Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup reaches climax

Jaeger Le Coultre with the Texaco Trophy Picture by Clive Bennett
Jaeger Le Coultre with the Texaco Trophy Picture by Clive Bennett

Large crowds attended the quarter-finals of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup at Cowdray Park.

Dubai, winners in 2010, saw their chances of defending the title of British Open champions evaporate just before half-time when Adolfo Cambiaso, the world’s No1 player, sustained an injury to his leg.

At the close of the third chukka Dubai were resoundingly ahead 11-6. Although Cambiaso was replaced by the immense talent of ten-goal Pablo Macdonough for two chukkas of the second half and returned to the field for the final chukka, Dubai’s opponents Zacara steadily battled back from behind, with Dubai unable to score throughout the second half.

Lyndon Lea, patron of Zacara, was delighted to secure a dramatic 12-11 victory in the closing second of the match from an exciting goal by young back Nachi du Plessis to stake his team’s place in today’s semi-final.

A new Centenary Cup played for the first time in 2010 to celebrate 100 years of polo at Cowdray Park was presented to Zacara by the Marchioness of Milford Haven, also presenting copies of the Cowdray Centenary book to the players.

Lady Milford Haven has edited a remarkable volume of reminiscences from players and members associated with the club over past decades.

The winners of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup in 2009, La Bamba de Areco, beat Sumaya to take their place in the British Open semis, while the only local team left in the contest, Nick Clarke’s Salkeld snatched victory in the final seconds to beat Piaget 11-10 and also reach the last four.

In the last quarter-final, played for the Argentine Ambassador’s Cup, a tough and high-scoring encounter between Les Lions and Loro Piana entertained spectators at the Cowdray Lawns.

The combined talent of the Merlos brothers Agustin and Sebastian alongside young South African four-goaler, Chris Mackenzie, took to the field for Jo Gottschalk’s Les Lions, while for Loro Piana, Italian patron Alfio Marchini, himself a two-goal player, was joined by the combined Argentine talent of Lucas James, Agustin Nero and Nicolas Espain.

A good field goal scored by Nicolas Espain for Loro Piana preceded Chris Mackenzie equalising for Les Lions. Field goals continued with Agustin Merlos contributing for Les Lions and Alfio Marchini retaliating for Loro Piana.

Agustin Merlos was first to score in the second chukka, contributing three goals during the period and pulling Les Lions ahead to 7-3. By half-time Jo Gottschalk’s side led 10-5.

Disaster struck for Loro Piana when Alfio Marchini took a nasty fall and was forced to retire from the match. A substitute was found and the match continued, Loro Piana picking up three goals to Les Lions’ two by the end of the chukka.

But Les Lions steadily drew ahead during the final two chukkas, Agustin Merlos contributing two more goals in each, the side forging to a 17-11 win and a place in the semi-finals of the Gold Cup, in which Les Lions have been competing since 1993. Merlos contributed 11 goals.

The Argentine Chargé d’Affairs, Osvaldo Marsico, presented the Argentine Ambassador’s Cup and prizes to the teams.

For Sunday’s Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup final, tickets may be bought online at www.cowdraypolo.co.uk or from the polo office on 01730 813257.

In the final of the 12-goal Texaco Cup, Jaeger LeCoultre/Hurlingham Media beat Las Estrellas 7-5½.