Polo: Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup lives up to its billing

Quarter FInal Dubai Cambiaso on the move World No1 Adolfo Cambiaso in action for Dubai   Picture by Clive Bennett
Quarter FInal Dubai Cambiaso on the move World No1 Adolfo Cambiaso in action for Dubai Picture by Clive Bennett

Large crowds witnessed four thrilling matches over the weekend in the quarter-finals of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship.

A tough encounter between Guy Schwarzenbach’s Black Bears and John Muse’s Lucchese side saw Black Bears first to score and the first chukka closed at 2-2.

Black Bears took the lead in the second with a goal each from Facundo Sola, patron Guy Schwarzenbach and team captain John Paul Clarkin.

By half-time Black Bears were 6-4up, remaining two goals ahead at the end of the fourth. But goals dried up for them in the fifth and a scrap in front of their goal gave away a spot hit enabling Nico Pieres to pull one back for Lucchese.

The final chukka saw Facundo Sola for Black Bears staying cool while he took the ball all the way to the goal for 9-7. But it soon unravelled for them. A foul let Nico Pieres steal one back for Lucchese from a 30-yard penalty.

Soon the Bears gave away another penalty which Nico lofted through the posts to equalise. Luke Tomlinson passed another ball to him which he took all the way for a lovely field goal and the lead. A final massive shot at goal went just wide but the comeback was already complete. The final result of 10-9 in favour of Lucchese meant a first semi-final appearance in the Gold Cup for a delighted John Muse.

‘Top’ Srivaddhanapra’s King Power team faced Jerome Wirth’s Enigma in the second quarter-final which saw three goals on the board for Enigma before King Power got off the mark.

Intense action with a good few whistles saw Enigma 5-4 ahead at half-time. In chukka four, a foul gave a 60-yard penalty to King Power which Di Paola sent along the ground. As Enigma scrambled to clear the ball, the talented King Power patron back-handed it between the posts for his second goal of the match and 5-5.

A penalty hit from the centre enabled Gonzalito Pieres to steer the ball round the opposition and pass to Llorente, whose finish gave the lead to King Power for the first time in the match. Enigma’s Willington answered with a tremendous run to King Power’s goal mouth only to be stopped by Llorente, but Chris Mackenzie was right behind and popped the ball through to make it 6-6.

The fifth ended with another goal from Top closing the chukka at 8-8. Enigma ran out of steam in the final chukka with scrappy play giving King Power a 30-yard hit at goal which Pieres rolled through to take the lead on 9-8.

‘Top’ secured a great field goal to reach 10-8 and a 60-yard shot at goal saw Pieres make it 11-8. Caset grabbed the ball from the throw-in, Mackenzie passed to Wirth who scored, but King Power had reached the last four.

The quarter final between the all British professional team of Halcyon Gallery and 2013 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup winners Zacara saw James Harper strike the winning goal to take Halcyon Gallery through to the semis 10-9.

A remarkable fourth quarter final saw Dubai and UAE each playing without their patrons, and local young players Tommy Beresford taking the No1 position for Dubai and Kian Hall at the front door for UAE.

Dubai ran out the winners 11-10.

The final takes place tomorrow (Sunday 20).