By Bridget McArdle McKinney
CAN POLO GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?
AFTER THE THRILLS, CHILLS, CLIFF-HANGERS, AND STUNNING UPSETS OF THE QUARTERS AND SEMIS, TEAM DUBAI FACES KING POWER IN THE BRITISH OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIPS ON SUNDAY 20 JULY AT 300 PM GMT (400 PM CAIRO TIME). WATCH IT LIVE ON POLOLINE.TV!!!
Two powerful teams, one from Dubai and the other from Thailand, have fielded the best of the best players to battle it out for one of the most prestigious prizes in the sport of polo, the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Championships next Sunday on the lawns of Cowdray Park Polo Club.
Rashid Albwardy’s Dubai team (Rashid Albwardy, Alastair Paterson, Adolfo Cambiaso and Diego Cavanagh) will meet Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s King Power (“Top” Srivaddhanaprabha, Pablo Llorente, Gonzalito Pieres and Marcos di Paola) on the field. Dubai has been here before, knows the route to the top, and carries some mighty player heft in the form of the world’s number one player, Adolpho Cambiaso, and 7-goaler Diego Cavanaugh; together with Zacara we would say that Dubai was certainly one of the tournament favourites walking in.
King Power is the new kid on the block; this is King Power’s first British season. The team is not star-studded but strong and steady 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres is a pillar in the team. The team maintains an uncanny composure and focus even in the scrum and tussle that you’d expect from a more established and experienced team. Top, the son of team patron Vivhai, in particular rides and plays, dare I say, like a tiger – agile, powerful, and fast. King Power have a winning combination of skill, will, and kill.
A few of the pre-final highlights include Lucchese’s final chukka come-from-behind slam dunk in its quarter final match against the Black Bears ending 10 to 9. The first big nail-biter of the quarters was King Power’s 11 to 9 win over Enigma coming out of an 8 to 8 tie after the fifth chukka.
The big upset of the quarters was the mighty Zacara’s astonishing loss to Halycon Gallery 10 to 9, a blow to the defending champions. No one thought that this would be possible, but the Halycon Gallery team (George Hanbury, Mark Tomlinson, James Beim and James Harper) played beyond expectations and, with the score tied in the final moments of the sixth chukka 9-9, Tomlinson made the run, but Harper put it through for a win and had the crowd on their feet and gasping for breath.
Despite a very valiant and powerful try Halycon Gallery fell to Dubai in the last moments of their semi-final and King Power rolled over Lucchese 14 to 10 in theirs, leaving Dubai and King Power in the crucible this coming Sunday. Don’t miss it!
Photo source: Cowdray Park Polo Club