Polo: Shootout drama keeps Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup excitement going

Dubai (green) v Twelve Oaks (white) in a Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo match at Cowdray Park Polo Club Picture by Clive Bennett
Dubai (green) v Twelve Oaks (white) in a Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo match at Cowdray Park Polo Club Picture by Clive Bennett

With the league phase of the 2013 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup tournament completed and the three lowest placed teams on the same number of points, Cowdray spectators witnessed a penalty shoot-out between Black Bears, Enigma and La Bamba de Areco for the remaining place in the quarter-finals.

La Bamba de Areco went through to join Talandracas, UAE, El Remanso, Sumaya, Zacara, Dubai and Twelve Oaks in the last eight of the British Open Championship.

The first of Saturday’s quarter-finals was between UAE and Talandracas with Sheika Maitha al Maktoum’s side taking an early lead of 5-0.

In a pacey match there were few whistles and by the end of the all-action first half, Talandracas had fought back and reduced UAE’s lead to 7-5. In the fourth and fifth chukkas, Talandracas reaped the rewards of Juan Martin Nero and Lucas James’ efforts although inspired play by Pablo MacDonough for UAE ensured an opportunity to produce a goal never passed him by.

At the close of the fifth Talandracas were ahead 11-10. In chukka six, Juan Martin Nero produced a splendid long shot to goal. Then, awarded a penalty, he took the score on to a three-goal advantage for his side.

Once again MacDonough produced a goal out of nowhere. UAE gained a penalty and Lucas Monteverde lofted the ball over the goal posts to secure another. With just a one-goal advantage, Talandracas supporters held a collective breath as the final seconds ticked away on the clock, but their team managed to hold on, retaining the lead at 13-12 for a place in the semi-finals.

El Remanso faced Sumaya in the second quarter-final. Sumaya secured an early lead of 4-0 through Tomas Garbarini Islas, Hilario Ulloa and Facundo Sola.

El Remanso swung into action and by the end of the third chukka, it was 8-7 in favour of the Gloucestershire side.

The second half produced a scrappy three chukkas of penalties and stoppages as solid defensive play by El Remanso locked down every twist and turn which Sumaya produced. Sumaya’s frustration resulted in them giving away six penalties – each one expertly converted by David Stirling for El Remanso - and the match ended with a 16-12 victory for his team.

Lyndon Lea‘s Zacara side, still on a roll from victories in the US Open and the Queen’s Cup this year, led throughout their match against La Bamba de Areco. Ten of their goals came from Facundo Pieres, who once again combined brilliantly with Rodrigo Andrade to secure an 11-10 victory and a place in the semis.

The final contest in the last eight was between Dubai and Twelve Oaks, Dubai’s patron being replaced by Argentine two-goaler Franco Veronesi and the Twelve Oaks patron by young English player Edward Banner-Eve.

Both scored in a hard-fought match. Once again the crowd could see the interaction between Adolfo Cambiaso and Nico Pieres which has ensured their success in the tournament.

Christian Laprida played an inspirational game for Twelve Oaks and the team came back from 10-5 down at the end of the fourth to within two goals of Dubai, who ultimately triumphed 11-9.