|Mon 23rd Jul 2018|
All-Brit El Remanso Champion The British Open
The King Power Gold Cup Comes Home at Cowdray
In what has been widely considered as one of the most exciting tournament Finals to date, the all-Brit El Remanso team finally sealed the deal in The King Power Gold Cup Final at Cowdray Park Polo Club yesterday, Sunday 22 July.
Under the seemingly endless British sunshine, El Remanso took to the field against Jean François Decaux’s La Bamba de Areco in front of a record-breaking 15,000 strong crowd. Prior to the Final, only El Remanso had proved undefeated, sailing through the qualifying rounds, Quarter Finals and Semi Finals. La Bamba, following a loss against Park Place very early on, turned their fate around with a huge 17-6 win against Talandracas on Sunday 8 July, which really marked the beginning of their winning streak up to the Final.
Having lost out to 2017 winners King Power, as well as announcing that 2018 was their last high goal season as a foursome, El Remanso had set all their hopes on this Final. With a roar from the assembled Hanburys, Cudmores, Beims and Harpers, as well as their extensive entourages, play got underway on Lawns 2. Charlie Hanbury set the pace in the first 30 seconds, scoring El Remanso’s first goal straight from the line-out and the pace just didn’t stop. In what must have felt like the quickest three chukkas ever in high goal polo, El Remanso extended their lead to 6-2, four off the stick of Hanbury, but as the seconds ticked down to half-time, Polito Pieres (substituting for an injured David ‘Pelón Stirling) and Juan Martín Nero secured another two goals for La Bamba, to bring them back into the game.
Following what must have been a stern team talk during the half-time break, La Bamba stepped up their game, despite a small initial mistake from Nero that resulted in a seventh goal for El Remanso. The fourth chukka was filled with lapses in concentration and the most whistle in the entire match, as La Bamba first secured a penalty, which was easily converted, and Byron Watson, playing considerably above his 3 goal handicap dribbled the ball all the way from the line-out to secure a seventh goal for his team. El Remanso hadn’t given up and with a penalty converted by Ollie Cudmore, their two goal lead was reasserted, 9-7. The play became even closer and as the teams commenced the fifth chukka, El Remanso only led 9-8. It was now that Pieres really began to show his true colours, expertly changing direction and speed to outmanoeuvre the British boys. He passed the ball to the 10 goal powerhouse that is Nero, who evened the scoreboards to the shock of the assembled crowd. It was here that the tempo of the match began to change as La Bamba notched up two goals to extend their lead to 11-9. As if by magic, El Remanso found themselves awarded a safety 60 and with the crowd’s barely able to stay on their seats, Cudmore fired the ball sky high through the posts to bring the Brits back to within a goal. As the ‘Jack Russell’ Watson made it 12-10 to La Bamba going into the final, fraught chukka the tension in the stands was palpable.
With six minutes to go in this exciting match, Hanbury took a ball to the face causing a five minute delay, but seemingly unharmed, the play continued and once again the polo gods were looking down on El Remanso as a small La Bamba mistake secured a penalty and subsequent conversion to narrow the scores to 12-11. With three minutes to go, the crowds went wild as El Remanso evened the scoreboard to 12-12, having rediscovered the passion and unequivocal drive they so clearly lacked in the fourth chukka. As the teams tussled in front of the La Bamba goal, the entire ground sat in tense silence. Cudmore, in a moment he will never forget, perfectly placed the ball with a nearside forehand through the posts, with 30 seconds left on the clock, to secure The King Power Gold Cup for The British Open for the El Remanso team. The crowd erupted with elation and shouts of “Polo’s coming home” as the team’s families raced onto the field to celebrate with their victorious players. Charlie Hanbury was presented with the Most Valuable Player Award, whilst his nine-year-old mare Sex was awarded the Best Playing Patron Pony. David ‘Pelón’ Stirling’s pony Blancanieves, played by Polito Pieres, was presented with the Best Playing Pony rug.
The King Power Gold Cup marks the end of the British high goal season as well as the final stop on El Remanso’s 30 year polo journey, from their days in Pony Club playing the Jorrocks together, to the pinnacle of international polo. A full report from the tournament will follow in the next issue of Polo Times
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The King Power Gold Cup for The British Open Teams:
El Remanso (22): Charlie Hanbury (4), Ollie Cudmore (6), James Beim (6) & James Harper (7)
La Bamba de Areco (22): Jean François Decaux (0), Byron Watson (3), Polito Pieres (9) & Juan Martín Nero (10)
Photograph: El Remanso defeated La Bamba de Areco to win The King Power Gold Cup for The British Open yesterday at Cowdray Park Polo Club. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com
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