Over a blisteringly hot few days, we hosted our first Junior Games Weekend. Junior players had been bereft of their usual calendar of tournaments due to Covid-19 so this was the perfect opportunity for them to get out onto the field for some fun polo and showcase some young, up and coming talent.
For some children it was their first time playing a proper tournament and they all did incredibly well, with great displays of teamwork, sportsmanship, and horsemanship, suggesting a promising future for Youth Polo.
Division 2 started in the morning, with Suffolk versus Oxford. Charlie Hodges truly shined in this first chukka, scoring two fantastic goals for his team to finish 2 – 0. Kirtlington were the first to score in their chukka against Cotswolds, with Alice Playne helping to secure a 2 goal lead. Holly Bullock worked hard to score for Cotswolds but they narrowly lost 2 – 1. Suffolk won their second chukka, 1 – 0 with a great team goal, despite Zachary Olgilvie Thompson putting on the pressure for team Cotswolds. Charlie Hodges and Kaspar Budd displayed excellent team play for Oxford, however Kirtlington managed to sneak past a goal, thanks to Eskandar Fouladi’s skilled open play. Eskandar continued to provide good back up and defence to his teammates in their chukka against Suffolk to give Alice Playne the opportunity to level the score 1 – 1. Archie Roche provided good defence for Oxford in their chukka, with Holly Bullock displaying some great open play for Cotswolds. Ultimately neither team were prepared to concede defeat and finished 0 – 0.
The afternoon session saw Division 1 and 3 take to Roadside Ground, as the temperatures continued to soar.
Agatha Roche kicked off proceedings for Division 3 with a goal for Heythrop in their game against Cirencester. Freddie Williams displayed some skilled and careful play, securing Heythrop a 3 – 0 victory, putting them in a strong position for the second day.
Team Beaufort started off with a ½ handicap advantage in their game against Cowdray, but they didn’t need it. Robbie Slatter, fresh from playing in the Novices Cup 2 Goal that morning, raced around the field at speed, leaving Team Cowdray trying to play catch up. Despite the score finishing 2 ½ – 0, it was a very close contest between the two teams.
On the second day, the morning was blissfully cool for the Division 2 Teams to take to the field once again.
Edward Barlow proved himself a great team player for Suffolk, with Archie Vernon Miller taking his performance up a gear for their match against Oxford, helping them take the win 1 – 0. Eskandar scored for Kirtlington in their game against Cotswolds, followed by Alice Playne taking the ball to goal for James Nuttall to finish, concluding their chukka 2 – 0. Archie Vernon Miller scored for Suffolk against Cotswolds but the chukka ended on a draw 1 – 1. Charlie Hodges scored an amazing goal with Alice Playne chasing him in their chukka against Kirtlington, although they managed to also score leaving the score 1 – 1. Suffolk were the first to score against Kirtlington in their final chukka of the weekend, only to have James Nuttall and Alice Playne steal the lead and win 2 – 1. There was plenty of back and forth with the Oxford v Cotswolds team, but neither team could puncture the other’s defences and they finished 0 – 0.
Kirtlington were crowned the winners, with Suffolk a close second, followed by Oxford and Cotswolds. Best Team Player went to Holly Bullock, Most Improved Player went to Eskandar Fouladi and Best Turned Out to Edward Barlow.
The cool morning was replaced with unrelenting heat, leaving a blurry haze across the Roadside Ground for the afternoon’s games.
The Beaufort versus Cowdray match stuttered early on, when Charlie Hipwood raced towards the goal at speed only to tumble off his horse before the goal posts. After a brief pause, where he was checked out thoroughly by the medics, he remounted and continued to play in earnest for the Cowdray team. The first chukka concluded in a draw, as both teams tried to regain the momentum they had lost. Robbie Slatter helped pull Beaufort well ahead, ending the second chukka 2 ½ – 0. Cowdray fought back fiercely, determined to make their mark in the final chukka. However, Lucas Stern followed up with another goal and safely secured their victory, 3 ½ – 0.
In Division 3, Jonty Hodges was the first out the gate for Heythrop, scoring 1 – 0. Freddie Williams then made it one all in the second chukka. Sebastian Cunningham day took a tumble In the third and final chukka of the weekend, Arthur Wade, who had only been learning to play since the end of June, scored a fantastic goal, making it 1 – 2 by the final bell.
Best Team Player went to Freddie Williams, with Most Improved going to Arthur Wade and Best Turned Out to Felix McKenzie.
A huge well done to everyone who played over the weekend and thank you to those of you who helped make the weekend possible. Prizes were kindly donated by the Tomlinson Family and Beaufort Polo Club, a big thank you also goes to Hayley Hyde Andrews for running scoreboard all weekend, Mhairi Gould Polo School Manager for organising the event and umpiring, and Gary Aitchison, Marcus Speed and Lucy McLaughlin for umpiring.