Friday 31 August saw Michael Bickford’s La Indiana triumph in The Maserati Gold Cup High Goal Final with a 13-8 win over Lechuza Caracas. This result meant that Facundo Pieres was not only named as the Most Valuable Player, but also overtook Adolfo Cambiaso as World Number One of the World Polo Tour (WPT) rankings. It was also a weekend of wins for Santiago Gómez Romero, as he took to the winner’s podium with La Indiana in The Maserati High Goal Gold Cup and again with Ayala the following day for The Maserati Medium Goal Gold Cup.
With the grandstands at Santa María Polo Club packed full of spectators anticipating the high goal Final, some may have been disappointed with the goalless beginning to the match until Lechuza Caracas’ Juan Martín Nero opened the scoring. Lechuza Caracas continued their dominance in the second chukka, but by the third chukka, La Indiana had truly found their stride and began to take control of the match. It was the fourth chukka that saw the Pieres/Laborde combination extend La Indiana’s lead to 9-4 as an increased scoring pace effectively combined with strong defensive plays. Lechuza Caracas attempted a comeback in the fifth chukka and managed to find a way around La Indiana’s defensive wall to narrow the scores to 11-7, but in the final chukka, it became evident Pieres was taking no chances as he hammered home goal after goal. The match ended on a decisive score of 13-8, with Pieres responsible for an impressive 10 of La Indiana’s 13 goals. Post-match, Pieres commented that the Final was La Indiana’s best match of the tournament, “I am very happy to be able to win this title, also for this group of people who work hard and for the horses. Now we have to enjoy this Gold Cup, which is not achieved every day.” Santiago Gómez Romero also commented on La Indiana’s win, “We started the first chukka very well, we had a bad second chukka, but in the middle chukka we made a tremendous difference. Winning with this team gives me great happiness.” The ambassador of Maserati, Nieves Álvarez, presented the prestigious Maserati Gold Cup to a jubilant La Indiana. Azucar, played by Facundo Pieres was named Best Playing Pony, whilst Open Sinfonía played by Santiago Laborde was named as Best Playing Pony by the Argentine Breeders’ Association.
The following day, Saturday 1 September, saw the Low and Medium Goal Gold Cup Finals. In the Medium Goal, Ayala’s narrow 13-12 win over MB Polo in extra time, with a last-minute goal from Santiago Gómez Romero, meant they were able to claim the win as well as the Medium Goal Triple Crown. The Final was one of the most even matches of the tournament and kicked off with an impressive 6-6 draw at the end of the first chukka. Although the frenetic goal scoring of the first chukka slowed in the following chukkas, this did not represent the efforts made by both teams on their opposition’s goal, but by the end of the third chukka MB Polo held a narrow advantage of 8 goals to 7. The fourth chukka saw Ayala’s Tomás Iriarte replaced by Camilo Castagnola due to injury, but this did not hamper their chances as by the end of the sixth chukka the scores were tied at 12-12. As the ball was rolled in for extra time, Gómez Romero took full advantage and swiftly slotted the golden goal between the posts to secure a 13-12 win for Ayala. Gómez Romero was justly named as Most Valuable Player, with Pirula awarded Best Playing Pony honours.
Also played on Saturday was The 1892 Isolas Gold Cup Final between Brunei and Sotoisla. The match was full of emotion and had spectators on the edge of their seats right up to the final moment. Sotoisla led the scoring from the outset, Brunei did field a comeback in the fourth chukka, but the fifth chukka saw the fate of the match decided as Sotoisla’s Diogo Gallego scored three goals in as many minutes. Brunei failed to nudge the match into extra time and in the end the score rested in Sotoisla’s favour, 7-6. Diogo Gallego was named Most Valuable Player and his mare Carisma was awarded the Best Playing Pony accolade.
The President of the Santa Maria Polo Club, Antonio Ortiz, commented upon the 47th International Polo Tournament, "We have achieved a high-level sporting tournament, this great success encourages us to continue working for this event that is unique, including the heritage of San Roque and Andalusia."
The Maserati High Goal Gold Cup Final Teams
Lechuza Caracas (20): Victor Vargas (0), David ‘Pelón’ Stirling (10), Juan Martín Nero (10) & Marek Kanewoski (0)
La Indiana (20): Michael Bickford (1), Facundo Pieres (10), Santiago Gómez Romero (3) & Santiago Laborde (6)
The Maserati Medium Goal Gold Cup Final Teams
Ayala (14): Carlos Gómez (0), Tomás Iriarte (4), Lucas James (7) & Santiago Gómez Romero (3)
MB Polo (14): Prince Mateen (0), Rosendo Torreguitar (2), Pablo MacDonough (10) & Matías González (2)
1892 Isolas Gold Cup Low Final Teams
Sotosiola (6): Alina Kastner (-1), Carlos Piñal (1), Diogo Gallego (5) & Lawrence Isola (1)
Brunei (6): Princess Azemah (0), Huzaimi Mahari (0), Farid Abdullah (0) & Facundo Fernández Llorente (6)
Photograph: La Indiana hold aloft The Maserati High Goal Cold Cup alongside Maserati ambassador, Nieves Álvarez. Courtesy of Snoopy Productions/Santa María Polo Club