Following a rather wet couple of days, the once bleached grass had returned to a luscious green and it was the leaves turn to change to brown, signalling the final stretch towards the end of the polo season at the Beaufort. The Wichenford Bowl is our penultimate Victor Ludorum tournament of the season, and it was down to Hascombe Stud and Jenkinson to start this popular 8 Goal tournament.
Jenkinson stamped their authority from the off and charged into a strong lead of 6 goals to 1 in the first half. However, Hascombe Stud staged an impressive comeback in the second half and suddenly it was all to play for as they came within touching distance of the opposition. But it would prove too late as Jenkinson held their lead to win 8 – 7.
Monday 20th August saw teams returning to Three-Cornered ground, this time it would be Balaclava and Tayto. The latter led throughout, leading by three goals at the tread in with Balaclava chasing their tails. Balaclava would claw back goal time with back-to-back goals in the third and fourth chukka, but still found themselves wanting with a final score of 5 – 6 in favour of Tayto.
Hascombe Stud got off to a strong start, taking the initiative of the game over Beaufort and continuing their lead throughout. Beaufort rallied to keep themselves in contention at half time, but Hascombe added to their tally where Beaufort could not, winning 4 goals to 2. In the second game there was little to split Tyrone and Balaclava as they took to No. 2 ground, with 2 goals apiece at half time and each team getting their fair share of goal time in third. Eventually, Balaclava would strike gold to score a sixth goal and claim the victory. Next Tayto would face Jenkinson in a close fought contest, the result being decided by a fifth chukka. It was neck-and-neck at half time and they were separated by only a whisker after the tread in as Tayto shadowed Jenkinson throughout to be all square on 5 goals. The final score was 6 – 5, with the deciding goal going to Tayto.
Beaufort redeemed themselves on the Thursday against Tyrone, to claim a storming victory over the Irish visitors. They lead from the off and followed through with impressive goals from Nico Antinori, as well as a skilfully judged shot from Caspar West. At full time the score board showed a tally of 6 ½ to 2.
Friday 24th August dawned with dark clouds threatening on the horizon for the Semi Finals. First to try and claim a place in the Final on Sunday was Hascombe Stud v Jenkinson. Determined not the repeat the same mistakes from their first league match, Hascombe came out all guns blazing, taking the lead in the first chukka. However, by half time Jenkinson had pulled level. Hascombe kept up the pace and pulled ahead by 2 goals in the third. Yet again Jenkinson retaliated in fierce style to reclaim authority, levelling and then dominating the play with end to end goals to finish on a decisive score of 7 – 4. Tayto galloped past Balaclava in the second Semi Final of the day, comfortably securing their place in the Final with 8 goals to 4. Team shirts were switched for hula skirts as victory celebrations continued into the evening with the Paradise Summer Party.
On the day of the Final, the dark clouds and sudden chill in the air signalled a definite end to the glorious heatwave we had been enjoying all season. As the heavens opened players and spectators alike looked reluctantly to the field for the Subsidiary Final, which was engulfed in a haze of rain. It was a gritty grudge match between Beaufort and Tyrone; the latter seeking and earning redemption for their previous defeat. Tyrone dominated the opening chukka to notch up a lead of 3 goals to 1 ½. The home side rallied a response in the lead up to half time to keep Tyrone watching their backs, but the Irish would maintain authority and a confident lead throughout. Vengeance and victory would ultimately go to Tyrone on a final score of 7 – 5 ½.
As if on cue the weather began to clear and the sun made a vague attempt at showing its face for the Final of the Wichenford Bowl. The torrential rain had settled to a mild, intermittent drizzle, which could not dampen the enthusiasm of the spectators, nor the competitive spirit of the players as Tayto and Jenkinson rode on to the Swinhay No.1 ground, each vying for victory. The first chukka set the high calibre and scintillating standard of play for the match. Luke Wiles got off to a flying start, for his seemingly certain goal to be interrupted by an ever-present and efficiently defensive Jonny Coddington. Max Hutchinson kept the pressure on the Jenkinson side, running with the ball for Wiles to finish the job to score. However, Tayto could not rest on their laurels as following a tussle in front of the uprights, Katie Jenkinson was able to pop the ball between them to level. The second chukka saw end-to-end play with a penalty in the favour of Jenkinson allowing them to inch ahead 1- 2. Tayto received two successive penalties, but both went wide, however, a scrabble at goal mouth eventually allowed Wiles to return the score back to level pegging. By half time Tayto would sit with a narrow lead of 3 – 2. Play continued in earnest after the tread in, with both teams taking their chance at goal time until Jenkinson managed to sneak a third across the line. The concluding chukka would see some excellent play from both sides, with fierce defence and ferocious attacks. Suddenly, a father and son effort between Stephen and Max Hutchinson along the length of the field resulted in an impressive hit from Max which sent the ball flying squarely between the uprights making it 4 – 3. Jenkinson had one last chance to level the score in the final seconds with a penalty, but it was not to be as it just ran wide, leaving Tayto the victors of the Wichenford Bowl.
Prizes were kindly sponsored by The Rural Planning Practice and presented by Judith Norris along with The Wichenford Bowl, presented by Richard Britten-Long. The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player was awarded to Christian Chaves and the Polo Times Best Playing Pony went to Storm Dos (who seemed particularly excited to win, throwing in some impressive fly bucks at the presentation!) ridden by Jonny Coddington, a home bred owned by Lucy Coddington.