A sunny day signalled the end of Cowdray Park’s polo season when a large crowd turned out for the traditional barbecue lunch, subsidiary finals and finals of the 12-goal HPA Autumn Cup and the six-goal Farewell Cup, and the highly popular dog show.
The Autumn Cup had nine entries with Emma McCarthy’s Emlor C and Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale making the final.
McCarthy took the No1 position for Emlor C with Ed Morris-Lowe at two, Henry Fisher at three and Manolo Fernandez-Llorente at back.
Shane Finemore’s Gardenvale included the patron at the front door, Ollie Cork at two, Matt Perry at three and England captain James Beim at back.
In an entertaining match, Fisher was first to score, soon answered by an equaliser by Perry, who continued Gardenvale’s assault with two more in the second chukka which finished with Finemore’s side 3-1 up.
An action-filled third chukka saw a smart goal by Fisher pull one back for Emlor C. A penalty by Fernandez-Llorente from 30 yards levelled it at 3-3.
Perry soared away for his fourth, giving Gardenvale the lead once again. A tenacious effort by Fernandez-Llorente brought it to 4-4. Perry raced away from the throw-in but his shot at goal went wide.
Fernandez-Llorente brought the ball in, but suddenly Beim latched on to it and steered the ball round for a quick shot at goal, to close the third chukka 5-4 up.
Early in the fourth, a super run by Beim to Emlor C’s goal and a nifty pass to Perry resulted in another for Gardenvale.
Fernandez-Llorente pounced on a loose ball and passed it to an ideally-positioned Ed Morris-Lowe who zipped it between the posts but Gardenvale held on to their lead and won the Autumn Cup 6-5.
Finemore accepted the cup from Clare Milford-Haven, who also presented polo kit on behalf of sponsors Casablanca. Perry was awarded The Polo Magazine prize for MVP, his horse Vasca Irlandes winning the Polo Times award for best playing pony.
The subsidiary final was won by BHC, beating E Rosario 8-7.
The Farewell Cup is an historic trophy more than 50 years old and this year received a bumper entry of 11 teams, Andrew Swaffield’s Alcedo team meeting Parke Bradley’s Silver Fox in the final.
For Silver Fox, Bradley at No1 played alongside William Penfold at two, Andrew Blake-Thomas at three and Henry Fisher at back.
With Swaffield playing at No1, Alcedo also included Will Harper at two, Nick Clague at three and Bauti Sorzana at back, the five-goal side receiving a half goal on the scoreboard to start.
A lively first chukka closed with Alcedo ahead 3½-1, but the side failed to score in chukka two and Fisher’s second goal brought Silver Fox back to 3½-2 at half-time.
A 30-yard penalty sent through by Sorzana took Alcedo further ahead in chukka three. Sorzana created a great piece of play enabling Clague to drive the ball forward, finally leaving it for young Will Harper to send through and take Alcedo on to 5½-2.
Harper won the ball from the throw-in, Sorzana moved it on towards the goalmouth and Clague sent it through for 6½-2.
In the final chukka, Fisher twice managed to break through and score, his second goal a lovely under-the-neck shot to pull Silver Fox up to 6½-4.
But the final bell sounded for yet another win for Alcedo, who finished the season with a fifth trophy.
George Robinson was delighted to present his family’s cup to Swaffield and prizes to all players. Harper’s Exquisite was judged best playing pony, the rug presented by Lila Pearson.
Bradley said getting to the final was a great end to his polo playing career and he would be returning to Cowdray Park as a non-playing member from 2017.
The subsidiary final was won 6½-5 by Emma McRae’s Ice Craft.
In the final presentations of the season, the Millenium Plate for umpiring services was presented by Chris Bethell, polo manager, to Adrian Wade and the Pimms Cup for most improved junior player went to 14-year-old Will Harper.
The Large Cup for pony welfare was presented by Tam Large to Nick Clague.
In Cowdray’s alternative dog show, from a variety of fun classes, the best-in-show winner was Pippin, a border collie owned by Max Appleby, who received the Hanlon Rosebowl from Terry Hanlon.
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