43rd Land Rover International Polo Tournament – Day 35 – Gold Cup
Location: Santa MarÃa Polo Club Sotogrande
By Victoria Elsbury-Legg
Saturday dawned in Sotogrande with Gold Cup winners Equus and Huntsman already celebrating their teamsâ€™ success in the Medium and Low Goal, now it was Finals day for the four qualifying High Goal teams. The last day of the 43rd Land Rover International Polo Tournament began at 16:30 on Los Pinos Field III with Victor Vargasâ€™s Lechuza Caracas (Francisco Elizalde, Juan Martin Nero and Matt Perry) up against Charlie Hanburyâ€™s Halcyon Gallery (Juan Chavanne, Guillermo Terrera and Max Routledge) in the Gold Cup Subsidiary Finals. It was a first Final this season in Sotogrande for both teams who were chasing victory on Spanish fields.
By chukka two the teams were also tied at 2 all in a close match, in which play was later delayed by Terrera having a fall. With play resuming the teamsâ€™ goal tally continued to remain close, as they headed into the final chukka of play it was Lechuza Caracas 6 â€“ 5 Halcyon Gallery. In the end however, Victor Vargasâ€™s team furthered their lead by two goals, reaching double figures and a final scoreboard reading of Lechuza Caracas 10 to Halcyon Galleryâ€™s 8. Meaning victory in the Subsidiary Gold Cup Final for Victor Vargas, Francisco Elizalde, Juan Martin Nero and Matt Perry (whoâ€™s last Gold Cup celebratory moments were in the 2013 season with Zacara on the Lawns at Cowdray).
So all eyes and ponies turned to Los Pinos Field VI for the much anticipated Final of the Copa de Ora with Valiente riding onto the pitch so far undefeated this Sotogrande season against an Ellerston team determined to retain the trophy they won in 2013. It came down to one goal difference in chukka one at Valiente 3 â€“ 2 Ellerston. In chukka two a penalty from Gonzalo Pieres levelled up the score to 4 all, but in an exciting few minutes of polo play Valiente once again retrieved their lead going 6 goals ahead of Ellerstonâ€™s 5. The thrill of outstanding High Goal play continued in chukka three as once again the teams drew level with a 7, then 8 on both sides of the board.
Chukka four brought with it the lead for Ellerston who went ahead for the first time in the match at 9-8, but not for long as once again the teams drew level, this time at 9 all. In what never ceased to be the most thrilling of games, chukka five saw double figures on the scoreboard for both teams at 10 all going into the final chukka of play. In the style which explains why he is at the top of his game, Facundo Pieres put the eleventh goal through for James Packerâ€™s Ellerston, meaning they were only one goal behind Valiente. Despite great teamwork and play from all on the pitch, in the end it was victory for the invincible Valiente at 14-11, who rode off the pitch triumphant, ready to lift their third Sotogrande Cup skyward.
The Javier Novillo Astrada Award for Best Player of the Final went to Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundoâ€™s pony One Magnifica won the ACACCP Award for Best Playing Pony.