In an exciting and fast opening of the Arena Polo World Cup Azerbaijan the teams of Argentina and England clashed for the countries first polo match in modern times at the newly built polo arena in Baku. Central Asia is the birthplace of polo. “Chovgan” – a centuries-old traditional form of polo – is still played in many places in Azerbaijan, but polo in its modern-day form has not really taken hold in this country on the edge of the Caspian Sea.
Now polo is returning to its roots. Under the slogan “Bringing polo home” the audience in the vibrant city of Baku joined highly motivated and competitive matches Friday night. The teams ambitions to defeat their competitors has been increased one night before, as the owner of the title sponsor, the diary producer Milla, M. Ahadpur Khangah set up a remarkable amount of prize money for the teams ranging from 100,000 euros for the victorious players down to 75,000, 50,000 and 25,000 euros for the teams at the second to fourth place of the tournament.
It is not only that a tournament in Europe has been equipped with such a huge prize money for the first time but also the first time that Arena Polo is played on grass. On December 5th Azerbaijan will become an official member of the Federation of International Polo (FIP). President Richard T. Caleel (USA) promised this at the opening conference on the eve of the event in Baku.
After a couple of impressive and acrobatic horse presentations by local riders the teams started the first chukka with both, Argentina Chopard and England Bentley getting into the game quickly and England led 1-0 at the end of the first chukka. Accentuated by straight actions of Andres Laplacette (+7) Argentina caught up to 3-2 at half-time of the match and has been brought even forward by a fine shot of Agustin Kronhaus (+7) and Adrian Laplacette to 5-2 at the end of chukka number three.
Spectacular shots of “Maestro” Manolo Fernandez Llorente (+7) and Adrian Laplacette (+7) brought their team further on and cleared the path to a victorious 7-4. Sathnan Dillon (+7) from Team England Bentley brought the first match of the Arena Polo World Cup Azerbaijan to a result of 7-4 and the audience into real polo enthusiasm.
The second game of the day was played by the line-ups of Europe Thomas Winter (+6), Heinrich Dumrath (+4) and Raul Laplacette (+7) against the USA Team with Matias Vial Perez from Chile (+7), Pablo Miguens (+7) and Tito Gaudenzi (+3), which went to lead in the first chukka with 3-1. But Team Europe did not let them pull away the game and particularly Raul Laplacette put a structure into the play of his team which made it coming up to 3-3 at the end of the second chukka.
Team Europe did not accept having only caught up. They made their horses fast and with precise actions made it finally to a 3-5 at the end of the 4th chukka.
POLO+10 who is doing the press work for the event will keep you posted about the results and further polo days here in Baku. You will find the most beautiful pictures, all results, statements of the players and a current coverage of the tournament at www.polo-magazin.de!
Adrian Laplacette (+6)
Manolo Fernandez Llorente (+7)
Agustin Kronhaus (+4)
Ignacio Campos Carles (+4)
Satnam Dhillon (+7)
Simon Crotto (+5)
Andres Laplacette (+5)
Antony Fanshawe (+3)
Matias Vial Perez (+7)
Pablo Miguens (+7)
Tito Gaudenzi (+3)
Christopher Degano (+3)
Baltika 7 (+17)
Thomas Winter (+6)
Heinrich Dumrath (+4)
Raul Laplacette (+7)
Niffy Winter (+4)
[nggallery id=232] [nggallery id=233]