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The fight for a place in the final match begins

by Liz Higgins

The first quarter final match of the 2015 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship saw UAE take on Salkeld who had gained their quarter final slot by winning a penalty shoot-out between four teams two days earlier. UAE took the lead in the first chukka with Salkeld drawing level in the second. The third closed with UAE well in the lead on 9-4. Another blistering performance by UAE’s 10 goaler Pablo MacDonough contributed 8 goals to his side’s scoreline, with 16 year old Jose Ramon Araya playing a confident game at number 1 and adding 4 exciting goals. Despite a good team performance by Salkeld’s three 7 goal players, Juan Zavaleta, Joaquin Pittaluga and Luke Tomlinson, it was no surprise that UAE ran out the winners 17-11.

Despite King Power Foxes’ amazing performance throughout the British Open Championship, their route to the Semi Finals wasn’t as easy as they might have hoped. Ben Soleimani’s RH Polo side, saw 9 goal Nico Pieres, younger brother of 10 goalers Gonzalito and Facundo of the King Power Foxes team, playing like a 10 goaler himself. RH polo were just one goal behind at half time with the score 6-5 in King Power Foxes’ favour. Two 30 yard penalty shots given away by RH Polo in chukka 4 saw King Power Foxes draw ahead to 9-6 and the blue shirts’ three goal lead was retained through chukka 5. In the final chukka a penalty gave King Power Foxes a lead of 12-8, but Nico Pieres continued the attack and nailed three goals to the scoreboard before the final whistle blew, one of which was a 60 yard penalty which he nonchalantly strolled towards and lofted right over the sticks of the opposition. A class act indeed. King Power Foxes, however, were the winners on a final score of 12-11.

The surprise of the weekend came with Sunday’s tough and pacey Dubai vs Zacara match. Zacara scored first with a penalty 30 yard shot from Rodrigo Andrade which he followed with a neat field goal. Diego Cavanagh had no trouble popping a 30 yard penalty through for Dubai and chukka 1 ended at 2-1 to Zacara. Cavanagh’s third goal levelled the scores at 2 apiece until Andrade pulled another field goal out of the bag and chukka 2 ended at 3-2 in Zacara’s favour. With some marvellous end to end polo being enjoyed by the huge crowd, by half time Zacara were still one goal up at 5-4.

Following the tread-in, the all-out action continued with chukka 4 seeing a goal from Cambiaso levelling the scores and a huge 60 yard penalty shot from Diego Cavanagh taking Dubai into the lead at 6-5. Zacara’s 10 goaler Juan Martin Nero was suddenly on the move and hit a brilliant shot from the side of the pitch to equalise. The whistle blew again and he was able to pop through a 30 yard penalty and close the fourth at 7-6 to Zacara. In the fifth, Cambiaso worked his magic ducking and diving this way and that and the scores were equal once again, Cavanagh sent a massive 60 yard penalty through the posts and Dubai were in the lead. But three super goals from Nero took Zacara ahead once more to 10-8. Cambiaso won the ball from the line-out which started chukka 6 but suddenly Andrade seized the ball and galloped to the Dubai goal to move Lyndon Lea’s side on to 11-8. A penalty gave Dubai an easy chance to win one back with a 30 yard penalty. From the next line-out young Jack Hyde for Zacara won the ball and raced all the way down the pitch and Zacara were 12-9 ahead. One last goal came from the stick of Diego Cavanagh and it was all over. Zacara had beaten Dubai to the Semi Finals on a score of 12-10.

Nobody was betting on the result of the Quarter Final between El Remanso and Apes Hill Club – both sides being all-pro teams. Pelon Stirling notched up the first number on the scoreboard for El Remanso through a 30 yard penalty given away by Apes Hill. A spot hit for Apes Hill then saw Eduardo Novillo Astrada hit the ball forward to a well placed Mark Tomlinson who equalised. Chukka 2 was a bit scrappy as the teams settled into the match and only one goal from the stick of Stirling. By half time El Remanso were 4-2 ahead and Apes Hill had missed three penalties.

