Returning to the Gold Cup for the British Open Championship after an impressive victory over Scone, Thai Polo NP faced a tough King Power side, determined to capture their first victory. The lead changed hands multiple times in the second half, but it was King Power who emerged victorious, capturing the 15 to 13 victory.
The high-scoring match resulted in both teams producing offense from both the field and finishing an identical 7 for 8 from the penalty line. Momentum swung back and forth, resulting in runs for both teams including two separate stretches of four unanswered goals for King Power, none more important than the final chukka. Nico Pieres tried to lead Thai Polo NP to their second consecutive victory, adding six goals while also collecting four assists. But King Power ultimately surged ahead thanks to the performance of Francisco Elizalde, who led all players with five field goals in the exciting 15 to 13 victory.
A quick start for King Power began with Francisco on the end of a Hilario Ulloa pass to open the scoring just seconds in. Thai Polo NP responded by taking advantage of King Power foul trouble. Scoring three of their first four goals from the penalty line, Thai Polo NP built a 4 to 2 lead. However, King Power were able to receive penalty attempts of their own, converting both opportunities in the foul-ridden second chukka. Utilizing the pass to end the first half, Nico set up all three goals for Thai Polo NP to help extend their lead to two as King Power remained a step behind despite two goals from Francisco.
Exiting the halftime break with a determined attack, King Power received four penalty attempts from Thai Polo NP, converting three to ignite their first run of the game. Conceding possession, Thai Polo NP were held off the scoreboard in the fourth chukka as their two-goal lead turned into a two-goal deficit with the three goals from Hilario leading the way for King Power. Fouls ultimately determined the change in momentum as King Power fell victim to foul trouble of their own in the fifth chukka, resulting in three penalty conversions for Nico and a Penalty 1 awarded to Ned Hine that propelled Thai Polo NP into the 12 to 10 lead. However, King Power displayed no quit as they produced an impressive stretch of five unanswered goals, all from the duo of Francisco and Hilario to take the final lead and complete the 15 to 13 victory.
The second match of day seven featured a strong second half from Emlor to defeat UAE Polo Pod by 11 to 9 on the Ambersham Grounds. With the victory, Emlor is the ninth of eleven teams to hold a 1-1 record through two games of play, highlighting the even level of competition for the prestigious title at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
In search of their first victory, Emlor deployed a strategy of using Spencer McCarthy in the #1 position, where he shot at goal 10 times, converting four to lead all players in the match. The quick passing attack of Emlor proved to be effective, shooting nearly 50% to hold the advantage in open play against UAE Polo Pod. Holding the lead in the first half, UAE Polo Pod struggled to stay in the lead as they converted just two of their final 12 shots, allowing Emlor to take the lead in the final stages of the game and capture the 11 to 9 win.
The opening stages of the match displayed strong efforts from both team’s #1 players as Sam Browne and Spencer contributed with early goals to open the scoring. UAE Polo Pod took a narrow 3 to 2 lead after Lucas Monteverde scored from the field and Alfredo Cappella converted a Penalty 4. The penalty shooting of Alfredo continued to be a key factor for UAE Polo Pod as he added two conversions, extending the lead to 6 to 2. Before the end of the chukka, Agustin Merlos brought Emlor back within three, ending the UAE Polo Pod run of four consecutive goals. Emlor continued to inch closer, using their defense to keep UAE Polo Pod off the scoreboard and trail by just two at halftime.
Lucas struck first in the second half for UAE Polo Pod, but the remainder of the chukka belonged to Emlor’s Spencer. Scoring three straight goals, Spencer finished with accuracy in an impressive stretch where he accurately picked up passes from Agustin and Alfredo Bigatti to tie the game at 7-all. Turning to Agustin in the fifth chukka, Emlor took their first significant lead thanks to the play of Merlos, highlighted by an impressive solo effort on an end-to-end run that pushed Emlor ahead. UAE Polo Pod’s offense was limited over the final two chukkas as they managed just one goal from Lucas, while Agustin capped a strong performance with a Penalty 3 conversion to lead Emlor to the 11 to 9 victory.
Photographs by Mark Beaumont