London’s iconic Hurlingham Park was bathed in glorious sunshine for a sold-out second day of Chestertons Polo in the Park. Polo fans from all over the country arrived to witness three exciting and fast-paced polo games whilst also enjoy the luxury bars and pop-up food stalls scattered around the grounds, including the Champagne Lanson Garden and Mahiki’s VIP tent.
After the excitement of the historic International match, which saw Champions Polo League India take on ICM Capital Team England for the first time in 70 years, Ladies Day presented by FOREO had a lot to live up to, but certainly did not disappoint. To kick things off, the polo took a back seat to a game of bicycle polo between the finest polo players from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and a contingent of American players from American Ivy League Universities. As the players cycled through the divots of the pitch, both teams found it difficult to finish their chances, but Oxbridge managed to sneak the win at the end on a final score of 1-0.
In the day’s first game, Whitley Neill Team Cape Town took on Air Europa Team Buenos Aries, with a place in Sunday’s final up for grabs. Both teams started the opening chukka cautiously, before a scintillating few minutes of play allowed Joaquin Pittaluga to score four unanswered goals to give Whitely Neill Team Cape Town an impressive 4-0 lead. Despite their slower start, Air Europa Team Buenos Aries didn’t lose heart and managed to pull back a goal through some beautiful play from Argentine Paco O’Dwyer, but as the first half came to a close, hometown favourite Jamie Morrison scored from close range to increase the lead to 5-1 in favour of Whitley Neill Team Cape Town.
The second half added a flurry of early goals for both teams, with Morrison and O’Dwyer adding one each to their tally to make the game interesting at the end, but ultimately Whitley Neill Team Cape Town were too strong, and a clinical close-range goal from Morrison and a coolly slotted away penalty from the in-form Pittaluga ensured that Whitely Neill Team Cape Town left victorious with an imposing 10-5 score line.
Following the thrilling opener, the day’s second game pitted hometown MINT Team London against EFG Team Zurich, and the excitement continued with two early goals from each team. A mistake from Max Charlton gifted MINT Team London a penalty within the first 10 seconds which George Meyrick calmly slotted home, but Chris Hyde weaved his way down the pitch from the restart to even the scores at 2-2. By the end of the second chukka Chris Hyde had added another four goals, but George Meyrick kept MINT Team London in the game with a second goal of his own to keep the game within reach at 6-3 to EFG Team Zurich.
Building on their strong end to the second chukka, MINT Team London took the lead for the second time in the game, their impressive teamwork paying off as Meyrick and Malcolm Borwick drilled the ball through the posts. The lead was only a short lived one however, as Chris Hyde really put his stamp on the game, scoring an unrivalled three more goals, with Max Kirchhoff adding another to take the lead, and one which they would not give up again. Borwick added a final consolation goal for MINT Team London, but the game was sealed with a final score of 13-9.
After the win, EFG Team Zurich’s Max Kirchhoff said, “I absolutely loved it. It is my first time here, and the crowds were fantastic. It’s a great venue and I think the team have done amazing things to the grounds, setting everything up perfectly. It’s so great to see EFG back sponsoring polo and I really hope it’s here for many years to come.”
Mauritius Team Port Louis went head-to-head with Argentex Team Dubai in the day’s final game, and although both teams enjoyed plenty of chances in the opening minutes, it wasn’t until the very last second of the first chukka that Juan Cruz Merlos was able to nudge the ball through the posts to give Argentex Team Dubai a narrow lead. The chances continued throughout the second chukka but some excellent defensive efforts from both teams kept the game tight, and the score remained 1-0 to Argentex Team Dubai going into half time.
The game opened up in the second half with two goals in quick succession for Argentex Team Dubai, George Spencer-Churchill volleying a pass from team mate Hissam Ali Hyder, and Ali Hyder adding one of his own to give Argentex Team Dubai a commanding 3-0 lead. Miguel Ayala was able to claw back a goal for Mauritius Team Port Louis as the third chukka came to an end, but two final goals from Juan Cruz Merlos and Hissam Ali Hyder proved too much for Mauritius Team Port Louis to overcome and Argentex Team Dubai left with the 6-1 win to book their place in the final to face EFG Team Zurich.
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