An incredible Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup final was played between last year’s champions, King Power Foxes, and the El Remanso team of four British professionals who had captured the hearts of the local crowd through the British open tournament.
Taking the place of Top Srivaddhanaprabha in the King Power team was one-goal player Hugo Taylor, with James Jimbo Fewster at two, and the mighty combination of the ten-goal Pieres brothers Gonzalito at three and Facundo at back.
El Remanso played the tried-and-trusted line-up of their 2016 side with Charlie Hanbury at the front door, Ollie Cudmore (five goals) at two and six-goal players James Beim and James Harper at three and back.
El Remanso made a great start with Hanbury first to score. The English quartet dominated early, shutting down the two Pieres superstars while sending their own players out front to score. However, the boys in blue cottoned on to this tactic and were evened the score at 3-3 by the close of the second chukka.
Chukka three was the turning point with no points on the scoreboard for El Remanso and King Power putting themselves firmly in the driving seat, a splendid field goal from Jimbo Fewster, who played the match of his life, contributing to King Power Foxes’ 6-3 lead by half-time.
Chukka four saw two more goals on the scoreboard for King Power, including a second beauty from Fewster, before Harper added to El Remanso’s score. A goal came from Facundo and the chukka ended with the Foxes five goals 9-4 up.
El Remanso rallied in the fifth, Beim scoring a field goal and Harper converting a 30-yard penalty. Facundo Pieres answered with the accurate conversion of a 60-yard penalty and a super field goal and Harper finished the chukka with a 60-yard shot through the posts for a score of 11-7 to King Power Foxes.
A final exciting chukka saw Jimbo Fewster contribute his third of the match and, when King Power Foxes were awarded a spot penalty, Gonzalito slipped the ball through the posts for the side’s 13th goal.
El Remanso won the ball from the throw-in, Harper sent a long ball down the field and Cudmore picked it up and scored but it was too little too late and King Power Foxes had retained for a third year the title of British open champions on a score of 13-8.
Facundo Pieres led the scoring with five goals while Fewster, in his first Gold Cup final, equalled Gonzalito Pieres in the goalscoring stakes and was named MVP.
Lila Pearson presented the best playing pony award to New Chicago, owned and played by Gonzalito Pieres. Zahra Kassim-Lakha of Jaeger-LeCoultre UK, presented the MVP award to Fewster and together with the deputy CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Geoffroy Lefebvre, presented individual prizes to the El Remanso team.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watches were presented to the winning team by Lefebvre and Kassim-Lakha.
Thierry Wallaert, export manager of Louis Roederer, presented a Salmanazar of champagne, equivalent to 18 bottles, to the King Power Foxes’ captain Facundo Pieres.
Lefebvre presented the coveted golden trophy to the skipper, who hoisted it aloft in front of the King Power Foxes’ support team, clearly delighted that he and his brother had achieved a hat-trick of wins for the Srivaddhanaprabha family.
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More than 750 people attended the first global edition of Sunset Polo at the ancestral home of British polo, Cowdray Park.
Organised by top American polo player Nic Roldan, the event was held in aid of two charities: Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice and international animal welfare charity Brooke.
Roldan said: “I’m really proud of our first global Sunset Polo event. It’s thanks to my team and our enthusiastic event partners, combined with the local community, that this dream turned into a reality. It’s a goal of mine to make polo accessible to all, irrespective of age or background.
“It was exciting to have members of different areas of the equestrian community come together to support two causes close to my heart.
“As Brooke USA Ambassador, I have worked with the charity for some time, but only learnt about Chestnut Tree House this year. I wanted the event to support a charity local to Cowdray and when I first visited Chestnut Tree House in May, I knew I’d made the right choice.”
The event took place on the old polo field in the grounds of Cowdray House, and combined a number of disciplines, with some of the world’s top equestrians performing.
In addition to the polo match, it featured a demonstration by world-renowned natural horseman Monty Roberts, a Western reining display by Tammy Greaves and a celebrity chukka.
Celebrity players included Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton, three-day eventer William Fox-Pitt, National Hunt jockey Leighton Aspell, top showjumper Scott Brash, and jump jockey and internet sensation Wocket Woy.
A total of 150 guests went on to a Gatsby-themed party and VIP dinner in Cowdray House, prepared by The Lickfold Inn. The evening also included auctions and a firework display.
Another Sunset Polo event is planned next year.
Six teams entered the 2017 City & Country British ladies’ polo championship at Cowdray Park, with Roger White’s Coombe Place meeting Lila Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings in the final.
Playing for Coombe place were Dayne Waecher (two goals) playing in the No1 position, Daisy Hatfield (two goals) playing at two, Lottie Lamacraft (five goals) at three and Hazel Jackson (eight goals) at the back door, the team’s 17 goal handicap giving them a half goal advantage on the scoreboard.
Pearson played at No1 for her Cowdray Vikings side with Rebecca Walters (four goals) at No2, Bryony Taylor (five goals) at three and Sarah Wiseman (seven goals) at back, making up an 18-goal side.
Coombe Place made a fine start with two rapid goals from Jackson, Vikings notching their first mark on the scoreboard with a goal from Sarah Wiseman.
Vikings bedded themselves in during the second chukka with three goals unanswered by Coombe Place, the first a mighty shot from Wiseman converting a 60-yard penalty, her second a good field goal and a goal from Taylor taking Vikings into the lead on a score of 4-2½ at half-time.
Spectators bravely trod in in the rain and the match resumed with a throw-in and Wiseman dominating the action. Suddenly Jackson spotted an opportunity, steering the ball away from the pack and deftly manoeuvring it to pull a goal back for Coombe Place.
Despite strong play by Taylor, Vikings failed to score in the chukka so that the fourth opened with just half a goal between the teams. Not long into the final chukka Taylor was rewarded with another goal and Vikings were on a mission to prevent Coombe Place from catching them.
Jackson finally found enough room to turn the ball and head for the posts, expertly popping the ball through, but it was too little too late and Pearson had won her second trophy of the afternoon on a score of 5-4½, having earlier won the 1921 Cup.
Suzanne Aplin of City & Country presented the silver salver to Pearson. Prizes sponsored by luxury leather company Aspinal of London were presented to both teams and Jackson’s pony Song was named best playing pony.
Pearson said: “Every match in the tournament was hard fought and it has been wonderful to see such excellent play by all the competitors. Women’s polo is truly on the way up!”