How do they do it? Each year the Swiss Medium Goal at Polo Park Zürich just gets better and better. This year, for the first time, four female players were taking part and nine nations were represented. And the ponies! Given the strength of top-class polo, the pony lines were occupied by strings of equally top-class ponies, form Eduardo Greghi‘s string from Adolfo Cambiaso, over Thommy Gräff‘s power ponies to Ann-Katrin Brändle‘s little Sonadora, having her first medium goal in Switzerland. Immaculately turned out, a credit to both the grooms and owners.
So six well-mounted teams started the games on the Thursday 15 June. Friday was used as a buffer day, and players were able to meet up socially for an asado at the club house on Friday evening.
Saturday saw the teams fight for their spot in the finals. I love the Saturday games and enjoyed a devastating display of speed and skill which promised energy enthused entertainment for Sunday.
Close, closer, closest
Spectators started strolling in for the first game at 10:30 between Hato with Ann-Kathrin Brändle, Stefan Roth, Christopher Kiesel and Manuel Carranza versus Naoo with Sacha Djafarian, Thomas Wolfensberger, Walter Cortez and Andrew Guthrie. Walter Cortez, a battle-hardened, experienced player was the stand-out performer for Naoo but, despite able assistance from his team, was unable to match the combination of Christopher Kiesel and Manuel Carranza. Both Chris and Manu put on a relentless performance and matched Naoo‘s speed all the way. It was a half goal game with Hato coming in victorious 81/2 to 8. Doesn‘t get much closer than that.
Midday was approaching, and in the hospitality tent a summer touch was being provided by Ecuadorian Hats who set up their colorful stand beside the Oona Caviar tasing area and ZigarrenKurier with Leno organizing a stylish cigar lounge field-side.
Chill-out music and champagne was the order of the day until, out on the field, the game for third place literally exploded. Seriously, it makes commentating fun when the game is this fast. Los Lobos/Gräff Capital (Thommy Gräff, Sébastien Le Page, Facundo Kelly, Markus Gräff) were up against Polo Club Zug (Aline Harry, Janik Oertli, Usman Ibrar, Fecundo Guevara). Aline, always a force to be reckoned with, was on her favorite pony, Wanda, in the first chukker getting her game on track and being set up for well-paced runs by Janik. Guevara gave us a vibrant performance full of attacking intent, but was matched by the opposite Nr.3, Kelly, whose adventurous style of play was sensational. This was a hard fought encounter but Los Lobos/Gräff Capital found just that bit more power and precision to come in at third place.
Focused and fearless
1pm, 32°C… the crowd left the tent, left their champagne glasses and grabbed their phones, because here were two teams with everything to play for and ready to provide us with a thrilling final.
Team Polo Park Zürich had two of the four female players in the tournament with Morgan Van Overbroek and Katja Grauwiler at positions 2 and 1 – both well mounted and with the character and composure to compete at top level. Martin Podesta directed play from his position as Nr.3, while Segundo Copello raced through the first chukker like a man possessed, before being tested in the second by that well mounted pair Daniel Aegerter and Eduardo Greghi for Team Equilibrium. Francisco Fucci was a dominant Nr.4 when the pressure was on, and able to deliver impressive defense in style.
But keeping the pot boiling for Equilibrium was the young player Manuel Maria Bereterbide, who was able to do it all and at full speed while making it look easy. He had that creative spark, and turned this game into a classic. A joy to watch. Both teams had the energy and quality to take the honors, but it was Equilibrium that had that edge, that intensity, that ability to keep possession of the ball just a bit longer and get it forward and between the posts more often. Massive cheers from the crowd as the final bell sounded and Equilibrium came
A canter past the spectators and both teams were applauded and congratulated.
Photos by Kathrin Gralla