Polo thriller at its best and double-digit results in almost all matches of the three-day polo classic on Lake Maggiore, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
(Thomas Wirth, Polo10)
It was a breathtaking and absolutely even final between the two finalists Engel & Völkers Ascona and team sponsor newcomer The Winston/Hotel Maloja Kulm: The six players from five nations, who faced each other here in the final, could not have been more different. The Frenchman Constant Jacquot and the Argentinian 4-goaler Carlos Genes were in top form at the side of Gerardo Cosentina from Liechtenstein, who had already won for sponsor Porsche last year and who now played with his team in the colours of Engel & Völkers.
The Brazilian Marcus Schalldach played together with the German Caroline Juls and the 6-goaler Santiago Schweizer from Argentina for the new sponsor The Winston/Hotel Maloja Kulm, who took part in the tournament as team sponsor and catering partner for the first time.
Fighting stakes in the first two chukkers brought Engel & Völkers, who had started with one goal ahead because of the teamhandicap, in the first round to a 4-1 lead. But Marcus Schalldach and his team held against it and caught up with powerful defensive and cleverly used scoring chances to 4 – 4, before they took the lead themselves. Goal after goal it went ahead, not a millimeter and even less no ball was given to the opponent. It was the two Argentineans who dominated the game, Schalldach and the Frenchman Jacquot added some great tactical moves. Marcus Schalldach had already played in 2015 in Ascona and won here. In the jubilee year he was now awarded as the “Most Valubale” player of the tournament. Cosentino turned several penalty into goals. After an 8-8, 9-9 and finally 10-10, the last regular chukker seemed to end in a draw when Carlos Genes shot the 11-10 for Engel & Völkers just a few seconds before the final bell. Fast-paced, exciting, acclaimed, with tactical highlights and goals worth seeing – a final that did credit to the anniversary tournament at the only Swiss Polo Club south of the Alps.
The teams CAT Financial Products and Porsche Ticino faced each other in the “small final” in the game for the third place. With Reto Gaudenzi and Valeriy Mishchenko on one position, Tito Gaudenzi and Adrian Laplacette “old polo champions” met the tournament organiser and president of the Polo Club Ascona, Matteo Beffa, who played together with Frank Kirschke and the 4-goaler Tomi Astelara. After Tito Gaudenzi had already delivered a sensational game on Saturday, he was also the powerhouse of the team together with Astelara on Sunday. Only very close with 10-11 (the same score on the scoreboard as in the final) Beffas team finally had the nose in front and secured third place.
Arena polo is particularly worth seeing at the old Ascona airport. A treat for the spectators, who can watch the games from a high position. In addition, the special flooring makes the matches fast and the horses’ grip secure. The first match of the day for the 5th place of the 10th Ascona Polo Cup already showed this. Here, Team Styger & Partner with the Swiss Cédric Schweri and Stefan Locher together with the 6-goaler Joao Naves from Brazil relegated the opponent Team Ascona-Locarno with Vivian Sauter, Gabriel Eckenstein and Juan Marenda to 6th place with a final score of 13-11.
After the first match of the final day, the charity games sponsored by the Styger Foundation for Children were followed by the polo audience at the elegant polo Sunday brunch created by Hotel Maloja Kulm. The proceeds of over 40,000 Swiss francs this year go 100% to the Elisa Foundation in Locarno (Fondazione Elisa Locarno), which supports seriously ill children and their families.
As in previous years, the experienced referee Mark Holmes from Cambridge was responsible for the smooth and fair course of the game. Jan-Erik Franck “The Voice of Polo” enthused the audience as commentator of the matches. On the final Sunday he had the sympathetic support of the well-known Swiss presenter Sandy Altermatt (RSI), who introduced the Italian audience to the Who is Who and the most important polo rules. Thomas Wirth, Publisher Polo +10: “It was great to be here in Ascona again after a year’s break. Ascona has long since become a highlight and “jewel in the crown” for the European Polo Circuit. An absolutely international tournament with players from almost every continent. The surroundings here in the enchanting Ticino on Lake Maggiore do the rest to make Ascona an unforgettable polo destination. I look forward to the 11th edition of the Ascona Polo Cup next year”.