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The second Polo Nations Cup for France

The team from South-west France puts its name to the Nations Cup. © Pascal Renauldon - R&B Presse

Six nations, including three newcomers to Chantilly, ten teams, twenty-five games, including those of the subsidiary cup won by Italy, ten days of tournament action ending in a beautiful final won by the French team from Occitanie. This is the outcome of the second Polo Nations Cup, now firmly established in the European calendar of prestigious competitions. This is the kind of tournament a captain wants to add to their list of achievements. On Sunday, that lucky captain was a Frenchwoman, Isabelle Larenaudie.

Over the past five years, Isabelle Larenaudie has built this fine Occitan team, known as Tédélou in other tournaments, around two Argentinian brothers who grew up playing polo at the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly. Simon and Ramiro Zavaleta are French at heart and speak the language fluently. This brotherhood is the strength of this team, which is completed by the talented Breton Jules Legoubin. From the outset, the French team took control of the match, leaving little room for the star of the Pakistan team, handicap 7 Tito Ruiz Guiñazo: „We had a plan for Tito,“ reveals Simon Zavaleta, „to neutralise him at all costs. Nobody was going to mark him in particular, but as soon as someone was near him, he had to be taken out at all costs.” The plan worked well, especially for Simon, who scored 7 of his team‘s 8 goals, including a sublime golaso in the second chukker, and was rightly named MVP of the final: „On an individual level, it is a great reward, but this is above all a team performance. There were five of us who won this title, including Nicolas Corti Maderna, who replaced me in the semi-final when I was ill, and who qualified us for this final“. Unbeaten throughout the tournament, the team always led until Pakistan came back to 7-6 in the final chukker: „But Ramiro scored a magnificent goal at that point to give us a two-point lead and definitively some breathing space. I think it was a great game for the fans. Now we‘re not going to stop there: we want to win the Trophée du Coquetier d‘Or next week, then the Coupe d‘Or in Deauville in August, and the Open de France here in Chantilly in September. Everything!” An insatiable young Argentinian.

This summer: an „Olympic“ France against United States, followed by a promising Open de France

The Polo Nations Cup 2024 marked the end of the first half of the season, with the prospect of a summer full of high-level events at the Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly just around the corner. The nations will once again be in the spotlight on 7 August with the Paris Games Polo Challenge 2024, a test match between the national teams of France and the United States which, right in the middle of the Olympic Games, will commemorate the great era when polo was part of the Olympic programme. In 1924 in particular, the Olympic tournament kicked off with a game opposing France and the USA… largely dominated by the Americans. A rematch 100 years on!

Then, in September, it‘s time for the flagship tournament of the French season, the 24th Open de France (4-22 September), for which twelve teams have already entered nine of the world‘s top forty players, including the title holder with Kazak, Nicola Pieres, a former winner of the Argentine Open. On 17 September, the women will be taking part in the French Women‘s Open, which will also feature top players such as the winners of the Argentine Women‘s Open, England‘s Hazel Jackson and Argentina‘s Lia Salvo. The aftermath of the Olympic Games will be just as sporting and just as enjoyable to savour for three weeks on the magnificent grounds of the Apremont Farm.

The final in numbers :

Occitanie – France (12): Isabelle LARENAUDIE 0, Jules LEGOUBIN 3, Simon ZAVALETA 5 (7 goals, including 2 penalties), Ramiro ZAVALETA 4 (1 goal).

Lahore – Pakistan (12) : Haider NASEEM 0, Elena VENOT 2 (1 goal), Hilario RUIZ GUINAZU 3 (1 goal), Tito RUIZ GUINAZU 7 (4 goals, dont 2 pénalités).

Progression France  : 2-1 / 3-1 / 5-2 / 7-4 / 8-6.

MVP by Majoa Paris  (Most Valuable Player) : Simon Zavaleta (France)

MVP Amateur by Majoa Paris : Haider Naseem (Pakistan)

BPP (Best Playing Pony) : West, played and owned by Tito Ruiz Guinazu (Pakistan)

Tito Ruiz Guiñazu (in white) attempts a counter-attack on Simon Zavaleta, best player of the match. © Pascal Renauldon - R&B Presse
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