Valiente are valiant to win Midhurst Town Cup in thriller

The weather and the setting were spectacular for the Midhurst Town Cup / Picture by Chris Orange
The weather and the setting were spectacular for the Midhurst Town Cup / Picture by Chris Orange

An epic contest between Valiente and La Indiana in a league game for the 2018 King Power Gold Cup, played for the Midhurst Town Cup, delivered one of the highest scoring and best matches seen by Cowdray Park spectators in recent times.

Each playing their second match in the Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Bob Jornayvaz’s Valiente met Michael Bickford’s La Indiana with the world’s two leading ten-goal players on opposing sides – Adolfo Cambiaso for Valiente and Facundo Pieres for La Indiana.

USA patron Jornayvaz took the No1 position for his side with Englishman Hugo Lewis at No2 and Argentine players Cristian Laprida at three and Cambiaso at back. Also from the USA, Michael Bickford was at one for La Indiana, with Australian Alec White at two, American Nic Roldan at three and Argentine Facundo Pieres at back.

La Indiana marked the scoreboard within seconds of the start, Bickford scoring from Roldan’s pass. Valiente won the throw with Laprida looking for Cambiaso, but an infringement enabled Laprida to level from a 30-yard penalty. Weaving his way around Pieres, Laprida made a neat field goal and it was 2-1.

A collision on the field gave another penalty to Valiente which Cambiaso lost little time converting from 40 yards. La Indiana stole the ball from Cambiaso and Pieres worked his magic sending a massive lofted shot from 70 yards through the posts.

Chukka two saw a trio of goals from Cambiaso: the first a penalty shot from 40 yards, next a good pass from Lewis enabling him to tap the ball all the way to goal for 5-2, and the third in his usual style of lining up his shot from way back and lobbing a huge shot between the posts. It was 6-2 in Valiente’s favour.

Pieres stole the ball from Laprida and went on the attack for La Indiana’s only goal of the chukka. Lewis replied, giving Valiente a 7-3 lead.

Fortunes reversed in chukka three with three goals from Pieres from penalties, an accurate 60 yard shot and two 30s bringing La Indiana up to 6-7. At the next throw-in Cambiaso raced away, he was impeded and a 30-yard penalty was awarded which Laprida saw between the posts for 8-6. Jornayvaz won the ball from the throw-in, tried to pass to Cambiaso, but White for La Indiana swooped in, the ball passed between his team-mates until Pieres raced on to score and pull his side back to 7-8 at half-time.

Two swift field goals from Cambiaso took Valiente 10-7 ahead. La Indiana fought for every ball, White scored from a super pass from Pieres, a brilliant run all the way to goal from Nic Roldan secured another, and a 30-yard penalty shot from Pieres finally levelled the scores at 10-10.

Chukka five opened and two penalties and a field goal from Facundo Pieres saw La Indiana ahead for the first time, as Cambiaso spent two minutes in the sin bin.

Two of Valiente’s answering goals came from 30-yard penalties which, with a lovely field goal from Laprida, brought the scores level again on 13-13. 

Cambiaso raced away from the throw-in, Facundo saving a goal with a brilliant clearance, Bickford was well placed to pick up the ball and sent a wonderful goal through for a lead of 14-13. 

The excitement continued into the sixth chukka when Laprida sent a brilliant shot just wide. White brought the ball in, Pieres picked it up and delivered it to Roldan. The whistle blew for Laprida’s intervention and Pieres scored to give his side a 15-13 lead.

A 60-yard penalty was awarded to Valiente which Cambiaso sent soaring for 15-14. Another penalty was given away and Laprida made it 15-15. Cambiaso went racing away again hitting the ball in the air as he headed for the goal, but the whistle blew. A safety shot was awarded to Valiente. Lewis took it and Valiente secured the lead which saw them the victors in the 2018 Midhurst Town Cup.

The historic cup and prizes of leather document cases were presented by Mariya Burton of Aspinal of London. She also presented the award for Most Valuable Player to Christian Laprida.

The best playing pony prize, awarded to Facundo Pieres’ Galactica was presented by Lila Pearson.

LIZ HIGGINS