Polo’s high-goal season starts in style at Cowdray Park

Presentations follow La Bamba de Areco v Talandracas in the final of the Murus Sanctus Trippetts Challenge / Picture by Clive Bennett
Presentations follow La Bamba de Areco v Talandracas in the final of the Murus Sanctus Trippetts Challenge / Picture by Clive Bennett

Cowdray Park Polo Club has the privilege of opening the high-goal season of polo in the UK with the 22-goal Murus Sanctus Trippetts Challenge played for the James Wentworth Stanley Cup.

From an entry of six teams, Jean-Francois Decaux’s La Bamba de Areco and Hugues Carmignac’s Talandracas made it to the final which was a red-hot game of fast, attacking polo and an absolute treat for the huge early season crowd at Cowdray Park on Sunday.

For La Bamba de Areco, Decaux took the No1 position with South African Byron Watson (three goals) playing at two, David ‘Pelon’ Stirling (nine goals) at three and ten-goaler Juan Martin Nero at back.

The Talandracas line-up saw Hugues Carmignac at one, Francisco Elizalde (eight goals) at No2, Alejandro Muzzio (seven goals) at three, and Julian de Lusaretta (seven goals) at back.

Stirling opened the scoring with a 30-yard penalty, following up with a blistering run to goal to take 2-0 La Bamba ahead. Elizalde and de Lusaretta worked hard to turn the play in favour of Talandracas, but the side failed to score in the first chukka.

At the start of chukka two, wonderful interaction between Stirling and Nero soon saw a third goal on the board for La Bamba de Areco. De Lusaretta won the ball from the throw in but the ball went to Watson and his huge hit resulted in a super goal and 4-0 to La Bamba.

Clare Milford Haven presented the James Wentworth Stanley Cup, in memory of her son, to Jean-Francois Decaux. Prizes for both teams were presented by Corinne Ricard of sponsors Murus Sanctus.

Elizalde swooped, passed to de Lusaretta and a super under-the- neck shot gave Talandracas their first goal. Nero made his first goal and the second chukka closed at 5-1 to La Bamba.

A 60-yard penalty accurately taken by Elizalde pulled a goal back for Talandracas in the third chukka, but all too soon the team gave away a 30-yard penalty which Stirling slipped between the posts for 6-2.

Two marvellous goals from Watson followed and the No2 made a great pass to Stirling who scored again, taking the lead to 9-2 by half-time.

The third chukka saw a goal apiece from ELizalde and de Lusaretta but a 30-yard penalty enabled Stirling to send an easy shot through, the chukka ending 10-4 in favour of La Bamba.

Fine play by de Lusaretta resulted in two goals for Talandracas in the fifth, with Nero and Stirling each contributing to La Bamba’s lead of 12-6.

The final chukka opened with a swift goal from de Lusaretta. Elizalde sent a huge shot from way back which went soaring between the posts.

The action continued until the final whistle and the applause for both sides as they left the field was heartfelt, La Bamba winning 12-8.

Clare Milford Haven presented the James Wentworth Stanley Cup, in memory of her son, to Jean-Francois Decaux. Prizes for both teams were presented by Corinne Ricard of sponsors Murus Sanctus.

Corinne Ricard was delighted to present a Jeroboam of Perrier Jouët Champagne to Byron Watson, judged the most valuable player of the match, and the best playing pony award was won by Alsina, owned and ridden by Juan Martin Nero.

In the eight-goal Barrett Cup which followed, local patron Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce side pipped Carlie Cadogan’s Taittinger in extra-time.

Maiz Dulce had led throughout t and were 7-4 up going into the fourth chukka, but a treble from Will Emerson for Taittinger saw the score level at 7-7.

A sudden-death penalty goal from Derreck Bratley in an extra fifth chukka sealed victory for Maiz Dulce. Lady Chelsea presented the Cup.

In the close-fought final of the May four-goal cup, Zul Junus’s Red Tigers beat David Spragg’s 21st Century 5-4.

LIZ HIGGINS