2021 Gold Cup final at Cowdray Park

With persistent rain, looming dark clouds and even the threat of thunder and lighting, the conditions were testy for the Final of the 2021 Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship on Sunday July 25 at Cowdray Park Polo Club.

Unperturbed by the wet weather, enthusiastic spectators sheltering under a canopy of umbrellas along the side-lines, looked eagerly on as Harald Link’s Thai Polo NP and H.H. Sheikha Maitha’s UAE Polo Team battled it out for the prestigious title. Leading in the early stages of the game, Thai Polo NP effectively managed their lead to never trail in the game and emerged as the champions, defeating UAE Polo Team 9-7 to raise the coveted Gold Cup. 

Gold Cup Winners Thai Polo NP celebrate success

The inclement weather did nothing to curb the excitement of the day as spectators embraced the rain and flocked to the beautiful Lawns Polo Grounds to picnic by the pitch with family and friends, peruse the shops in the luxury retail village, which included tournament Official Apparel Partner U.S. Polo Assn, sip glasses of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine, listen to live music on the bandstand, and enjoy The Naked Food Company’s delectable seafood platters and lobster rolls in the EFG Lawns Enclosure. 

A competitive match under consistent showers left Thai Polo NP and UAE Polo Team battling in open play where the balanced attack of Thai Polo NP proved to be a winning factor. All four players found the scoreboard along with six assists on nine field goals as Thai Polo NP scored all nine of their goals from the field.

Led by three goals and three assists from Nico Pieres, Thai Polo NP took the lead and never looked back against the solid UAE Polo Team. Holding Polito Pieres scoreless, Thai Polo NP’s defence helped guide them to victory, despite the best efforts of Tomas Panelo and Tomas Beresford who combined for all seven of their team’s goals. Outshooting UAE Polo Team 22-5 throughout the game, Thai Polo NP overcame the rain to claim the hard-fought tournament victory.  

Two minutes into the game, Thai Polo NP opened the scoring after Ned Hine left the ball for Harper and he skilfully finished the goal with a nearside neck shot. Heavily outshooting UAE Polo Team 7-0 in the first chukka, Thai Polo NP increased their lead to two after Nico Pieres outran Beresford and knocked the ball out of the air to end the chukka ahead 2-0.

Displaying a balanced attack, Thai Polo NP scored their third consecutive goal to begin the game, this time off the mallet of Ned Hine, as UAE Polo Team was left with the challenge of playing from behind. Rain forced a temporary break in play, however the Final went on with UAE Polo Team ending their scoreless drought on a Penalty 4 conversion for Beresford. Finding momentum at the start of the third chukka, a pass from Polito Pieres was converted by Tomas Panelo to bring their team within one, but Thai Polo NP provided a significant response as 15-year-old Louis Hine scored to get all four Thai Polo NP players on the scoresheet and end the first half with a 5-2 advantage.  

The conditions impacted the scoring throughout the game as field goals proved to be difficult to achieve, however after the halftime break, both Thai Polo NP and UAE Polo Team produced offense in open play. Trading goals back and forth, Thai Polo NP was led by the young Hine brothers, Louis and Ned, contributing one goal each in the fourth chukka, while UAE Polo Team relied on two goals from Beresford on consecutive plays to remain trailing by three.

Making a push for the victory, Louis Hine scored on the first play of the fifth chukka, hitting a backhand through the goal off a pass from Nico Pieres. Generating a goal of his own, Pieres left Thai Polo NP with a four-goal advantage and just one chukka between them and the tournament title. As the rain continued to fall, UAE Polo Team inched closer with a goal from Panelo, but Thai Polo NP saw the Jaeger-LeCoultre clock tick down and the trophy come within reach. A late penalty goal from Beresford ended the game as Thai Polo NP began their celebration, capturing the 9-7 victory and the Gold Cup for the British Open Championship.  

