A feast of polo drew to a close at Cowdray Park over the weekend of 4-5th August with outstanding success for the home side, Cowdray Vikings.
Immediately following the King Power Gold Cup, Cowdray Park launched into its three Goodwood Week tournaments, all run as part of the HPA’s Victor Ludorum series – the 15 goal Harrison, 18 goal Challenge and 8 goal Holden White Cups.
Thirteen teams entered the 2018 Harrison Cup supported by Air Partner with Northwood/Thai Polo facing Cowdray Vikings in the Final. Ned Hine (1 goal) took to the field at number 1 for Northwood/Thai Polo, with Manu Novillo Astrada (1 goal) at 2, Michel del Carril (6 goals) at 3 and Juan Zavaleta (7 goals) at back. For Cowdray Vikings, Will Harper (1 goal) played at number 1, George Pearson (2 goals) at 2, Will Emerson (5 goals) at 3 and Jack Richardson, England 7 goaler, at back.
The first mark on the scoreboard came from Del Carril, quickly answered by Will Emerson for Cowdray Vikings. A 30 yard penalty gave Jack Richardson an easy chance to add to Cowdray Vikings’ scoreline by the end of the first chukka which closed at 2-1 in their favour. Goals 4 and 5 came from Will Harper for Cowdray Vikings to end the second chukka 4-1 ahead. In chukka 3, Zavaleta and Del Carrill worked hard to bring the goals home for Northwood/Thai Polo and Del Carrill was eventually rewarded with his second goal and shortly afterwards a penalty which he accurately sent through from 60 yards to pull up to within a goal of Cowdray Vikings. Richardson dashed away from the next throw-in, Northwood/Thai Polo mounted a good defence, but Richardson intervened and sent a lovely pass to George Pearson who obliged with a good field goal taking Cowdray Vikings ahead on 5-3 by half time.
Chukka 4 saw Del Carrill’s fourth goal and just a one goal difference in the score again. But Emerson continued to make the most of every chance and was rewarded with a super goal and 6-4 in Cowdray Vikings’ favour at chukka’s end. In the final chukka, there was some confusion in front of the Vikings’ goal and Northwood/Thai Polo were awarded a spot penalty which Zavaleta saw through for 5-6. The visitors increased the pressure to try and catch up but great defence from Jack Richardson prevented them scoring again. Having led all the way through the match, Cowdray Vikings had their third consecutive victory in the Harrison Cup on a score of 6-5.
Guy Williams, Sales Manager of sponsors Air Partner, presented the Harrison Cup to a delighted George Pearson and prizes to all players, the award for Most Valuable Player, sponsored by The Polo Magazine, was won by Jack Richardson and the Best Playing Pony prize, sponsored by Polo Times, went to Miami – owned and ridden by Juan Zavaleta. In the subsidiary Aotea Cup, Emlor beat HB Las Monjitas 12½-8 and the subsidiary Maidensgrove Cup was won by Ballinger beating Sumaya 6-4½.
Sunday 5th August saw the culmination of the 18 goal Cowdray Park Challenge Cup, Cowdray’s oldest trophy first presented in 1911, and in 2018 supported by Fortunis Capital. Six teams contested the 2018 tournament with Cowdray Vikings again featuring in an important HPA Final, this time against King Power.
Ollie Cork (2 goals) took the number 1 positon for Cowdray Vikings with George Pearson (2 goals) at 2, Juan Zavaleta (7 goals) at 3 and Jack Richardson (7 goals)at back. For King Power, Santiago Di Paola (1 goal) took the number 1 position, Juan Martin Zubia (6 goals) played at 2, with Marcos Di Paola (7 goals) at 3 and Byron Watson (4 goals) at back.
A cracking goal from Jack Richardson opened the scoring, but a swift response from King Power saw goals 2 and 3 coming from Zubia. The talented South African Byron Watson saw King Power 3-1 ahead before the chukka closed. The goals dried up for King Power in chukka 2 but excellent combining of skills between Zavaleta and Richardson saw Cowdray Viking equalize the scores on 3-3 to close chukka 2.
