The much-anticipated start to the 2020 King Power Gold Cup at Cowdray Park Polo Club began with an impressive 14-10 victory for Les Lions/Great Oaks over the highly touted Next Generation team featuring Adolfo Cambiaso and David Stirling to win the Carlos Gracida Memorial Trophy. The second match of the day featured an exciting finish with Park Place scoring four goals in the final chukka to claim the 10-9 victory over Park Place Vaara, concluding an exciting opening day.
All eyes turned to the opening game of the tournament and it did not disappoint with Les Lions/Great Oaks’ Bartolome Castagnola scoring an astounding nine goals, four of which came from the penalty line. A strong team defensive effort from Les Lions/Great Oaks held Next Generation to just 40% shooting from the field, making the Cambiaso-led team work hard for every opportunity. Although they finished 6 for 7 from the penalty line, Next Generation could not keep pace with the potent Les Lions/Great Oaks offense in the 14-10 defeat.
The opening half showcased an evenly matched contest, with neither team able to build a large lead. Castagnola opened the scoring with a goal from the field and the penalty line, while Next Generation’s Adolfo Cambiaso and Stirling responded with a goal each, leaving the scored tied at 1-1. Filling in for the injured Camilo Castagnola, Alejandro Muzzio made his impact in the second chukka, scoring his first goal, while also collecting two assists as part of a three-goal chukka, giving Les Lions/Great Oaks the slim 5-4 lead. Scoring his third penalty goal of the half, Adolfo Cambiaso restored the tie, leaving the outcome to be decided in the second half.
Reorganized after a scoreless third chukka, Les Lions/Great Oaks came out strong in the second half behind the efforts of Castagnola. Executing a combination of runs to goal and passes, Castagnola was responsible for three of the six Les Lions/Great Oaks goals, while also adding two assists in the fourth and fifth chukka, leaving the Next Generation defence struggling to slow the quick attack. Keeping their opponents pinned in their own half, Les Lions/Great Oaks build a commanding 12-7 lead with just one chukka remaining. A late push from Stirling was not enough to pull Next Generation within reach as Les Lions/Great Oaks completed the dominant 14-10 victory to begin the King Power Gold Cup.
The Carlos Gracida Best Playing Pony rug was awarded to 7yr old chestnut mare, Calito Cielito, played by Ale Muzzio and owned by the Castagnolas.
A match-up between the two Park Place teams concluded the opening day of play in a thrilling finish. The efficiency of Park Place Vaara throughout most of the game gave them the advantage, shooting 54% through the first five chukkas, but a dominant finish from Park Place ultimately proved to be the difference. Gonzalito Pieres led all players with five goals, all from the field, while working seamlessly alongside Facundo Pieres to narrowly defeat Park Place Vaara 10-8.
A quick start from Park Place Vaara saw the prowess of 10-goaler Hilario Ulloa, who contributed on both goals, scoring on the first play of the game and then setting up teammate Juan Britos to hold the early 2-1 lead. A defensive style of play was seen throughout the remainder of the first half with field goals hard to come by. Park Place shot just 2 for 10 from the field with Gonzalito Pieres the only player able to find the goal. Two missed penalty attempts kept Park Place Vaara from taking the lead, leaving the teams tied at 3-3 entering the second half.
While Park Place continued to struggle with their accuracy, Park Place Vaara found their footing, executing a two-man game effectively between Ulloa and Britos. A turning point in the match, the fifth chukka resulted in Park Place Vaara extending their lead to two, including Will Harper’s first goal, leaving Park Place facing a two-goal deficit entering the final chukka. Despite a stagnant offense through the first five chukkas, Park Place exploded for four unanswered goals on just five shots, highlighted by the final goal from Andrey Borodin.