Cups runneth over for polo stars at Cowdray Park

The Brecknock Cup winners / Picture: Mark Beaumont
The Brecknock Cup winners / Picture: Mark Beaumont

In an action packed weekend at Cowdray Park, 22 matches were played including the finals and sub-finals of the eight-goal Brecknock Cup and the inaugural two-goal Selham Cup.

The Brecknock Cup featured a battle between the teams of two business giants – John Bunn’s Hickstead side and Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce.

Bunn took the No1 position for his side with Harry Muddle (two goals) at two, Lachie Gilmore at three and Niall Donnelly (four goals) at back. For MaIz Dulce, Nick Van Oppen (0 goals) replaced Millie Barfoot at No1, Will Harper (two goals) played at two, John Martin (two goals) at three and Pedro Harrison (four goals) at back.

A slow first chukka brought just one goal from Harrison for Maiz Dulce. Hickstead’s Donnelly evened the score in the second chukka before goals from Martin and Harrison took Maiz Dulce to a lead of 3-1.

Despite good play from Hickstead, the third chukka saw Maiz Dulce consolidate their lead with a nifty goal from Van Oppen and a good field goal from Harrison taking the side to 5-1. Hickstead rallied in the fourth, Muddle seeing the ball between the posts in the first minute.

Harrison took Maiz Dulce on to 6-2 before a lovely goal from Bunn narrowed the gap to 6-3. Muddle zoomed in again to pull another goal back for Hickstead but it was too late to avoid a 6-4 victory for the yellow shirts of Maiz Dulce.

Penelope Langhorn presented the Brecknock Cup and individual prizes to all players. Harrison’s Neptune won the award for best playing pony sponsored by Equine Management/Stephen’s Polo.

The inaugural Selham Cup has been slotted into the calendar to encourage newcomers to the sport and players from low-goal clubs to enjoy a tournament on Cowdray’s world-class grounds.

Polo manager Chris Bethell said: “It is several decades since two-goal polo has been played at Cowdray and we felt it important to appeal to those people who are just starting out.

“We are delighted that it has attracted an entry of seven teams made up of youngsters who started playing in the Pony Club, some who have started at the Cowdray Park Polo Club Academy, others who have come through our Weekend Polo initiative and plenty from lower goal clubs in the area. I hope their first taste of playing here encourages them to want to continue playing and maybe move up to a higher level of competition.”

Making it to the Selham Cup final were Madams Farm Gold, coming from former international player Alan Kent’s yard and comprising Alan Cushen (-1) at No1, Will Millard (no goals) at two, Tom Dalton Morgan (one goal) at three and Marcus Collie (two goals) at back. High Point Polo Stud/LBF included Andrew Porter (-1) at one, Dave Gardner (-1) at two, Will Brasher (one goal) at three and Nick Clague (three goals) at back.

In an exciting high-scoring match which went to extra time, Madams Farm Gold took an early lead with goals from Collie and Millard. Brasher answered with a goal for High Point Polo Stud/LBF before the first chukka ended. Millard evened the score in the second chukka before a foul awarded against Madams Farm Gold gave Clague, the highest handicapped player on the pitch, the chance to show off his skills with a mighty 60-yard penalty shot.

He followed up with a great field goal and scored from another accurate 60-yard penalty to put Madams Farm Gold ahead 4-3 by half time.

Clague scored his fourth goal of the match in the third with Brasher following up to take High Point Polo Stud/LBF to 6-3. Collie pulled one back for Madams Farm Gold and the third chukka ended with High Point Polo Stud/LBF ahead on 6-4.

Goals dried up for High Point in the sixth chukka while Morgan scored from a 40-yard penalty and Collie achieved a good field goal to make it 6-6, sending the match into an extra chukka.

It fell to Gardner to make the winning goal and put High Point Polo Stud/LBF’s name on the inaugural Selham Cup. Selham resident Sue Moffat, one of Cowdray Park Polo Club’s most loyal supporters, presented the trophy to High Point Polo Stud/LBF and individual prizes to all players.

* A lively high scoring match between Northwood and Brown Rudnick brought to a close the 2019 six-goal West Sussex Cup, which had attracted an entry of eight teams.

Playing for ex-England captain Andrew Hine’s Northwood side were Celio Garcera (0 goals) at No1, Hine’s two sons Louis (0 goals) and Ned (two goals) at two and three, with four-goaler Simon Prado at back. The Brown Rudnick side comprised Louisa Watt (-1 goal) at one, Evan Power (0 goals) at two, Ed Banner-Eve (three goals) at three and Pedro Harrison (four goals) at back.

Louis Hine raced away to take the first goal for Northwood. Prado scored from a 40-yard penalty to take the side ahead 2-1 before Power made the first mark on the scoreboard for Brown Rudnick.

With another goal from the younger Hine brother, the chukka ended with Northwood 3-1 up. Northwood romped away in the second chukka, with Prado scoring twice from 30-yard penalties interspersed with an excellent field goal. Another goal from Louis Hine took Northwood ahead by 7-1.

A team talk from Andrew Hine gave Northwood even more energy as they scored three more goals in chukka three, all from Simon Pardo, with the answer of a single goal from Harrison for Brown Rudnick, the chukka ending with an eight-goal lead for Northwood.

Brown Rudnick perked up for the final chukka, Power receiving a well-aimed pass from Harrison to pull a goal back. Banner-Eve raced away from the throw-in and made a good field goal, making the score 10-4.

Off went Banner-Eve again, this time achieving a 30-yard ‘safety’ penalty shot to make it 10-5. Louis Hine won the ball from the next throw but was intercepted by Harrison who zoomed off, passing to Banner-Eve who was ready to slip the ball between the posts for 10-6.

Brown Rudnick tried another attack but Prado sent them packing and the match ended with victory for Northwood at 10-6. While it was perhaps an off-day for the Brown Rudnick side, it is clear that both Ned and Louis Hine, with great polo genes, have much to offer as they mature.

Millie Hine, the boys’ sister, herself an up-and-coming player, presented the West Sussex Cup and prizes to both teams. Ned Hine’s pony Belle was the Best Playing Pony.

In the subsidiary Final of the West Sussex Cup, Ice Craft/Hickstead beat Kingsbridge 7-4.