City & Country British Ladies Polo Championship final Cowdry Park Polo Club, West Sussex.
There are not many polo grounds in England as good as those at Cowdray; ground that can take whatever mother nature throws at them and remain safe, playable and with good going. Over the course of the week of the ladies’ tournament the weather ranged from 30° C and fierce sunshine to 12°C and torrential rain; the latter rather unhelpfully saving itself for the final.
The tournament was 12-18 goal using ladies’ handicaps. These handicaps have had an unexpected side effect of creating a professional market where once there was none – only the highest rated ladies would charge. Now, players with ladies handicaps of four (often in mixed handicaps) or more are charging to play.
While this provides them with valuable income, it also pushes the cost up for the patrons who previously only had to pay on or two players per team.
OPEN AND CLEAN PLAY
It was Lila Pearson’s Cowdray Vikings who held off a very committed Coombe Place had the better start, ending the first chukka ahead, but Sarah Wiseman, a consummate professional who always plays with a cool head, rallied her team and began to fight back. By the end of the second chukka
Cowdray Vikings were leading.
The game was open and clean with great runs and flashy play from both sides, and largely free from the umpires’ whistle.
That it was field goals that determined the result, rather than endless penalties, was testament to the quality of the game.
Coombe Place rallied hard in the last chukka, with agonisingly close missed goals and only ½ goal difference. With another chukka, they might have just turned the tables on Cowdray Vikings, but it was not to be, and Lila’s team won the tournament for the second year on the trot.
“It was really soggy out there, but the field was amazing and we won – it was great!” said a muddy Wiseman on Cowdray Vikings’ win.
“We have a tendency to start really slowly in the first chukka, but then we get our act together. We didn’t change any tactics, just worked a little harder and that made the difference.”