Cartier Queen’s Cup Final – La Indiana vs Dubai
The most prestigious of polo cup finals: The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final had us all on our toes on last Saturday afternoon at the Queen’s Ground of www.guardspoloclub.com. The contenders were team Dubai and team La Indiana, and they presented the audience with an incredible match of two entirely different halves.
After La Indiana’s astonishing win over the defending champions King Power Foxes on Wednesday we knew there was a possibility of the new team taking home the trophy. They got oh so close to doing exactly that, before Cambiaso scooped up the ball in the last 10 seconds and scored the 12th goal taking his team Dubai to the victory once again.
The evening before I received a phone call from my good friend, the talented equestrian photographer Philippa Davin asking if I thought she should come over from Sweden the following morning, my answer was of course YES!, as I am a total supporter of last minute trips and especially when they involve watching polo. So Saturday morning started with a trip to Heathrow to pick her up and then an “I have no clue what to wear” crisis as the weather was not exactly perfect, it was more of a rainy and grey situation. Philippa and I agreed that dressing for polo in Florida was much easier as all you need is a dress, sandals and possibly a wide-brimmed hat.
With our outfits in place and a few extra jackets and umbrellas in the car we braved out in to the pouring rain towards Windsor Great Park. The turmoil of the skies added to the anticipation of watching this clash of titans. I was cheering for team La Indiana, since Michael Bickford the patron of the team is my friend. I was very happy to be able to witness him playing in the Queen’s Cup Final, no matter the outcome, but of course crossed my fingers that they would pull through to victory.
We wandered around the field trying to find the best place for photos, since we were not allowed our usual pony-line spot for the Final. Only official club and team photographers are allowed that close to the ponies and players. Philippa stayed behind the goal posts and concentrated on taking her beautiful artistic photos, which really captures the intensity of this sport (which you can see below and on her website). I found some of my Danish friends on the sidelines and positioned myself right under the loudspeaker, so as to really get every detail in. I was completely caught up in the game, so much so that I couldn’t keep a conversation going with my friends and they eventually gave up (Sorry Helene!).
The match started with blast of power from team Dubai, putting a full 4 balls through the goal posts and not allowing La Indiana to score a single goal. The second chukker team Dubai continued with their intimidating play, but La Indiana managed to opened up their scoreboard with a goal. By half time the new team’s fate was looking as grim as the weather, with Dubai being up 9-4.
After a regroup, stretching and some inspiring words from their coach Lou, La Indiana came out on to the field in absolute top form. Tincho Merlos scored 2 goals and his team mates Nic and Negro scored one each, as well as working hard on the defence and not letting Dubai score at all in the 4th chukker.
Entering the 5th chukker they were only one goal apart. Dubai took the lead scoring two more and Nic replied with clearing a shot by Cambiaso and putting it through the goal making it 11-9 as they ended the 5th. This was the same score La Indiana had over King Power Foxes in the Semifinals and as we know a lot can happen in 7 1/5 minutes. And a lot did in that last chukker.
Tincho Merlos got La Indiana up to 10 and then his team mate Negro De Lusarreta scored the best goal of the tournament, running flat out on his pony and away from everyone else and finishing off his play with only a little over a minute left on the clock. Evening out the two teams at 11 a piece and making us all think that a 7th chukker was about to take place. However in the last 10 seconds of the match, Cambiaso did what he does best and put the final ball through. It was their victory once again.
The prize-giving ceremony was lead by Laurent Feniou, Managing Director of Cartier UK, presenting the Cartier Trophy and watch prizes to the winning team Dubai and Cartier pens to the runner’s up La Indiana. Usually HRH the Queen gives the trophy of the Cartier Queen’s Cup, but this year her Majesty was unable to attend due to celebrations of her 90th birthday in London.
Julian De Lusarreta was very rightfully awarded MVP and Best Playing Pony for Volcan, a 13-year-old gelding owned by Bauti Heguy.
Once the commotion of the prize-giving ceremony was over and everything had settled down it was time to drink Pimm’s and relax in the Club House. I must admit I was really upset and had a good-old sulk about La Indiana losing, especially as it was such a close call. That trophy was almost in reach for my friends in white and then Cambiaso just swooped it right up. It just goes to show that anything can happen in the blink of an eye.