta sent the match into overtime with a key conversion from the field. Feeding off their offensive momentum established in the previous chukka, one shot from Zenni was all Thai Polo NP needed to find the posts and claim the hard-fought 9-8 victory.
Taking their first of two matchups against Murus Sanctus and Scone, Dubai Polo Team continued to establish themselves as frontrunners against a 1-1 Park Place team still trying to find their offensive continuity. Breaking out to an early lead, three goals on three shots from Dubai Polo Team’s leading scorer Camilo Castagnola set the tone for the high-scoring affair. In a second chukka with a flurry of action, a combined six goals between the two teams resulted in all but one scored from the field. Offensive contributions from Francisco Elizalde and Facundo Pieres finally got Park Place onto the scoreboard, but Dubai Polo Team continued to provide a response to remain ahead 6-4. The fast-paced match suited Dubai Polo Team’s high-pressure style, leading to back-to-back conversions for Castagnola at the 30-yard line. Despite a successful drive from Park Place’s Elizalde, their ability to score only once in the chukka on four shots proved costly, as Dubai Polo Team took a 9-5 lead into the half.
Regrouping in the break, Pieres came out strong scoring two goals for Park Place, but Dubai Polo Team’s offensive firepower allowed them to extend their lead further on tallies from Castagnola and Rashid Albwardy kept them ahead by five. Needing a big chukka to pull themselves back into contention, 10-goaler Pieres stepped up once more to score three of Park Place’s four goals to shrink the deficit to three. In a final high-scoring chukka of play, two more off the mallet of Dubai Polo Team’s Castagnola resulted in his game-high tenth goal. A final push from Park Place including Pieres’ ninth goal tried to close the gap but ultimately Dubai Polo Team’s ability to score 17 goals propelled them to the 17-14 victory to improve to 3-0 in the tournament.
Pip Hitchman, Cowdray Park Polo Club