|Mon 24th Aug 2020|
Cartier Queen’s Cup Final
Les Lions/Great Oaks clinch the historic title
The zenith of the rearranged UK high goal season did not fail to disappoint in an extra chukka turbo charged cliff hanger as two sets of brothers clashed on Sunday 23 August as Les Lions/ Great Oaks took on the might of Park Place for the Queen’s Cup Trophy. The 60th anniversary of this match was played at Guards Polo Club on the iconic Queen’s Ground behind closed doors due to the pandemic, but was available to view live on Guards TV in collaboration with PolocamTV, therefore opening up the match to those not able watch at the Club. Those viewing from their homes were also joined by Laurent Feniou, Managing Director of Cartier UK, who also could not attend as he was self-isolating at home due to a recent overseas trip but sent a message to all the teams taking part. “It has been incredible to see such powerful games played by some of the very best polo players in the world, during this year’s Cartier Queen’s Cup, despite the unprecedented turn of events this year. I am truly inspired by the resilience and talent of these wonderful players capturing the true essence and spirit of the sport.”
Despite the lack of spectators, the players certainly did not hold back on performance as both teams fought valiantly from the outset. It was fascinating to see the fraternal ease of play between two sets of brothers. The powerhouse duo of flamboyant 10 goal Facundo Pieres teamed with his reliable stalwart brother, 9 goal Gonzalito are always a joy to watch, and their experience, teamed with the tsunami of horsepower they bring should have seen Park Place dominate from the start. But the Pieres duo seemed unsettled from the first throw in, their feathers seemingly ruffled by the ‘new brothers on the block’ in the form of the 17 year-old Jeta Castagnola and his older brother Barto. The youthful duo have an ease of placement that sees them seemingly effortlessly pop up in the right place at the right time, a skill that is innate rather than being learnt. Their incredible talent and ability teamed with Santiago Laborde as a willing and able accomplice and Dillon Bacon who plays a skilled game off just 2 goals and unlike many patrons in the high goal certainly cannot be left unattended and unmarked without repercussions, creates a formidable force to be reckoned with. Add into the mixture a back of house team of excellent coaching and organisation and the combination is a recipe for success that powered Great Oaks/Les Lions through the game with a force, that despite close scoring, always looked credible with the half-time score of 4-3 in their favour truly reflecting the tide of the first half.
The age and experience of the Pieres brothers seemed to gain traction in the second half, as the Great Oaks/Les Lions team waivered slightly in their path to victory. Whilst hugely experienced with hours in the saddle beyond their youthful years, the Castagnola brothers seemed rattled by the continuous onslaught from Park Place as scores were matched goal for goal. In what had been a great match for Will Harper, he played an unbelievable shot to equalise the scores at the end of the sixth chukka.
And so it was all to play for in extra time. In what seemed a completely fitting end to a match which had ostensibly been a tale of two sets of brothers, Barto Castagnola found himself powering towards goal, with Andrey Borodin in close attendance. In a display of fraternal generosity, or well drilled altruism (remember their father Lolo was watching with raptor-like attention) Barto moved to one side, taking Borodin with him, to let his brother Jeta take the ball and score the winning goal to bring the final score to 9-8 in Great Oaks/ Les Lions favour.
Patron of the winning team, Dillon Bacon received the historic trophy from Brian Stein, the Chairman of Guards Polo Club whilst each member of the winning team received a Cartier Tank watch. Bacon was also named the Cartier Most Valuable Player for his truly un-patron like play, while the stallion Challo Angelo, which was unusually played by both Barto and Jeta Castagnola in this match, received the Cartier Best Playing Pony prize, a Cartier rug.
Earlier in the day, Brian Stein presented Alessandro Bazzoni of the Monterosso Polo Team with the Cartier Trophy. Interestingly, this was the first time in the history of the tournament that a Cartier Queen’s Cup match has been played between a husband and a wife. Alessandro Bazzoni was competing in this tournament for the fourth time while, his wife Siri was making her Cartier Queen’s Cup debut with her MT Vikings team. This was a close game played over six chukkas with Monterosso just stealing a 6-5 win in the final chukka. Alessandro Bazzoni was rewarded with the Cartier Most Valuable Player prize in this Cartier Trophy match.
The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final Teams:
Les Lions/Great Oaks (23): Dillon Bacon (2), Camilo Castagnola (7), Bartolomé Castagnola Jr. (8) & Santiago Laborde (6)
Park Place (22): Will Harper (3), Andrey Borodin (0), Gonzalito Pieres (9) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Photograph: In what was a tale of two sets of brothers Facundo Pieres reaches to hook Jeta Castagnola in action from Cartier Queen’s Cup Finals. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com