The second Russians in the City Polo Cup took place at the Westcroft Park Polo Club (former Ascot Park) in Surrey at the beginning of September. It showed that amateur Russian speaking polo players are able to compete, and provide a thrilling game, at the same high level as the world renowned players.
Some of the world’s top polo players were joined by amateurs of the sport who are entrepreneurs of Russian and CIS origin. To qualify, each team was required to have at least two Russian speaking players. Each of the six teams also featured at least one top-level polo professional.
Tatiana Menshenina, a co-organizer of the tournament, City lawyer and player on the Alegria team, commented: “The Russians in the City Polo Cup is an excellent example of how the game played at a mixed professional and amateur level can be equally enjoyed both by enthusiasts and those who are new to the sport. The Russian speaking players gave an outstanding performance even though some were novices.”
Over 150 guests were welcomed with champagne and canapes. A beige Volga 2410 was on display to please the gathering. After the game, the guests were offered a gourmet lunch in the tranquil shade of a marquee, away from the glow of the sun. In the evening, guests were serenaded by a solo guitarist performing romantic Argentinian ballads.
Ksenia Bobkova, the founder of Russians in the City, investment lawyer, entrepreneur and player on the Pink Panthers team, said: “Apart from being a sensational sports event, the Russians in the City Polo Cup was also a great opportunity for the guests to network with native Russian and CIS business people working in a variety of sectors in the UK. They were also able to obtain a deeper insight into the value and workings of the business community of CIS origin based in the UK.”
The teams were competing in two sets of matches – the Winnie-the-Pooh Cup for 0 goal teams and the Nu Pogodi Trophy for 6 goal teams. Will Randall-Coath of Club Polo Del Sol and HPA approved polo coach Robert Burke were commentating, while professional HPA umpire Ben Turner acted as referee.
Winnie-the-Pooh Cup kicked off the day. The winners were Alegria (-1), primarily a family team, comprising of Tatiana Menshenina (-2), Anna Menshenina (-2), Igor Menshenin (-1) and Antonio Manzorro (4). Founded in 2011, the team is based at the Westcroft Park Polo Club. Having won several tournaments at Ascot Park, including Pro-Am City Championships, The Norway Cup, The Front Room Cup, and ensuring an unbeaten Winter Arena Season in 2013, Alegria is a force to be reckoned with. Commentator Will Randall-Coath noted: “The real star on this team is Anna Menshenina (-2) who was awarded Most Valuable Player. Though quite young, she is powerful, accurate, energetic and enthusiastic which is always fantastic to see.”
The second place was taken by Pink Panthers (0) comprising of Ksenia Bobkova (-2), Aliya Samokhvalova (-2), Amber Clutton-Brock (1) and Matias Carrique (3). Will Randall-Coath noted: “The professional on the team, Matias Carrique (3) is a very useful player. On a number of occasions he was there to just really ruin the play for Oscar Mancini, the professional for El Fuego, and put him under pressure which is not an easy job given Oscar’s level of professionalism.”
The third place was given to El Fuego team (-1) comprising of Maksim Lebedev (-2), Lev Frenkel (-2), Sofya Dubrova (-1) and Oscar Mancini (4). The team was founded recently following a year of successful polo at La Brava club managed by Oscar Mancini. The Russians in the City Polo Cup 2015 was the team’s first big challenge. Will Randall-Coath noted: “For me the outstanding player in El Fuego was Lev Frenkel (-2). Though a very young man and playing off a starting handicap, he proved himself a very effective player. His vision of how the whole game was out was very useful to the rest of the team.”
The Nu Pogodi Trophy designed for 6 goal teams was taken by the Moscow Polo Club team (6). It is the oldest and largest polo club in Russia founded in 2003. The Club returned polo to the country after nearly a 100-year pause that followed the revolution. The Club was represented by the president and owner Alexei Rodzianko (-1) and his son Misha Rodzianko (2), director of the Club since 2013. The other players on the team were Freddie Buxton (1) and Sebastian Dawnay (4). The second place was taken by La Fortuna team (6) comprising of Mikhail Pichugin (-2), Sergey Kudryavtsev (0), Jamie Morrison (3) and Vieri Antinori (5). La Fortuna Polo Team was founded in 2014 and is based at FHM Polo Club in West Sussex. Team members come from UK, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Lithuania and Latvia.
The third place was given to team Hedonism (7) comprising of Denis Antonov (-2), Evgeny Chichvarkin (0), Royston Prisk (2) and Max Charlton (7). Winners of the first Russians in the City Polo Cup in 2014, Hedonism are based at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. Will Randall-Coath noted: “The notable professionals on the teams in both trophies showed some of the most amazing polo that you will see at this level. However the Russians, some amateurs, played out of their skin as well. Particularly, Denis Antonov (-2) who was awarded Most Valuable Player showed a very solid play.”
The winners were presented by Julius Baer and PolyClinica N.1 with a trophy and a cup handmade in Russia and received a bottle of one of the best Russian wines.