La Indiana; King Power Foxes secure semis berth

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BRITISH TRIPLE CROWN: JAEGER-LECOULTRE GOLD CUP FOR THE BRITISH OPEN (2016) – QUARTER-FINALS
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La Indiana vs. Talandracas, during day two of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship Quarter-Finals, Sunday, July 10th, at Cowdray Park Polo Club

La Indiana vs. Talandracas, during day two of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship Quarter-Finals, Sunday, July 10th, at Cowdray Park Polo Club / Photo by Tony Ramirez/Images of Polo / imagesofpolo.com


 

La Indiana – 9

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

Talandracas – 6

Edouard Carmignac (0), Pablo Pieres (9),
Tommy Beresford (4), Sapo Caset (9)


La Indiana and King Power Foxes played their way into the semifinals of the 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open, winning their matches on Day 2 of the quarterfinals. La Indiana took Talandracas 9-6 and King Power edged out Britannia El Remanso 11-10. In Wednesday’s semifinals Valiente will oppose defending champion King Power and La Indiana will play Zacara.

Everyone, of course, is jazzed about the upcoming Valiente/King Power Foxes faceoff. Yet the results Sunday were somewhat bittersweet because they scuttled the chance of the final showdown on 17 July being between those two megaforce teams. Reminiscent of the 2015 Argentine Open final between La Dolfina and Ellerstina, it would have represented a far more personal duel than just a team rivalry. There’s no better ticket in the world than one to a game between the power couples of Adolfo Cambiaso/Juan Martín Nero and Facundo Pieres (paired with just about any other Pieres). At Cowdray his counterpart is brother Gonzalito Pieres, who played on the all-Pieres team last December in Palermo that lost to La Dolfina by a single goal.

In the semis King Power will need to muster up the same mettle that Facundo Pieres showed in the last four chukkas of the quarterfinal. Britannia El Remanso handed King Power Foxes their hat in the first chukka, keeping them scoreless while making four goals, with James Beim instrumental on critical plays. Then the Pieres brothers kicked into gear, each scoring from the field at the start of the second chukka. Facundo Pieres saw fit to bring out the heavy artillery: Open Galaxy, one of his two best power ponies, which he also played in the sixth with the score tied at 10. In the third he played his favourite, Open Galactica.

From that point on the Facundo/Gonzalito partnership was unshakeable. A flurry of Pieres goals in the third ended the first half 6-all. Hugo Lewis effectively supported both Piereses, and whenever the young player had the ball he nearly never let go unless called off. Facundo Pieres was now in prime form, making a tricky goal after the ball took an evil turn and threatened to veer off course. He finished it off with a nearside backhand shot under the tail, looking for all the world like he was playing an exhibition match.

Meanwhile Britannia El Remanso didn’t waste any opportunities. Charlie Hanbury sliced the space between Lewis and Gonzalito Pieres and ran through them to goal, bringing La Britannia El Remanso only one goal behind (9-8) in the fifth. Had the team been able to continue in that mode and keep the two Piereses away from each other, the scoreboard may have read differently at the end of the day. King Power Foxes took an 11-10 victory.

–Darlene Ricker

 

King Power Foxes vs. El Remanso, during day two of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship Quarter-Finals, Sunday, July 10th, at Cowdray Park Polo Club

King Power Foxes vs. El Remanso, during day two of the 2016 Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship Quarter-Finals, Sunday, July 10th, 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)

Britannia El Remanso – 10

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


The other quarter-final match had a different complexion. La Indiana ruled like William the Conqueror for the first four chukkas, accumulating a daunting five-goal lead by the end of the first half (6-1). They were so quick and stealthy at finding space that Talandracas couldn’t keep pace. As soon as they took a La Indiana player out, another would pop up like it was a game of whack-a-mole. La Indiana were in pure attack mode, with two players regularly banding together to give merciless chase to an opponent who had the ball.

The balance gradually shifted after Charles Cooney subbed in for patron Michael Bickford for the second half. Cooney was instrumental on several important plays in the fourth and fifth chukkas, scoring in a powerful collaboration with Polito Pieres. Cooney took out Nic Roldan (an impressive feat on its own merits) and let Pieres take the ball. Pieres took it as far as he could and then sent it on a big pass back to Cooney, who ran it into goal.

Now Talandracas were starting to regroup. As they had done recently in the tournament, they moved Tommy Beresford into double-duty, with a new role in front whilst still minding the back. The shift provided excellent support to 10-goalers Guillermo “Sapo” Caset and Pieres. The score bounced back and forth until Roldan and Julian “Negro” de Lusarreta pulled La Indiana ahead for a 9-6 victory.

–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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