An epic contest between Valiente and La Indiana in a league game for the 2018 King Power Gold Cup, played for the Midhurst Town Cup, delivered one of the highest scoring and best matches seen by Cowdray Park spectators in recent times.
Each playing their second match in the Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente met Michael Bickford’s La Indiana with the world’s two leading 10-goal players on opposing sides – Adolfo Cambiaso for Valiente and Facundo Pieres for La Indiana.
USA patron Jornayvaz took the number 1 position for his side with Englishman Hugo Lewis at 2 and Argentine players Cristian Laprida at 3 and Cambiaso at Back. Also from the USA, Michael Bickford was at number 1 for La Indiana, with Australian Alec White at 2, American Nic Roldan at 3, and Argentine Facundo Pieres at Back.
La Indiana marked the scoreboard within seconds of the match starting, Bickford scoring from Roldan’s pass. Valiente won the throw in with Laprida looking for Cambiaso, but an infringement enabled Laprida to level the scores from a 30 yard penalty. Weaving his way around Pieres, Laprida made a neat field goal and 2-1 on the scoreboard for Valiente. A collision on the field gave another penalty to Valiente which Cambiaso lost little time in converting from 40 yards. The teams came back to the centre, La Indiana stole the ball from Cambiaso and suddenly Pieres worked his magic sending a massive lofted shot from 70 yards through the posts to take back a goal for his side.
Chukka 2 saw a trio of goals from Cambiaso: the first a lofty penalty shot from 40 yards, next a good pass from Lewis enabling him to tap the ball all the way to goal for 5-2, and the third in his usual style of appearing from nowhere, lining up his shot from way back and lobbing a huge shot accurately between the posts. The score moved on to 6-2 in Valiente’s favour. Pieres stole the ball from Laprida and went on the attack to achieve La Indiana’s only goal of the chukka. Lewis replied, giving Valiente 7-3 on the scoreboard.
Fortunes reversed in chukka 3 with 3 goals in succession from Pieres from penalties, an accurate 60 yard shot and two 30s bringing La Indiana up to 6-7. At the next throw-in Cambiaso raced away, he was impeded and a 30 yard penalty was awarded which Laprida saw between the posts for 8-6. Jornayvaz won the ball from the throw-in, tried to pass to Cambiaso, but White for La Indiana swooped in, the ball passed between his teammates until Pieres raced on to score and pull his side back to 7-8 as the half time bell sounded.
Two swift field goals from Cambiaso took Valiente ahead to 10-7. La Indiana fought for every ball, White scored from a super pass from Pieres, a brilliant run all the way to goal from Nic Roldan secured another, and a 30 yard penalty shot from Pieres finally levelled the scores at 10 apiece. Chukka 5 opened and two penalties and a field goal from Facundo Pieres saw La Indiana ahead for the first time in the match, albeit during the time that Cambiaso spent two minutes in the sin bin. The umpires continued to let nothing go and two of Valiente’s answering goals came from 30 yard penalties which, with a lovely field goal from Laprida, brought the scores level again on 13-13. Cambiaso raced away from the throw-in, Facundo saving a goal with a brilliant clearance, Bickford was well placed to pick up the ball and sent a wonderful goal through for a lead of 14-13 to end the penultimate chukka.
The breathtaking action continued into the sixth chukka when Laprida sent a brilliant shot just wide. White brought the ball in, Pieres picked it up and delivered it to Roldan. The whistle blew for Laprida’s intervention and Pieres sent through goal number 28 giving his side a 15-13 lead. In the heated action, a 60 yard penalty was awarded to Valiente which Cambiaso sent soaring to secure just a one goal difference. Another penalty was given away and Laprida was given the job of sending the 30 yard shot home and it was 15-15. Cambiaso went racing away again hitting the ball in the air as he headed for the goal, but the whistle blew. A safety shot was awarded to Valiente. Huge Lewis swiftly took it and Valiente secured the lead which saw them the victors in the 2018 Midhurst Town Cup.
The historic Cup and generous prizes of leather document cases were presented by Mrs Mariya Burton of Aspinal of London. She also presented the award for Most Valuable Player to Christian Laprida. The Best Playing Pony prize, awarded to Facundo Pieres’ Galactica was presented by Mrs Lila Pearson.