Dubai beat VS King Power to lift polo's Gold Cup at Cowdray Park
Two exciting semi-finals brought victories for Top Srivaddhanaprabha’s VS King Power team over Park Place and Ali Albwardy’s Dubai against Scone Polo, taking them to Sunday’s Gold Cup final – a repeat of the 2014 showpiece.
VS King Power, who have added VS to the team’s name in memory of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who lost his life in a helicopter crash at Leicester City’s stadium in October 2018, altered their line-up for the final.
Chukka one opened with Pieres immediately on the attack, his first attempt at goal going wide. A couple of minutes of frantic action resulted in a penalty being awarded to Dubai which Camilo Castagnola sent from 30 yards to secure the opening goal of the match for his side. A lovely steal by Polito was the making of goal No2, with Zubia picking up the ball and sending it between the posts. Polito won the ball from the throw and tore to Dubai’s end to make it 2-1 for King Power. Camilo and Bartolomé Castagnola produced three goals in chukka two, and, with just one from Pieres for VS King Power, it ended with Dubai 4-3 ahead.
A fast and tough chukka three saw a spot penalty awarded to KVS King Power in front of Dubai’s goal, which Polito sent through to equalise, but Bartolomé answered with two goals for Dubai and at the end of the first half it was 6-4 in Dubai’s favour. The massive crowd went out to tread-in and when the fourth chukka got under way, a fantastic piece of play saw Polito Pieres leave the ball for Zubia, who obliged with a huge lofted shot to score goal number 11 for VS King Power. Rashid Albwardy won the ball from the throw-in but di Paola grabbed it back, Zubia stopped Bartolomé from snatching it while di Paola came through and passed to Srivaddhanaprabha, who made a superb goal to make it 6-6. Another fantastic goal from Srivaddhanaprabha and King Power were ahead. A 30-yard penalty awarded to King Power just as the chukka was drawing to a close enabled Polito Pieres to extend the lead to 8-6. A frantic fifth chukka saw spot penalties produce a goal for each side before a fantastic shot, hit from way back, saw Polito Pieres take VS King Power on to 10-7. His next goal came from a 60-yard penalty and it was 11-7 in VS King Power’s favour.
Dubai had won the King Power Gold Cup 13-12 in breathtaking finish.
Jon Rudkin, director of football for Leicester City FC, presented individual prizes to all players, tournament umpires and commentators before handing the coveted Gold Cup to Rashid Albwardy, son of the Dubai patron. The MVP award went to Pieres of VS King Power; Open Chacota, owned and played by Srivaddhanaprabha, was voted best playing patron’s pony, and Rebalde, owned and played by Camilo Castagnola, was awarded best playing pony of the match, with a rug presented by Lila Pearson. Ali Albwardy, patron of Dubai said: “It was such an exciting match. I’m proud of all the boys in this young team, they played fantastically – in fact, both teams had a wonderful match. “The game was entertaining to watch, hard, fast and exactly what polo should be. I thank Cowdray Park Polo Club for their fantastic organisation of the tournament.”