With 6 teams entered in the Final 8 Goal Victor Ludorum Tournament of the 2019 polo season, the Englana Wichenford Bowl was set to be an exciting and fiercely contested contest.
First up in the league games was Saracens v Senzaltro. Straight out of the gate Senzaltro showed they meant business, scoring 5 goals to Saracens’ 2 by half time. In the second half Saracens staged a comeback and scored a consecutive 3 goals to bring them within touching distance at 5 – 6. Unfortunately, it was not enough and Senzaltro claimed the first victory.
Up next it was Conosco v Tomlinson Equine. Play started in Tomlinson Equine’s favour, with 2 goals to 0 at the end of the 3rd chukka. However, Conosco galvanised themselves in that final chukka to level 2 – 2 and time ran out signalling a 5th chukka. However, neither team could sneak past each other’s defences and the 5th chukka ended with no satisfying conclusion. It took a further chukka for Tomlinson Equine to secure the win 3 – 2.
The following league games were no less thrilling; Senzaltro went on to claim another 6 – 5 victory against Strategic, whilst Conosco beat Balaclava 4 – 3. Saracens had a convincing 8 – 5 success against Strategic compared to a narrow victory for Tomlinson Equine 3 – 4 against Balaclava.
Amidst a heatwave, the Bank Holiday started with the Semi Finals of the Englana Wichenford Bowl. Conosco and Saracens remained neck and neck throughout the first three chukkas, barely more than a goal apart. However, Saracens streaked ahead in the 4th chukka, scoring four goals to secure a confident 7 – 4 win.
Next it was the turn of Tomlinson Equine against Senzaltro. With the 5 goals of ‘Argentine magic’ that is Matias Amaya and two wins already under their belt, Senzaltro looked a sure thing to go to the final. However, Tomlinson Equine had plenty of fight left in them and had scored 4 goals before Senzaltro managed to find purchase with a goal of their own in the second chukka. Senzaltro managed to squeeze out a further three goals but Tomlinson Equine were on a roll and sent another two goals through the uprights just for good measure to win 6 – 3.
On Sunday 25th August, under a blazing sun and in front of a strong crowd, Tomlinson Equine and Saracens took to the field to battle it out for the Englana Wichenford Bowl. Following fierce back and forth, it wasn’t until the second chukka when Jamie Thomas sent a crisp under the neck shot that the first goal was scored in favour of Tomlinson Equine. However, Saracens quickly replied with a goal of their own and at tread in it was 1-1. Englana very kindly donated ‘The Charles – Goodrich Collection’ Blanket Bag and luxury Blanket, worth over £1000, for a tread in competition. During the second chukka a cork was dropped and whoever found it was the lucky winner. The crowds searched the field eagerly, but all came back empty handed! Play continued and it was end-to-end, with Miguel Ayala snaking his way down the field and Saracens took the lead 2-1. It was short lived, when Tamara Fox scored a cracking goal to level 2 – 2, which was followed up by another Tomlinson Equine goal bringing them to 3 – 2. In the 4th chukka Jason Parker sent an under the neck shot to bring Saracens level 3-3 and followed it up with a powerful run down the field and sent the ball straight through the uprights, taking Saracens back into the lead. They looked set to take the win when Tomlinson Equine scored once again. In their determination to win, both teams forced the whistle to be blown repeatedly, ultimately resulting in a penalty for Tomlinson Equine. Mikey Henderson wound up his shot and hit for goal, but it went wide. The timer ran out and a 5th chukka was called for. After several minutes of fevered play, Tomlinson Equine were offered a second chance with a 60-yard penalty, this time Henderson hit his mark and they took the win 5 – 4.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Englana were unable to attend the day and Nick Britten-Long kindly stepped up to present the prizes and the Wichenford Bowl. Saracens could take comfort in defeat, as by the narrowest of margins they still won the HPA Victor Ludorum 8 Goal Series overall. The Polo Times Best Playing Pony went to Tamara Fox’s Juno and The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player to Miguel Ayala. Mikey Henderson also received a prize, when it was revealed he had discovered the cork in the 3rd chukka and took home the Englana Blanket Bag!
In the late afternoon sunshine, the teams took to the Swinhay No1 Ground for the Subsidiary Final. Balaclava scored the opening goal in the first chukka but despite impressive hits down the field by Ben Malasoma, it wasn’t until the 3rd chukka when Christian Chaves put one up on the scoreboard for Strategic Help for Heroes. Eden Ormerod was given a chance to put Balaclava into the lead with a penalty but didn’t quite get hold of it and despite Sebastian Chialvo backhanding the ball towards goal, it went wide. Balaclava continued to put up a fight, but a team goal finished by Chaves put Strategic into a 2 -1 lead. A pass by Matt Evetts to Peter O’Roake saw the ball go through the uprights once again and the final nail in the coffin came from Evetts with a fourth and final goal for Strategic.
Beaufort Polo Club would like to extend a big thank you to Englana for sponsoring this tournament and providing prizes.