The Trippetts Challenge played for the James Wentworth Stanley Cup is the opening high goal tournament of the UK polo season and a useful warm-up for teams preparing for the 22 goal King Power Gold Cup at Cowdray Park and Queens Cup at Guards.
Five locally based sides took part in the competition with Michael Bickford’s La Indiana
and Corinne Ricard’s Murus Sanctus making it through to the Final. Bickford, himself a strong 1 goal player, retains only 10-goaler Facundo Pieres , now arguably the world’s best player, from his previous line-up. His new line-up now includes Englishman Jimbo Fewster (3 goals) at 2 and Brazilian Rodrigo Andrade (8 goals) at 3. Corinne Ricard has retained Facundo Sola (7 goals) and Gonzalito Pieres (9 goals) in her 2019 side and has brought in the very talented Tommy Beresford (6 goals) playing at Back.
A huge lofted 60 yard penalty shot by Facundo Pieres made the opening goal for La Indiana. As the bell went for the end of the first chukka, Bickford scored a neat goal to take his side 2-0 ahead. Early in the second a 30 yard penalty against La Indiana enabled Gonzalito Pieres to put the first mark on the scoreboard for Murus Sanctus, but it wasn’t long before Facundo sent a great pass to Bickford enabling the patron’s second goal of the match and a 3-1 lead. An infringement against Andrade gave La Indiana a 40 yard penalty which Facundo Pieres shot through for 4-1. Facu won the ball from the throw-in and sent it forward, it was stopped by Beresford, but Fewster swooped in and raced away for his first goal of the match and a 5-1 lead to close chukka 2.
The third chukka gave Facundo Pieres the opportunity to score from another 60 yard penalty. He followed up by stealing the ball from Sola and racing all the way to the goal posts for 7-1. A superb goal from Andrade made it 8-1. A couple of mistakes by La Indiana enabled Sola to score from firstly a 30 and then a 40 yard penalty, but there was no let-up in the La Indiana attack with Fewster stealing the ball from Sola and racing away to score and end the third chukka on 9-3.
During half time a substitute was found for Michael Bickford who had sustained an injury to his hand. His place was taken by 14 year old Alfie Hyde – his first appearance in the high goal, but undaunted by the challenge. The chukka started briskly with a swift goal from Sola for Murus Sanctus but, tit-for-tat, Andrade snatched the ball from the throw-in and raced away to score, the chukka ending on 10-4. Chukka 5 opened with a throw-in won by Murus Sanctus, but suddenly young Hyde cleverly grabbed the ball and raced away to the other end to make his first goal in the high goal, the team’s other young player Fewster following up with a powerful shot to make it 12-4. A much-needed come-back from Murus Sanctus saw Sola take the ball between the posts with a good field goal, score from a 30 yard penalty, and finish off a good shot from Gonzalito Pieres to make his sixth goal of the match, the chukka finishing on 12-7 to La Indiana. Despite plenty of action in the final chukka only one goal ensued with Gonzalito Pieres finishing off a long shot from Sola to reach a final score of 12-8 in La Indiana’s favour.
Clare Mllford-Haven presented the Trippetts Challenge Cup in memory of her son James Wentworth-Stanley to Michael Bickford and prizes to all players. The award for Most Valuable Player went to Jimbo Fewster of La Indiana. The prize for Best Playing Pony went to Azucar, owned by Michael Bickford and played by Facundo Pieres.