Maiz amaze again to lift another polo trophy at Cowdray Park

The PSI Cup winners / Picture by Mark Beaumont
The PSI Cup winners / Picture by Mark Beaumont

Yet again Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce found themselves in an eight-goal final at Cowdray Park, this time for the PSI Trophy, where they faced Garrie Renucci’s Vendetta side.

Seven teams entered with Maiz Dulce fielding their multiple-winning side of Millie Barfoot (0 goals) at No1, Will Harper (two goals) at two, John Martin (two goals) at three and Pedro Harrison (four goals) at back. Vendetta comprised Garrie Renucci (-1) at the front door, Ollie Cork (three goals) at two, Terence Lent (two goals) at three and Jimmy Wood (four goals) at back.

The Park House Cup winners / Picture by Mark Beaumont

The Park House Cup winners / Picture by Mark Beaumont

A swift goal from Harper for Maiz Dulce put the first mark on the scoreboard. On the attack again, the next goal came within a minute from Martin.

Lent blazed away from the throw-in towards the Maiz Dulce goal, but Harper raced in and cleared the ball to be picked up by Harrison. Great teamwork saw Maiz Dulce’s Harper put the ball between the posts for a 3-0 lead. However, a foul by Maiz Dulce gave Vendetta a 30-yard penalty which Wood saw through and the chukka ended with Maiz Dulce ahead 3-1.

Vendetta came into chukka two with a much-improved sense of purpose and Lent and Cork combining well. Cork took the ball all the way to the Maiz Dulce goal and, although challenged en route, made a beautifully angled shot to pull back a goal for Vendetta.

Vendetta went on the attack from the throw-in, a foul against Cork giving them another 30-yard penalty which Wood sent through to even it at 3-3. Harrison seized his chance to put Maiz Dulce into the lead again.

Harrison’s next attempt went wide, while a whistle gave another chance to Vendetta and Wood was able to send through a penalty 40-yard shot to even the scores on 4-4 at half-time.

A blistering third chukka actually brought no goals, but the crowd hardly noticed as the action was full of pace.

They weren’t disappointed by the fourth chukka either, Martin flying away in the opening piece of play, the ball stolen by Cork, but Harper finally snatching it and sending it through the posts for 5-4 to Maiz Dulce. The yellow shirts of Maiz Dulce were all over the ball from the throw-in and Martin saw it through for 6-4. In the midst of a tough piece of play, Cork received an injury to his face but was patched up by the paramedics and got back into the saddle.

A 30-yard penalty was awarded to Vendetta and Wood made it 6-5. Maiz Dulce desperately looked for another goal but a good try from Harris went wide. Martin tried a shot at goal, the ball going wide. Wood for Vendetta brought the ball in but Martin fouled and a penalty was given to Vendetta. Wood sent a massive shot forward but Harrison stopped it and started to race away to the opposite end. Luckily for Maiz Dulce, the whistle blew to signal the end of the match and they had won 6-5.

Maiz Dulce’s fifth eight-goal triumph in 2019 was also their last victory together as two of the players have had their handicaps raised for next season. Jo James presented the ornate PSI Cup to a delighted Millie Barfoot with patron Peter Barfoot looking on. Prizes went to all players and Martin’s Pin-Up took the Best Playing Pony award.

In the subsidiary final Martina Lowe’s Yaguara beat Wilf Fine’s Sea Breeze 7-4.

* The Park House Cup was presented to Cowdray Park Polo Club by Ione O’Brien who, after World War II, established a country house hotel in the village of Bepton, three miles away.

On her arrival from India, where she had been brought up, she was delighted to see that polo, a sport familiar to her, was played in the area. She became one of the club’s staunchest supporters and in return generations of polo patrons and players came back year after year to stay at her unique property with its much-loved Polo Bar.

She became a friend of the late John Cowdray and, like him, was keen to bring newcomers into the sport. She launched in 1962 the Park House Cup to reward players in entry level and low goal polo.

Since being taken over by Ione’s grandson, Seamus O’Brien, the Park House Hotel has been enlarged and refurbished.

The 2019 Park House Cup was entered by six teams and it was fitting that the winners were a youthful, enthusiastic side.

Young patron Wilf Fine (0 goals), took the No1 position for Sea Breeze with Alfie Hyde (one goal) at No2, Dorian Bulteau (two goals) at three and Angus Rowan-Hamilton (one goal) at back.

Maiz Dulce had Millie Barfoot (0 goals) playing at No2, Noah Hyde (-2) at No1, John Martin (two goals) at three and Derreck Bratley (four goals) at back.

Angus Rowan-Hamilton made the first goal for Sea Breeze with no response from Maiz Dulce in the first chukka. Bratley for Maiz Dulce levelled in the second chukka from a 30-yard safety shot.

The third chukka brought a lovely field goal from John Martin take Maiz Dulce into a 2-1 lead.

However, in the final chukka, by giving away a spot penalty to Sea Breeze, seen through the posts by Alfie Hyde, Maiz Dulce lost the advantage. Another mistake e gave Hyde for Sea Breeze a 30-yard penalty shot at goal securing victory for Fine’s team.

Stella O’Brien presented the cup to a delighted Fine and prizes to all players. The Best Playing Pony award, sponsored by Equine Management/Stephen’s Polo, went to Barbara, owned and played by Bratley.

In the subsidiary final, Los Schatzies beat Waieka/TLC 8-3.