Emotional scenes ensued in the Thai Polo NP team tent for the Hine, Harper and Pieres families. The young Hine brothers were embraced by proud parents, whilst James Harper and family celebrated his second Gold Cup victory, and Nico Pieres savoured the success of winning his first ever British Open. 

The Hon Emily Pearson, daughter of Lord Cowdray, presented the golden trophy to Thai Polo NP Captain, Nico Pieres, who also stepped down from the podium to receive the Most Valuable Player prize from U.S. Polo Assn. representative, Boo Jalil of Brand Machine. Nine-year-old Argentine mare, Open Lourdes (Virgin x Sportivo), played and owned by Nico Pieres, was awarded the Best Playing Pony rug, presented by the Hon Mrs Lila Pearson. Celebrations continued into the evening with music and dancing in the EFG Lawns Enclosure and the Goalmouth Mouth as DJ Simon Horn took to the decks.  

NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier at Felbridge

With the fastest triple clear of the class, Hannah Smith from Crawley, West Sussex claimed first place in the NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier which took place at the Felbridge Showground on Saturday.

Hannah Smith and Pauldaries Mysteque winning the NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier at Felbridge Showground
[PHOTO: Felbridge Photography]
 

Riding Samantha Baker’s 17 year-old mare Pauldaries Mysteque, Hannah was one of ten riders to take up a spot in the final jump off from a starting field of sixty combinations.

With her eyes firmly on the red rosette, Hannah was able to produce the winning triple clear in 34.53 seconds, just 0.08 of a second faster than her closest rival.

NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier

1st Hannah Smith & Pauldaries Mysteque – 0/0/0 – 34.53 seconds

2nd Louise McDonald & Fanta-astic – 0/0/0 – 34.61 seconds

3rd Elizabeth East & Kennedy 55 – 0/0/0 – 40.25 seconds

Plumpton Racing to restart

Competitive racing at Plumpton

RACING is about to restart at Plumpton following an announcement today saying: “It feels like we have gone from feast to famine at the course. We had a gluttony of fixtures in March and April to having to wait a month for our finals.

“However it is finally here and we have 69 runners over eight races ( there was a division in the 3m handicap hurdle) and taking place on groudnd described as Good, Good to Firm in places. We are due a fair bit of rain on Saturday morning so we hope this will ease the going a tad. We will have to wait and see what we get- the for4ecast is 8-11mm approximately

“We’ve been watering since March and recorded only 4.5mm of rain in April, the lowest rainfall in April we have had since our records began in 1997. For perspective, the average for April is 61mm and in 2012 we had 149.5mm!!

We’ve averaged 55 runners a fixture (not including Sunday’s 69 decs), which is great going as in just 2016/17 it was an average of 47 so has steadily been climbing and so all credit to the groundstaff team for this!

“The 2020/21 season will have welcomed an aggregate attendance of 2,077 people thus far, and only two days with any paying spectators – both in December 2020. Again for perspective, the 2018/19 season welcomed 33,561 with just one abandonment  (2019/20 had two abandonments and then we lost 5 fixtures to COVID so isn’t comparable).

“It has been incredibly odd and not something we ever wish to repeat, so we very much hope to have you with us and restriction free for Sunday 19th September 2021.

“Unfortunately though, Sunday will mark the end of Mark Cornford’s tenure here as Clerk of the Course . He’s been a Plumpton employee here for over 40 years and a darn good one – liked and respected by colleagues, professionals and racegoers alike for the entire time.

“He will be sorely missed but will always be welcome and we plan to honour his tenure in September when we can do so more appropriately. Our new Clerk Marcus Waters has been with us for the entirety of the 2020/21 season and so he will be well ready for September and hopefully you’ll get a chance to meet him at a stable visit before the 2021/22 season.”

“Speaking of the 2021/22 season, we of course haven’t forgotten about you and/or getting you back and sorting the seasonal membership but with the full restrictions yet to be released and no sign of the 2022 fixture list being confirmed we can’t advise exactly what dates we have nor what reciprocals we can offer.

“Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience, but we certainly haven’t forgotten and will sort this as soon as we possibly can for you.

I”n the meantime, enjoy Sunday’s racing from afar and lets hope that this is the last one without you for a long, long time!”

Very Best Wishes,

Dan, Holly & Team

FLAT RACING TO RETURN TO BRIGHTON IN APRIL

Brighton racecourse has announced that the return of flat turf racing is just around the corner as the season gets underway at its sister track, Doncaster Racecourse, this Saturday with the UNIBET Lincoln weekend.

The first fixture at Brighton Racecourse takes place behind closed doors on Saturday April 17. Be sure to tune in on Sky Sports Racing to watch all the action live. Then racing returns for the public from May 17.

Top Flat Racing returns to Brighton Photo courtesy of Brighton Racecoure

A spokesperson said: “We now have tickets on sale for all of our fixtures taking place between May 17- September 30. Tickets have been very popular, be sure to get yours before they’re all gone!”

The Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park tomorrow, Sunday, February 28

THE National Spirit Hurdle is the most valuable and prestigious race in Fontwell Park’s racing calendar, and always promises a thrilling day. Named after the winner of the champion hurdle in the 1940’s, this race continues to attract some of the finest racing talent in the country.

This year it takes place this Sunday, February 28 and the Grade 2 £50,000 National Spirit Hurdle has a new sponsor- Loch Lomond Whiskies– an independent distiller and blender of some of the rarest scotch whiskies in the world. The company also produce a range of popular vodkas and gins. 

Unfortunately, Coronavirus has meant that this year, Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle will have to be held behind closed doors. The race has always attracted a quality field of runners and recent winners include Vision Des Flos, Old Guard, Camping Ground and Lil Rockerfeller.

Champagne PIAFF is expertly blended by 6th generation wine makers Épernay and can be ordered direct from their cellar to your door. www.champagnepiaff.com

Eleven times champion trainer Paul Nicholls has won the race three times including with Celestial Halo ten years ago.

Celestial Halo, trained by Paul Nicholls on the way to victory Photo by John Simpson

This year Paul Nicholls has entered the highly regarded McFabulous, winner of the Grade 2 Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow last October.  Also entered is the 2019 Grade One Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner, Cornerstone Lad from the Micky Hammond yard and the Harry Fry trained If The Cap Fits, successful in the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in 2019. 

There are eight entries in total for the big race :  Ballyandy, Brewin’upastorm,  Call Me Lord, Cornerstone Lad, If The Cap Fits, McFabulous, and Molly Ollys Wishes and Reserve Tank.

It is 20 years since dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner, Baracouda, won the National Spirit Hurdle for owner JP McManus and trainer Francois Doumen. 

The seven race card starts at 2.10pm and is live on Sky Sports Racing.

Frustrating time for horse racing says Plumpton

Dan, Holly and the team at Plumpton have been reflecting on the lack of positivity regards to racing generally and feel the timings of lifting restrictions have been poorly placed.

They said: “For example, the Grand National is run on Saturday April 10 but the betting shops don’t open until Monday April 12 which will cost the industry a huge amount of levy from bookmaker payments which help fund the sport.

“Similarly, crowds in full may be allowed from Monday June 21, but Royal Ascot is run between June 15-19 and we are not sure if moving such large events would be possible, but it would be hugely beneficial if they could.

They added: “Similarly, we were disappointed with the announcements from our own perspective, as our funding now faces some restrictions and as it stands it doesn’t look like we will have any crowd before September.

Racing action could be back at Plumpton later this year Photo: Jeannie Knight

“Our last fixture of the 2020/21 season is Sunday May 8, but it doesn’t look like crowds will be allowed before Monday May 18 -and so that is quite frustrating!”

