The Veuve Clicquot

Gold Cup Final

2007

Between

Lechuza Caracas and Loro Piana

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Loro Piana came to the Gold Cup 2007 tournament as the winners of the Queen's Cup having beaten Ellerston White in an extremely tense final. In the semi-finals they repeated that win over an Ellerston team that was without Facundo Pieres; Lechuza Caracas made it to the final winning over Les Lions.

By all accounts this would be set to be a close affair, that should contain a thrilling display of 22-23 goal polo - especially with the type of open play that Loro Piana tend towards. But how would the recent weather affect things -  Cowdray Park looked amazing - with the lawns firm(ish) and green - certainly not looking like a quagmire - the Ground Staff did a superb job from Friday to Sunday...but what about the Polo Ponies - would the ground be too soft - had they been exercised/trained enough with all the rain? What about the players - frustrated or on tip-top form? Would the ball have consistent bounce - indeed would it bounce or just stop?

The match itself lasted nearly 3 hours, was rather 'technical' (10 of the 21 goals scored came from penalties, and about another six penalties went wide!) in comparison to a display of open 'end-to-end' thrills and spills...well we certainly had the spills and I'm not just talking about the Streaker's end-to-end goal OR his somersault!  (Although we must presume he was English - as he did keep his socks on!!) The game was also complicated by the need for substitutions - and the complexities of HPA rules about previous players in the competition  - ones who had played for other teams...reminding everyone how aggressive a sport Polo is. However mention must go to Sebastian Merlos who, according to Photoscience.co.uk's score sheet, was responsible for getting 9 out of Lechuza Caracas's 10, scored, goals.

The Teams:-

Lechuza Caracas (white): 1, Victor Vargas (1); 2, Pite Merlos (9); 3, Sebastian Merlos (9) and Bk, Henry Fisher (3) - Total 22

Loro Piana (blue/gold): 1, David Sterling (7); 2 Alfio Marchini (2); 3, Juan Martin Nero (9) and Bk Martin Espain (5) - Total 23

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The Match:-

ADSL browsers can download the slideshow (18.5 Mb pdf) here

or

go to the gallery from this match here (42 images)

Lechuza Caracas (LC) started with a 1 goal handicap lead and Sebastian quickly converted this to a 2 goal lead by a 30 yd penalty at an open goal; Loro Piana (LP) fought back, regaining a goal from a 40 yd penalty thanks to David Sterling. This tit-for-tat continued bringing the score to 3-2 to LC before they pulled away with a third from the chukka to finish it at 4:2.

The second chukka saw missed opportunities from penalties and two conversions each to maintain the gap and close the period of play at 6:4 to LC.

The third only increased the score by a further goal each, one field goal for LC against a penalty by LP - the chukka was one of frustrating play, really quite fragmented and without any sense of flow or continuity to it - and in the final two minutes the first of three spills of the match took place. Pite Merlos and David Sterling had a collision at the scoreboard end 5 minutes through the period - and from where I was (the far end from the scoreboard) it looked like Pite seriously 'took-off' from his horse before falling to the ground. Pite required some medical attention and remained on the ground for about five minutes; David Sterling also required some attention to his wrist. After about 10 minutes Pite remounted and the chukka finally finished after a period of some 25 minutes - but not before Henry Fisher 'took out' the post at the other end! The score was 7:5 in LC's favour at half-time.

The start (half an hour later) of the 4th chukka saw LP return to the field without David Sterling - due to the injury sustained to his wrist - Nico Espain (6), the brother of Martin, was apparently suggested - but had earlier played for Cadenza. However Pablo Jauretche (6, who is based at Cowdray) took over the number 1 position for LP. The 4th chukka thus started with a changed line-up and with a 60 yd penalty to LC - suitably converted with a lob through the posts; LC then had a further penalty that took the score to 9:5. At this point LP upped their game coming back with the next 3 goals Pablo, Alfio and then Pablo again bringing the score to a more respectable 9:8 in favour of LC.

The 5th chukka continued the trend of the 4th - after only about a minute or so there was what appeared to be another collision - which in fact turned out to be Pablo's polo pony tripping, Pite's jumping over both Pablo and his horse - thus unseating Pite, most unceremoniously, and a hoof catching him in the face. I understand that Pite required stitches to his nose, maybe had a few loose teeth - but didn't suffer a fracture. Another substitute had to be found after Pite Merlos had not been able to retake the field of play after the HPA regulation 15 minutes of injury stoppage. Pite's brother Augustin was watching in the marquee - and although he had previously captained Zacara it was agreed that he could substitute in his current attire - I honestly don't think there were many options in terms of replacing a 9-goaler. Certainly I don't think the streaker showed enough form (though everything else) to be able to take the field in such a role! After a hour delay for this injury the match restarted; the only goal of the chukka came from LP to level the score at 9-All.

Into the 6th with all to play for - LC opened the scoring, through Sebastian, with a field goal (Henry Fisher had almost scored from another bit of open play a minute earlier - but it just went wide of the posts) bringing the score to 10 - 9. LP had a 60 yd penalty, taken by Pablo, which went wide and then LC, again through Sebastian Merlos, scored off a penalty giving them a 2 goal lead going into the final minute or so. In the last LP had a 40 yd open goal penalty which Juan Martin Nero converted...but with seconds to go...

Lechuza Caracas took the cup 11-10 - deservedly - but it was certainly a rather curious match.

ADSL browsers can download the slideshow (18.5 Mb pdf) here

or

go to the gallery from this match here (42 images)

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