Six teams entered the 2016 British Ladies Polo Championship, sponsored for the first year by City & Country, the market-leading heritage developer in the UK and the company responsible for the stunning restoration of the Grade II Listed King Edward VII former sanatorium on the outskirts of Midhurst, less than three miles from Cowdray Park Polo Club.
Cowdray Vikings made it to the final on July 16 to face 2015 British Ladies Championship winners Huntington House/Apes Hill, and with Lila Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings side on a handicap of 17 to Huntington House/Apes Hill’s 16, Camilla Williams’ side gained a half-point advantage on the scoreboard to start the match.
For Cowdray Vikings, Katie Vickery played at number 1, Lila Pearson at 2, Hazel Jackson at 3, and Sarah Wiseman at back. For Huntington House/Apes Hill, Camilla Williams took the number 1 position, with Emma Boers and Tamara Fox in the center and Lucy Taylor at back.
Katie Vickery for Cowdray Vikings made the first mark on the scoreboard, answered by a goal from Emma Boers. Cowdray Vikings won the ball from the throw-in, Jackson swooped on to it and carried it all the way to give Cowdray Vikings the lead 2-1½ by the end of the chukka.
Despite plenty of action, there surprisingly were no goals in the second chukka, the bell to sound the end of the chukka coinciding with a whistle.
A spot hit awarded to Huntington House/Apes Hill started the second half of the match, and soon Emma Boers made an opportunistic grab for the ball which resulted in a neat goal to take her side ahead by half a goal. Hazel Jackson’s shot at goal from a 60-yard penalty was stopped by Huntington House/Apes Hill, but the Vikings then swung into attack mode which was rewarded with a goal from Katie Vickery to give the orange shirts the lead again. A super backhand shot from Sarah Wiseman took Cowdray Vikings further ahead to 4-2½, and before the end of the chukka, Hazel Jackson sent a mighty shot between the posts to move the score on to 5-2½ in Cowdray Vikings favor.
With a long and illustrious history, Cowdray Park is recognized worldwide as the Home of British Polo. Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty within Viscount Cowdray’s 16,500-acre estate in West Sussex, the game of polo has been played at Cowdray for close on a century—the first competitive tournaments being recorded in 1910. By the 1920s, a whole series of competitions with dedicated cups and trophies was firmly established, although the sport in the UK was to all but die out during the Second World War.
Cowdray Park Polo Club’s significance in the reestablishment of Polo in England following the Second World War cannot be underestimated. This was largely due to the efforts of a legendary name in the history of polo, John, 3rd Viscount Cowdray, who died in 1995. Father of the present Viscount, he turned Cowdray Park into one of the most famous polo clubs in the world—firmly establishing its place at the very pinnacle of the sport both nationally and internationally.
From the throw-in which started chukka 4, Cowdray Vikings were on the move again despite plenty of hassle by Fox and Taylor for Huntington House/Apes Hill.
Jackson sent the ball to Vickery, it passed to Sarah Wiseman who left it for Hazel Jackson to put through another fine ball to make the score 6-2½ to Cowdray Vikings. There was no let-up in the action to the end of the chukka but no more goals were forthcoming and Cowdray Vikings were the victors on a final score of 6-2½. Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, was delighted to present the silver salver to Lila Pearson.
A stunning array of prizes including handbags and silk scarves was sponsored by Aspinal of London, the luxury leather goods company based at Fernhurst. Hazel Jackson won the award for the Most Valuable Player of the match and received a beautiful Aspinal of London leather jewelry box. The award for Best Playing Pony of the match went to Peewee owned by Hazel Jackson.