Dan said:” I am just exploring whether we can move any of our April or May fixtures to different dates (to allow attendance!) and if we can have a crowd as a “pilot” but to be frank with you all, it looks unlikely.

“This will no doubt be very frustrating for you to hear and it likely brings to a conclusion a long and strange season. Once I hear about the fixtures mentioned above, I will get back in touch and I’ll also provide options on the membership details for 2021/22 where it looks like full attendance will be allowed….we hope. There will of course be options regarding your money held here and again, I’ll re-iterate my thanks to you all for the support and understanding.”

In more positive news, last weekends racing was particularly enjoyable and also successful and Plumpton’s “home team” trainers. One of Plumpton’s favourite teams (The Moores) had a super day at Wincanton, with Goshen romping home in the Kingwell and firmly back into the picture for the Champion Hurdle.

“We’ll be in touch with you again ASAP, and our apologies that we can’t get you back with us sooner but we hope in your own lives there can now be some more to look forward too.

“Meanwhile the Grand National is run on Saturday April 10 but the betting shops don’t open until Monday 12  which will cost the industry a huge amount of levy (bookmaker payments which help fund the sport) and similarly, crowds in full may be allowed from Monday June 21 but Royal Ascot is run between June 15 and 19. I’m not sure if moving such large events is possible, but you never know and it could be hugely beneficial if they could.”

Expect top class jump racing at Plumpton when racing resumes. Photo: Jeannie Knight

“Similarly, we were disappointed with the announcements from our own perspective, as our funding now faces some restrictions and as it stands it doesn’t look like we will have any crowd before September. Our last fixture of the 2020/21 season is Sunday May 9 and as it stands, it doesn’t look like crowds will be allowed before Monday May 17- and so that is quite frustrating!

” I am just exploring whether we can move any of our April or May fixtures to different dates (to allow attendance!) and if we can have a crowd as a “pilot” but to be frank with you all, it looks unlikely.

“Once I hear about the fixtures mentioned above, I will get back in touch and I’ll also provide options on the membership details for 2021/22 where it looks like full attendance will be allowed….we hope. There will of course be options regarding your money held here and again, I’ll re-iterate my thanks to you all for the support and understanding.”

“In more positive news, the weekends racing was particularly enjoyable and also successful for Plumpton and its “home team” trainers. One of our favourite teams (The Moore’s) had a super day at Wincanton, with Goshen romping home in the Kingwell and firmly back into the picture for the Champion Hurdle.

“Chris Gordon’s Annual Invictus has been a winner with us twice this season (and you saw one of them live on December 14 as this horse flew home in the Betfair Hurdle to finish fourth.

“Andy Irvine (Zoe Davison’s husband) had a first winner at Market Rasen with Blarney Bateleur at 28/1. Some of our past winners also developed into “Saturday horses” too in Thibault (2nd at 80/1!) at Ascot, The Two Amigos following up his Welsh National runner-up achievement with a  fine 3rd in the Grand National trial at Haydock,.

“First Lord de Cuet bolted up at Wincanton and Gellino Bello followed up his fine December win here with a third in the listed bumper at Newbury on Sunday. It’s great to see that good horses are still coming here and progressing on nicely.

“We’ll be in touch with you again ASAP, and our apologies that we can’t get you back with us sooner but I hope in your own lives there can now be some more to look forward too.”

Best Wishes,

Dan, Holly & Team at Plumpton

RACING AT PLUMPTON HAS BEEN ABANDONED TODAY

Plumpton Winter Raceday – Monday February 8 2021 cannot go ahead

Racing at Plumpton today was subject to a morning inspection, and was abandoned because of rain, snow and frost. If the card had gone ahead it would have been racing behind closed doors.

A Plumpton spokesman said:”So this is February! And it all feels remarkably similar as we are still struggling against the elements (rain, snow and a frost threat) and we still race behind closed doors.

“Unfortunately I don’t have any further insight as to when we might be able to get you back with us, but as soon as we do we will get in touch and please remain assured we will get you back as soon as we can.

