La Indiana and King Power Foxes debut victorious

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BRITISH TRIPLE CROWN: JAEGER-LECOULTRE GOLD CUP FOR THE BRITISH OPEN (2016) – DAY 3
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La Indiana vs. El Remanso, during day three of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Thursday, June 23rd, at Cowdray Park Polo Club

La Indiana vs. El Remanso, during day three of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Thursday, June 23rd, at Cowdray Park Polo Club / Photo by Tony Ramirez/Images of Polo / imagesofpolo.com


 

La Indiana – 13

Michael Bickford (1), Nic Roldan (7),
Agustin Merlos (8), Julian De Lusarreta (6)

Britannia El Remanso – 10

Charlie Hanbury (4), Ollie Cudmore (5),
James Beim (7), James Harper (6)


La Indiana and King Power Foxes swept into the 2016 British Open Championship, winning their debut matches on Day 3 of the 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup. La Indiana defeated Britannia El Remanso 13-10, and defending champion King Power Foxes followed suit with an 11-7 victory over La Bamba de Areco. Both games were a tight contest throughout.

As they did in making it to the final of the 2016 Cartier Queen’s Cup, La Indiana benefitted from the evenly distributed firepower of captain Agustín “Tincho” Merlos (rated at 8 goals), Nic Roldan (7) and Julian “Negro” de Lusarreta (6). Merlos and de Lusarreta each scored five goals, with Roldan contributing three and waging a strong defense. Britannia El Remanso has a similarly balanced roster, with players rated at 4, 5, 6 and 7 goals. That made for a competitive match with a different vibe than tends to come with teams that hinge on one or two superstar 9- or 10-goalers.

The score remained close throughout, with the game tied at 6 in the fourth chukka. James Harper pulled Britannia El Remanso into the lead, taking the ball all on his own into goal. Merlos plucked the ball out of space but lost it to Harper, who passed it to Charlie Hanbury for a breakaway into goal. De Lusarreta suddenly decided to take on the whole Britannia El Remanso contingent, dashing past all four players to score. With La Indiana trailing by a single goal, Roldan—with Ollie Cudmore about to climb into his hip pocket—tied it at 8.

La Indiana had a brilliant start to the fifth with three consecutive goals, the first off the mallet of Roldan. De Lusarreta ran the next two in, one on a power drive from Merlos and the other on a handoff from Roldan. With his trademark composure, de Lusarreta slickly avoided the hook from Cudmore, pushing La Indiana ahead 11-8. La Indiana maintained the three-goal lead, winning 13-10.

The two teams have faced off before, with La Indiana recently defeating Britannia El Remanso in the final of the local Gold Cup warm-up tournament at Cowdray.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Britannia El Remanso captain James Beim, who won the Gold Cup in 1998 playing for Ellerston. He noted that La Indiana has been having “a great season,” describing them as “four underrated guys with good horses.”

La Indiana also came prepared for a battle. “El Remanso is one of the tougher teams in the tournament. They’re very competitive, and all four of them play really well,” said Roldan. “The first game of the Gold Cup coming off the [Queen’s Cup] finals with so much of a break in between is always a tough game to play. We knew the horses were going to be heavy and that we were going to be heavy as well, but we came out strong, stuck to a system and fought our way through the game. In the end we were lucky.”

Meanwhile, under the category of no rest for the weary: While most players are enjoying a brief respite Friday (the only dark day in the grueling 16-consecutive-day-stretch of bracket play), Beim, Roldan and Merlos are teaching the Gold Cup Master Class Series at Cowdray Park Polo Club Academy. –Darlene Ricker

 

King Power Foxes vs. La Bamba, during day three of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Thursday, June 23rd, at Cowdray Park Polo Club

King Power Foxes vs. La Bamba, during day three of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, Thursday, June 23rd, at Cowdray Park Polo Club / Photo by Tony Ramirez/Images of Polo / imagesofpolo.com


 

King Power Foxes – 11

Tal Srivaddhanaprabha (0), Hugo Lewis (2),
Gonzalito Pieres (10), Facundo Pieres (10)

La Bamba de Areco – 7

Jean Francois Decaux (0), Diego Cavanagh (8),
Magoo Laprida (8), Rodrigo Rueda (6)


In the second match of the day King Power Foxes kept La Bamba de Areco at bay all six chukkas. But the final tally of 11-7 did not reflect how hard La Bamba de Areco made the defending champion work for the win. Crafty Argentine 8-goaler Diego Cavanagh kept popping up everywhere the Pieres brothers (Facundo and Gonzalito) did not want him. He managed to run Facundo Pieres off the ball several times as the first half drew to a close with King Power leading 6-3.

La Bamba ramped up the pressure in the second half, with Cavanagh laying some strong bumps on Gonzalito Pieres and then scoring on a penalty 4. The Piereses had had quite enough. They surrounded Cavanagh, closing him down as he attempted to make a run for goal. Cristian “Magoo” Laprida swooped in and handed the ball off to Rodrigo Rueda, who scored. That brought La Bamba within striking distance, trailing by single goal (7-6).

Spectators rooting for La Bamba gasped as umpire Julian Appleby, conferring with Cavanagh and Laprida, pulled a yellow flag and a red handkerchief out of his pocket during a pause in the fourth chukka. As it turned out, though, it was a benevolent move. Appleby handed the red to Laprida and the yellow to Cavanagh, who used them to dry their glasses amidst unrelenting rain that swelled throughout the match. The rain was a major factor for Cavanagh, who has prescription lenses inside his safety glasses and did not have the option of removing them.

“With umpires’ discretion we decided under the extreme rain conditions to give all the players time out to clean their glasses to keep them safe,” explained Appleby after the game. The measure was repeated as needed throughout the game.

La Bamba maintained their strategy of keeping the ball close to draw the combined 20-goal Pieres forces in. It worked, but only to a certain extent. Each Pieres brother scored from the field in the final two minutes of the game. Gonzalito Pieres finished it off with a flourish on a catch-me-if-you-can breakaway almost the entire length of the field, giving King Power Foxes the win. –Darlene Ricker

 


The Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship was established in 1956, when it was then known as the Cowdray Park Gold Cup. The trophy itself was stolen in 1968, and has not been recovered. Stowell Park and Tramontana share the record for most wins, with five titles apiece.
 


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