A historic exhibition match took place yesterday at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club to mark the eve of the Fortune Heights National Cup 2016. China’s finest equestrian team sports facility played host to the first all-Chinese contest in recent history, with yesterday’s match an important milestone in the development of modern polo in China, a sport that traces its ancient roots back to the Tang Dynasty.
Fortune Heights, an exhibition side featuring players from Beijing’s prestigious Tang Polo Club, took on local side Metropolitan Polo Club over four chukkas of grass polo in a match being billed as the Chinese Challenge. Lining up for Fortune Heights were Wang Gang, Yanyang Li, Nan Liu, and Peng Peng. In the saddle for Metropolitan Polo Club: Arthur Lin, Eric Zhong, Windson Rao and William Lin. The two Lins, of course, are father and son. William, Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club member and CEO of Dragon Telecom was surely equal parts proud and paternally concerned for his young son Arthur, bravely taking the field aged only 15 – a future Chinese polo star in the making.
Metropolitan Polo Club, playing in white and sky blue, kicked off with a 1.5 goal handicap, and hung on to it most of the first chukka, despite two excellent goal-bound charges by Yanyang Li for Fortune Heights, playing in white with a red band. An exchange of penalties was the closest either side had come to scoring, but both shots were pulled wide. A late rally by Metropolitan Polo Club saw Arthur Lin and Windson Rao charge up the boards and cut inside towards goal, but the whistle of umpire John Fisher sounded an infringement in favour of the defenders. This gave Fortune Heights a last chance to mount an attack, Nan Liu latching on to a fine charge by Yanyang Li to score the game’s first field goal at the bell.
After the restart Fortune Heights struck first, Yanyang Li continuing his excellent form into the second chukka by confidently slotting the ball between the posts after an unopposed run. Editor-in-Chief of China’s Horsemanship magazine, Li, 42, played some of his polo in England, and his skills were looking the difference between the two sides. Less than a minute later, the impressive Li scored again, this time with a beautiful neck shot capping off another dominant Fortune Heights attack. Refusing to throw in the towel, Metropolitan Polo Club kept up the pressure and eventually got their reward: a first field goal on the board thanks to a penalty by substitute Su Rong. But the tables weren’t for turning; Wang Gang showed great composure with his neck shot to make it 4-2.5 in favour of Fortune Heights. And just before the bell, the irresistible Li blazed away from the restart, showing fine pace and control to score his side’s fifth of the afternoon.
After the traditional half-time treading in of the divots, play recommenced with Fortune Heights still firmly in the ascendency. Early pressure forced a simple penalty score, tapped in by Wang Gang. Metropolitan Polo Club prodded and probed at the Fortune Heights goal for a while, but their positive play was undone by another blistering charge the length of the field by Yanyang Li, the standout player in the match.
With the scores at 7-2.5 going into the fourth and final chukka, Metropolitan Polo Club had a mountain to climb, and so it proved. The only goal of a busy chukka went once again to the visitors and major tournament sponsors Fortune Heights, Wang Gang and Nan Liu linking up for a well-taken team goal. The final score: Fortune Heights 8, Metropolitan Polo Club 2.5. As a small consolation for the home side, Windson Rao was awarded player of the match in the awards ceremony.
The day’s festivities had begun earlier in the afternoon with a show-jumping and horsemanship display from the newly established equestrian academy at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club, overlooked by the Goldin Finance 117 skyscraper, already topped out at nearly 600 metres tall, and scheduled to open for business in 2017.
Now, all eyes turn to the tournament proper which starts today, the four competing teams, all hailing from Asia – Fast Fish, Wahaha, Axus and Bookdoc – contesting their opening matches from 2pm.
POLO+10 Patrons’ Cup China 2017
You always wanted to experience the fascinating combination of tradition and modernity of China, also known as the Middle Kingdom? You would like to play polo at one of the most exciting places in the world and to get to know new polo friends from around the globe? Now you have the once in a lifetime chance to do so: Join the “POLO+10 Patrons’ Cup China 2017”! From 18-22 May 2017 we organise a low goal tournament at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. Close to the action – Polo at its best and 100% fun for the players is guaranteed.
The POLO+10 World Tour
takes its participants to the most beautiful and exotic polo destinations of the world. In collaboration with the most prestigious polo clubs, POLO+10 is organising this exclusive tournament series around the globe. The whole idea is as simple as it is charming: The players register for the tour and book their flights – POLO+10 organises everything else.