A large crowd of spectators, including almost 400 guests of the Argentine Ambassador, HE Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, turned up to watch the El Remanso team of four English professional players take on Habtoor in the fourth match of the continuing league phase of the weekend’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup.
Mohammed Al Habtoor’s team, with himself at number 1, comprised Paco O’Dwyer (substituting for Isido Strada) at 2, Fran Elizalde at 3 and Nico Pieres at Back. The well-established El Remanso line-up comprised Charlie Hanbury at 1, Ollie Cudmore at 2, James Beim at 3 and James Harper at Back.
A goal apiece had appeared on the scoreboard by the close of the first chukka. Chukka 2 saw a super piece of defence by Cudmore free up James Harper to sail away and take the score on to 2-1. By the close of the chukka scores were level at 3-3. Hanbury swiftly added to El Remanso’s scoreline at the start of the third chukka and Cudmore was next with a disciplined run all the way down the pitch and through the posts for 5-3. Harper scored from a 30 yard penalty to take the score on to 6-3 and then uncharacteristically gave away a goal to Habtoor in a melée in front of his own goal so that the score at half time was 6-4 in favour of El Remanso.
O’Dwyer made a determined start for Habtoor at the start of the second half, but keen marking from Beim stopped him from scoring. It wasn’t long before Hanbury took El Remanso on to 7-4. O’Dwyer worried Cudmore long enough to make the El Remanso number 2 send a shot at goal wide. The ball came in and the whites were on the move but Harper swooped in and backed it away. Beim latched onto it and sent it between the posts for 8-4.
Hanbury’s third goal of the match came at the start of chukka 5, Beim’s pony assisted him in sending through his second goal bringing the score up to 10-4, whilst his third was a huge lofted shot which Elizalde managed to stop but Beim was straight back onto it, tapping it between the posts for 11-4. Habtoor hadn’t given up, however, and pushed El Remanso into defense mode. The whistle blew for a foul and Nico Pieres sent a swift 30 yard shot through the posts to pull a goal back for Habtoor, only to be followed by another foul which Pieres converted from 40 yards and a come-back had begun.
The sixth chukka opened and it wasn’t long before Habtoor were calling for another foul. A penalty 30 yarder was awarded which Pieres saw through the posts for 7-11. El Remanso more or less hung on through the final minutes, again enabling Pieres a penalty shot, this time a massive 60 yard drive put accurately through the goal and 8-11. Beim won the ball from the throw-in, Pieres was onto it before Cudmore stopped him and the ball went over the boards. Habtoor won the ball from the roll-in with O’Dwyer and Pieres racing off the goal and Hanbury in defense. Pieres made his shot at goal but the goal judge’s flag didn’t move. Pieres appealed to the Umpires and finally the goal was given and Habtoor were behind by just two goals. Back went the teams to the middle for the throw-in. Habtoor called for a foul and another decision had to be made. A 60 yard penalty was awarded to Habtoor but the ball went wide. The all English side of El Remanso managed to hold on for the final minute of the match and finally claimed victory on 11-9.
The Argentine Ambassador presented the historic trophy dating back to the 1950s to Charlie Hanbury and was assisted by the British Ambassador to Argentina, Mark Kent, in presenting individual prizes. The Best Playing Pony award, presented by the Argetnine Polo Pony Breeders Association, went to Open Petrova, owned and played by Nico Pieres.
In Cowdray’s domestic Final of the weekend, Andrew Swaffield’s Alcedo faced Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce in the 6 goal Heyshott Cup, Millie Cooper taking Peter’s place. Alcedo were leading 4-2 into the second half before goals from Jack Berner and Derreck Bratley brought the scores to level-pegging by the end of the third chukka. A tense fourth chukka saw Derreck Bratley score for Maiz Dulce before the final hooter sounded and Millie Cooper was delighted to accept the Heyshott Cup from Mrs Jennai Clague.