Wednesday’s triple header at the 2017 Cartier Queen’s Cup was a slideshow of just about every scenario in the sport: a steamroller win for El Remanso, an overtime clincher for Talandracas, and a game-changing substitution for La Bamba de Areco. King Power defeated La Bamba de Areco 13-9 at Coworth, Talandracas edged past Monterosso 12-11 in overtime at Guards Polo Club, and El Remanso toppled Sommelier 13-6 at Manor Farm.
The Talandracas-Monterreso match had “overtime” written all over it all the way through. Rarely does one witness a more balanced game than this, with the score boucing back and forth like a Ping-Pong ball. From the third chukka on the gap was never more than two goals and most often was a one-goal difference or tied.
Monterosso created more chances throughout the game and used a balanced offense with Matt Perry, Ignacio Toccalino and Santiago Toccalino each scoring at least 3 goals. The open-play battle went mostly in Monterosso’s favor, with more shot attempts and winning throw-ins 17-10. However, the pressure from Sapo Caset and Pelon Stirling on the attack led to foul trouble for Monterosso. It resulted in penalty attempts for Caset—always a danger—who went 6 of 7 from the line. Ultimately when it came to overtime, the same thing happened, with Stirling putting pressure on the Monterosso defense that led to the decisive penalty shot.
After six chukkas the score stood at 11-all, and the pressure was on Sapo Caset. With eight goals already in his pocket, Caset rode to the penalty line, concentrating on his breathing (his way of keeping his nerves in check), with his eyes laser-focused on the ball. One whack and in it went.
King Power Swarms La Bamba de Areco
Their game against King Power Foxes had already been presumed to be an uphill battle for La Bamba de Areco, but an unfortunate twist of fate made it even worse. The team’s best offensive player, Diego Cavanagh, was sidelined with an injury at the end of the second chukka. (A couple hours after the game Cavanagh, saying he felt fine, swung by the barn to have mate with his teammates and check his horses.)
Rodrigo Andrade (who plays for RH Polo) subbed in. Even with such a strong player coming aboard, the change, as it would for any team, seemed to unsettle La Bamba de Areco’s flow. Until then they had been holding their own against the 2015 Queen’s Cup winners, trailing by a single goal (4-3). After Cavanagh’s departure it became a markedly different game, with the indomitable Pieres brothers (Facundo and Gonzalito) blasting King Power into a 7-goal lead at the top of the sixth chukka (12-5). The Piereses combined for 15 shots, more than La Bamba as a team.
While always effective, Andrade wasn’t quite as gung-ho as normal, trying to play positionally for La Bamba. Faced with playing on a team he is unfamiliar with, he seemed to defer to Magoo Laprida, as Andrade only shot at goal twice. La Bamba de Areco came through with four goals in the final chukka, the last one by Andrade, but the game ended 13-9 for King Power.
“He’s a strong player, one of the strongest,” said Gonzalito Pieres of Andrade. “We were not playing our best game at that time (when Andrade came in), but then we talked with Facu and decided to create more space, and I think it worked.”
As the team unwound in the tent, someone tossed a small piece of a Snickers bar to Gonzalito, who hesitated before popping it into his mouth. Pieres looked gingerly at the team’s physical trainer, who said with a laugh, “Go ahead. You’ll work it off tomorrow.”
El Remanso Slams Sommelier
The game between the two Hanbury brothers brought together two teams which share so much and yet which are so different. On the one hand, a quartet that has played together in one fashion or other for many years and on the other, a brand new team, brought together this season fresh on British soil.
Despite the game beginning on relatively level footing in the first two chukkas with the second chukka ending at 4-4, the strong quartet of El Remanso enforced their undefeated position defiantly through the third chukka and throughout the rest of the game. After being drawn into Sommelier’s trap in the second chukka to bring the score level, James Beim (Beimy) came off the field determined not to let it happen again. After a stern team talk with his peers, Beimy came back on field and within seconds scored for El Remanso, this was repeated moments later and finalised with a goal from James Harper from a throw-in, sending a shock wave through the Sommelier camp. El Remanso were relentless from that moment on, scoring a total of four goals in the third chukka leaving the score 8-5.
It was not for lack of trying from Sommelier that they were unable to crawl back up the scoreboard. With strong team leadership from Fred Mannix Jr the team regrouped and were able to slow down El Remanso’s goal tally in the fourth, only conceding one goal. Unfortunately Sommelier were not able to follow through on the attack to score throughout the second half, with the final score being 13-6 to El Remanso.
The 2017 Cartier Queen’s Cup continues Saturday with two games: Sommelier v. Talandracas at noon (ground TBC) and El Remanso v. La Indiana at 3 pm at Guards. All times are British Summer Time (BST).
Complete game schedule is available here.
Livestream coverage of all Queen’s Cup games and Gold Cup games, provided by PoloCam through PoloLine, is available here.
Photography by Snoopy Productions & Helen Cruden