During chukka 4 Stirling broke free from Apes Hill’s marking during several plays and another penalty enabled him to loft a mighty 60 yard penalty to give El Remanso a lead of 5-2. Apes Hill meanwhile switched penalty taking to Mark Tomlinson who answered with an accurate 60 yarder through the posts. Back to the middle went the teams and it wasn’t long before young Ralph Richardson delighted the audience with a field goal. Stirling achieved his fifth goal of the match with a neat flick between the posts, the next goal came from Ollie Cudmore and the chukka ended on 7-4 in El Remanso’s favour. Somehow they lost their way in chukka 5 while Apes Hill stormed ahead with two goals from Mark Tomlinson and two from a blistering performance by 9 goaler Eduardo Novillo Astrada to take Apes Hill ahead 8-7, though a whistle from the umpires came at chukka’s end.

A free hit to El Remanso signalled the start of chukka 6 and the ball rolled over the line to equal the scores. Both teams fought to stay in the match but suddenly Ralph Richardson seized the ball from the line-out, he left it for Astrada who passed to Morley. Ralph was back in the frame to pick up from Morley and shoot a splendid ball through the posts and achieve 9-8 for Apes Hill. Further attempts at goal came from Mark Tomlinson for Apes Hill and a combined attack from Stirling and Cudmore for El Remanso, but the final hooter sounded with the score in Apes Hill’s favour at 9-8 following that winning goal from Richardson. A delighted Sir Charles Williams of Apes Hill Club, Barbados, accepted the Centenary Cup from Zahra Kassim-Lakha, Director UK Market and Global Strategy for new Gold Cup title sponsors Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Apes Hill, King Power Foxes, UAE and Zacara go through to Semi Finals of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup on Wednesday 15th July.

The teams:
Apes Hill (+22)
Mark Tomlinson (+6)
Ralph Richardson (+1)
Eduardo Novillo Astrada (+9)
Tom Morley (+6)

King Power Foxes (+22)
Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha (+1)
Hugo Lewis (+1)
Gonzalito Pieres (+10)
Facundo Pieres (+10)

Zacara (+22)
Juan Martin Nero (+10)
Lyndon Lea (+1)
Rodrigo Andrade (+9)
Jack Hyde (+2)

El Remanso (+22)
George Hanbury (+3)
Charlie Hanbury (+4)
David Stirling (+10)
Ollie Cudmore (+5)

La Indiana (+22)
Michael Bickford (+1)
James Beim (+7)
John Paul Clarkin (+8)
James Harper (+6)

Salkeld (+22)
Nick Clarke (+1)
Juan Zavaleta (+7)
Joaquin Pittaluga (+7)
Luke Tomlinson (+7)

VPS Healthcare Sifani (+22)
Hilali Noordeen (0)
Max Charlton (+7)
Agustin Merlos (+9)
Malcolm Borwick (+6)

Talandracas (+22)
Edouard Carmignac (0)
Polito Pieres (+9)
Guillermo Caset (+9)
Zac Hagedoorn (+4)

HB Polo (+20)
Ludovic Pailloncy (+1)
Cristian Laprida (+8)
Ignacio Toccalino (+8)
Sebastien Pailloncy (+3)

King Power (+22)
Tal Srivaddhanaprabha (0)
Alejandro Muzzio (+7)
Marcos Di Paola (+8)
Guillermo Willington (+7)

Dubai (+22)
Rashid Albwardy (+2)
Martin Valent (+4)
Alejo Taranco (+6)
Adolfo Cambiaso (+10)

RH Polo (+21)
Ben Soleimani (0)
Francisco Elizalde (+7)
Nico Pieres (+9)
Santiago Von Wernich (+5)

UAE (+22)
Jose Ramon Araya (0)
Santiago Stirling (+4)
Lucas Monteverde (+8)
Pablo MacDonough (+10)

Thai Polo (+22)
Harald Link (0)
Matias Torres Zavaleta (+7)
Nic Roldan (+8)
Tomas Garcia del Rio (+7)

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