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Dubai defeats King Power, claims British Polo Open Championship

Two exciting semi-Finals between VS King Power and Park Place and Dubai and Scone Polo saw victories for Top Srivaddhanaprabha’s VS King Power team and Ali Albwardy’s Dubai taking them to Sunday’s Final. The two sides last met in a Gold Cup Final at Cowdray Park in 2014. VS King Power altered their line-up for the Final. Vichai’s son ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha played at number 1 as usual, but Polito Pieres took the number 2 slot, Marcos di Paola moved up to 3 and Juan Martin Zubia played at Back. Dubai kept their line-up unchanged with 16-year-old Camilo Castagnola at 1, Rashid Albwardy at 2, Bartolomé Castagnola at 3 and Ignacio du Plessis at Back. Chukka 1 opened with Pieres immediately on the attack; his first attempt at goal went wide. A couple of minutes of frantic action resulted in a penalty awarded to Dubai that Camilo Castagnola sent from 30 yards to secure the opening goal of the match for his side. At the end of the first half, the score stood at 6-4 in Dubai’s favor. The massive crowd went out to tread-in, so large in fact that the commentators’ cries for them to return to their seats were swamped by the excited spectators’ comments. When the fourth chukka got underway, a fantastic piece of play saw Pieres leave the ball for Zubia who obliged with a huge lofted shot to score for VS King Power. Rashid Albwardy won the ball from the throw-in but di Paola grabbed it back, Zubia stopped Bartolomé from snatching it while Marcos came through and passed to Top who made a superb goal to even the scores on 6-6. Another fantastic goal from Top and King Power was ahead. A 30-yard penalty awarded to King Power as the chukka drew to a close enabled Pieres to extend the lead to 8-6. By the sixth chukka, Bartolomé calmly sent the ball through the posts from 60 yards and it was 11-11. The excitement in the crowd was palpable. VS King Power won the throw-in and Pieres scored to take his side into the lead again. Top saved the ball from Dubai’s next attempt at goal, but, aided by the power of du Plessis, Bartolomé was able to find a way through and even the scores at 12-12 before the whistle blew. The match went into a seventh chukka and started with a throw-in. Away went Zubia with the ball, but du Plessis was having none of it and struck out for the other end. Top made a great clearance, the ball taken on by Marcos di Paola, Pieres and then Zubia who raced away to Dubai’s goal only to send the ball wide. In came the ball from the backline and off down the boards raced Bartolomé, the wonderfully intuitive combination with his brother which we have seen throughout this Gold Cup tournament coming to the fore as Camilo dived forward with the ball and put it through. Dubai won the King Power Gold Cup on a score of 13-12 in a truly breathtaking finish. Jon Rudkin, Director of Football for Leicester City FC, presented individual prizes to all players, the tournament umpires and commentators before handing the coveted Gold Cup to Rashid Albwardy, son of the Dubai patron. The Most Valuable Player of the match award went to Pieres of VS King Power, Open Chacota, owned and played by Top Srivaddhanaprabha, was voted Best Playing Patron’s Pony, and Rebalde, owned and played by Camilo Castagnola, was awarded Best Playing Pony of the match, with a rug presented by The Hon Lila Pearson. Following the match, Ali Albwardy, patron of Dubai said, “It was such an exciting match. I’m proud of all the boys in this young team, they played fantastically – in fact, both teams had a wonderful match. The game was entertaining to watch, hard, fast and exactly what polo should be. I thank Cowdray Park Polo Club for their fantastic organization of the tournament.”

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