By Alex Webbe
Despite the rain and the cold, Wednesday afternoon was packed with high-goal polo with six teams competing in three matches in the 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open at the Cowdray Park Polo Club.
In the opening game of the day Apes Hill (George Hanbury, Mark Tomlinson, Eduardo N. Astrada and Alec White) improved their record to 2-1 with a hard-fought 11-10 win over La Bamba de Areco (Jean Francois Decaux, Diego Cavanagh, Magoo Laprida and Rodrigo Rueda) as the tournament began its third round of play. The La Bamba de Areco loss dropped their record to 0-3 with two of their losses being decided by one goal and one of them in overtime.
Eduardo Novillo Astrada opened the scoring with a goal from the field in the first chukker. La Bamba de Areco team captain Jean Francois Decaux responded with a goal to tie the game at 1-1. Astrada closed out the scoring with a second goal that boosted Apes Hill into the lead, 2-1.
Mark Tomlinson took advantage of a La Bamba de Areco foul in the second chukker, converting the penalty shot from 40-yards out to expand the Apes Hill lead to two goals, 3-1. Goals from Diego Cavanagh and Magoo Laprida tied the game at 3-3. Astrada drove a backhander through the La Bamba de Areco goalposts on a well-executed backhander for the final goal of the chukker and a 4-3 Apes Hill advantage.
La Bamba de Areco exploded for four goals in the third period while holding Apes Hill to single goals from Tomlinson and Alec White. Tomlinson opened the chukker with a 40-yard penalty conversion followed by a goal from Decaux that kept his team within a goal of the lead, 5-4. Cavanagh tied the game at 5-5 followed by a go-ahead goal from Laprida that gave La Bamba de Areco their first lead of the game, 6-5. White leveled the score at 6-6 for Apes Hill but Cavanagh’s second goal of the chukker ended the first half with La Bamba de Areco in possession of the 7-6 lead.
White tried to ignite a rally in the fourth chukker, scoring the opening goal to tie it at 7-7. Cavanagh converted a short penalty shot that gave the led back to Apes Hill, 8-7, but La Bamba de Areco fought right back. Tomlinson tied the game again with a 30-yard penalty conversion, 8-8, and Decaux’s third goal of the game put La Bamba de Areco in front again, 9-8.
Defense was the by-word of the fifth period as the rain intensified. Astrada finally managed to break through the Apes Hill defenders and send a shot through the goalposts for the only goal of the chukker and a 9-9 deadlock.
Tomlinson gave the lead back to Apes Hill with the first goal of the final chukker, 10-9. Cavanagh tied it at 101 on a 30-yard penalty conversion as both teams struggled for control of the game. The final goal of the game came from White, with time running out, and Apes Hill celebrated the 11-10 victory.
Astrada’s five goals led the Apes Hill attack. Tomlinson added four goals and White scored twice for the win. Five goals from Cavanagh set the pace for the La Bamba de Areco offense. Decaux added three goals and Laprida scored twice in the loss.
Clarke & Green 12, HB Polo 11 OT
In one of the most anticipated games of the day two undefeated teams took the field with Clarke & Green (Nick Clarke, Juan G. Zavaleta, Luke Tomlinson and John Paul Clarkin) edging HB Polo Team (Ludovic Pailloncy, Ignacio Toccalino, Pelon Stirling and Sebastien Pailloncy) 12-11 in sudden-death overtime.
HB Polo 10-goaler Pelon Stirling gave his team a 1-0 lead with the first goal of the game but Clarke & Green made their presence known with three straight goals to move in front, 3-1. Tomlinson scored twice on penalty shots and John Paul Clarkin ended the chukker with HB Polo trailing by two goals.
The HB Polo’s defense was only topped by an offense that put four goals on the scoreboard in second period action. The HB Defense held Clarke & Green scoreless while the offense collected two goals apiece from Stirling and Ignacio Toccalino. After two periods it was HB Polo in front, 5-3.
Clarke & Green countered with Juan Gris Zavaleta scoring on an impressive nearside neck shot followed by another goal from the field on a pass from Clarkin that made it 5-5. Stirling scored the final goal of the chukker on a 40-yard penalty shot, keeping HB Polo on top, 6-5 at the end of the first half.
Zavaleta tied the game at 6-6 with his third goal of the game as the fourth chukker got underway, but the HB Polo offense wasn’t sitting idly by. Once again it was Stirling to the rescue, scoring consecutive goals to end the period with HB Polo leading by two goals, 8-6.
