The Harrison Cup, Holden White Cup and Cowdray’s oldest trophy, the Challenge Cup, are three tournaments which for more than half a century have coincided with the Festival of Horseracing at nearby Goodwood. The Finals of all three tournaments, played as part of the Cowdray’s HPA’s series, reached their thrilling conclusions over the weekend of 5th/6th August.
First up was the Final of the 15 goal Harrison Cup, entered by 8 teams with Cowdray Vikings and Apes Hill battling through to the Final. Playing at number 1 for Cowdray Vikings was 2 goal player George Pearson with Will Emerson at number 3 and brothers Ralph and Jack Richardson at 2 and Back respectively. Young Luke Wiles took the number 1 position for Apes Hill, with Tommy Severn at 2, Isidro Strada at 3 and Mark Tomlinson at Back. A hard fought match was interrupted by thunder, lightning and hail stones forcing the Polo Manager to stop play half way through.
Apes Hill took the lead in the second chukka and by half time remained a goal ahead on 5-4. Two fine field goals from Jack Richardson and another from George Pearson in the fourth chukka saw fortunes reverse with Cowdray Vikings ahead 7-6 at chukka’s end. Isidro Strada for Apes Hill raced away from the throw-in which started the final chukka making a swift field goal to equalise on 7-7, but the team’s gift of a 30 yard penalty to Cowdray Vikings saw Jack Richardson swiftly regain the lead for his team. A messy piece of play close to the Apes Hill goal saw another penalty awarded and Jack Richardson’s second 30 yard penalty of the afternoon secured the win for Cowdray Vikings at 9-7. Mrs Jo Richardson presented the Cup and prizes to all players. The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times went to Bugsy, owned by Phil Baker and played by Mark Tomlinson. Ralph Richardson was voted Most Valuable Player, his prize sponsored by The Polo Magazine.
The 18 goal Challenge Cup is Cowdray Park’s oldest trophy, first presented in 1911, and still keenly fought for today. Andrey Borodin’s Park Place made it to the Final to meet Lord Rothermere’s Ferne Park side. 15 year old Will Harper substituted for the Park Place patron with a trio of 6 goalers – Alfredi Bigatti, Juan Britos and Chris Mackenzie completing the team. For Ferne Park, Jonathan Rothermere took the number 1 position with Dirk Gould at 2, Joaquin Pittaluga at 3 and Ignacio Negri at Back.
As the teams settled into the match, an early goal came from Pittaluga for Ferne Park but from then on Park Place, who have enjoyed success in several tournaments this season, began to steadily mark the scoreboard to take a lead of 8-1 by half time, four of the goals coming from an on-fire Juan Britos. The score belied the fact that it was a fast and very entertaining match, full of excellent play, with the audience only wishing for more goals for Ferne Park. Bigatti scored his third goal of the match in chukka 4 to take Park Place on to 9-1 before Negri finally pulled one back for Ferne Park. A rally in the final chukka saw Pittaluga score twice for Ferne Park but it was too late to avoid a convincing 9-4 win for Park Place. The Hon Mrs Lila Pearson presented the trophy and prizes to Park Place, a relatively new team which has been coached by former England captain Andrew Hine. The award for Best Playing Pony, sponsored by Polo Times went to Aguada Distinta, owned by Park Place Polo Team and played by Juan Britos. The Polo Magazine’s Most Valuable Player award deservedly went to Juan Britos.
The final trophy of the weekend, the 8 goal Holden White Cup, a perennial favourite at Cowdray Park, attracted 18 entries, with Andrew Swaffield’s Alcedo meeting Momin Sheikh’s BHC in the Final.
Playing alongside Andrew Swaffield were promising young 0 goal player Angus Rowan Hamilton and team regulars Nick Clague and James Harper. Momin Sheik’s BHC featured 16 year old Milly Hine and brothers Ralph and Jack Richardson. Both teams had been unbeaten in the tournament.
In a thrilling match of fast end-to-end polo, Ralph Richardson opened the scoring for BHC with a goal in the first chukka. Chukka 2 saw a determined James Harper wrestle the ball from Jack Richardson and carry it away to level the scores on 1-1, swiftly followed by a 40 yard penalty to take Alcedo on to 2-1. Excellent combining of skills by the Richardson brothers saw Ralph deservedly achieve his second goal of the match to even the scores again. However, Swaffield was well placed to pick up a ball from Clague and dribble it between the posts for a 3-2 lead for Alcedo before chukka’s end.
After the half-time tread-in, Jack Richardson first evened the score and then took BHC ahead following an accurate 60 yard penalty and a fine piece of play resulting in a good field goal. BHC won the throw-in but Harper and Rowan Hamilton were soon after Ralph Richardson when suddenly, out of nowhere, Clague grabbed the ball and steamed off for a great goal and 4-4. Despite pressure from Harper, Ralph Richardson answered with a super run to goal to take BHC ahead once more and chukka 3 closed at 5-4 in BHC’s favour.
A truly exciting and closely fought final chukka saw BHC race further ahead, a powerful shot from Jack Richardson taking the score to 6-4 and a marvellous gallop from his younger brother seeing the ball through the posts with his fourth field goal of the match and the score moving on to 7-4. Alcedo won the throw-in, Rowan Hamilton picked up the ball from Harper and attempted a shot at goal but Swaffield was in perfect position to send the ball through and closed the gap to 7-5. A huge lofted ball from James Harper added another to Alcedo’s scoreline but it was too late to deny BHC victory on a score of 7-6. Amy Gatehouse presented the Holden White Cup and prizes. Ralph Richardson’s Zorro gained the award for Best Playing Pony sponsored by Polo Times and the player’s 2 goal status is surely in doubt following his second Most Valuable Player award of the weekend, again sponsored by The Polo Magazine.