A record fourteen teams entered the 2018 Hurlingham Polo 1875 British Ladies Polo Championships at Cowdray Park, writes Liz Higgins.
To cope with the high number of entries, the club set two handicap levels, The British Ladies Open Championship played at 18 goal handicap and The British Ladies Handicap Championship at 12 goal level.
A very high standard of polo was seen throughout the tournaments, which ran through the final week of the King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, the ladies’ finals being played at the Lawns grounds on the same weekend as the men, in another first for Cowdray Park.
In the Final of the 18 goal Championship, Dodson & Horrell with Jenny Doherty (1 goal) at number 1, Saffron Hutchinson (3 goals) at 2, Hannah Henderson (4 goals) at 3 and Nina Clarkin (10 goals) at Back, met Maitha Al Maktoum’s UAE Polo Team with Catalina Ayerza (1 goal) at number 2, Milly Sanchez (for Mia Cambiaso) at 3, and Candelaria Fernandez-Araujo (8 goals) at Back.
Opening honours went to Nina Clarkin putting 1-0 on the scoreboard for Dodson & Horrell within the first minute of play. An infringement then gave a penalty to Dodson & Horrell which Clarkin sent between the posts from 40 yards to make it 2-0, Fernandez-Araujo making a neat field goal before the chukka ended on 2-1 in favour of D & H.
In chukka 2, a good pass from Fernandez-Araujo enabled Milly Sanches to score for UAE and equalize on 2-2. But the team gave away a spot penalty to Dodson & Horrell who then also profited from a 30 yard shot between the posts by Nina Clarkin and Dodson & Horrell were ahead 4-2 to close the chukka.
After half time, fast free-flowing action continued through chukka 3 although UAE failed to score and Dodson & Horrell’s only goal came from a 40 yard penalty, making the score at the end of the chukka 5-2 in Dodson & Horrell’s favour.
The fourth chukka opened with the ball coming in from the back line and UAE showing increased confidence and determination. A super goal came from Catalina Ayerza. UAE Polo Team won the ball from the throw-in with Milly Sanchez blazing away towards the Dodson & Horrell goal. On she went without hindrance to score her second goal of the match and UAE had pulled up to within a goal of Dodson & Horrell.
With no let-up in the pace, both sides continued to fight. Clarkin sent a mighty shot forward from a free hit but the ball went out to the right. In possession of the ball once more, she passed it forward, caught up and tried again, but again found the goal mouth elusive. Desperately, Dodson & Horrell fought off any advance from UAE and finally held on to their lead to win the 18 goal Hurlingham Polo 1875 British Ladies Championship on a score of 5-4.
Simon Hawkins, CEO of Hurlingham Polo 1875, presented the handsome silver salver to Nina Clarkin, captain of the Dodson & Horrell team, and generous prizes of leisure wear to all players.
The Best Playing Pony award went to Milly owned and ridden by Candelaria Fernandez-Araujo. Aurora Esatwood presented the MVP prize of bespoke leather jodhpur boots from The Spanish Boot Company to Milly Sanchez of UAE Polo Team. A new prize for Horsemanship sponsored by Royal Salute and Husk was presented to Nina Clarkin by Aurora Eastwood.
In the 12 goal British Ladies Handicap Championship, Ibiza comprising Elicia Murphy at number 1, Angela Walker at 2, Rebecca Walters at 3 and Sarah Wiseman at Back met Aveda with Ann Marie Cavanagh playing at 1, Angela Robb at number 2, Lucy Coddington at 3 and Rosie Ross at Back. Lucy Coddington (formerly Taylor) made the first mark on the scoreboard for Areda who finished the first chukka half a goal ahead.
Thereafter Ibiza gained and retained the lead, finishing a lively match with no fouls blown ahead by 6-4½. Simon Hawkins presented gifts from Hurlingham Polo 1875’s leisure range to all players and Rebecca Walters’ Baronessa was awarded the prize for Best Playing Pony.
Sarah Wiseman was delighted to receive the Most Valuable Player award of bespoke leather jodhpur boots from The Spanish Boot Company presented by Aurora Eastwood. Lucy Coddington (formerly Taylor) won the prize for Horsemanship also presented by Aurora Eastwood.