The action got underway on Friday morning and continued throughout the weekend, with teams on a mission to secure their place in the Sunday afternoon finals, held on Cowdray’s hallowed Lawns I, in front of family and spectators.
Sunday brought continuing beautiful weather and young polo talent in abundance, beginning with the parade of all players and the presentation of the Jambo Trophy, for the best combination that hunts and plays Pony Club Polo; awarded to Toffee ridden by George Telfer from the Cottesmore Hunt Branch.
The finals got underway with Beaufort Hunt (Blue Team) against North Cotswold Hunt in the hotly contested Gannon section; with the Beaufort Hunt team of sisters Jaz and Lolly Stanhope-White, Will Penfold and Harry Hickmet, emerging victorious after scoring the golden goal in a 3-3 draw.
“It’s unbelievable!” commented golden goal scorer, Lolly Stanhope-White.
“This is our last year as a team and we wanted to finish with a bang so this is the perfect way round it all off.”
Harry Hickmet added: “This is the first time I have reached the Gannon finals, so to finally win it is a great feeling. It was third time lucky!”
The team thanked everyone who helped them reach the finals, especially those who helped transport the horses and looked after them throughout their time at Cowdray Park Polo Club.
As the afternoon progressed other section victories included; Surtees – Cowdray Hunt (White Team), Loriner – Cambridgeshire Hunt, Langford – Grafton Hunt and Rendell – Royal Artillery Hunt.
The Handley Cross section final, for those aged nine-14, proved just as nail biting as the upper sections, with just a single six minute chukka for teams to show what they had got. The Cowdray Hunt (White Team) and the Beaufort Hunt certainly did that; with the Cowdray Hunt Branch team of Rufus Uloth, Beanie Bradley, William Drewitt and Wilbur Millard emerging victorious on a score of 2-1 goals.
The prize giving saw a vast array of trophies awarded, not only to section winners, but also individual awards for up and coming talent including a generous week of polo development for a player under 15 courtesy of sponsors El Remanso, awarded to George Smith from the Cheshire Hunt South Branch.
“It feels so great to win!” commented George. “It was such a surprise as there are a lot of great players out there. I would like to thank the Championship sponsors, my teammates and my family.”
George continued to talk about his plans for the future, saying he wants to try to get to the professional level and how playing Pony Club Polo is helping him get to that high standard.
“This was our third year supporting The Pony Club Polo Championships and it’s great to see how much enjoyment everyone gets out of this event year after year,” commented El Remanso.
“It seems like the standard just gets better and better! Most important are the friendships forged on and off the field that will last a lifetime. It’s all made possible by the huge team of people behind the scenes that make it all happen, so well done to everyone involved and keep up the good work!”
Earlier in the week the Jorrocks section, for those aged under 11, enjoyed their Championships at Hurtwood Park Polo Club, which saw Bruno Bradshaw, Matias Maldonado, Archie Heseltine and Billy Barlow take the top spot for the Grafton Hunt Branch.
“Pony Club Polo had yet another successful season with players enjoying four weeks of tournament Polo,” commented Charles Whittington, Chairman of Pony Club Polo.
“The Championships for the Under 11 section, Jorrocks, at Hurtwood Park Polo Club, was spoilt by relentless rain, but the players and ponies enjoyed the competition. By contrast, the Championships, by kind permission of Cowdray Park Polo Club and the Cowdray Estate, were held in ideal conditions with moderate temperatures and very little rain.”
Charles went on to thank all the Polo Clubs which entertained Pony Club Polo this season, the very generous sponsors, El Remanso, Thai Polo Club and the Hurlingham Polo Association and the large number of Volunteers involved with the running of the events; many of whose children played Pony Club Polo, and an increasing number who played Pony Club Polo themselves.
A full set of results can be found HERE