Tremendous attacking play by both sides during a fantastic third chukka saw spectators on the edge of their seats even though just a goal apiece resulted. The match resumed after half time with 4-4 on the scoreboard and within seconds Zavaleta for Cowdray Vikings had raced away to score and take the lead. Richardson dashed away from the throw-in and scored again! When the ball went out, King Power won the shot and Marcos Di Paola made his move with Zubia close behind. In came Zavaleta to steal the ball. He passed it forward to Richardson who finished the play with a super goal and 7-4 on the scoreboard in Cowdray Vikings’ favour. Zavaleta won the throw-in but a whistle stopped play and King Power were given a 40 yard penalty. Zubia sent the ball home to pull a goal back. A frantic piece of play resulted in Zubia battling to escape from Zavaleta. There was a whistle and a 30 yard penalty enabled Zubia for King Power to pull up to within a goal of the Vikings on 6-7. The throw-in resulted in a foul against Zavaleta and a 60 yard penalty gave him the chance to send through a beautiful long ball to increase Cowdray Vikings’ lead to 8-6.
An intense final chukka saw no let-up in the action with both sides fighting for advantage. Richardson fed a ball to Ollie Cork who saw it through the posts for 9-6. Richardson won the ball from the throw-in but Di Paola Senior turned it and sent it to Watson. Chased by Cork, Di Paola held on and scored for King Power. Cowdray Vikings won the throw-in and managed to scramble with the ball to the King Power goal and take the score on to 10-7. Watson steered the ball from the resulting throw-in but a lovely steal by Richardson prevented his attack. In came Di Paola to snatch the ball and pass to Zubia. Despite hassling by Pearson, Di Paola re-positioned himself to receive Zubia’s pass and took the ball through the posts for another fine goal. Thankfully for Cowdray Vikings a minute later the bell rang to signal the end of an absolutely thrilling Final and they had won the second big trophy of the weekend on a final score of 10-8.
Mrs Emma McRae for Fortunis Capital presented the prestigious Challenge Cup to George Pearson and prizes to all players. The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times went to Nobu owned and ridden by Jack Richardson. Richardson was also awarded the Polo Magazine prize for Most Valuable Player. In the subsidiary Final of the Challenge Cup Four Quarters Black beat Snake Bite 5-3.
The final trophy of the weekend, the 8 goal Holden White Cup, was entered by 17 teams with Wilf Hine’s Sea Breeze facing Christian Staubach’s Bamboleo/Madams Farm in the Final. Will Millard (-1) took over from Wilf Fine at number 1, Will Harper (1 goal) played at 2, with 4 goalers Nick Pepper and Henry Fisher playing at 3 and back respectively. Christian Staubach was joined by Jack Taylor (1 goal) at number 2, Nick Johnson (2 goals) at 3, and Glenn Sheriff (5 goals) at back in the Bamboleo/Madams Farm side.
Glenn Sherriff opened the scoring for Bamboleo/Madams Farm but a goal apiece from Nick Pepper and Will Harper saw Sea Breeze finish the first chukka with a 2-1 lead. Bamboleo/Madams Farm tried hard for the goals in chukka 2 but several excellent saves prevented any addition to their scoreline while Henry Fisher for Sea Breeze was able to add to Sea Breeze’s with the conversion of a 30 yard penalty and 3-1 by half time. An early whistle in the third chukka gave Bamboleo/Madam’s Farm a chance to score from a 60 yard penalty but Sherriff sent it wide. Fisher brought the ball in looking for Pepper. A lovely team effort saw the ball end up with Harper. Harper carefully slowed the ball down and sent a super shot between the posts for a lead of 4-1. Sherriff had the chance to score from a 30 yard penalty and chukka 3 ended at 4-2 in Sea Breeze’s favour.
In the final chukka attempts by both teams went wide. When the ball went over the boards, the new rule of a quick hit from the spot enabled Johnson to fly in and dash off with the ball to make goal number 3 for Bamboleo/Madams Farm and just a one goal difference. But luck wasn’t on their side as they soon gave away a penalty which Fisher was able to convert from 30 yards for Sea Breeze and the Holden White Cup was theirs on a final score of 5-3. Mrs Sarah Millard presented the Cup to Will Millard on behalf of Wilf Fine and prizes to all players. Henry Fisher’s Sabine was awarded the Best Playing Pony Prize sponsored by Polo Times and Will Harper was voted Most Valuable Player and presented with The Polo Magazine’s MVP prize. In the subsidiary Holden White Finals, Northwood beat Hascombe Stud to claim the Ambersham Cup and Katherine Smithwick’s Jet Set narrowly beat Strategic Help for Heroes 6-5 to take home the Ruins Cup.
©2018 Clive Bennett Photography