by Diana Butler

The two King Power teams – patroned by brothers Top and Ton Srivaddhanaprabha – dominated the Cartier Queen’s Cup Finals on Sunday 14 June. King Power Foxes retained their unbeaten run in this 22-goal competition to receive the prestigious trophy from HM The Queen. This victory – which went into extra time against a tough Dubai squad – was the second King Power win of the day. Earlier, King Power had won the subsidiary Cartier Trophy, also after extra time, a golden goal and an 11-10 score line.

The packed grandstands at Guards Polo Club appreciated two such exciting games. Dubai dominated the early part of the main final, even though they were without their talisman, the 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso. He had not recovered from injuries sustained in the semi-finals and his place was taken by fellow 10-goal Pablo MacDonough, who had played for the UAE Polo Team who, ironically, Dubai had knocked out in the semi-finals. A change of team did not seem to affect MacDonough though and he produced an outstanding performance for Dubai, scoring the majority of their goals and penalties. The young Englishman, Hugo Lewis, had another strong game for King Power Foxes too and was rewarded with a massive cheer from the crowd when he went up to receive his winner’s prize, an elegant Cartier watch.

Dubai patron Rashid Albwardy also played a great game and was instrumental on many occasions in keeping King Power Foxes at bay. This is no easy feat as Top Srivaddhanaprabha’s team features the 10-goal Pieres boys – Facundo and Gonzalito. Although Dubai were up 7-5 at half-time, it seemed clear that this game was still very open and could go either way.

Facundo Pieres, who was later named Most Valuable Player, a title he won last year when playing for Zacara, produced two lovely goals in the fifth, and when his brother Gonzalito converted two penalties, King Power went ahead. The best playing pony judges clearly saw this chukka as crucial as Facundo’s 10-year-old mare Cube, whom he had played in this chukka, was later named Cartier Best Playing Pony.

This game was now really firing and this was reflected in the play, with some fast runs up the field from both sides, including a few horse races between MacDonough and Facundo Pieres. With the closeness of these two teams, it was inevitable that MacDonough would convert a 30-yard penalty with just a minute left to go to level the scores, forcing the game into extra time. In the seventh King Power were rewarded after some excellent teamwork, with Gonzalito, Facundo and Top all contributing to the all-important golden goal.

King Power had looked in control of their morning, sub final match for the Cartier Trophy, as they were leading Nick Clarke’s Salkeld 9-6 at the end of the fourth, after being 6-2 up after just two chukkas. However some strong play from former England captain Luke Tomlinson in the sixth to close the gap to 10-10, pushed this game into extra time too. Marcos Di Paola started the seventh with a great run for King Power, only to lose the ball just before goal. Four top players then rode over the ball – adding more drama of this match – before patron Ton Srivraddhanaprabha was able to finish it off with a goal.

After the main presentations, HM The Queen made a special presentation to Cartier’s Arnaud Bamberger, on behalf of the members of Guards Polo Club, in recognition of his retirement later this year as Executive Chairman of Cartier after 23 years.

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