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Thu 15th Jun 2017

The Cartier Queen’s Cup Semi Finals

La Indiana and RH Polo are through to the Final

La Indiana and RH Polo have won their places at Sunday 18 June, Cartier Queen’s Cup Final after producing some fantastic 22 goal polo. The packed grandstands at Guards Polo Club were treated to two superb matches that highlighted the very best of the high goal.

 
In the first match of the day at noon between La Indiana and Murus Sanctus, it was not an easy match for either team with riders unseated, ambulances in attendance and hot weather adding to the equation in the pony lines. La Indiana, who were finalists in 2016, played well, but it was not a walkover, courtesy of a strong Murus Sanctus team and a great partnership from their 10 goal exorcet Hilario Ulloa ably abetted by Facundo Sola.
Ulloa stamped his mark on proceedings as the first one to score and found a couple before La Indiana appeared to have got their act together. Augustin Merlos, who quite rightly was named Most Valuable Player made up for it before the end of the first chukka, putting through a goal and a penalty to level up the scores 2-2. This was pretty much a template for the early stages of the match, with the scores levelling 6-6 at the halfway stage.
The seemingly under handicapped Roldan proved himself as the ‘king of stickwork’ providing plenty of opportunity as La Indiana turned on the pressure in the game-changing fourth chukka, ably abetted by Min Podesta, who was also cheap off 4 goals. The tension became evident though, as Murus Sanctus gave away too many penalties which kept the umpires calling fouls which was rather frustrating for spectators. The umpires were not the only ones kept busy as Michael Bickford’s boys capitalised on Murus Sanctus’s mistakes with interest, piling through the goals to make it 13-9 at the end of the fourth chukka. The tension continued, but ultimately Murus Sanctus struggled to find their earlier spark, while Merlos defied nerves to produce a fabulously angled safety 60 to take his team’s tally to 14. With a nice symmetry Ulloa closed the match as he had started it, with a goal, but it was too late to stop La Indiana winning this match and the Hubert Perrodo Trophy. Carrie Perrodo and Laurent Feniou, Managing Director of Cartier UK, presented Merlos with the Best Playing Pony prize for Delta, who is owned by Bickford, but was played by Merlos in the fourth.
 
In the afternoon game on the Queen’s Ground it was a battle between RH Polo Team, led by the the powerhouse Adolfo Cambiaso who is chasing his 10th Queen’s Cup victory and the all Brit line up of El Remanso. The patriotic crowd, packing out the stands in the sunshine, were behind Charlie Hanbury and his trio of British polo talent in the form of England Captain James Beim, an impressive Ollie Cudmore, playing exceptionally well off his 4 goal handicap, and the formidable James Harper who found fine form at the back. Dubbed as the ‘giant killers’ having slain the mighty King Power in a great display of four man polo on Saturday 10 June, El Remanso started with one goal on the board due to handicap differences. This was soon added to as Beim scorched down the ground to delight spectators with a spectacular ‘millionaire shot’ under the belly of his pony. At the end of the first chukka El Remanso were ahead 2-1, but by the end of the second RH had fought back to even the scores at 4 apiece. As has been the pattern in previous matches RH Polo turned up the heat in the third chukka which resulted in lack of discipline from the El Remanso squad. Never one to let an opportunity go uncapitalised, Cambiaso was swift to punish their mistakes, neatly converting three penalties and putting RH Polo ahead at half time 8-4.  Following what must have been an inspirational team talk at half time, El Remanso turned the tables in the fourth chukka, with Harper sending up some perfect shots to his teammates to level the score 9-9 just before the end of the chukka. 
The ability of Cambiaso to create a foul where none existed and to change the flow of the game meant that the pressure was unrelenting in the fifth, but it was for Cambiaso’s sportsmanship that the chukka will be remembered. With three minutes played Beim was unseated and play continued up the ground, but Cambiaso stayed back meaning the teams were more evenly matched, which resulted in Harper scoring an impressive goal. Once remounted Beim ‘clicked sticks’ with Cambiaso in a touching respite in the tension. Cynics in the crowd said that they knew El Remanso were ‘gonners’ as Cambiaso clearly knew there was a lot more fight to give and was confident in a win for RH Polo and was therefore in the mood for displays of philanthropic gallantry.
At the start of the final chukka the match was all to play for with a 12-11 on the scoreboard. Valiant efforts from El Remanso resulted in some wide shots at goal which meant they could not erode the RH Polo lead and Soleimani’s black shirted team ran out the winners 14-12 in a tension filled last chukka which had spectators on the edge of their seats.
 
All eyes now turn to the Cartier Queen’s Cup Final on Sunday 18 June where action from Guards will see RH Polo take on La Indiana. For those remembering last year’s eventful Final, Cambiaso, playing for Dubai, substituted in for Pablo MacDonough following his injury in the Semi Final. Cambiaso was responsible for a controversial goal which saw the defeat of Bickford’s team 12-11 in the dying seconds of the game. Will La Indiana be able to break the Cambiaso spell and deny him his 10th Queen’s Cup victory and avenge last year’s memory? With the weather set fair, expect record crowds at Guards Polo Club to witness the event.
 
The Cartier Queen’s Cup Semi Final Teams:
El Remanso (21): Charlie Hanbury (4), Ollie Cudmore (5), James Beim (6) & James Harper (6)
Murus Sanctus (22): Corinne Ricard (0), Hilario Ulloa (10), Facundo Sola (8) & ‘Min’ Podesta (4)
La Indiana (22): Michael Bickford (1), Nic Roldan (7), Agustin Merlos (8) & Luke Tomlinson (6)
RH Polo (22): Ben Soleimani (0), Tommy Beresford (4), Adolfo Cambiaso (10) & Rodrigo de Andrade (8) 
 
The Cartier Queen’s Cup Subsidiary Semi Finals on Thursday 15 June are scheduled as follows: 
3pm: Sommelier vs Talandracas at Manor Farm  
3pm: Monterosso Polo Team vs King Power at Coworth Park   
 
Photograph: Hilario Ulloa & Luke Tomlinson fight for the line. By Tony Ramirez/©www.imagesofpolo.com

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