The Trippetts Challenge played for the James Wentworth Stanley Cup is the opening high-goal tournament of the UK polo season and a useful warm-up for teams preparing for the 22-goal King Power Gold Cup at Cowdray Park and Queens Cup at Guards.
Five locally based sides took part in the competition with Michael Bickford’s La Indiana and Corinne Ricard’s Murus Sanctus making it through to the final.
Bickford, himself a strong one-goal player, retains only ten-goaler Facundo Pieres, now arguably the world’s best player, from his previous line-up. His new line-up now includes Englishman Jimbo Fewster (three goals) at No2 and Brazilian Rodrigo Andrade (eight goals) at three.
Corinne Ricard has retained Facundo Sola (seven goals) and Gonzalito Pieres (nine goals) in her 2019 side and has brought in the very talented Tommy Beresford (six goals) playing at back.
A huge lofted 60-yard penalty shot by Facundo Pieres made the opening goal for La Indiana. At the end of the first chukka, Bickford scored a neat goal to take his side 2-0 ahead.
Early in the second a 30-yard penalty against La Indiana enabled Gonzalito Pieres to put the first mark on the scoreboard for Murus Sanctus, but it wasn’t long before Facundo sent a great pass to Bickford enabling the patron’s second goal of the match and a 3-1 lead.
An infringement against Andrade gave La Indiana a 40-yard penalty which Facundo Pieres shot through for 4-1. Facu won the ball from the throw-in and sent it forward, it was stopped by Beresford, but Fewster swooped in and raced away for his first goal of the match and a 5-1 lead to close chukka two.
The third chukka gave Facundo Pieres the opportunity to score from another 60-yard penalty. He followed up by stealing the ball from Sola and racing all the way to the goal posts for 7-1. A superb goal from Andrade made it 8-1. A couple of mistakes by La Indiana enabled Sola to score from firstly a 30 and then a 40 yard penalty, but there was no let-up in the La Indiana attack with Fewster stealing the ball from Sola and racing away to score and end the third chukka on 9-3.
During half-time a substitute was found for Bickford who had injured his hand. His place was taken by 14-year-old Alfie Hyde – his first appearance in the high goal, and he was undaunted.
Tributes paid to the voice of Cowdray Park
Autumn means Farewell at Cowdray polo club
The chukka started briskly with a swift goal from Sola for Murus Sanctus but Andrade snatched the ball from the throw-in and raced away to score, the chukka ending 10-4.
Chukka five opened with a throw-in won by Murus Sanctus, but suddenly Hyde grabbed the ball and raced away to the other end to make his first goal in the high goal, the team’s other young player Fewster following up with a powerful shot to make it 12-4.
A much-needed comeback from Murus Sanctus saw Sola take the ball between the posts with a good field goal score from a 30-yard penalty and finish off a good shot from Gonzalito Pieres for his sixth of the match, the chukka finishing on 12-7 to La Indiana.
Despite plenty of action in the final chukka only one goal ensued with Gonzalito Pieres finishing off a long shot from Sola to reach a final score of 12-8 in La Indiana’s favour.
Clare Mllford-Haven presented the Trippetts Challenge Cup in memory of her son James Wentworth-Stanley to Bickford and prizes to all players. The award for MVP went to Jimbo Fewster of La Indiana. The prize for best playing pony went to Azucar, owned by Bickford and played by Facundo Pieres.
* With an entry of seven teams, the eight-goal Barrett Cup provided some lively matches during the tournament, with Wilf Fine’s Sea Breeze and Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce, with Millie Barfoot playing for the patron, making it to the final.
Millie Barfoot, having benefited from a winter of polo in New Zealand, was joined by Will Harper at No2, John Martin at No3 and Pedro Harrison at back. Wilf Fine’s side included Angus Rowan Hamilton at two, Nick Clague at three and Henry Fisher at back.
In a pacey match, John Martin made the opening goal and Maiz Dulce ended the first chukka 1-0 ahead. In the second, Fisher, playing a very solid game for Sea Breeze, sent a huge shot forward which found the goal posts to make a good field goal and equalise.
A spot penalty enabled him to score again and chukka two closed at 2-1 in Sea Breeze’s favour.
After half-time Sea Breeze came back strong with Fisher making his third goal of the match and 3-1 on the scoreboard at the end of chukka three. The pace ramped up in the final chukka with Maiz Dulce on the move from the off.
A shot at goal was cleared by Fisher but Sea Breeze gave away a penalty and Harrison scored from 30 yards. Harrison grabbed the ball from the throw in and raced away to make it 3-3.
Maiz Dulce’s John Martin won the ball from the throw-in and, assisted by an on-fire Harrison, put Maiz Dulce ahead with a beautiful shot between the goal posts and a 4-3 lead.
Clague won the ball and sent it to Hamilton, on it went to Fisher, who lost it to Harrison. Out of nowhere came Will Harper who neatly spun the ball between the posts for 5-3 and success in the Barrett Cup for Maiz Dulce for a second year running.
Jennai Clague presented the trophy to Millie Barfoot and the best playing pony award went to Fizz, owned and played by Fisher.