Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2015 – Day 2
Hong Kong China, Chile and France Ride To Victory
The second day of competition at the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2015 saw the six teams in Zone 2 contest their opening matches. A cheer erupted from the grandstand as the stars of Hong Kong China trotted out on to the crisp white field of the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club in the day’s opening match against Spain. The local side have given their supporters much to cheer about in this competition, champions in 2012 and 2013, and losing finalists in 2014
Four goal British player John Fisher, head of stable operations at the Metropolitan Polo Club, is the only survivor from the 2014 Hong Kong China team, joined this year by Argentineans Juan Britos and Pablo Juaretche. Spain were fielding an all changed line-up, Pelayo Berazardi and the brothers Santiago and Juan Marambio hoping to improve on their side’s preliminary stage departure in 2014.
It was Spain who took first blood in the opening chukka, Santiago Marambio scoring with an early 30-yard penalty. Hong Kong China hit back with a fine dash at goal from Pablo Juaretche, the first chukka finishing all square at 1 – 1. John Fisher was in inspired form in the second, scoring three times and coming close to adding a fourth, but the umpire judged that Fisher didn’t have the line. The Spaniards rallied in a frantic final chukka, Santiago Marambio cutting the deficit to two goals with just over two minutes left on the clock, but Hong Kong held on to claim a comfortable victory, winning by four goals to two.
The players and ponies of Chile and the USA lined up in the winter sunshine for the second match of the day, the magnificent skyline of the Fortune Heights real estate development providing a suitably grand backdrop. And towering above it all, the Goldin Finance 117 skyscraper, scheduled to top out in August this year at nearly 600 metres and join an elite club as one of the world’s eight tallest buildings .
Wearing the red shirts of Chile: Ignacio Vial Mazieres, Martin Zegers, and Alejandro Vial. USA fielded Delmer Walton, Tommy Biddle Jr. and seven-goal polo veteran Mike Azzaro, former Super Nations Cup MVP and crowd favourite at the Metropolitan Polo Club. Both sides came with a good deal of expectation; Chile finished third in 2014, while the USA was knocked out by Hong Kong China in an agonising close penalty shootout the same year.
Chile’s Ignacio Vial Mazieres opened the scoring with a penalty in the first chukka, and added a fine field goal just past the halfway point. The white shirts of the USA heaped on the pressure, Tommy Biddle Jr. linking up with Mike Azzaro to get the goal his side deserved.
The South Americans charged ahead once again in the second chukka in a fast and furious running game, Alejandro Vial capping a fine charge to make it 3 – 1. The irrepressible Biddle Jr. latched on to a loose ball to narrow the deficit to a single goal, but Chile’s Ignacio Vial Mazieres thumped in another just before the bell, giving his side a two goal cushion going into the final chukka.
Alejandro Vial added a fifth in the third with a lobbed penalty three, but Tommy Biddle Jr. answered with a penalty strike of his own, before notching once again to narrow the deficit to a single goal with two and half minutes left to play. The USA’s Mike Azzaro led a valiant charge at goal to try to even the odds in the dying seconds, but he pulled his shot just wide, making it victory to Chile by five goals to four.
France took on Mexico in the day’s final snow polo action. Wearing the blue jerseys of France, Clement Delfosse and Brieuc Rigaux, strong performers in last year’s tournament, were joined by Patrick-Primael Paillol. Team Mexico, snow polo debutants in 2014, fielded Carlos Hernandez, Diego Solorzano, and Valerio Aguilar.
After a bright and open start, Carlos Hernandez put Mexico on the board. France, led by the in-form Clement Delfosse, peppered the Mexican goal in reply, eventually smashing it home in almost the last play of the chukka to tie the scores at a goal each.
France flew out of the blocks in the second chukka, charging ahead with three goals in a minute and a half; two for Delfosse and one off the mallet of Brieuc Rigaux. A dazed Mexico struggled to regroup, and Delfosse showed no mercy, punishing the Latin Americans with another two goals in quick succession. Valerio Aguilar managed to pull one back for Mexico, but they had a mountain to climb going in the final period trailing by two goals to six.
And a mountain it proved, with Clement Delfosse adding another two goals by the three minute mark. A charge the length of the field by Patrick-Primael Paillol made it 9 – 2 soon after, with the French pushing hard for double figures. To their credit, Mexico held on until the final bell, but this was a lesson in snow polo by a rampant French trio they will surely care to forget.
Three more tantalizing matches coming up tomorrow, as Brazil take on New Zealand, England play Argentina, and Canada face newcomers Peru.
Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2015
Day 2 January 29, 2015
Hong Kong China vs Spain 4-2
Chile vs USA 5-4
French vs Mexico 9-2
Gate opens: 11:30 am
Match time: 1pm to 4pm
Address: 16 Hai Tai Hua Ke Ju Lu Bin Hai Gao Xin Qu, Tianjin 300384, China
Official Website: http://www.snowpoloworldcup.com
Live in Hong Kong on nowTV Sports Prime 630