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Mon 22nd Jul 2019

Dubai Reign in Overtime Victory

The King Power Gold Cup Final

In what is being called ‘the Final of the 21st Century’, yesterday, Sunday 21 July, Dubai defeated VS King Power in the Final of The King Power Gold Cup Final at Cowdray Park Polo Club, 13-12 in overtime. 

Thousands of polo fans gathered under the July sun for the illustrious British Open which saw two of the youngest players in history reach the Final, 18-year-old Bartolito Castagnola and his 16-year-old brother Camilo ‘Jeta’ Castagnola. Going into the Final the teams were evenly matched, with Dubai holding the upper hand in the win/loss ratio, with five wins and only one loss. 
The match was as fast and exciting as everyone expected. Dubai were first on the ball, but it was quickly stolen by VS King Power 9 goaler Polito Pieres. With three missed goal opportunities, including a first missed penalty for Bartolito Castagnola, ‘Jeta’ was the first to put his name on the scoreboard early in the first chukka. VS King Power were quick to respond, with Marcos di Paola securing his first goal of the match, and the game continued in this fashion for the next six chukkas. Prior to the half-time break, Dubai found themselves 6-4 ahead thanks to two epic goals from Bartolito Castagnola, but following what must have been a punchy team chat during the break, VS King Power came back with a vengeance, racing to change the lead to an 8-6 in VS King Power’s favour. With two more chukkas to go, Dubai had their work cut out and VS King Power weren’t going to make it easy. As the fifth chukka wound down, VS King Power were now in the lead 11-7 and it looked like it might be all over for Dubai. But as the sixth chukka commenced, the notorious Castagnola teamwork clicked into play, as the brothers, with the more than able support of back Nachi du Plessis at number four climbed the scoreboard to make it an even 11-11, then 12-12. The crowd were ecstatic as the bell at the end of the sixth sounded, forcing the teams into a seventh, thrilling chukka. 
As hushed tones of “Who can hold their nerve?” resounded around the grandstand, the teams raced out for the overtime period. VS King Power, with measured play, took the first stab at goal, but to the dismay of their fans in the stands, following a solo run upfield with no one on his tail, Juan Martín Zubía hit the ball wide, dashing VS King Power’s chances of victory. ‘Jeta’ Castagnola took the bull by the horns and to a huge cheer from stands, he raced upfield to tap the ball through the uprights and take home The King Power Gold Cup for the Dubai side. 
Polito Pieres was named Most Valuable Player, a small consolation on his birthday following the loss of the Final, whilst Top Srivaddhanaprabha’s pony Open Chacota was awarded the Best Playing Patron’s pony honours. ‘Jeta’ Castagnola’s grey mare Rebalde was named Best Playing Pony of the Final. A full report will follow in the next issue of Polo Times, so make sure your subscription is up to date here now.
The King Power Gold Cup Final Teams:
Dubai (21): Camilo ‘Jeta’ Castagnola (6), Rashid Albwardy (1), Bartolito Castagnola (6) & Nachi du Plessis (8)
King Power (22): Top Srivaddhanaprabha (0), Polito Pieres (9), Marcos Di Paola (7) & Juan Martín Zubía (6)
Photograph: Dubai secured their first Gold Cup win since 2015. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com

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