New chairman for Cowdray Park Polo Club

Cowdray Park Polo Club has announced that, following completion of his term of office, Roderick Vere Nicholl has stepped down as Chairman of the Club.

New chairman for Cowdray Park Polo Club

The Club’s President, Viscount Cowdray, stated: “On behalf of the Committee we are hugely grateful to Roderick for the enthusiasm, energy and commitment he brought to the role, and for steering the Club through a difficult year.”

The Club is further delighted to announce that Andrew Swaffield has accepted the President’s invitation to be appointed the new Chairman.

Hickstead’s ‘Royal’ appearance

  Equestrian fans might have spotted one of sport’s most iconic venues on screen this week, with the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead appearing on the hit Netflix series, The Crown.

Hickstead was used as the filming location for scenes for another famous equestrian event – Badminton Horse Trials. Erin Doherty, the actress playing The Princess Royal, is seen competing in the showjumping phase at the 1979 event, where she finished sixth.

The huge Longines International Arena with its permanent grandstands and multitude of showjumps at Hickstead made a convincing backdrop, with cheering crowds added through computer graphics. Princess Anne is seen jumping a clear round over a sizable course of jumps that included some of Hickstead’s famous fences, such as the Al Shira’aa Derby wall.

In the scene, the characters of The Queen and Prince Philip, played by Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies, are seen in the Master’s Box, cheering their daughter on. They are also joined by the character of Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), who is later depicted having one of his early meetings with the young Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) when queuing to leave the event.

“I’m a huge fan of The Crown so we were more than happy for part of the new series to be filmed here,” says Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn. “It was quite a production, taking several weeks to set-up and four full days of filming. Quite a few members of the Hickstead team were involved in filming the scenes too, playing roles such as the gate steward and the official waving a flag at the finish. They all had to go to Elstree to be fitted out with costumes from the era, which was great fun.”

The rider who did the actual jumping in the action shots was Amy Inglis, who is a regular competitor at Hickstead and was a member of the British Nations Cup team there in 2019.

The Crown may have used some artistic licence when it came to creating the ‘Badminton’ scenes, but Princess Anne did actually compete at Hickstead, most notably winning the combined training in 1973 on her famous horse Doublet. The Princess Royal has also visited the showground on a number of occasions in an official capacity, while Her Majesty The Queen is the official patron of the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.

 
About Hickstead
The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in West Sussex was founded in 1960 by Douglas Bunn, who had dreamed of creating a venue that could rival those on the continent. The showground has been the venue for several World and European Showjumping Championships over the years, and now hosts two major international shows annually – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show – as well as a national show in September known as the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships.

Christmas In April wins Plumpton’s Sussex National

PLUMPTON’S prestigious Sky Sports Racing’s Sussex National race was won yesterday by trainer Colin Tizzard and jockey Harry Cobden with French-bred Chrismas In April.
This horse was sent off as 9-2 joint favourite and a front-running performance saw off any challengers from the 11 strong field which tackled the three miles four furlongs race.
Christmas In April was in front throughout the race and his task was made easier when Hard To Forget blundered at the third fence, unseating his rider.
Sackett continued in the lead, with Vinnie Lewis and Christmas In April the nearest pursuers and then came Uallrightharry. But Christmas in April took up the lead when Sackett made a bad mistake with two circuits to go.
Four from home Sackett made another bad mistake and Christmas In April, with Harry Cobden in board,took advantage and went into the lead, followed by Rathlin Rose and Uallrightharry.

Harry Cobden and Christmas In April en route to victory Photo courtesy of Plumpton Racecourse

They went on to win by two lengths from Uallrightharry, with Rathlin Rose third and then Belle Empress.

The Colin Tizzard stable is currently in top form with Christmas In April’s victory, becoming the second big winner for  the yard another big winner over the weekend, following the success of Fiddlerontheroof in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle on Saturday.

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