The Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2013 (“Snow Polo World Cup”) concluded yesterday at Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club (“Metropolitan Polo Club”). Snow Polo World Cup is one of the major events on the world polo calendar, and is the largest snow polo tournament in the world. This is the second year running that Metropolitan Polo Club, the largest polo facility in China, has been chosen as the venue of this prestigious event. The tournament is hosted by the Equestrian Association of China and the Federation of International Polo (FIP), and is organized by the Tianjin Sports Bureau, the Hong Kong Polo Development and Promotion Federation (HKPDPF) and the Tianjin Polo Association, with support from various sponsors.

Twelve teams have been participating in this year’s tournament with handicaps ranging from 14 to 16 goals, making this the world’s premier snow polo event. The teams, selected in cooperation with the Federation of International Polo, represent 9 out of the top 10 polo countries. Countries represented at the start of the tournament were: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Hong Kong, China, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. Four of these teams passed through to Saturdays’ Semi-Finals, in which Hong Kong China won against England, and Argentina won against South Africa. Yesterday, Finalists Argentina and Hong Kong competed for the coveted silver trophy, while Saturdays’ losing teams played a match for third place.

The day began in the freshly falling snow, with England and South Africa, two countries with long established polo traditions, competing for third place. The England team, used to harsh winter conditions, was determined to return home with pride after their Semi-Final defeat, and to provide the English supporters and television audience with reason to celebrate at least a minor victory. South Africa, more used to searing heat, played with the same determination and spirit they have shown all through the tournament, but were not able to gain control of the game.

Pushed into defense early on, South Africa were placed in a difficult position. Struggling to keep England out of their goal-posts, they gave up 2 goals on penalty shots in the first chukka, both placed squarely through the goal by England led player John Harper. The second chukka was no better for them, despite some excellent offense by South African Tom De Bruin, England played as a well-synchronized team, setting up opportunities for Harper to add another 2 goals to the score-sheet. But, as has happened several times before to teams that become too comfortable, the third chukka reminded England to respect their opposition. With De Bruin swinging his mallet like a modern day cavalryman, South Africa took 3 goals in succession, putting South Africa back in the match, and giving the South Africa supporters reason to hope. South Africa supporters’ hopes however were dashed as England restored control in the final chukka, this time with players Oliver Hipwood and George Meyrick both scoring. The match ended with a 6 goals to 3 win for England.

In the Final match, Hong Kong, China and Argentina faced off again this year, as they did in the 2012 Snow Polo World Cup Final. As the teams assembled for the opening, the national anthems of Hong Kong, China, and of Argentina were played. The Hong Kong, China team displayed the confidence of a team that was playing to win, but which was also playing for the spirit of the game. The Argentine team, perhaps reflecting on last year’s defeat, wore the look of a team that wanted to get down to the serious business of playing the match. Serious business it was, with both teams treating the opposing side with due respect, realizing that any mistake or missed pass could quickly lead to disaster.

Hong Kong, China was first to score, taking a single goal in the first chukka, but did not build any momentum. The Argentine team’s Dario Musso put up a formidable defense, combining powerful backhand swings with swift, agile horsemanship. The second chukka saw Argentina take 2 goals, and begin to look like they could indeed take the match, but as Argentine team captain Santiago Gaztambide emphasized, “in snow polo nothing is decided so early in the match, if you think you are winning, you may be very wrong”. Hong Kong, China seemed to prove his point, changing tactics in the third chukka, playing a less reserved game, taking more risks to pound the ball far up-field. This paid off, allowing Martin Inchauspe to score 2 goals, and allowing defensive player John Fisher to move forward to score his first goal of the tournament.

Argentina fought back hard in the final chukka, taking back 2 goals, but allowing Hong Kong, China to add a crucial fifth goal, resulting in a win for Hong Kong, China. Asked to explain their success formula, and to describe their proudest moments of the tournament, the Hong Kong, China team displayed a reservation and humility typical of the top players in this noble game. Team manager Dennis Loh summed it all up: “they get a good night’s sleep, they eat lunch, they treat match day as another day doing what they know how to do, if their minds are uncluttered, then they can play at their best.”

