Six teams took part in the Park House Cup at Cowdray Park.
The trophy was endowed in 1964 by polo enthusiast and long-time Cowdray Park member Ione O’Brien, late grandmother of the current owners of the award-winning country house hotel Park House at Bepton – a favourite watering hole of generations of polo players.
Reaching the final were Nigel Warr’s Combe team, who faced Jo Stuart and Daniel Batchelor’s Los Hamblinos/Chaos.
Playing alongside Combe’s patron, who played in the No2 position, were Katy Mitchell (-2) at No1, Nico Leal (two goals) at three and Derreck Bratley at back.
For Los Hamblinos/Chaos, co-patrons Daniel Batchelor (-2) and Jo Stuart (-1) played at No1 and No2, with Harry Muddle (two goals) at No and Niall Donnelly (four goals) at back. Los Hamblinos/Chaos received a half goal on the scoreboard to start the match as their combined handicap tally was three goals.
Bratley opened the scoring for Combe from a 40-yard penalty. Donnelly failed to convert a penalty shot into a goal but his side was soon to be rewarded with a field goal from Muddle. Los Hamblinos/Chaos were awarded another penalty shot and Muddle made no mistake in sending through a 30-yard shot to give his side a lead of 2½-1.
Somehow Los Hamblinos/Chaos hung on to their tiny lead for the final minute and ran out the victors
Chukka two saw several missed chances by Combe’s Bratley. But he finally made the play which resulted in a neat goal by Leal taking Combe to 2-2½. Although Combe won the ball from the throw-in, it was soon stolen by Los Hamblinos/Chaos and the ball went out. An amazing big shot from Donnelly found the goalmouth and Los Hamblinos led 3½-2.
Combe failed to score in the third chukka while a neat piece of play between Donnelly and Muddle enabled the Irishman to send a big shot through the goalposts, giving Los Hamblinos/Chaos a lead of 4½-2.
The fourth chukka started with an accurate 60-yard penalty shot at goal sent through by Bratley for Combe. Every attempt at goal by Los Hamblinos/Chaos went wide. A foul given against the white shirts gave Combe’s Bratley an open shot at goal which he tapped through to reduce the gap to just half a goal. Somehow Los Hamblinos/Chaos hung on to their tiny lead for the final minute and ran out the victors in the Park House Cup with a score of 4½-4.
Representing Park House, Maeva Imber and Pat Hall were delighted to present the Park House Cup to Jo Stuart and Daniel Batchelor of Los Hamblinos/Chaos and prizes to both teams.
The final of the eight-goal PSI Trophy saw Sea Breeze, with father and son combo Ray and Wilf Fine, taking on DJ Cats.
Playing alongside Wilf, who took the No1 position, were Nick Pepper (four goals) at No2, James Harper (six goals) at No3, and Wilf’s father Ray (-1) at back.
The DJ Cats side comprised Jon Turner (no goals) at No1, Harry Muddle (two goals) at No2, Jack Berner (two goals) at No3 and Niall Donnelly (four goals) commanding the team from the back door.
The first chukka started with Harper dominating play and Wilf Fine’s team was soon 2-0 ahead. Sea Breeze remained on the attack but Harper missed a couple of chances including a 30-yard penalty.
A hit in by Niall Donnelly saw Muddle move the ball on but suddenly Donnelly was unseated. He was uninjured so the umpires re-started the match with a roll-in and Donnelly was quick to pass the ball to Berner who carried it the length of the pitch, Donnelly finishing the play with a tap through the goal mouth and Sea Breeze just 2-1 ahead.
Neither team scored in the second chukka.
Within the first minute of the second half, Pepper scooped up the ball following a hit-in by Donnelly and sent it to Wilf Fine who obliged with a super goal from 40 yards.
Donnelly sent a useful pass to Muddle, who although closely marked by Ray Fine, scuttled round him and sent through a lovely goal to bring DJ Cats up to 3-2.
Nick Pepper won the ball from the throw-in but Berner stole it and masterfully steered it all the way to the goal and equalise on 3-3.
The fourth chukka started with a 60-yard penalty in favour of Sea Breeze. Harper’s shot was high but wide. The hit-in saw Donnelly worried by Pepper as he tried to move the ball on.
Berner picked it up and raced to the goalmouth but the ball ran wide. Harper hit the ball in but Wilf Fine was ridden right out of the picture.
A great piece of team work saw Donnelly, Berner and Muddle trying to achieve the winning goal, but Harper was suddenly onto the ball, fighting off two opposing players on the way, but his pony stumbled and what looked to be a sure shot went out to the right.
The action continued with both sides striving for the lead and goals being saved at the very goalmouth. Finally a throw-in gave Sea Breeze the opportunity they were looking for.
Pepper was off with the ball and carried it the length of the pitch for the winning shot and victory for Sea Breeze at 4-3. Terry Hanlon presented prizes on behalf of Peter Pattenden, whose PSI team had been a regular contender at Cowdray Park during the late 1980s and 1990s.
The best playing pony was judged to be Caroline, played by James Harper during the first chukka, the prize being presented by Polo Manager Chris Bethell on behalf of Lila Pearson.
In the subsidiary final, Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce beat Todham 8-5.
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