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Dubai claims Cartier Gold Cup for second year in a row

In the final of the most important tournament in continental Europe, the 45th INDI International Polo Tournament, Dubai claimed the Cartier Gold Cup after defeating Ayala Polo Team by 12-7. Dubai won the title for a second consecutive year after a thrilling match at Santa María Polo Club in Sotogrande.

It was a very hard-fought final, with both teams working hard to gain the upper hand. The match was tied until the fifth chukka when Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Santiago Stirling, Alejo Taranco, Adolfo Cambiaso) claimed a three goal advantage; they held their ground in the last ten minutes of the match and emerged victorious.

Adolfo Cambiaso, Dubai’s leading man and the best polo player in the world, was not able to finish the match; he suffered an injury which forced him to leave the field in the last three minutes of the game. Cambiaso was replaced by La Dolfina teammate Juan Martin Nero. Cambiaso was the top scorer of the match, scoring nine goals. Dubai worked well as a whole, blocking most of the plays Facundo and Nicolás Pieres attempted against them for Ayala.

Ayala was a great rival but, despite their efforts, they were not able to overcome Dubai, who managed to reclaim their 2015 title. The fantastic organisation only lost one game this season, curiously against Ayala. Facundo Pieres was Ayala’s top scorer, with four goals.

Dolfina Primicia, played by Adolfo Cambiaso, was chosen as BPP of the final and Adolfo Cambiaso was named MVP of the match.

The Subsidiary Cup, played before the final, was won by Lechuza Caracas. The Venezuelan team defeated Dos Lunas A&G Banca Privada 10-8.

Alejo Taranco, Dubai Polo Team: “It was a very tough tournament. The Silver Cup was a shame; we were eliminated from the tournament after losing in penalties, but overall the season has been amazing. Dubai and Cambiaso play to win everything, so there is always pressure when you play with this organisation, but we were able to come through when it really mattered. We got off to a good start in the Silver Cup, but we were messy in our system of play. We won our third game, even though we didn’t play well, and then we lost the fourth to Ayala and we had to go to penalties. That cost us the Silver Cup. We didn’t start the Gold Cup in the best way possible, but we found our style of play in the second game, a system that really works for the team and for Cambiaso. That led us to win and that was the key to the team. There were times when we all wanted to attack, but the key is when Cambiaso controls the play and the attack and we maintain order, keep to our tactics and play defensively. That is what he asks of us. I think we were a solid team overall, very well mounted and that really made the difference. Patience, defence and order were the keys to the game. The day we lost we realised that the game is not won in the first or second chukkas. We realised we needed patience to manage each play. Today our opponents dominated us at certain points; Facundo [Pieres] goes flat out when he has the ball, but we were patient. We kept our order, marked well, and took every opportunity we got. All that led to today’s victory.”

Rashid Albwardy, Dubai Polo Team: “It was tough, especially this season where there were many strong teams, but luckily we retained our title. Ayala was a very tough rival, especially in the first three chukkas. Their defence was strong and Facundo really makes a difference. Towards the end of the match we managed to take control but it was definitely our toughest match of the season. We only lost one game this season, so we knew we had a good team. The most important thing was knowing how to move forward and how to work together, and the results followed. We knew that today’s game was going to be very tough. Ayala had just beaten Silver Cup champions Brunei, so we knew we were going to have to work hard. Hopefully we can claim our third Gold Cup next year.”

Santiago Stirling, Dubai Polo Team: “It is amazing to have won the Gold Cup, even more so to have won with my cousin Jejo [Alejo Taranco]. This is the first time two Uruguayans have won the Gold Cup in Sotogrande, so it is very special. This is the fourth time I have won the Gold Cup; it is really great because I was raised in Sotogrande so this victory means a lot. I am extremely lucky to have had a chance of playing with excellent teams and organisations that always strive to be the best and play with the top players. I am happy that I got the chance to do my bit and help them get the win. Playing with Adolfo Cambiaso is an advantage; he brings out the best in every player and uses it to benefit the team.”

Teams (High Goal):
Dubai Polo Team (22)
Rashid Albwardi (2)
Adolfo Cambiaso (10)
Alejo Ortiz de Taranco (6)
Santiago Stirling (4)

Brunei (22)
Pablo Mac Donough (10)
Bahar Jeffrey (1)
David Stirling (10)
Josh Cork (1)

Lechuza Caracas (22)
Víctor Vargas (1)
Julián de Lusarreta (6)
Juan Martín Nero (10)
Juan Jauretche (5)

Ayala Polo Team (22)
Íñigo Zobel (0)
Jack Hide (3)
Facundo Pieres (10)
Nicolás Pieres (9)

Dos Lunas – A&G Banca Privada (22)
Hugo Lewis (2)
Pascual Sáinz de Vicuña (6)
Lucas James (7)
Juan Agustín García Grossi (7)

Photos © Snoopy Productions

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