In the closing ceremony, Dr Richard Caleel, President of the Federation of International Polo, presented medals and Veuve Clicquot Champaign to each of the day’s teams. Mr Pan Sutong, Chairman of Goldin Group, then personally presented Hong Kong, China with the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2013 trophy. The large silver trophy, crafted in London at the workshop of Thomas Lyte, looked heavy as Mr Pan hoisted it over his shoulder and placed it into the arms of 2 Hong Kong players to hold up to the crowds as a fireworks display erupted to signify a proud conclusion of the event, both for Hong Kong, China, and for the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club.

The results:

Friday, 25th of January 2013

England

:

USA

4

:

2

Hong Kong

:

Brazil

7

:

4

South Africa

:

India

7

:

3


Saturday, 26th of January 2013

Argentina

:

Canada

6

:

3

England

:

New Zealand

2

:

4

Hong Kong

:

Chile

2

:

3


Sunday, 27th of January 2013

South Africa

:

France

4

:

3

Argentina

:

Australia

3

:

2

USA

:

New Zealand

1

:

4


Monday, 28th of January 2013

Brazil

:

Chile

4

:

5

India

:

France

2

:

5

Canada

:

Australia

5

:

4


Wednesday, 30th of January 2013

New Zealand

:

Hong Kong

7

:

8

Chile

:

England

3

:

6


Thursday, 31st of January 2013

South Africa

:

Canada

6

:

2

Argentina

:

France

5

:

1


Saturday, 2nd of February 2013

Hong Kong

:

England

6

:

4

South Africa

:

Argentina

6

:

7


Sunday, 3rd of February 2013

England

:

South Africa

6

:

3

Hong Kong

:

Argentina

5

:

4




The Teams:
ZONE 1
England (+16)
George Meyrick (+5)
Oliver Hipwood (+5)
James Harper (+6)
Reserve: Alen Kent (+3)

New Zealand (+16)
Glenn Sherriff (+4)
Christopher Brooks (+4)
John Paul Clarkin (+8)
Reserve: James Wood (+4)

USA (+16)
Robert Yackley (+3)
Alan Martínez (+6)
Mike Azzaro (+7)
Reserve: Joel Baker (+2)

ZONE 2
Hong Kong, China (+16)
John Fisher (+4)
Martín Inchauspe (+5)
Guillermo Terrera, Jr. (+7)

Chile (+15)
Juan M. Gerstle (+4)
Pablo Villela (+5)
Matías Vial (+6)
Reserve: Pablo De Vescovi (+3)

Brazil (+15)
Gustavo García (+3)
Pedro Zacharías (+6)
Luiz Carlos Figuera de Mello (+6)

ZONE 3
South Africa (+16)
Lance Watson (+4)
Chris Mackenzie (+5)
Tom de Bruin (+7)
Reserve: Terence Spilsbury (+4)

France (+14)
Edouard Pan (+4)
Pierre Henri N´Goumou (+5)
Juan M. González (+5)
Reserve: Clement Delfosse (+4)

India (+16)
Uday Kalaan (+4)
Basheer Alí (+6)
Shamsheer Alí (+6)
Reserve: Col Navjit Singh Sandhu (+4)

ZONE 4
Argentina (+16)
Martín Joaquín (+3)
Darío Musso (+6)
Juan Ruiz Guiñazú, Jr. (+7)
Reserve: Santiago Gaztambide (+6)

Australia (+16)
William Gilmore (+4)
Kelvin Johnson (+5)
Glen Gilmore (+7)
Reserve: Edward Goold (+4)

Canada (+16)
Robert Stenzel (+3)
Marcelo Abbiatti (+5)
Frederick Mannix, Jr. (+8)

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