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Mon 18th Jun 2018

Third Time’s the Charm for La Indiana

The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final

Yesterday, Sunday 17 June, polo aficionados from across the land gathered at Guards Polo Club for their highlight tournament of the season, The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final. It was set to be a battle of wills, as two-time Finalists La Indiana took on high goal newbies, Park Place for the coveted prize. 

From the first throw-in, it was a ferocious game. Within the first two minutes, Park Place’s 10 goal powerhouse, Hilario Ulloa was on the floor, having collided with La Indiana’s Alec White. Fortunately, Ulloa quickly regained his composure, getting back in the saddle to continue the match with White taking a two minute break in the sin bin for his misdemeanour. Meanwhile, Juan Britos put Park Place on the scoreboard, converting a penalty for dangerous play, which was quickly answered by Facundo Pieres, converting a penalty of his own. The teams ended the first chukka with one goal apiece. 
The second chukka was no less dramatic, as the teams jostled for possession up and down the field. Halfway through the chukka, Park Place patron and Captain Andrey Borodin had a major collision with La Indiana’s Nic Roldan, falling from his horse, seriously injured. He was taken off the field by an ambulance and substituted by young Charlie Tighe, who has been training with Park Place throughout the winter and has played a number of games for the team during The OUT-SOURCING Royal Windsor Cup, whilst Nic Roldan took his turn in the sin bin for the collision. Park Place didn’t seem too disrupted by the injury substitution but struggled to take advantage of the now three-a-side La Indiana. Pieres and Ulloa each scored a goal to once again tie the teams at the beginning of the third chukka. 
Park Place found some of their earlier form in the third chukka, as Britos converted a penalty, then flew upfield from the throw-in for another goal. Following a goal from the combination play of Michael Bickford and the now returned Roldan, Ulloa made it 5-3 with a huge pass upfront that was intended for another player, but ultimately found its way through the posts and Tommy Beresford extended the gap even further to 6-3, having dribbled the ball through everyone! As the clock ticked down to half-time, Roldan placed a final goal through the posts to make the score 6-4 going into the break.
La Indiana, following a stern team talk during the break, came back with a vengeance in the fourth chukka. Pieres and Roldan evened the scoreboard, 6-6, with ease, with little in response from Park Place. At this point, the game was anyone’s and as the teams scored another goal apiece in the fifth chukka, one from the 0 goal substitute Tighe to a goal from Pieres, the crowd were left wondering whether this would be the first match in the 2018 Cartier Queen’s Cup tournament to go into extra time. As one of the commentators, Glenn Gilmore coined, “The Ding Dong Battle”, continued into the sixth chukka, La Indiana took the lead for the first time in the match, as Pieres broke through the Park Place ranks at phenomenal speed to bring the score to 8-7. Park Place were then awarded a 40 yard penalty, but as the whistle blew for the penalty, unexpectedly, during pony changes two minutes prior to the end of the match, Michael Bickford received treatment at the far end of the field, which some felt, whether necessary or not, interrupted the flow of the pivotal final moments of the game. The penalty was taken by Britos, which Pieres, showing his full 10 goal power, saved on the end of his stick in the goalmouth, and fired it upfield to the waiting Roldan and White. Ulloa saved the ball in front of goal, but following two unforced errors, which saw him mishit not once, but twice, Pieres seized the opportunity and dancing through his opponents, he trickled the ball through the goal to win The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final for La Indiana, 9-7. For his exceptional play, Pieres was presented with the Most Valuable Player award. His famous mare, Cube, who he played twice in the match, was presented with The Cartier Queen’s Cup Best Playing Pony rug for the second time in her career, following the same honour in 2015. 
HM The Queen and Cartier’s Laurent Feniou presented La Indiana with the trophy and the players with their prizes, courtesy of Cartier. Bickford said after the match, “For me this is the most special Cup. We’ve participated three years in a row and this was our lucky year. It was amazing to be presented with the Cup by HM The Queen also, who reminded me that we now have to win it next year!”
In the Subsidiary Final, Emlor defeated Talandracas 12-9 to take home The Cartier Trophy and 19-year-old James McCarthy was presented with the Most Valuable Player award by HM The Queen as well as the trophy on behalf of his team. 
The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final Teams:
La Indiana (22): Michael Bickford (1), Alec White (4), Nic Roldan (7) & Facundo Pieres (10)
Park Place (22): Andrey Borodin (0 – substituted by Charlie Tighe), Juan Britos (7), Hilario Ulloa (10) & Tommy Beresford (5)
 
Photograph: La Indiana were presented with The Cartier Queen’s Cup by HM The Queen at Guards Polo Club on Sunday 17 June. By Polo Times

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