England Polo Team claims first ever Audi International title at Chester Racecourse
PUBLISHED: 12:49 18 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:53 20 February 2013
After a nail-biting game, England beat South America with a final score 8 to 8Â½ - at the first ever Audi International at Chester Racecourse, concluding the International Polo Series for 2012.
After a nail-biting game, England lifted the trophy beating South America with a final score 8 to 8 at the first ever Audi International at Chester Racecourse, concluding the International Polo Series for 2012.
The unique and picturesque setting of Chester Racecourse welcomed more than 2,500 spectators many of whom were introduced to polo for the very first time - one of the many bonuses in bringing the sport at international level to a new location.
Richard Thomas, Chief Executive of Chester Racecourse comments: We are thrilled with the success of the day. We could not have wished for more a highly exciting game with glorious weather and an enthusiastic crowd. Thank you to both Audi and the Hurlingham Polo Association for bringing international polo to Chester.
The fourth and final International of the season saw Audi England take on South America's Marcos Araya, Manolo Fernandez-Llorente, Pepe Araya and Guillermo Cuitino - four talented boys from Argentina, the country renowned in polo for consistently producing the best players in the sport.
The England team comprised Ollie Cudmore in the Number One position, who at 22 years old was the youngest player on the field, team regulars - Mark Tomlinson and James Beim (captain) - playing in the Number Two and Number Three shirts respectively, together with James Harper at Number Four. Victory was always going to be tough against the strong South America team and England was going to have to produce a solid performance and work together to finish on top.
As a result of difference in team handicaps, England started the match with a halfgoal advantage (see note two) - a factor that can make all the difference to the final result.
With the ball thrown in and action underway, both sides tried desperately to gain that early lead. Despite England appearing to be the more attacking side, it was South America who achieved two early goals in the first chukka. So, not surprisingly, England coach and former England captain,Andrew Hine gave the team some stern advice before the start of second chukka "Don't worry about the scoreboard - you have hit five behinds and should be leading but keep tight on the man in defence and our goals will eventually come!
Luckily the team took on aboard the advice and the second chukka was better for England, who found the goal posts for the first time. However, this proved not to be sufficient and by half time the home team was still one and a half goals down.
After another team talk at half time, England took to the field with renewed vigour. A quick goal from Beim took England to within just half a goal of its opposition and, although Beim's goal was immediately answered by South America's captain Cuitino, Harper and Cudmore followed suit and for the first time in the match England took the lead. Now, spectators were treated to the close and competitive match that had been predicted from the start.
At the start of the last chukka, Cudmore skilfully scored his third goal of the day this importantly extended the home teams lead by one and a half goals. However, just moments later, the gap was reduced again with Cuitino converting and then his team mate Araya found the posts - a play that would have certainly contributed to his Most Valuable Player Award which he later received while also giving his team that much desired half a goal advantage.
With three minutes left until the final whistle, there was still time for England to add another to the scoreboard. Appearing to be unaware of any pressure, Beim sent the ball soaring effortlessly through the middle of the posts before converting a penalty almost immediately after, giving the team the all-important lead with just one minute and 17 seconds left on the clock. A last minute goal from Araya took South America to just half a goal behind once again but, thankfully, there were only seconds left on the clock and the 2012 Chester Diamond Jubilee Trophy was awarded to England.
England's Tomlinson was presented the ROR (see note three) Best Playing Pony prize by Olympic gold medallist Laura Bechtolsheimer for his pony Mr Cheers owned by Roddy Williams. The Best Playing Pony Award was presented to Araya's Cocaine.
The closely fought game and an England win provided the perfect finish to the first year of the Audi International Polo Series.
James Beim, England captain, comments: It was great to play for England in the first ever Chester test match as part of the Audi International Polo Series. The game was tough throughout, we started well but failed to capitalise. However, we stuck to our system and played well in the last two chukkas to grind out a win - a fitting end to the international polo calendar and great preparation for the forthcoming major tournament in China.
Jon Zammett, head of PR for Audi UK, adds: It has been a highly rewarding first year for the Audi International Polo Series with impressive England victories and some remarkably skilfull play. We hope our support has helped to advance the quality of play and the reach for this top level sport to a wider audience there is no higher level than an international.