Gold Cup and Town Cup head the Cowdray polo action

Cowdray Vikings v Murus Sanctus in the Midhurst Town Cup / Picture by Clive Bennett Photography
Cowdray Vikings v Murus Sanctus in the Midhurst Town Cup / Picture by Clive Bennett Photography
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Polo fans were treated to an action-packed weekend at Cowdray Park.

The annual Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup is the prize in the British Open Polo Championship, while this year an extra slot was added with the Ashton Cup up for grabs.

Some talented players took to Cowdray to be part of this year’s competition, with current England skipper Luke Tomlinson, New Zealander John Paul Clarkin and Argentine Juan Zavaleta all in attendance.

That trio were all in the same side along with Nick Clarke as they made up Clarke and Green. In their opening match in Group B/C they faced off against Ben Solemani’s RH team who were made up of Nico Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade and Alastair Paterson.

In a thrilling encounter, RH led at the close of chukka two before Clarke & Green turned things around in the third to go ahead.

With six chukkas completed the scores were tied at 7-7, forcing a seventh. Clarkin won the Ashton Cup for his side following a remarkable piece of individual brilliance.

Knowing one goal would seal the victory, both teams went for it but a neat finish from a tight angle from Ignacio Toccalino was enough to snatch it for HB.

After receiving the ball from a throw-in he unleashed a fine strike to net a golden goal and ensure it was Clarke and Green who got their hands on that huge silver trophy.

The second game of the afternoon was between French patron Edouard Carmignac’s Talandracas team and Sir Charles Williams’ Apes Hill in Group B/C.

It was a tough but exciting encounter with the scores close for the duration.

Talandracas went into the second half 4-3 ahead but failed to score in chukka four, while goals from Tom Beim and young Alec White gave Apes Hill a 5-4 lead.

Hill then took full advantage opening up an 8-5 lead come the conclusion of chukka five, before going on to claim a comfortable 9-6 victory.

Just a day later, action in Group B/C continued with Jean Francois Decaux’s La Bamba de Areco taking on the Pailloncy brothers’ HB Polo.

This was a high-scoring thriller settled by a single goal in 21.

It was close throughout with the scores level at 3-3 and 5-5 before HB powered into a 9-5 lead. But back came their opponents and at the close of chukkas it was all square at 10-10.

Knowing one goal would seal the victory, both teams went for it but a neat finish from a tight angle from Ignacio Toccalino was enough to snatch it for HB.

In the fourth Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup match of a packed weekend, George Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings met Corinne Ricard’s Murus Sanctus to be crowned 2016 winners of The Midhurst Cup.

First to score in the match was Facndo Sola for Murus Sanctus, who followed it up with another well-angled shot to goal making it 2-0.

A 30-yard penalty sent through by Jack Richardson gave Cowdray Vikings their first mark on the scoreboard, though, Sanctus’ two-goal lead was quickly restored courtesy of Manuel Elizalde’s strike.

Vikings began to find their feet in chukka two and started to play some fine polo in the process.

Home side Cowdray continued to push after taking the lead and looked to be cruising to the title having raced into a 9-5 lead.

They extended that lead further and led 10-6 but back came Murus Sanctus and got to within a goal but Vikings held on.

LIZ HIGGINS

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