«Every match this year was like a final» said Maserati’s patron Rommy Gianni after his team’s victory in Sunday’s Final against Team Cartier. Maserati’s victory marked the end of the dominance of Team Cartier who had won the coveted «Cartier Trophy» three years in a row. Maserati and Cartier had made their ambitions clear from the beginning of the games.
The first match of the tournament had been between the three year consecutive winners, Cartier and the Swiss cross Brazil team, Perrier-Jouët, with a 6-3 win for the more experienced all-English Cartier team. Match two was more hotly contended with a 3-2 win from Rommy Gianni’s Maserati over Melissa Ganzi’s Badrutt’s Palace Hotel team.
The action continued Saturday 30 as Badrutt’s Palace Hotel celebrated their first win after an exciting, five chukka match, which finished 6-5 thanks to Mariano Gracida’s golden goal. Also running into an extra chukka, the match between Cartier and Maserati was won 5-4 by Cartier after Gonzalez scored the all-important golden goal. They may have lost out this time but Maserati were still smiling. Due to their victory in the direct encounter with Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, they still went through to the Final, to be played against Cartier—Sunday was to see the same pairings as Saturday.
After four high-class games under bright blue skies played against the breathtaking backdrop of the Engadine mountains came the social highlight of the event: at Saturday’s Snow Polo Night, the polo family celebrated into the early hours, starting in the Badrutt’s Palace hotel’s packed ballroom to then move on to the hotel’s King’s Club. On Sunday, back on the lake of St. Moritz, the spectators gathered around the polo field and cheered the teams on enthusiastically despite the somewhat drizzly weather.
Subsidiary Final: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel vs Perrier-Jouët
As was the case in Saturday’s match between Badrutt’s Palace Hotel and Perrier-Jouët, the presence of the Argentine 9 goaler Tincho Merlos made all the difference and was crucial to securing them another win for the La Martina Cup. It was Merlos who scored the first goal for the blues and Merlos who answered Perrier-Jouët’s first goal with a beautiful solo run down the field, to bring the score to 2-1 at the end of chukka two.
The third chukka saw Perrier-Jouët equalise, 2-2, from a spot penalty but they couldn’t quite get an advantage as the fouls kept coming. A safety 60 for the blues looked to be going wide but Gaudenzi plucked it out of the air and sent it whizzing neatly through the posts. The chukka ended 4-3 thanks to another goal from Merlos and an answering goal for Perrier-Jouët.
The yellow team didn’t take advantage of their two penalties in the final chukka, sending them both wide to the right allowing Badrutt’s Palace Hotel a chance to widen the gap and move to safety with another goal from Merlos, ending the match 5-3. Ganzi, Merlos, Gaudenzi and Gracida lifted the La Martina Cup high in triumph.
Final for The Cartier Trophy – Cartier vs Maserati
Maserati the mighty have broken the spell of Chris Hyde and his Cartier team by winning the Final of the Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz for The Cartier Trophy. Saturday’s game had been tough, but the Musso and Menendes duo, with the support of Vazquez and Gianni, had learnt a tough lesson about how to navigate round Hyde and Gonzalez on the ice.
The first chukka set the tone for the remainder of the game with Hyde and Gonzalez powering through the wall of Maserati white shirts to score the first two goals of the game. Maserati’s Musso scored two goals to answer the Cartier lead and end the chukka on a tie, 2-2.
The second chukka was tough for both sides, with only one goal scored by Menendes to take Maserati into the lead. Cartier managed to win five penalties but failed to score with any of them, Maserati only won a single penalty in the whole chukka. Gonzalez and Hyde broke away on a number of occasions to show the crowd their powerful ponies but the Maserati defence followed their weekend-long strategy – shut down the top players at all costs. The first half of the game ended with Maserati in the lead, 3-2.
Cartier’s Gonzalez started the penultimate chukka with a penalty. The powdery uneven surface was hard work for the players and the ponies and a few critical errors from the three-time winners Cartier, meant that Maserati were able to extend their lead to 5-2 going into the final chukka. The play was speckled with beautiful team work from Cartier, with each player passing to one another, up and down the field. Hyde managed to convert two penalties to close the gap 5-4.
With just one minute left on the clock, Cartier looked as though they would equalise and take the game into an extra chukka. But it was not to be – Maserati remained hot on their heels, maintaining the pressure right down to the last second, to win the 32nd Snow Polo World Cup St Moritz.