Ludovic Pailloncy ‘s first goal of the game came on a long pass from Stirling and stretched the HB Polo lead to three goals 9-6. Tomlinson converted his third penalty shot of the day to cut the HB Polo lead back to a manageable two goals, and ending the period down, 9-7.
Clarke & Green got busy in the sixth chukker, scoring goals from Clarkin, team captain Nick Clarke and Tomlinson (60-yard penalty shot for a goal) to take their first lead of the game, 10-9. Stirling tied the score again at 10-10, lifting a shot on goal over the defending Clarke & Green players. With 1:08 on the game clock, Stirling gave HB Polo the lead back, 11-10. With just 15 seconds left in regulation play, Tomlinson took a shot at goal that was blocked. Zavaleta jumped on the loose ball and drove t through the HB Polo goalposts to tie the game at 11-11 and force a sudden-death overtime chukker.
Following a brief intermission, both teams returned to the field for a matter that was taken care of swiftly. Clarke & Green had trailed for most of the game, but all would be forgiven in sudden-death overtime as Tomlinson broke through the HB Polo defenders to score the winning goal, 12-11. The win kept Clarke & Green undefeated at 3-0 while HB Polo suffered their first loss of the 2016 British Open, falling to 2-1.
Tomlinson scored only one of his team-high five goals from the field. Zavaleta added four goals with Clarkin getting credit for two scores and Clarke scoring once for the win. Stirling’s eight goals led all scoring. Toccalino added two goals and Ludovic Pailloncy scored once in the loss.
Britannia El Remanso 9, Cowdray Vikings 6
In the final British Open game of the day Britannia El Remanso (Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper) was looking for their first win of the tournament at 0-1 while the Cowdray Vikings (George Pearson, Chris Mackenzie, Jack Richardson and Alejandro Novillo Astrada) were hoping to improve on their chances of earning a quarterfinal berth by improving on their 1-1 record.
A touch-and-go opening chukker saw little scoring as Charley Hanbury and Chris Mackenzie traded single goals. The teams were tied at 1-1 after the first period of play.
Both teams were struggling to establish a rhythm while battling the rain. Jack Richardson converted a 30-yard penalty shot that put the Cowdray Vikings in front, 2-1. James Harper answered back for El Remanso with a penalty goal of his own ant the score remained level at 2-2.
An alert George Pearson jumped on top of a deflected 60-yard penalty attempt from teammate Alejandro Novillo Astrada and sent it through the goalposts on a well-placed nearside shot for a goal, 3-2. Astrada added a goal from the field moments later as the Cowdray Vikings stretched their lead to two goals, 4-2. Harper converted another penalty shot on goal to end the first half trailing the Cowdray Vikings, 4-3.
Richardson extended the Cowdray Vikings lead to two goals, 5-3. Hanbury scored on a long shot at goal that kept El Remanso within a goal of the lead, 5-4.
El Remanso took control of the game in the fifth. Harper scored twice on penalty shots and Cudmore added two goals from the field. A swarming El Remanso defense kept the Vikings off of the scoreboard ad they rode off the field with a three goal lead, 8-5, and one chukker left in regulation play.
Cudmore’s third goal of the game gave El Remanso a four goal lead, 9-5, as the Cowdray Vikings fought to get back into the game. A 40-yard penalty conversion from Richardson was the best that they could muster, however, as Britannia El Remanso leveled their recorded at 1-1 with the 9-6 win.
Harper led eh El Remanso attack with four penalty goals. Cudmore scored three times from the field and Hanbury added two goals in the victory. Richardson set the offensive pace for the Cowdray Vikings with three penalty goals. Pearson, Mackenzie and Astrada each added a goal in a losing effort.
Two games are scheduled to be played on Thursday, June 30th as British Open play continues. Valiente (Bob Jornayvaz, Ralph Richardson, Adolfo Cambiaso and Juan Martin Nero) and Murus Sanctus (Corinne Ricard, Manuel Elizalde, Facundo Sola and Alfredo Cappella) will open the day’s competition with a 1pm match followed by a battle between Talandracas (Edouard Carmignac, Pablo Pieres, Tommy Beresford and Sapo Caset) and RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Ali Paterson, Rodrigo Andrade and Nicolas Pieres) at 3pm.