In the most eagerly awaited final of the 2014 season at Singapore Polo Club, a closely fought match between TATA Communications Asia, formed by Horatio Llorente (+5), Bautista Arrastua (+3), Jonathan Gabler (+1) as well as Vinod Kumar (0), and TATA Communications Europe (played by Paisano Dragons), consisting of David Bernal (+5), Nico Pieroni (+3), Marc Hogberg (+3) and Ronnie Lim (-1), left TATA Managing Director Vinod Kumar victorious with his team, while the Paisano Dragons narrowly missed out on the chance to become the first-ever holders of the Singapore Triple Crown title.
In two previous tournaments in April and May 2014, the Paisano Dragons had emerged victors and a third tournament title in the 10 goal Singapore Open 2014 would have resulted in them being able to call themselves the first-ever holders of the Singapore Triple Crown title.
The Paisano Dragons had a good run-up to the final day with two wins and one loss in the preliminary round, but suffered from having to remove several of their ponies from their string due to injury in the early matches, without being able to replace them.
The TATA Communications Asia team had a slower start to the tournament with a loss to TATA Communications Middle East in the preliminary rounds, but substantially improved their team work in the following matches and managed to beat Paisano Dragons in the last match of the preliminary rounds. It was however expected by many that Paisano Dragons would come back with increased determination for the all-important final.
The final started with TATA Communications Asia immediately putting pressure on the Paisano Dragons with Vinod Kumar doing an outstanding job of keeping Marc Hogberg away from the play as much as possible. This allowed TATA Asia’s two professionals more room to play to each other’s strengths and take an early lead. However, Paisano Dragons’ Nico Pieroni made a magnificent run, closing it with an angled distance shot straight in the goal with seconds to spare to bring the match back within half a goal at the end of the second chukka.
The final two chukkas were a nailbiting display of determination by the TATA Communications Asia team to overcome Paisano Dragons. Bautista Arrastua and Horacio Llorente seemed to be able to read each other’s minds and often played a 1-2 combination to get closer to goal.
Paisano Dragons’ Nico Pieroni and David Bernal tried similarly hard to push the ball up and David’s long hits gained them territory, but too often found an unmarked Jonathan Gabler deep in defense picking up the ball and clearing it towards the sides of the field before an attacker could get near it.
Between the strong attack and the solid defense of TATA Communications Asia, it wasn’t long before Bautista Arrastua scored a magnificent goal from a long approach shot by Horacio Llorente taking the lead and keeping it all the way until the end of the game.
After the final bell, the TATA Communications Asia team and their supporters broke out in jubilant cheers for what was a long, hard road to final victory. Bautista Arristua deservedly received the Most Valuable Player award for his performance. Paisano Dragons’ pony Primavera owned by Ronnie Lim won Best Playing Pony.
In the match for 3rd and 4th place, the Singapore Polo Club team headed by team patron Melissa Ko (-1) was hit hard in the first chukka with four goals scored against them and was never able to recover. Their professional Andres Laplacette (+5) was consistently well-marked, resulting in Melissa Ko and Waqas Khan (+4) having to take over goal scoring duties with two goals each to their name.
For LaSarita/Headhunters playing as TATA Communications Middle East, Matias Vial Perez (+6) stood out with his long hits upfield and accuracy in taking penalties resulting in five goals scored by him. Ameer Jumabhoy played a magnificent game, constantly pushing the line and for his efforts was rewarded with two goals. He was reportedly in the running for Most Valuable Player prior to the final match being played. In the end, the combined effort resulted in a 9-6.5 win over the Singapore Polo Club team.
The prize ceremony and subsequent asado party was a celebration for all teams who made an effort in this final tournament of the Singapore Triple Crown.
1st TATA Communications Asia (TATA Communications) (+9)
Horatio Llorente (+5)
Bautista Arrastua (+3)
Jonathan Gabler (+1)
Vinod Kumar (0)
2nd TATA Communications Europe (Paisano Dragons) (+10)
David Bernal (+5)
Nico Pieroni (+3)
Marc Hogberg (+3)
Ronnie Lim (-1)
3rd TATA Communications Middle East (LaSarita/Headhunters) (+10)
Matias Vial Perez (+6)
Sattar Khan (+4)
Ameer Jumabhoy (+1)
Clifton Yeo (-1)
4th TATA Communications Oceania (Singapore Polo Club) (+9)
Andres Laplacette (+5)
Waqas Khan (+4)
Ang Roon Kai (+1)
Melissa Ko (-1)